Five Essential Healing Herbs

Simplify your medicine chest with these herbal stars.

| September/October 2002

  • Calendula
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Echinacea
  • Calendula
  • Elderberry
  • Ginger
  • Calendula
  • Sambucus nigra
    C. Hobbs
  • Calendula
    C. Hobbs

I try to keep my life as simple as possible, and that includes the contents of my medicine cabinet. Over the almost thirty years that I’ve been using herbs, I’ve experimented with more than 100 different healing plants. In the process, I’ve discovered a handful of favorites that I turn to time and again for treating everyday ailments. These aren’t exotic plants—you can grow most of them and can find them at any health-food store and even at many grocery stores. They’ve all been used for centuries for healing, they’re safe, and they’re effective. Most of them are also multipurpose herbs that excel at multitasking—something I try not to do but certainly appreciate when it comes to my herbal allies.

Instead of filling your medicine cabinet with dozens of different remedies for common maladies, try simplifying your life with these five herbs.


Latin name: Calendula officinalis

Part used: Flower

Medicinal uses: Calendula is one of the best healing herbs for the skin and mucous membranes. The blossoms calm inflammation, are mildly astringent, speed healing, and have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Because calendula is a gentle healer, it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin. Use calendula salve for skin rashes (including diaper rash), minor cuts and burns, bruises, and chapped lips. Calendula infusion makes an excellent footbath for athlete’s foot, a facial wash for acne, an eyewash for conjunctivitis, a mouth rinse for aphthous ulcers (canker sores), and a vaginal wash for yeast infections.

How to use: 

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