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Create an Organized Home Apothecary

Organize dry herbs, tinctures, tea blends, and other medicine-making basics in a way that honors both form and function.

| May / June 2018

  • Herbs will last the longest when stored away from direct heat or light.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/nicklaydonetsk
  • The more familiar you are with an herb, its properties, and its applications, the more versatile it will prove to be in your apothecary.
    Photo by Stocksy/Trinette Reed
  • Versatile, dried, bulk herbs can be used in herbal syrups, baths, steams, teas, infused oils, and even dream pillows.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Elenathewise
  • Alcohol tinctures last long, travel well, and only need to be used in small doses.
    Photo by Getty Images/Ryan McVay
  • Warm teas made from aromatic herbs are just thing for upset stomachs and digestive conditions.
    Photo by Stocksy/Marija Kovac
  • The nearer your apothecary is to your kitchen, the more accessible the herbs will be when you need them.
    Photo by Stocksy/Trinette Reed
  • Label tinctures and loose dried herbs with the common name of the plant, Latin name, and date it was dried, made, or purchased.
    Photo by Brittany Wood Nickerson

Over the years, I’ve learned that the most user-friendly home apothecaries are well organized, easily accessible, and carefully stocked to meet the needs of their household. However, with the many herbs and forms of herbal medicine from which to choose, it can be difficult to know where to begin when creating a natural medicine cabinet for your family, not to mention the struggle of keeping everything safe and in its proper place! Luckily, by following a few simple tips and techniques, your home apothecary can reach its full potential and help keep you healthy for years to come.

Choose Herbs That Meet Your Needs

The most important place to begin with any home apothecary is to accurately assess your home health care needs. If you know your family will need winter health support, then herbs to strengthen immunity will be the place to start. If you have a tendency to get colds that settle in the lungs, you may wish to have several lung-supporting herbs and expectorants on hand. Identifying the key areas where you need home remedies will help you focus your attention when stocking herbs and medicines.

The other key piece to efficiency in the home apothecary is to become as familiar as possible with the herbs you keep on hand. The more you understand about an herb, its properties, and its applications, the more versatile it will be. Most home apothecaries don’t have hundreds of herbs, and for good reason! A simple collection of 10 to 20 will do most people just fine. And the better you know those 10 to 20 herbs, the more useful you will find them.

Let’s take burdock for example, a wonderful tonic for the body’s channels of elimination, most specifically the liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system. Within the same week, I could use burdock for a hives outbreak, a urinary tract infection, or a head cold. Echinacea is another excellent example; as an immune stimulant and cooling lymphatic herb, echinacea is helpful for boosting immunity upon exposure to any kind of virus or bacterial invasion, bite, sting, infection, or fever. Keeping herbs with many diverse uses on hand — and knowing how to use them — will help you maximize efficiency and ensure you always have the right herb for the job.

Forms of Herbal Medicine

Loose herbs, pre-prepared teas, alcohol tinctures, glycerin tinctures, syrups … There are so many forms of herbal medicine to choose from. Knowing which preparation of herbs to have on hand will greatly increase the practicality of your home pharmacy.

Dried bulk herbs: Dried bulk herbs are in many ways the most versatile in the home apothecary. (Unless you consider your garden a part of your apothecary, in which case I would say fresh herbs are the most versatile.) Dried herbs can be used as the base for herbal syrups, baths, steams, and home projects, such as dream pillows and sachets. You can also use dried herbs as the base for an herbal tincture, glycerin, or infused oil, so if you are interested in making your own medicines, then stocking up on dried bulk herbs may be the best choice for you.

4/30/2018 11:53:47 PM

Thank you.

4/17/2018 7:37:20 AM

Thank you, Brittany! This is very useful information here!

4/17/2018 7:21:44 AM

Love this article.. Thank you Brittany!

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