Herbal Medicine at Home: Be Your Own Herbalist

Use this beginner’s guide to make basic herbal medicine that is safe and effective for your whole family.


| July/August 2014



Fresh American Ginseng

Use fresh ginseng as a tea or tincture to help boost energy.


Photo by iStock

For those of us interested in both herbal medicine and self-sufficiency, creating our own herbal health- and body-care products is appealing. After all, it can save money, improve our families’ health and control exactly what goes into our herbal products. But while making homemade herbal teas is easy enough, it can be intimidating to take it to the next level—we want to make sure we’re making safe and effective choices for ourselves and our families.

Fear not! Making useful tinctures, oils and salves is easier than you might think and can quickly become part of your natural health repertoire. Stock these 13 top herbs in your home apothecary and use this step-by-step guide to making basic herbal products, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming your family’s own home herbalist. Note: Always discuss herbal treatments with a qualified medical professional, particularly if using in combination with prescription medicines, if pregnant or nursing, or for children.

Home Herbalism Recipes

Basic Skin-Healing Salve Recipe
Echinacea Tincture Recipe

Stock Your Herbal Apothecary

With literally thousands of herbs with medicinal properties, it’s difficult to narrow down which to keep on hand at home. I’ve selected these 13 herbs for their safety and well-rounded medicinal profiles. By stocking these herbs, you’ll ensure a diverse stash for a variety of health needs. Most of these herbs, such as dandelion, echinacea, garlic, peppermint and St. John’s wort, are easy to grow and can be used fresh. However, many herbs’ medicinal qualities are enhanced when dried, so consider using dried herbs for medicinal purposes. Please note the scientific names, as numerous plants are sometimes sold under the same common name.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius): Several species are sold as ginseng, so be sure to check the species name for the one you purchase. Ginseng has long been known as an energy booster due to its status as an “adaptogen.” Adaptogens are a specific class of herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress in many ways and can even affect the levels of natural substances (such as hormones) in our bodies. In other words, they help our bodies cope.





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