Making my own herbal medicines is one of the most fun and rewarding things that I do in my everyday life.
As a Medical Herbalist I sometimes forget that these skills are not something that everyone has - but they should be!
While herbal remedies are readily available at health shops and online, there are many benefits to making them yourself. And you don't need to be a herbalist to start doing this!
I often call this kind of home remedy-making "Shit your Grandmother Knew... with Research".
What I mean is that being able to make remedies out of common kitchen and garden ingredients is a lost art, but something that our grandparents did to support their health, and also, to survive. And now we have a whole bunch of research to support the use of certain plant medicines. So yay! Best of both worlds.
But just in case you are not convinced that you should take the plunge and learn how to make that skin salve, here are 4 Reasons To Make Your Own Herbal Medicines :)
1. To look after yourself and your family
The first reason is probably the most obvious. You want to have safe and effective natural remedies on hand to support the health of yourself and your family and friends.
We should all have a collection of herbs on hand for a variety of issues so that we have them when we need them.
I am a HUGE advocate for a "Herbal First Aid Kit" (in fact, if you want to start one, you can get a Free PDF on what plants I recommend starting with here).
There is no point in knowing that you can get some Chamomile from the local health shop when you can't sleep because you are all stressed out at 2am. You need Chamomile in your cupboards NOW.
Same goes for when you wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. Online ordering won't save you - you need to know what to take AND you need to have it on hand before things get worse. Plus, it's Covid-times, and no one wants you in the health shop with a sore throat (also, call your local Public Health line for your best info on what to do if you get sick during *all of this*).
Also - quick disclaimer - at-home herbal remedies should be used for mild, self-limiting issues. We are talking a belly ache after a rich meal, not self-treating Crohn's disease. If you have a chronic or serious health condition and you want to use herbs to help - great! Get in touch with a rad qualified practitioner who can monitor you and make sure that any herbs you want to use aren't going to interact with medications and are appropriate for your specific issues. I am taking new clients and if you want to get in touch with me then please feel free :)
Having herbs on hand is the first piece of the puzzle - and the second piece is knowing how to best prepare them. Should you make a tea for that stomach ache or is that herb best in a tincture? Will that rash react better to a cream or a salve? You see what I'm saying.
That sort of understanding takes time and a bit of research - but the information is out there! If you don't know where to start, then check out that Herbal First Aid kit freebie that I mentioned above - it's got all that info in it :)
Herbs that you grow yourself means your medicine is almost free!
2. To Save you Money
I remember the first time I bought a tube of Calendula cream (I had gotten smashed by a big wave and scraped my forehead along the sand on the sea floor on the day of the Christmas party at my new job... a story for another day!). It was like $20 for a tiny little tube!
It worked soooooo well though, that I knew it would forever be something I had on hand.
Buying certain herbal remedies can be pretty pricey. But buying raw materials is often quite inexpensive!
For that same $20 I could probably make enough Calendula cream or salve to last me the rest of my life - no kidding.
If you want to use herbs often for yourself and your family, I cannot understate how much more affordable it is to be able to make them yourself.
And OMG if you also GROW YOUR OWN PLANTS!?! It's basically free!
3. It's more Environmentally Friendly
Every time you purchase a 50ml tincture or a 50gm pottle of salve, you are using a new bit of packaging.
Plus that product had to be shipped to the store where you bought it. And depending on where the herbs and the packaging is from, those things also had to be shipped to the manufacturer.
When you make your own you cut out a lot of the "miles" involved with the production of herbal medicines.
You can reuse the same containers over and over again (just clean them well please!).
You can choose to buy herbs that are locally grown - or better yet - you can grow them or forage them (sustainably!) yourself and then you are really cutting down on the "plant miles".
I feel really passionate about the sustainability of herbal medicine, and if we are all going to use it (and we should!) then we all need to consider our actions and find ways that we can be stewards of the land and try to be as mindful as possible about our choices.
Plus, as per point 2 above, when we do make these choices, we generally benefit financially too! Win win win.
That one time when I was a warrior in the apocalypse (ahem, it was Halloween)
4. It turns you into a Hunger-Games like badass who can deal with the Zombie apocalypse like a boss.
Maybe you are worried about your personal resilience and want to learn more practical skills *just in case* there is some further impending doom... well, then you should definitely learn to make your own herbal medicines.
There is nothing like running through a forest Katniss-style and tripping on a branch and being able to grab a plantain and yarrow leaf to make a poultice and stem the bleeding. Tying it off with the leather laces from your tunic, you grab your bow and arrow and run off to defeat the Capital... or the Zombies... or those white supremacists wearing the viking horns... who knows in this #2021 world we live in.
What I'm trying to say is that this knowledge is practical and very very useful in a variety of circumstances.
Annnnyways... making your own herbal medicines is fun, easier than you think, affordable, good for the environment, good for your health, and might just save your ass.
And if you want a trusted guide to teach you HOW to make your own medicines, then check out my Everyday Plant Alchemy Course!
Starting Feb 22 2021 this 3 week online course is perfect if you are just starting out. Think about it like coming to three different workshops in my cozy living room where we will learn how to make a new project every week. It is designed to be simple, straightforward, and have you creating your own plant medicines like it ain't no thang.
Got questions? Sing out! I'd love to hear from you.