5 Must-Have Remedies for Whatever Life Throws at You

5 Must-Have Remedies for Whatever Life Throws at You

Whether you are just getting started with self-care (as opposed to doctor care) or have been tending to your self for years, there are certain basics remedies that you’ll want to have on hand.

Some of these 5 must-have remedies will make you think “of course!”. In which case, check to see that you still have a supply in your cupboard or medicine cabinet. But I suspect there might be one or two on the list that surprise you!

Lavender angustifolia Essential Oil (therapeutic grade)

Use topically (straight from the bottle) on sunburns and cooking burns, alternating with cool water.

One night I came home from teaching and spilled lentils that had been cooking in the crock pot on my arm. The pain from the burn was intense.

While I sat, trying to breath through the pain and decide if I was lucid enough to drive to the E.R., I poured lavender oil on my arm. Slowly the pain began to recede.

After an hour, a trip to the hospital was obviously superfluous. The next day I had merely a huge red splotch- no blistering or peeling.

Lavender is also a great relaxant for cranky children (or adults!) as an inhalation. A few drops on your pillowcase will ease you to sleep and a few drops on the soles of the feet will draw down a fever.

What’s not to love?

Thyme Tea or Tincture

Thyme is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral, making it ideal for those moments when you are certain you are getting sick… but you don’t yet know what form the big nasty is to going take.

The tea tastes like spaghetti sauce but becomes bearable when mixed with lemonade or cider (Don’t ask me why. Just giving you the benefit of a decades’ worth of experience).

I have seen thyme tea beat a stomach bug in two mugs!

The tincture (an extract in an alcohol base) is not too tasty either, but you don’t have to drink a whole mug of it to make it work.

Whichever you choose, continue taking for 24 hours after you’re feeling fine and not wanting to take anymore.

30c Arnica Homeopathic

This is the go-to for all your bumps, bruises, and breaks. I first learned about it when I was taking a woodworking class and smashed my finger.

One of the nurses in the class gave my finger the stink-eye and told me that either we get the swelling down or they would slit my finger along the length to relieve the pressure. Eeeeewwwww and ouch!

Arnica to the rescue. By the next day it was no longer throbbing in time with my heartbeat.

Osha Tincture*

This one may be a surprise for those of you who already work with herbs. This little-known herb is one I don’t leave home without.

Osha is brilliant for stopping a histamine, which means it’s great for hives, stings, and weird itchy throats that come on suddenly. A few drops topically if it’s a skin reaction, a few drops under the tongue for upper respiratory reactions.

* In the comments below, Candice reminds us that Osha resists cultivation which means that we need to be careful not to over harvest what grows in the wild. I use Osha literally by the drop, and you can too! One ounce of tincture lasts a year in our household. Save osha for a moment of true need.

Chamomile Tea

This little flower is a powerhouse! It will calm a queasy stomach, aid with digestion, quell menstrual cramps (even really severe ones) and help you to get a good night’s sleep.

Don’t use dusty old teabags. Buy whole chamomile flowers and steep for at least 20 minutes.

Of course, experience is the best teacher, so trust your own wisdom as you work with the plants and always pay attention to your intuition. If something feels wrong, it is wrong!

Nothing written here is meant to replace common sense or medical treatment when needed.

What are your go-to remedies? Share with us below!

Herbs for the Road

Herbs for the Road

During the summer, Andrew, Bandit, and I spend a lot of time in the car.  Between visiting my family at the Jersey shore, Andrew’s family on Maryland’s Eastern shore, teaching trips and trips to visit friends, we do 90% of our year’s driving between June and September.

I can get a little headachy or nauseous from the vibration of the engine and fumes on the road.  I try to make sure I have some of my favorite herbs along for the ride.  But sometimes, if we leave the house in a hurry, I have to make do with what’s easily purchased at a supermarket or rest stop.

Here’s a quick primer to ease your end-of-the-season travels (even if you forgot your herbal first aid kit!). 

PURiST WARNING: I am about to recommend some foods that might not normally make it onto the “healthy” list.  If that will induce nausea in you, stop reading now!

First off, stay hydrated.  The first thing “Aunt Maia” does when the little people start complaining of a headache is give them some water.  Is this always the answer?  No.  Is it the answer often enough that its the first thing I reach for?  Yes.

If someone is nauseous, water can actually induce vomiting.  Adding a little bit of juice to the water will help it stay down.

The addendum to staying hydrated:  if it’s hot out and you are sweating, make sure there is sodium and potassium in your snacks.  When you sweat, you lose these important minerals.  Just lick your sweaty arm if you don’t believe me.

Both sweet potatoes and white potatoes are good sources of potassium.  Salt is a good source of sodium.  So, in a road-trip pinch, grab a bag of chips with your water.

Other road trip necessities:

Ginger: I prefer ginger chews or glycerite to settle my stomach.  Quick fix:  supermarket fresh ginger.  Just break off a piece and suck on it.

Peppermint: great for both headaches and stomach rumblings.  My first choice:  Peppermint Essential Oil.  Just sniffing can go a long way to calm head and stomach.

You can put one drop of peppermint essential oil into a small bottle of water, shake it up, and pour onto a towel (or a t-shirt!) to lay over the forehead of a headaches sufferer.

For general over-heating, try putting a few drops of oil directly on the feet.  If you are running the A/C and the air in the car is stale (or the highway exhaust is getting to you), put a drop on the edge of the a/c vent.

Left home without your peppermint essential oil: York Peppermint Patty actually contains real peppermint oil!  A sweet way to settle the stomach.

Chamomile is great if you are traveling with kids.  A few drops of chamomile glycerite can go a long way to soothe grumpy kids.  Just be mindful that on rare occasions chamomile will act as an allergen to someone with a ragweed allergy.

I also use chamomile for digestive upsets and menstrual cramping.

No chamomile in the car?  Pull into a rest-stop Starbucks and order a cup of Tazo’s Calm tea.  This can be watered down for kids.  I’ve also had success using this as a wash for hives!  You can read that story here.

If you aren’t on the highway, a grocery store will often have a variety of chamomile teabags.  Make sure you choose one that does not have artificial flavorings, which can cause agitation in some people, which will negate the effects of the chamomile.

My final road trip recommendation:  Five Flower Formula (also called Rescue Remedy).  If traveling at 75 MPH isn’t good for your nerves, add a few drops of Five Flower Formula to your water or put a drop or two under your tongue.

Happy trails!