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!

Planting Symbolism in the Garden

Planting Symbolism in the Garden

We have been a bit beleaguered in our new home.

There are the 5am barking dogs.

The uncivil neighbor (who owns said dogs).

The traffic, and radios, and car horns….

Plants to the rescue!

I decided to use the energy of the green world to fill my home with peace and to protect the boundaries of my space.

Here’s what’s going into the garden and why:

Yarrow:  in Celtic cultures yarrow was a warrior’s plant because she staunches blood flow.  Yarrow increases courage and helps us defend our boundaries.

Rose, who says:  I am beautiful and sweet but if you mishandle me, I will make you bleed.

Holly:  used since ancient times for protection from evil spirits (that’s why you hang holly over the door at Christmas/solstice)

Lavender:  for peace and clear boundaries.

Elder Flower:  for harmony with the cycle of the seasons.

Thyme: for strength.

Marjoram: to dispel grief and bring joy.

Sage: for wisdom, acting not re-acting.

Rosemary:  for remembrance of kindness and warmth.

Fig: for abundance, security, and peace.

Weeping Pussy Willow:  sometimes called the Tree of Enchantment, this tree lends flexibility and strength (and some say it will grant one wish.  I wish for quiet dogs, please!).  Willows have an affinity for water, for flow, and our thought to symbolize the healing of the earth.

Do you use plants symbolically?  How?

Join us to discuss on our facebook page!

Lavender Tales (and tips!)

Lavender Tales (and tips!)

Thursdays were spaghetti night.  Our teacher’s kitchen was small and Lacye and I had gotten good, during the first weeks of our apprenticeship, at dancing round each other to prepare our meals.

Lacye grabbed the soup pot of spaghetti off the stove and carried it to the colander in the sink. Her back was to me, so I didn’t see what happened but I heard the screaming.

Red welts already covered her arm where spaghetti and boiling water had splashed.  Our teacher Gina rushed in and shoved Lacye’s arm under cold water from the tap and sent me to fetch the lavender essential oil.

For the next half hour we alternated cold water and lavender oil.  After a half hour Lacye stopped crying. After an hour the welts were gone.

I’ve had many opportunities to use lavender since then – most dramatically when I came home from teaching, exhausted, and ended up spilling lentils that had been cooking all day in the crock-pot onto my hand.

Somehow between the exhaustion and the shock, my brain thought it was more important to clean what had spilled on the floor instead of getting the burning hot beans off my arm.  By the time I stuck my arm under water, it was brilliant red and my nerves were screeching.

The pain had me hyperventilating and too distressed to think straight.  I called a neighbor and she somehow got, through the sobbing and huffing, that I needed her help.

For the next hour we alternated cold water and lavender essential oil.  I took St. John’s wort tincture and Advil to help quite my screaming nerves.  Miraculously the heat went down.  Slowly my nerves quieted.  I left a message on my husband Andrew’s voice mail and fell soundly asleep.

At 2.a.m. Andrew arrived home (it was October and in October, Andrew’s stilt-walking alter-ego works at our local haunted house).  He crept into the bedroom and gently disentangled my arm from the blanket so he could see my hand.

There was nothing to see, no blisters, no redness.  Nothing.


  • Make sure your lavender essential oil is therapeutic grade Lavender angustofolia.  There are many types of lavender.  This is the one you want for burns.
  • “Therapeutic grade” means that it is the highest quality oil.
  • Lavender hydrosol doesn’t smell like lavender…. at all!  It’s even a little bit stinky.  But it feels great on sunburn!  Keep it in the fridge.  This will make it deliciously cool on your hot skin and increase the shelf life.  (A hydrosol is the water part of an essential oil distillation).
  • Want your hydrosol to smell like lavender?  Add a few drops of the essential oil.
  • If you look like Andrew in his zombie get-up and it’s not stage make-up, it’s probably time for a trip to the E.R.

Lavender– don’t leave home without it!