Are you curious about beginning herbal medicine making? Wondering how to get started? Let me share what I’ve learned from my years of working as a home herbalist and sacred ritual tool creator. You don’t need a lot of fancy tools or ingredients to begin your home apothecary. Some items are simply nice to have, while others are absolutely necessary.
What Is A Home apothecary?
Herbalism is the study and practice of using herbs for their medicinal properties. Herbs have been used to heal the body and enrich the mind, body, and spirit since time immemorial. Home apothecaries are an ancient tradition that have been passed down through many cultures for centuries. They allow you to take the healing power of plants and herbs into your own hands, and make them available for use in your daily life. Having a home apothecary is basically like having an herbal pharmacy. It’s usually made up of a number of different herbs that you can use in a variety of ways like in teas, tinctures, salves, and many other preparations.
Apothecaries are literally the original pharmacies. Back in the day, the town healer would blend up medicinal tinctures and salves for people to buy or borrow from her collection of herbs and medicine-making supplies. Today, most people think of their local drug store when they hear “pharmacy” or “drug store” but originally, these were just called “apothecaries.” While not every herbalist will have a home apothecary, I highly recommend that you do. It’s not only a great way to learn about herbs, but it will also give you the resources you need to use your newfound herbal skills.
What Goes In A Home Apothecary?
Stocking your home apothecary is an exciting process. You can fill it with a diverse selection of herbs, tinctures, salves, teas, and books related to the conditions that your family is most likely to experience. While there are countless herbs and remedies to explore, it's best to start with some versatile and commonly used ones. Herbs like chamomile for relaxation, lavender for soothing, and ginger for digestive health are great additions. In addition to herbs, you'll need basic supplies, such as glass jars for storing herbs, carrier oils for making salves, and essential tools like a mortar and pestle for grinding herbs. Having a designated space for your home apothecary helps keep your supplies organized and easily accessible when needed, preventing waste and ensuring your herbs remain fresh.
The Benefits of Having Your Own Home Apothecary
As a modern herbal enthusiast, I can tell you that a well-stocked home apothecary will be your best friend in illness, injury, and just about any situation where you need to get back on your feet in a hurry. It’s great for colds, stomach aches, comfort during menstrual cramps, or even helping you sleep better at night. Having my own home apothecary allows me to stop running to the store every time something comes up, and instead rely on my own natural remedies. Having a physical place where you keep your herbs and supplies makes them easily accessible when you need them. It can also help you get organized so that you aren’t wasting money buying duplicates or letting your herbs get old and stale before you use them up. Most importantly, having a well-stocked apothecary will inspire you to take your health into your own hands by learning how to use plants for healing.
How Do You Know What to Put in Your Herbal Toolkit?
Building your herbal toolkit requires thoughtful consideration and understanding of your unique needs and interests. Start by exploring herbs that resonate with your specific health goals and preferences. Research reputable sources and books to gain knowledge about different herbs' properties and potential uses. As you learn more about the benefits and applications of various herbs, you'll be able to make informed decisions about what to include in your apothecary. Over time, your herbal toolkit will evolve and grow, reflecting your expanding expertise and personal connection with the world of herbal medicine. Embrace this journey of discovery, and soon you'll find yourself confidently crafting remedies that cater to your well-being and those around you.
Here are some of the most common, effective, and easily accessible herbs to start with:
1. Lavender: Known for its calming and soothing properties, lavender is excellent for promoting relaxation and rOeducing stress. It can be used in teas, baths, or as an essential oil for aromatherapy.
2. Chamomile: A gentle herb with mild sedative effects, chamomile is ideal for promoting better sleep and easing digestive discomfort. It's commonly used in teas and tinctures.
3. Echinacea: Often used as a natural remedy to boost the immune system, echinacea can help shorten the duration of colds and flu. It's available in various forms, including capsules, tinctures, and teas.
4. Peppermint: Known for its refreshing taste and digestive benefits, peppermint is perfect for soothing an upset stomach. It can be used as a tea, added to culinary dishes, or applied topically as a balm.
5. Ginger: A powerful anti-inflammatory and digestive aid, ginger is versatile and can be used fresh, dried, or as a tincture. It's commonly included in teas, soups, and culinary dishes.
6. Calendula: With its skin-soothing properties, calendula is a valuable addition to any herbal toolkit. It's often used in salves, creams, and oils for minor skin irritations and wounds.
7. Elderberry: Known for its immune-boosting properties, elderberry is popular for preventing and treating colds and flu. Elderberry syrup or tincture can be used during the cold season.
8. Nettle: A nutrient-rich herb, nettle is often used as a tonic to support overall health. It's commonly consumed as a tea or used in tinctures and herbal infusions.
9. Rosemary: This aromatic herb is known for its cognitive benefits and ability to enhance memory and focus. It can be used in culinary dishes, teas, or as an essential oil.
10. Valerian: Valerian is a potent herb for promoting relaxation and supporting sleep. It's usually taken as a tincture or in capsule form.
Growing Them Yourself
Here is a list of plants that can be grown in small spaces, such as balconies, windowsills, or small gardens, making it more affordable and convenient to start your home apothecary:
1. Basil: This versatile herb is easy to grow in containers and adds wonderful flavor to culinary dishes. It can also be used in herbal teas for its calming properties.
2. Mint: Mint is a hardy herb that thrives in small spaces. It comes in various flavors like peppermint and spearmint and can be used in teas, salads, or as a garnish.
3. Thyme: Thyme is a low-maintenance herb that can be grown in small pots. It has antiseptic properties and is commonly used in herbal remedies for respiratory issues.
4. Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb that grows well in containers. It's known for its calming effects and can be used in teas or infused oils.
5. Parsley: Parsley is an easy-to-grow herb that adds flavor to dishes and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It can be used in culinary creations and herbal infusions.
6. Calendula: Calendula flowers are not only beautiful but also beneficial for the skin. They can be grown in small pots or containers and used in herbal salves and skincare products.
7. Chamomile:Chamomile is a gentle herb that thrives in small spaces and is well-known for its soothing properties. It's commonly used in teas and infused oils.
8. Lavender: Lavender is a fragrant herb that can be grown in containers or small gardens. It has calming properties and can be used in teas or for aromatherapy.
9. Rosemary: Rosemary is a flavorful herb that grows well in small pots. It can be used in culinary dishes, teas, or infused oils for its cognitive benefits.
10. Lemongrass: Lemongrass is a tall, slender herb that can be grown in small pots. It adds a citrusy flavor to dishes and can be used in herbal teas.
These herbs are not only cost-effective to grow in small spaces but also provide a wide range of health benefits and culinary uses. They are a great starting point for creating your home apothecary, allowing you to have fresh, organic herbs at your fingertips for your herbal remedies and culinary creations. Remember to provide them with sufficient sunlight, water, and well-draining soil to ensure their healthy growth.
Remember, while these herbs are commonly used and versatile, building your apothecary should reflect your unique health needs and interests. Research each herb thoroughly to understand its properties, potential interactions, and proper dosages. Always consult with a qualified herbalist or healthcare professional before incorporating new herbs into your wellness routine, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have any existing medical conditions.