herbal medicine part 3 of 5 ~ 5 original remedies and a story

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This week, not only do I have two original salve recipes and three original tincture recipes for you, but I would also like to share with you our most recent success story, of how the compress recipe from last week played a role in preventing Chickie from needing stitches when she fell out of her sister’s bunk bed yesterday!

This post is the third part of a five-part series on making and using herbal remedies. To read the first two parts click here and here.

I appreciate the kind thoughts some of you shared about the last post in this series. One of you asked a very good question – what does comfrey look like? I hadn’t planned on sharing any pictures of comfrey because so many of our homestead photos seem to show them in the distance. If I keep posting them, I sometimes wonder, will people think I’m obsessed with comfrey? Haha. But, honestly, if you have kids and you’re planning an herbal garden, comfrey is one herb I would strongly suggest planting. So here’s today I will share photos of comfrey and of Chickie’s healing cheek.

This is how it all went down.

I woke up Monday morning to screaming. And not the “my brother just stole my teddy bear” scream, the “I just gashed my cheek on a toy falling out of bed” scream. Which is exactly what happened to Chickie before we had even gotten up for the day.

I ran to the bedroom, picked her up, only to see blood streaking down her face. When I set her down on the couch to clean her up, I quickly realized the bleeding had not stopped. After putting pressure on it with a paper towel and then a wet wash cloth, I found the small, yet fairly deep cut on her cheek bone.

Considering the shock we were all in, my first instinct was that Chickie would be the first of our children to be going to the ER, and I needed to make plans immediately to get her there. By the time I finally reached Papa at work a few minutes later we had begun to calm down and the bleeding had slowed significantly. Chickie was still a bit fussy, but would calmly sit still if I stayed right by her side. Papa made plans to pick up a few extra first aid supplies and be home as soon as he could. In the meantime I taped gauze with my first aid salve to her face with cloth tape.

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Long story short, we both took a good look at it and decided that even though it went through a few layers of skin, it had not gone terribly deep. The biggest concern was how, based on its location, the cut pulled apart when not held together. So we re-bandaged it as seen in this photo, gently pulling the skin underneath upward as we taped it to encourage the two sides to meet. I changed it again last night and this morning, replacing the first aid salve with a comfrey/mullien tea infused piece of gauze.

This morning I was amazed at how wonderfully her cut was coming together and healing. This is how it looks this evening. A couple more days of bandaging to prevent infection and I think she’ll be set to go. And to think we were so close to bringing her in for stitches, when a well applied bandage and a couple of herbs were all she needed after all.

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So! If you have kids and you want an herbal garden (or even if you don’t have kids!) get yourself some comfrey!

Now, stories are helpful and encouraging, but they won’t do much good without directions on how to make remedies yourself! This week I’ll be sharing the last of my original recipes with you, including for the first aid salve I’ve been putting on Chickie’s cheek (alternated with the comfrey/mullien compress).

After ice packs, salves were the next application I learned how to make when preparing  medicinal herbs. I like salves because you can make them ahead of time, store them for long periods, and use them as needed. With salves prepared from fall harvesting, you will have herbal remedies to last all winter for certain ailments, or much longer if you have a deep freezer!

Baby Bum Salve

This basic salve made from just two gentle herbs heals diaper rash quickly, just as well as name-brand creams! In fact, it is the only remedy I have used on three of my babies. It’s safe to use on circumcisions for faster, more comfortable healing as well. This remedy is safe on the most sensitive skin, with no known contraindications.

The great thing about herbs though, is that they aren’t good for just one ailment. This salve, which I made with sensitive baby bums in mind, is great for healing all sorts of injuries to the skin. My grandmother shared that it “works well on winter-time cracks on my fingers”, something I have also used it for!

Here’s how to make it ~

Ingredients and supplies

  • A 1qt glass jar filled half way with fresh comfrey and topped off with calendula
  • 1 qt of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb organic beeswax, grated
  • About 20 – 2oz containers

Pour the olive oil into the glass jar of herbs, making sure the herbs are completely covered. Carefully slide a butter knife along the inside wall of the jar and gently push herbs around to loosen up air bubbles and allow them to float to the top before topping off the jar with oil. Screw the lid on tight and place the jar in a cool dark place for 6-8 weeks, turning over every week or two to make sure all the herbs have adequate oil covering them, otherwise the leaves could grow mold.

When the oil is infused, strain out the oil into a clean jar and compost the remaining plant material. Some herbal remedies require simply using this method of infusing oil, such as remedies for treating ear infections, but in the case of salve, this is just the first step.

Next, pour the oil into a sauce pan and heat on medium-low. While you are waiting for the oil to warm up, begin grating the bars of beeswax. Add the beeswax to the pot and stir until completely melted. Carefully pour the melted oil and beeswax into your chosen storage containers and allow to harden before putting the lids on. Mark the date on top if you wish and store in a dark, cool, dry place until needed. We prefer to use those little disposable plastic tubs you buy in large packages in the coffee aisle. If you are concerned about leaching of chemicals into the salve, glass is the ideal material for salve containers. Pimento jars are the perfect size, as well as screw-top lip balm containers.

Before making this recipes, you should also know that the amount of beeswax needed to make salves is somewhat subjective. Some prefer it very soft, some prefer it stiff, and some like it in the middle. The beeswax is not a necessary part of the healing attributes of the salve, it is simply a carrier, so this part is simple a personal choice. To decide what texture you like best, try putting only most of the grated beeswax in the oil, and once it melts pour a little into one container. Allow to harden while the rest of the oil is on low heat. If you like the texture once the sample has cooled, pour the remaining oil and beeswax mix into their containers. If you want it the salve stiffer, add more beeswax until you are happy with your salve.

To store, keep one or two small containers of your salve readily available at room temperature for easy use. I keep ours in our medicine cabinet. If you have a dark, cool, dry room, store the remaining salve containers there for up to 6 months. if you do not expect to use all of your salves within 6 months, store the remainder in a freezer, either in the back of your fridge and freezer unit, or in a deep freezer. Use within two years if possible, but I have found that they do retain their medicinal benefits much longer!

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(a full-grown leaf of comfrey)

Using the same directions, also try our ~

Nature’s First Aid Salve

My hope for this salve was to replace the standard antibiotic cream I kept in our first aid kit. I wanted something that could be used universally for minor injuries, and despite having used it extensively for the past few years, I have yet to be disappointed! I have used to sooth and heal sunburns, relieve very achy joints, heal dry, cut, and bruised skin, to reduce swollen bumps and rashes, and more that I have surely forgotten!

It can be used for burns, swellings, bruises, sun burns, achy muscles, cuts and abrasions, insect bites, and nose bleeds. This salve is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial. It may provide relief for muscle spasms, restlessness, muscle pain, neuralgia, and sciatica. It provides a safe alternative to most antibacterial creams for minor wounds.

One of our customers share about this salve, “I LOVE it for all manner of surface wounds but especially for diaper rash, it would clear it up within days if not hours”. And another customer wrote:

“Our family has been using [Mama’s] first aid salve for a couple of years now.  It’s been one of our go-to’s for all things “Boo Boo”!  The kids ask for “[Mama's] lotion” more often than not when they have scrapes or cuts.  It’s works great, relieves pain, prevents infection and heals wounds very quickly.  I’m so happy to be able to use a home grown first aid salve made from ingredients created by God rather than a store bought version with artificial, man made ingredients.  God’s ingredients are always better!”

Here’s how you can make your own ~

Ingredients and supplies

  • A 1qt jar filled with equal amounts of fresh calendula, chamomile, yarrow, lavender, rosemary, valerian, comfrey, lemon balm, thyme, and echinacea
  • 1 qt extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb organic beeswax
  • About 20 – 2oz containers

Use the directions for making and storing Baby Bum Salve shared above. This recipe is safe for everyone, but use caution if you are epileptic, allergic to ragweed, or have hypothroidism. Negative reactions are unlikely as these are applied topically in small amounts, but in these cases you will want to do your own research before choosing to use this recipes.

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(comfrey plants, after I trimmed it back this week)

I know this post is getting long, and we’re not done yet! Thank you for hanging in there with me, I’m sure you will find this information helpful! Next up are our three original tincture recipes.

Tinctures are great for systemic illnesses, such as bacterial or viral infections, or chronic conditions. They are a good alternative to teas, and much faster to take doses of for acute infections.

The following tincture recipes are written so you can choose to make single herb  tincture bases for use in one recipe or mix and match the bases for numerous recipes, or you can choose to skip the single herb bases and the remedies based on teaspoons of bases and go straight to the 1 quart method in which I will show you what proportions to make 1 quart of a tincture remedy. I prefer infusing individual herbs in alcohol separately, prior to mixing the remedies together, so I can use one base tincture in more than one recipe. You can also choose to skip the base tinctures and purchase pre-made single herb tinctures to mix together as the remedy recipes call for.

Clear Mind Tonic Tincture

Papa, who isn’t normally great remembering many new names at once, started taking this tincture daily as he was beginning his new job 2.5 years ago, working with about 30 new people. He memorized their names in less than a week, and he attributes it to the mental ease he felt after taking this remedy.

The greatest success story of this remedy came from a customer who used it on her preteen son who struggled with ADHD that led to concerning, aggressive behavior. The medications his doctor had prescribed were not helping as well she had hoped they would, so she added a daily dose of Clear Mind Tonic to his regiment, and before long those around this young boy were noticing a big difference in his personality and behavior. Finally he calming down, and his mom was very happy with the positive effect of teaming this tincture with his regular medication. Today this boy is happy, polite, and has a healthy amount of energy.

The herbs I chose for this remedy reduce nervousness and anxiety, lighten the spirit, and prevent depression. It can be used to revitalize the adrenal glands, reduce stress-induced insomnia as well as nervous indigestion, as well as improve alertness, awareness, memory, and energy. Large doses may cause stomach upset, cause uterine contractions, act as a stimulant for a small number of people, or aggravate hypothyroidism, so be smart!

Here’s how you can make it yourself ~

Ingredients and supplies for the base tinctures needed for this remedy

  • A 1qt glass jar filled with fresh basil
  • A 1qt glass jar filled with fresh chamomile
  • A 1/2 pint glass jar filled with oregano
  • A 1/2 pint glass jar filled with lemon balm
  • A 1/2 pint glass jar filled with valerian
  • About 3 quarts of 100 proof vodka
  • 48 – 2oz glass dropper bottles

For the remedy tincture, pour into each 2oz glass dropper bottle:

  • 4 1/2 tsp basil tincture
  • 4 1/2 tsp chamomile tincture
  • 1 tsp oregano tincture
  • 1 tsp valerian tincture
  • 1 tsp lemon balm tincture

One quart method. Mix these herbs in a 1qt glass jar. Top with vodka.

  • 4 1/2 parts fresh basil
  • 4 1/2 parts fresh chamomile
  • 1 part oregano
  • 1 part valerian
  • 1 part lemon balm
  • 16 – 2oz glass dropper bottles

Fill the glass jars with herbs as described in either the base tincture or one quart method ingredients list, and fill each to the top with vodka, making sure that the herbs are completely covered. The amount of alcohol needed can very depending on how much you fill the base tincture jars before infusing the alcohol. We use vodka as it has long been recommended for its ease in calculating how much alcohol is needed for making a base tincture, but others can be used. You may want to research pros and cons of alcohol types useful for making tinctures before you make your own. Either way, once you fill the jars with herbs and alcohol, place in a cool, dark place and allow the alcohol to infuse for 6-8 weeks.

When the time is up, strain out the tinctures into separate clean jars and compost the remaining plant material. If you are using the one-quart method, simply pour the strained tincture into the dropper bottles, label and store. If you are using the tincture remedy method, measure out the correct amounts of individual tinctures as described in the remedy ingredients list above into each dropper bottle, label, and store.

If stored in amber colored glass bottles, tinctures have been known to retain their medicinal benefits for up to 20 years. I recommend that you keep one or two bottles in your medicine cabinet, and keep the rest in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a food pantry to make them last as long as possible. Do not freeze.

Dosages ~

While the amount of alcohol consumed in one dose is low, some prefer taking advantage of the long shelf life of alcohol-based tinctures, and then heating a dose enough to evaporate the alcohol before ingesting. To do this, steep one dose in one cup of water for a 3-5 minutes. Use honey for sweetener. Adults: For chronic problems take 2.5 to 5 droppers of tincture under the tongue per day and chase with water. For acute illnesses  take 1-3 droppers of tincture every 30-60 minutes. The elderly should limit dosages to half that of younger adults. Children: Children under the age of 2 should take no more than a quarter of a dropper of tincture. Increase dose with age, up to 1 dropper of tincture for a 12 year old.

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Using the same directions for infusing alcohol and taking doses of tinctures, try our…

Headache Relief Tincture

Some of our customers have found that combining this tincture with over-the-counter medications is the only way they can adequately treat their migraines. Others simply find it helpful for relieving tension headaches and promoting restful sleep. This remedy can be used for tension headaches, to rest an anxious mind, and promote sleep. Large amounts may cause stomach upset, mental confusion, aggravate hypothyroidism, or cause uterine contractions. Do not use in children under the age of 2, or if you are allergic to ragweed.

Here’s how you can make it yourself ~

Ingredients and supplies for the base tinctures needed for this remedy:

  • 2 – 1qt glass jars filled with fresh chamomile
  • A 1/2 pint glass jar filled with fresh chamomile
  • A 1/2 pint glass jar filled with fresh lemon balm
  • A 1 pint glass jar filled with fresh valerian
  • About 3 quarts of 100-proof vodka
  • 48 – 2oz glass dropper bottles

For the remedy tincture, pour into each 2oz glass dropper bottle:

  • 9 tsps chamomile tincture
  • 1 tsp valerian tincture
  • 2 tsps lemon balm tincture

One quart method. Mix these herbs in a 1qt glass jar. Top with vodka.

  • 9 parts fresh chamomile
  • 1 part fresh lemon balm
  • 2 parts fresh valerian
  • Pour 12tsp into each of 16-2oz glass dropper bottles.

And again, using the Clear Mind Tonic tincture infusion and dosage information, try our…

Digestive Aid Tincture

We have used this remedy to aid in treating stomach cramps, constipation, and diarrhea of either viral or unknown causes, with good success. It can also be used to stimulate digestion, reduce colic, and expel trapped gas. It should not to be used for babies under 3 months of age, or by people allergic to ragweed. Large doses may aggravate hypothyroidism, cause uterine contractions, decrease mother’s milk supply, cause stomach upset, or act as a stimulant in a small number of people.

Here’s how you can make this recipe yourself ~

Ingredients and supplies for the base tinctures needed for this remedy

  • A 1qt glass jar filled with fresh chamomile
  • A 1 pint glass jar filled with fresh chamomile
  • A 1 pint glass jar filled with fresh anise hyssop
  • A 1 pint glass jar filled with fresh yarrow
  • A 1/2 pint glass jar filled with fresh lemon balm
  • A 1/2 pint glass jar filled with fresh valerian
  • About 3 quarts of 100-proof vodka
  • 48 – 2oz glass dropper bottles

For the remedy tincture, pour into each 2oz glass dropper bottle:

  • 6 tsp chamomile tincture
  • 1 tsp valerian tincture
  • 1 tsp lemon balm tincture
  • 2 tsp yarrow tincture
  • 2 tsp anise hyssop tincture

One quart method. Mix these herbs in a 1qt glass jar. Top with vodka.

  • 6 parts fresh chamomile
  • 1 part fresh valerian
  • 1 part fresh lemon balm
  • 2 parts fresh yarrow
  • 2 parts fresh anise hyssop
  • Pour 12tsp into each of 16-2oz glass dropper bottles.

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If you made it all the way through this post, I congratulate you! This may be my longest yet!

If you try one of our recipes, please share your personal experience with it. Next up – the herbs I have grown in my gardens, and why I love them.

9 responses

  1. Christina says:

    Wow, these are great! Can’t wait to try some of these recipes. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Do you sell any of your remedies?

  2. Yaiyai says:

    Is it possible to use dried herbs for tinctures? I would like to make a couple of the recipes, but things like the lemon balm are herbs I have dried from last summer …

  3. Dianne says:

    Mama…our 10 y.o was stung by a bumble bee..the big fuzzy ones..and his foot is so SWOLLEN. Any ideas? it was yesterday.thanks!

    • Mama says:

      Sorry to hear about that! He must be SO uncomfortable! Well, big surprise, I would go for comfrey. But other herbs that would likely be helpful are calendula, lavendar, and plantain, which grows as a weed in many places and could be easy to harvest wild. You could make a poultice (a tea of the herb, and apply with the plant material), do a foot soak in the tea, or get an essential oil (such as, with lavendar) and rub on the area. A baking soda and water paste can also relieve pain and ease swelling, and last resort, benadryl works pretty good! Best of luck!

  4. [...] in Tuesday’s post as much different than the typical, sibling rivalry scream of defiance. If you’ve read that post, you already know what happened that morning, and why I called Papa at 7:30am. Thank God we were [...]

  5. Auntie says:

    I’d also like to add that I’ve been using the baby bum salve on my new tattoo which had some minor dermatitis. Within a couple days, no more irritation!

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