Using herbs as your primary medicines requires forethought. While many locations have an herbal shop where dried herbs may be available, you may find that you need something at an off hour when that resource is not open.
Below is a list of commonly needed herbs to have on hand dried, or already in a prepared form (discussed in part 2 of this series).
Some tips on keeping herbs at home...
Dried herbs are available in various quantities, but keeping 2-4oz of each dried herb, plus a few tinctures, in your home medicine cabinet is a good idea. It's best to store them in an airtight bag, or amber glass bottle, out of direct sunlight and away from areas with high humidity or large temperature ranges. Storing bulk herbs in the freezer can also limit any worries of insect infestation.
When purchasing herbs, always look at the Common Name as well as the Latin Name as many herbs can vary in common name based on location.
Let's start stocking your home medicine cabinet...
Anise seed Pimpinella anisum... useful in preventing/relieving intestinal gas and relieving coughs.
Burdock Root, Arctium lappa... blood toning and purifying; useful for internal and external skin applications and infections.
Calendula Calendula officinalis... a healer for internal and external injuries, irritations, and inflammations.; it is also antiseptic and soothing for burns and cuts, relieves itching and sting of insect bites, and in the form of an oil, it helps to heal skin rashes.
Catnip Nepeta cataria...calming to irritable children; induces sweating to assist a fever; relieves indigestion and achiness.
Chamomile Chamaemelum noble or Maticaria recutita...relieves stress, anxiety, fear, pain, aches, and restlessness; a great tea for winding down at bedtime, easing stomach troubles, inflammation, insomnia, and flu-like feelings; as a wash for irritated eyes or as a mouthwash for oral inflammation; compresses are soothing for bruises and wounds of all sorts.
Cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum...aids digestion, nausea, and vomiting; lends warmth to the body to help stop diarrhea; as a linament, it helps ease sore muscles.
Comfrey Symphytum officinal...leaves and root are both healing for diarrhea, broken bones, injured tissues, and coughs; one of the few vegetable sources of vitamin B12.
Echinacea Echinacea augustifolia...its main abilities are as a blood purifier and antimicrobial and an important first-line herb for infections that can also be used externally as a wash for wounds.; its cooling nature reduces inflammation, fever, and infection and treats poisonous insect bites/stings; as a tincture, fresh herb is most efficient as an immune boosting tonic and to help prevent illness.
Elder Flower Sambucus nigra...more effective than the berries in treating high fevers; combines well with peppermint in equal parts to avoid digestive upsets.
Garlic Allium sativum...strong antimicrobial (meaning both antiviral and antibacterial); especially efficient at treating upper respiratory infections and ear aches; useful for eliminating intestinal parasites; as a tonic can regulate both high and low blood pressure; as part of the daily diet, it can boost immune system activity; best used and stored raw, as a tea, in syrup or oil; Keep fresh garlic bulbs and garlic oil on hand.
Ginger Zingiber officinal... ginger root is best used in fevers, colds, and chills; stimulates circulation, breaks up congestion, brings on good fever; used internally for both arthritis and muscle aches, juices have been used effectively to treat burns; excellent remedy for upset stomach, nausea, and car sickness.
Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis...very strong and considered on par with medical grade antibiotics, seldom a first-line treatment; best suited to powder and tincture versions for serious, persistent infections not responding to other treatments.
Lemonn Balm Melissa officinalis...gentle and effective soother, nerve quieter, fever assistant; combines well with chamomile and catnip for children.
Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabrause to calm stomachs, reduce coughs, and balance stronger herbs in combination formulas; not to be used daily in children due to its strong influence on the glandular system
Lobelia Lobelia inflata...relaxing to the system overall while stimulating the lungs, well-suited to coughs and asthma. Note: toxic side effects at high doses, including stomach cramping and pain, nausea, vomiting, and headaches; discontinue use to relieve adverse symptoms and resume use later at a lower dosage. No lasting side effects.
Marshmellow Root Althea officinalis...high mucilaginous; soothes coughs and other respiratory irritations, inflammations of the mouth and digestive tract, and urinary tract inflammations; also used externally for inflammation.
Mullein Verbascum thapsus...leaves used in cough syrups; oils of leaves and flowers used to reduce the pain of ear aches and for skin inflammations.
Nettles Urtica dioica...strengthens the entire body, is nutritious; builds blood and nourishes kidneys and the circulatory system.
Peppermint Mentha piperita...easily grown; aids digestion and soothes stomach ache; combines well with other herbs (ex: elderflower...for feverish child)
Red Clover Trifolium pratense... blood nourishing herb to treat skin conditions, coughs, and blood infections.
Red Raspberry Leaf Rubus idaeus...most known for its use in pregnancy; outside pregnancy, useful for resolving diarrhea and sore throats; nutritious tonic can be used regularly.
Skullcap Scutellaria laterifolia...safe, effective nerve tonic that combines well with other nervines; tincture is well suited to children; gentle and suited to small doses.
Slippery Elm Bark Ulmus fuva...foolproof for eliminating constipation in babies; typically used in combination cough formulas as well as with powdered ginger or licorice to make lozenges; external use includes diaper rash and other chafed skin issues; blends well into oatmeal and smoothies to increase nutritional value.
Thyme Thymus vulgaris...strong antibacterial properties to cleanse infected wounds, eliminate respiratory and digestive infections, and relieve diarrhea; use oil as a hair wash for lice.
Valerian Valeriana officinalis...relieves cramps, tension, and toothaches (when applied directly to the tooth); 1 drop rubbed onto infant gums for teething issues; well suited for "hyper" children.
Wild Cherry Bark Prunus serotina... commonly used in cough syrups to relax the chest muscles, ease bronchitis and irritable coughs; well suited to whooping cough; overdose is possible but usage in small amounts poses no general issues.
Other items to have on hand for home healing...
BACH Rescue Remedy
pure honey *not for use in children under 15 months old
lemons -- to add in tea blends or pair with honey as a simple remedy for sore throats
activated charcoal capsules or powder -- relief for severe indigestion and migraine-type headaches, antidote for some types of poisoning
ipecac -- causes vomiting *always contact local poison control before inducing vomiting
vitamin C tablets or crystals --helps prevent infection in many cases
essential oils -- thyme, peppermint, eucalyptus to add to steams
green clay -- drawing poultice
apple cider vinegar -- internal and external antiseptic to treat fungal infections such as thrush and ringworm
sea salt -- use as a mouth rinse for toothaches and gum inflammations; use in salt pack for vomiting and diarrhea
Homeopathic remedies if used
Tinctures to keep on hand, commonly 1 oz bottles...
BACH Rescue Remedy
Chickweed-burdock root-plantain blend
Antispasmodic Ticture (Herb Pharm)
Children's Compound (Herb Pharm)
Calm Child Formula (Planetary Formulas)
excerpted from - Natural Healing for Babies & Children, Aviva Romm
Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Susun Weed
Herbal Antivirals, Stephen Herrod Buhner