Before modern medicine, humans used plants for healing. Even though most villages had a shaman or wise person to call on when serious illness struck, everyone knew at least a few simple remedies for minor complaints. That’s not really true any more. Most people head to the emergency room for uncomfortable but non-serious problems that can often be solved with a little know-how and a few basic staples. These herbal hacks are all easy, cheap, and use simple ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen, or are easy to find here at Loose Leaf, or in just about any grocery store.
Start to build up your pantry to have necessities on hand when you need them.
- Your spice cabinet is a gold mine, so replace old spices and dried herbs with fresh ones. Click here to read how spices can help with inflammation!
- Fresh herbs like sage, thyme, and rosemary are extremely useful as well as tasty
- Even if you don’t drink, keep a small bottle of vodka in the cabinet to make your own remedies
- Have a few basic essential oils on hand, like lavender, rosemary, lemon, or sweet orange
- Purchase a package of sterile gauze pads, or cotton cosmetic pads, and some cotton swabs
- A fine mesh strainer is a staple tool, and can be used to strain tea leaves as well as making home remedies. Here is a tea infuser that doubles as a strainer
I’ve broken down the herbal hacks into categories, so feel free to read them all, or scroll to the topics that interest you the most.
Important note: Although these herbal remedies all contain ingredients that are generally regarded as safe, check with your primary care provider before using them if you’re pregnant, nursing, are under a physician’s care, or are taking prescription medication.
- Slowly chew on a fresh parsley leaf or a mint leaf to relieve a feeling of fullness or bloating
- Place a drop of a bitter tincture (Golden Bitters, gentian root, or cocktail bitters) in your mouth to settle nausea
- If you don’t have any bitters on hand, take a small bite of a bitter salad green like endive or radicchio
- Raid the spice cabinet for a little powdered ginger, and add a pinch to your tea or a little warm water
- Chew a few fennel seeds after meals to settle indigestion and relieve bloating
Sore muscles or sprains
- Grate a small piece of fresh ginger root into a folded cotton towel, add enough warm water to moisten, and apply this pack to the aching area
- Make a liniment by adding a little pinch of cayenne pepper to a shot glass of vodka. Mix well, and rub into sore and tight muscles
- Use a cotton swab to apply a drop of geranium essential oil directly on a cold sore. Reapply throughout the day to speed the healing process
- Place wet green tea leaves either directly or in a tea bag to the affected area. Hold it there for 10 minutes or longer, and reapply throughout the day
- Raw honey or manuka honey dabbed on the spot with a little wooden spatula or cotton swab helps keep the lips moist as it disinfects the area
- Stir in a few drops of lavender essential oil into a spoonful of raw honey. Apply to the burned area and cover with gauze, as this is a very sticky ointment
Fast energy without caffeine
- Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to grape juice or hot cocoa to wake up your metabolism.
- Make a super strong tea of any of these kitchen herbs: sage, thyme, or oregano, let it cool, then gargle with it. Repeat every hour to bathe your sore throat with bacteria-busting botanicals
- Tip: you can also use this tea to disinfect a cut
Instant hand sanitizer
- Fill a shot glass with vodka, and add 5 drops of any of these essential oils: lavender, rosemary, Four Thieves blend, lemon, eucalyptus. Mix well, splash some on your hands, and rub them briskly together
- Grab a sprig of fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme, and roll between your palms
- Crush a large pinch of any of these dried herbs in your hands: white sage, lavender flowers, thyme, oregano
Dry, irritated eyes
- Moisten a gauze or cotton pad with rose hydrosol, and place over the eyes to soothe, cool, and relieve itching. You can also use fresh, unsprayed rose petals; crush them gently, place in a little glass or ceramic cup, and pour a little hot water over them. When the liquid cools, use it in the same way as the rose hydrosol.
- For inflammation and sties, wet a gauze or cotton pad with purified water, along with 5 drops of goldenseal tincture. Place over the affected area (eyes closed, or it might sting), and repeat throughout the day with a fresh pad. Safety tip: do not use the same pad for both eyes, and do not apply to the sensitive inner eyelids
Calm escalated emotions
- During a heated argument, burn a little white sage or juniper to cool off the heat and help you regain control of yourself
- Place a drop of lavender essential oil in your palm. Rub your palms together, bring your hands to your face, and breathe in deeply several times, until you feel like you can manage the situation. You can also use other essential oils such as rosemary for clarity, sandalwood for inner peace, or patchouli, to feel grounded
- Keep a bottle of Rescue Remedy flower essence on hand. Squirt a few drops under your tongue during panic or anxiety. This remedy works wonders for toddler tantrums. Simply squirt a few drops in the toddler’s mouth while they scream; they typically will calm down within a minute or two.
We’d love to hear your tried and true home remedies in the comments below!
*This information has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to diagnose or cure a medical issue, or replace professional medical care. If you are pregnant or nursing, are under the care of a physician, or on prescription medication, talk to your health care provider before making any changes to your diet or routine.