Learning to use herbs in your everyday life can seem overwhelming at first. There are so many different herbs and ways to prepare them! Thankfully, a tea kettle and some dried herbs are all you need to be able to begin using herbs in your own home and even provide herbal support for common first aid complaints.
Herbal teas, or infusions, aren’t just good for drinking. Besides being enjoyed as a hot drink or over ice, they can be applied topically as a compress or added to bathwater to make an herbal soak.
These ten especially versatile herbs can make a serviceable Tea Kettle First Aid Kit for your homestead or farm:
Here are a few of the ways you can utilize these herbs support your health and wellness!
An upset stomach is uncomfortable, to say the least. Two herbs from the list above stand out as particularly beneficial for digestive support. Sage, which is astringent, has traditionally been used to help resolve diarrhea. Horehound’s incredibly bitter taste helps prime the digestive system to do its best work, and can also help bring a little ease to an overburdened digestive tract after a big meal.
In addition, rose was once considered to be a valuable liver tonic and meadowsweet has a reputation among herbalists as being helpful for normalizing digestion when acidity is too high.
Several of the herbs in the list above are nervines that help support the health of the nervous system in various ways.
Rose is a soothing and nurturing option and a cup of rose tea can be just the thing to wind down after a stressful day. Sage is a calming herb that supports frayed nerves and helps put the mind at ease, and even elderflowers can offer a gentle reprieve from stress or daily cares when added to your tea cup.
Your tea kettle first aid kit’s versatility extends past your tea cup with herbs that you can also apply topically! Calendula is well loved for antiseptic properties that help keep cuts and bug bites clean, and may also help promote a healthy response to inflammation. Yarrow can be used to support healing and hygiene for cuts, as an astringent to balance the circulation when there is excessive bleeding, and even makes a good wash for sores and bruises.
Many herbalists can attest to plantain’s drawing energy that supports the body’s process for expelling dirt and debris from hard to clean or infected wounds. Plantain is also traditionally used on insect bites and stings. Rose petals make a good alternative to lavender when addressing burn or sunburn after care from an herbal perspective.
Many of the herbs in this tea kettle first aid kit are also very balancing and comforting when your body is facing down a cold. Yarrow is a diaphoretic herb, traditionally used by herbalists to help promote sweating as the body works to break a fever (more on that here).
Elderflower is also a diaphoretic, and a boon for runny noses—because one of elder’s actions is to dry up and balance excess secretions. Sage can help in a similar manner as elderflower, with the added bonus that its astringency makes it a go-to herb for many herbalists when they have a sore throat!
Calendula can be helpful during a cold, but for different reasons. This herb is used to help gently cleanse the lymphatic system, which herbalists believe can give the immune system an edge and help ease uncomfortable swelling in the lymph nodes.
Sometimes the worst part of a cold is the respiratory struggle that ensues as your nose runs or feels stuffy and your lungs try to eliminate phlegm. The same can be true of allergies, and thankfully there are several herbal allies that we can turn to in either case. Elder and sage, as mentioned above, are two, thanks to their penchant for drying up excess secretions.
Horehound is one of the most venerated cough remedies in traditional herbalism—but beware! The bitter brew of horehound tea may take both a little getting used to and a little dab of honey. Plantain is traditionally enlisted in herbal lung formulas as an ingredient to thin and expel mucus, and has a much milder taste than horehound. If your breathing woes are allergy related, goldenrod may helpful to you.
If stress or a hard day of physical work have your muscles tied up in knots, you can use several of the herbs in your tea kettle first aid kit to put your muscles at ease. Goldenrod is often included in liniments and salves for just that reason, but it works equally well if you make a strong infusion to add to your bath water. Meadowsweet contains some of the same compounds as white willow, the herb that inspired the development of aspirin, so a cup of meadowsweet tea can be a welcome respite when you are feeling achy and uncomfortable.
If you feel cold and achy, sage is wonderful in the bath to help warm up your joints and limbs, and has the added bonus that its nervine properties make it soothing and comforting to the emotions and not just the body.
When you are creating your Tea Kettle First Aid Kit, be sure to source your herbs from reputable companies that specialize in herbs. This will guarantee that the herbs are free of contaminants and don’t contain misidentified plants! Many good companies exist that sell herbs in tea bags or loose leaf, in bulk. If you decide to purchase dried herbs in bulk, be sure to store your herbs in an airtight container away from moisture and sunlight to protect their shelf life and keep them as fresh as possible.
More tips for storing your herbs can be found here.
To make an infusion from loose leaf herbs, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried herbs to a heat safe glass bowl and add 8 ounces of water just off the boil. Cover the bowl and allow it to steep for 5-10 minutes before straining. If you have a tea strainer, you can brew your infusion right into your favorite tea cup.
For creating an herbal tub tea or bath, place ¼ to ½ cup of dried herbs into a quart canning jar. Fill the jar with water and allow it to steep, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain the infusion and pour the tea into your bathwater, then enjoy as you would a regular bath.
The art of making herbal teas is a versatile place to begin learning herbalism, but there are many other ways herbs can be used around the homestead. With reliable, well-researched online programs, the Herbal Academy’s Introductory Herbal Course can help you establish a solid, practical foundation in herbalism that’s perfect for your home or farmstead!
Photos copyright Herbal Academy.Agatha Noveille grew up in gardens, and under the teaching of her grandparents, she learned how to identify native plants and how to grow fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs in miniature Edens that reflected the personalities of their caretakers. It was only natural that she blossomed into a plant-related career, and she is now a writer and herbalist in Dalton, Ga. Agatha is an Associate Educator at the Herbal Academy, international school of herbal arts and sciences. Learn more about the Herbal Academy and read all of Agatha's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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