Choosing Herbal Medicine for the Home

Choosing herbal medicine for the home, including information on the herbs comfrey, echinacea, garlic, angelica, valerian, chamomile, calendula, harvesting and drying herbs and using herbs safely.

| July/August 1985

Learn about choosing herbal medicine to create your own home health cabinet. 

"These plants are food, spiritual food, and they are medicine."—Black Elk 

Choosing Herbal Medicine for the Home

Part I

When we learned that Olivia Abel—one of the gardeners at MOTHER's Eco-Village—kept an entire supply of homegrown herbs to treat her family's common ailments, we were so intrigued that we asked her to share some of her herbal expertise. Here, then, is Part I of a two-part article, which we hope you will find as informative and useful as we have. 

When I feel a cold coming on . . . or my little boy is hyperactive and needs soothing . . . or my husband has a muscle spasm in his neck, I go to my medicine cabinet and pick out the herbal remedy that will help my family back on the road to health. I find this very satisfying . . . primarily, of course, because it works. The herbal remedies I use have helped—and continue to help—my family.

My homemade treatments also provide me with another important satisfaction: I know their source. And, in the realm of herbs, this point isn't to be taken lightly. Many of the pesticides that have been outlawed in America are exported to Third World countries. There, they are sprayed on crops and herbs that we, in turn, import (and a majority of the herbs sold in our nation's stores do come from such countries). When you take an herb medicinally, you often ingest large doses of that plant, so it's vitally important to make sure the herb was not grown with the help of toxic chemicals. And the best way to do so is to grow it yourself.

You can put together an herbal medicine chest that will meet most of your family's common health-care needs by growing and drying approximately 20 herbs (some of which you'd probably raise for cooking purposes anyway). However, to make getting started in this endeavor easier, I'm going to focus on only seven of my favorite medicinal herbs.

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