Nettle Herb Profile

Nettle is one of my favorite herbs. Also called “stinging nettle”, it is packed with nutrients and is even one of the ingredients in my homemade pregnancy tea that I always drink throughout pregnancy.

Nettle is available in both root and leaf form, and even a powdered version of the leaf (pictured above) which I add to my veggie smoothies. I’ve found it especially useful for allergies and asthma, but its diuretic and blood pressure reducing abilities have been studied in the medical world. From Mountain Rose Herbs:

Nettle’s purported anti-inflammatory effects have been repeatedly confirmed by modern research over the past ten years. It is particularly effective in treating allergic rhinitis, relieving nearly all the symptoms of itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose. It also has performed better than the prescription drug furosemide in reducing blood pressure, increasing urine output as a diuretic and increasing salt excretion. It also seems to be effective in reducing pain and producing a sedative effect. It is important to keep in mind that the medicinal effects of the leaf and root of the nettle are markedly different. Nettle root, for instance, shows exceptional efficacy in treating prostate complaints in men. Nettle leaf has some of the same effects, but not to the same extent. The leaf, on the other hand, shows some promise in boosting immune system function and is an effective treatment for many skin conditions. One final use should be noted and that is nettle leaf has been used as a hair and scalp treatment for centuries, and again, those uses are being supported by research as well. Nettle leaf extract seems to promote hair regrowth and thicken hair, as well as reducing dandruff and scalp conditions when used as a rinse.

These same properties make Nettle a remedy for Urinary Tract Infections, Kidney Stones, and respiratory infections. Though long-term daily use is not recommended, I typically use nettle leaf tea or capsules for acute allergy reactions or urinary tract infections. Nettle leaf is very high in Chlorophyll and Vitamins C and A. It contains trace minerals and is also known as a blood purifier.

Where to get Nettle

I purchase Nettle from Mountain Rose Herbs, as I get a 30% discount when ordering herbs in bulk and their quality is excellent! Capsules are also available on Amazon or in most health food stores.Persons using blood thinners or blood pressure lowering medications should not use nettle leaf without consulting with a doctor. If you have any medical condition, consult with your doctor before using this herb or any herb. If you’re brave enough to handle the sting, you can also try to harvest it yourself (just make sure you are 100% sure of any herb before eating one you harvest yourself).

Chamomile Herb Profile

Chamomile is one of the most well-known herbs, and one I’m never without, especially with small children.

It is widely available in tea form, but can also be made into capsules, tinctures, or used in cosmetic applications.

Chamomile flowers are mildly sedative, making them wonderful for improving sleep quality and relaxation. I use chamomile in place of Tylenol for teething or colicky babies, and on my own stomach after giving birth to help ease the after pains.

I’ve also heard of natural doctors using a strong chamomile tincture as a nervine to reduce cravings in patients who are stopping smoking or drug use. It is a good herbal source of Magnesium, which is one of the top supplements I recommend.

Ways to Use Chamomile

As an herbal tea before bedtime to help improve relaxation and sleep
As a tincture (internally or externally) for muscle pain or for teething children (on the gums)
As a tincture for children who have trouble sleeping or who are emotionally upset
As a strong brewed tea in the hair to naturally lighten blonde tones
To help relax during emotional or physical distress (I use the tincture internally during labor to help ease contractions and help me relax)
Internally and externally for headache relief
As a tincture to help calm hyper children
For pink eye: Pour a small amount of boiling water over a chamomile tea bag and soak on the eye for about 15 minutes a few times a day (wait until its cool) OR make a strong tea with it and use a soaked cotton ball to wipe the eye every hour throughout the day and infection should be gone within 24-36 hours. Can also sleep with a cotton ball “patch” on the eye to help remove the infection.
Where to Get Chamomile

As with most herbs, I buy in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs as this is the cheapest way to order and I am confident in the quality of their herbs.
I highly recommend making a chamomile tincture (instructions here) as the flowers can easily lose their natural oils, which make them effective. You can also buy a pre-made tincture if you’d prefer not to make your own.
There are also capsules available, though I would not suggest a concentrated dose like this for children, and this would be more effective when stopping a tobacco or drug addiction as overseen by a natural doctor.
You can also, of course, get Chamomile tea bags, which is the most widely available form of chamomile.
Notes: Chamomile is generally considered a safe herb for anyone, including during pregnancy, but in very rare cases it can cause an allergic reaction in those with ragweed allergies, so use caution if you have these types of allergies.

Bug Repellent Lotion Bars

Ever since I discovered how to make my original Lotion Bars, I’ve been experimenting with different variations including Sunscreen Bars, Vapo-Rub Bars, Healing Bars (coming soon), and others. Today’s favorite: Bug Repellent Lotion Bars!

They are as easy to make as the original bars, and the seem even more effective at keeping bugs away than regular homemade bug spray, probably because they actually coat the skin with a protective layer. They are easy to take along and the kids can apply it themselves.

Instead of being filled with chemicals and toxins like conventional bug sprays, this recipe actually nourishes and moisturizes the skin while protecting it.

Items Needed

coconut oil
shea butter, cocoa butter or mango butter (or a mix of all three)
beeswax
dried rosemary leaves
dried whole cloves
dried thyme
cinnamon powder
dried catnip leaf
dried mint leaf
Vitamin E oil
Insect Sheild Blend essential oils or lavender and lemon (10+ drops of each)
All ingredients available at Mountain Rose Herbs. I also use silicon molds to set the bars. These are the molds I used but I also love these Sunflower ones and these heart ones, which would both be great for gifts. There are also simple flower molds and actual bar shaped ones.

Lotion Bar Ingredients

1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup shea butter, cocoa butter or mango butter (or a mix of all three equal to 1 part)
1/2 cup beeswax + 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup fresh or dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried whole cloves
2 tablespoons dried or fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 cup dried catnip leaf
1 (or more) tablespoons of mint leaf (optional but adds great scent)
Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil to preserve.
Essential Oils (optional but good): Insect Shield blend (contains all of the above), lavender and lemon (10+ drops of each)
Lotion Bar Instructions

This version has an extra step that the original Lotion Bars didn’t have. To save money on essential oils, we actually infuse the herbs into the coconut oil.
Using a double boiler or glass bowl on top of a small saucepan, heat about 1 inch of water (in bottom pan) until starting to boil. Place the dried rosemary, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, catnip and mint in the top part of the double boiler and add the coconut oil (can also use almond, olive or other oil but you will need to add more beeswax later on to get the bars to firm.
Cover the bowl or top part of the double boiler and keep the water at medium/high temperature for at least 30 minutes or until oil has adopted a darker color and smells strongly of rosemary. Alternately, you can fill a crock pot about half full with water, put the coconut oil and herbs in a glass mason jar with a tight lid, cover and keep on lowest setting for several days to make an even stronger infused oil.
Then, strain the dried herbs out of the oil using a small mesh strainer or cheesecloth and pour the oil back into the double boiler. The oil will probably be reduced by almost half and you should have about 1/2 cup of the infused oil. If you have more, save it for next time!
Add the butter(s) and beeswax to the double boiler and stir until all have melted. Remove from heat, add the Vitamin E oil and any other essential oils and pour into molds. T
Leave in the molds until completely set (overnight is best) or you can speed up the process by placing in the fridge.
To use: Rub the bars on exposed areas of DRY skin to protect against mosquitos. If you are pregnant, check to make sure any herbs you use are safe for pregnancy and omit the ones that aren’t.
Don’t Want To Make Them?

If you want to use lotion bars but don’t have the time/ingredients to make them yourself, I found a great small business, Made On, that makes all kinds of lotion bars, soaps, natural baby products and hair products that are up to my standards. Their website is HardLotion.com and they have agreed to give Wellness Mama readers a 15% discount on all orders with the code “wellnessmama” at this link. (Note: Affiliate link… the price is discounted for you and I get a small commission to support my blog!)

Remineralizing Tooth Powder Recipe

My remineralizing toothpaste is one of my most visited posts and I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people who have switched and love it. After my husband and I both remineralized our teeth and reversed cavities, I’m definitely a convert to natural toothpastes and a supportive diet. The only downfall to my homemade toothpaste is that i can leave a residue on sinks and there can be some concerns with the coconut oil if you have a septic system (as we do).

I’ve also recently discovered the many benefits of healing clays and wanted to figure out how to incorporate this into our oral health regimen, but there were some definite texture issues with the clays and coconut oil. I wondered if a healing tooth powder would work and I couldn’t be happier with the results. It is easier to make than the toothpaste and you can use actual powdered herbs and spices instead of the essential oils which saves money. I’ve recently started using a mix of this and OraWellness Brushing Blend and my teeth have never felt cleaner (and are continuing to whiten!).

Why Tooth Powder?

The main ingredient in this tooth powder is Bentonite Clay, which I’ve recently become a huge fan of. Not only does it bind to and draw out heavy metals and toxins (a huge plus for the mouth!), but it is alkaline and full of minerals. It can be taken internally to help with toxin removal so it is safe for use in the mouth and it contains calcium, magnesium and silica which are nourishing for the teeth! According to Mountain Rose Herbs: Bentonite is very unusual in the fact that once it becomes hydrated, the electrical and molecular components of the clay rapidly change and produce an “electrical charge”. Its highest power lies in the ability to absorb toxins, impurities, heavy metals and other internal contaminants. Bentonite clay’s structure assists it in attracting and soaking up poisons on its exterior wall and then slowly drawing them into the interior center of the clay where it is held in a sort of repository.

To state it another way…

Bentonite is a swelling clay. When it becomes mixed with water it rapidly swells open like a highly porous sponge. From here the toxins are drawn into the sponge through electrical attraction and once there, they are bound.

It is also extremely gentle and has a milder taste for kids. I also use Bentonite Clay for facial masks, healing poultices and when drying hair naturally to keep color on.

The other ingredients are supportive of the mouth as well:

Baking soda is alkaline and contains minerals. It also helps remove stains.
Calcium powder provides extra calcium to provide minerals and whiten.
Cloves powder is naturally antibacterial and gives a great taste.
Cinnamon is also antibacterial, tastes great and helps discourage bacterial growth in the mouth.
Mint tastes great and is soothing to the gums.
Xylitol– completely optional and adds sweetness.

Tooth Powder Ingredients

4 Tablespoons Bentonite Clay
3 Tablespoons Calcium Powder
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda (optional)
2 Tablespoons Powdered Mint Leaf (optional, or can use essential oil)- Powder in blender, food processor or coffee grinder.
1 tablespoon Cinnamon Powder (or this kind)
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of Cloves Powder
1 Tablespoon (or more to taste) Xylitol Powder
Essential oils for taste- completely optional but Peppermint, Spearmint and Cinnamon are good.
Tooth Powder Instructions

Mix the ingredients in a bowl or pint size mason jar and store in a small glass jar with a lid. We actually have a separate small glass jar for each family member since we dip our toothbrushes in it. Mix with a spoon or shake to incorporate ingredients. This recipe makes about ¾ cup of tooth powder which lasts us for months. You can adjust the recipe up or down (Use teaspoons instead of tablespoons for smaller amounts).
This will last indefinitely on the counter since there are no liquid ingredients and all of the ingredients naturally discourage bacterial growth. You can customize the powder to your taste and all of the herbal ingredients are optional. Bentonite or baking soda would actually work alone or together as a tooth powder, this one just tastes great. You could also add more cloves, mint and cinnamon for an even more concentrated powder. This type of cinnamon has a higher concentration of beneficial oils and tastes sweeter.
How to Use Tooth Powder

Wet the toothbrush (I use a Bass brush from OraWellness since it is super gentle on the gums and cleans better) and dip into the powder. I also add a few drops of OraWellness Brushing Blend. Brush using the Bass Brushing Technique until teeth are clean. Rinse with cool water. Can be used daily (or multiple times daily) and is fine for adults and kids.

My Oral Health Regimen

My teeth have never been whiter or healthier (according to my dentist) thanks to my oral health regimen. It includes a healthy diet that supports oral health and a specific brushing regimen. This is what I do daily (that reversed cavities for both my husband and me):

Brush with activated charcoal powder to kill bacteria, remove toxins and whiten- Don’t do this everyday now but every couple of days.
Brush with Tooth Powder or Remineralizing Toothpaste with a few Drops of Brushing Blend.
Rinse mouth.
Finish my rubbing a few drops of Brushing Blend< on my gums and tongue to discourage bacterial growth, especially at night (and because it tastes great!).
Repeat one or more times a day!

Plantain: A Healing Herb in Your Backyard

Plantain is one herb that I literally would not be without. It grows in abundance in our yard so we use it fresh during the warm seasons and dry and freeze for use in the winter. I make salves with it for calming bug bites, rashes and burns and it works wonders.

What is Plantain?

Plantain (or Plantago Major) is a common backyard herb with broad leafs. Most people think of it as a weed, though it is an incredibly useful herb. According to Mountain Rose Herbs:

“Legend has it that Alexander the Great discovered it and brought it with him back to Europe in 327 BCE. It has been referred to as the Whiteman’s Foot by Native Americans, as wherever they went, it seemed to spring up. and in some places, it is seen as a noxious, invasive weed. It is, however, a useful little plant. It has been used by many cultures the world over, and the Saxons considered it one of their nine sacred herbs.

It was considered an early Christian symbol of the path followed by the devout and many cultures today refer to it as an aphrodisiac. The leaves are quite edible, and often used raw in salads and cooked as greens. Older leaves have a stronger, sometimes objectionable flavor, and can be tough and stringy, but can be used to make tea.

Plantain is very high in vitamins A and C and in calcium. Medicinally, Native Americans used plantain leaves to relieve the pain of bee stings and insect bites, stop the itching of poison ivy and other allergic rashes, and promote healing in sores and bruises. Plantain tea can be used as a mouthwash to help heal and prevent sores in the mouth, and as an expectorant. Most recently, plantain is being marketed as a stop smoking aid, adding one more use to the list of ways that this versatile herb is useful.”

“Plantain has been used as a panacea in some Native American cultures and with some very good reasons. Many of its active constituents show antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antitoxic. The leaves, shredded or chewed, are a traditional treatment for insect and animal bites and the antibacterial action helps prevent infection and the anti-inflammatory helps to relieve pain, burning, and itching. There is some investigation ongoing to study its affects on lowering blood sugar.

The Many Uses of Plantain:

Plantain leaf can be made into a tea, tincture or infusion and used internally (according to Practical Herbalism):

To help get Cholesterol to healthy Levels
To aid those with Diabetes
For Hemorrhoid relief
To help relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome
To help calm the bowels during Constipation or Diarrhea
To sooth kidney and bladder problems and to aid with Bladder infection, ITIs and similar problems. Safe for children
For indigestion and ulcers
Plantain Leaf is also very soothing on external  inflammation:

Bites
Stings
Rashes
Eczema
Psoriasis
Burns
Cuts
Yeast
Varicose Veins
How to Use Plantain:

If fresh plantain grows in your yard, you can make sure it has not been sprayed by pesticides or pets and use in teas or the young leaves in salads.

For stings and bites,  make a poultice of fresh plantain leaf and bentonite clay with water to form a paste. It will take away the pain immediately when placed on the bite or sting. If you don’t have the other ingredients nearby, just chew up a leaf of plantain and spit on the bite. It sounds gross but greatly relieves the pain.

An infusion or strong tea of plantain leaf (dried or fresh) sprayed on a sunburn will cool the burn and relieve the pain. This will also help sooth rashes and reactions from Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac. To make an even stronger remedy, steep plantain leaf (fresh or dried) in apple cider vinegar for a few weeks and then strain. The infused vinegar will sooth itching, burning and pain on the skin very quickly.

A cup of plantain tea from fresh or dried leaves will sooth indigestion, heartburn or IBS. It is calming on all types of digestive disturbances. It is also helpful for UTIs, Bladder infections or kidney infections.

I make a salve of Plantain and other herbs to speed healing of wounds and use in place of antibiotic cream. Recipe soon.

You can also get pre-made Plantain tincture, tea, or healing salve to have in your  purse or first aid kit when needed.

NOTE: Plantain is generally considered a safe herb but as with anything, consult your doctor before using if you have any kind of medical condition. It should not be used in place of medical attention when needed.

10 Uses for Basil Leaf

Basil has taken over my garden so I am in the process of preserving and storing it now. Fortunately, it can be used for so much more than just cooking!

Basil is most known for its culinary uses and if you have used my meal plans, you’ve probably noticed that I add it to everything. My husband’s Italian heritage has rubbed off on me and I absolutely love the sweet and fragrant addition of Basil.

What isn’t as well know are the various other herbal uses of Basil. It is a traditional remedy that has been used in various cultures for hundreds of years for many uses besides cooking. These are my top uses:

Basil Pesto– This culinary use is one of Basil’s most popular uses and variations of this are used in cultures around the world. At our house, we add pesto to everything from eggs, to meats, to slices of fresh cucumber. Here’s my recipe.
General Cooking– Dried basil can be easily added to practically any dish. Basil is used around the world in many different cuisines with good reason. It adds a depth and flavor that is not rivaled by other herbs. I make a homemade spice blend that includes basil and add it to practically anything.
Calming the Stomach– The Italians may be on to something with adding Basil to everything. It is thought to have a calming effect on the stomach and 1/2 teaspoon of dried or fresh Basil Leaf in water can often help sooth indigestion and alleviate feelings of fullness.
Coughing and Colds– I’ve heard several Amish in our area suggest using Basil leaf to help alleviate coughing and colds. They chew fresh leaves to calm coughing or make a calming tea of dried basil to help sooth illness.
Facial Steam for Headache: A facial steam with dried basil leaf can help alleviate a headache. Add a tablespoon of dried basil leaf to 2 cups of boiling water in a large pot. Carefully lean over the pot, cover head with a towel and breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes until headache starts to subside. Bonus, you get to smell like an Italian restaurant for the rest of the day!
Antibiotic properties: According to Mountain Rose Herbs: “European scientists are investigating the use of basil oil as treatment for antibiotic resistant infections with Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas.”
Stings and Bites: If you are working outside and get bitten or stung by an insect and don’t have any Plantain growing nearby, chewing up a basil leaf and applying to the bite will help relieve the pain and draw out the venom.
Ear Infections: According to Mountain Rose Herbs: “The essential oil is antibacterial, and drops of basil oil may relieve ear infections.”
Blood sugar: There is some evidence that Basil can help level out blood sugar if consumed regularly and drank as a juice or tea.
Stress Reduction: One herbalist I know suggests adding 2 cups of strong Basil Leaf tea to a warm bath to help reduce stress and facilitate relaxation.
If you use Basil as much as we do, I definitely recommend growing it or buying it in bulk to save money.

Cumin Herb Profile

Cumin is an herb that many associate with Mexican and Spanish foods, but it is also widely used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. It has a very distinct flavor, and in the US is most often used in packaged taco seasonings (don’t eat those- make your own!)

Cumin’s flavor makes it a favorite for many, but it’s health supporting properties are impressive too!

History of Use

According to Mountain Rose Herbs:

Cumin is the seed of a small plant in the parsley family. Its use goes back 5000 years to the Egyptians, who used it not only as a spice but as an ingredient in the mummification process. The Greeks and Romans also used cumin and highly regarded it as one of the essential spices. In the Middle Ages cumin seed was thought to promote love and fidelity, so it was carried by attendees of weddings, and solders were always sent off to battle with a fresh loaf of cumin seed bread. Pungent, sharp, and slightly sweet, the greenish brown powder of this herb is an essential ingredient in Mexican and Indian cuisine.

Traditionally, it has also been used in natural remedies and herbal medicine. Traditional texts describe its use as a diuretic and to settle the stomach and stop flatulence. Some cultures have used it for female health and to stimulate menstruation. Like many herbs, it can be made into a poultice, especially for swelling or sore throat. I even found a reference to a remedy of mixing cumin and ghee to relieve hiccups. Cumin’s long history even shows in its mentions in the Bible and other historic texts.

What’s in Cumin?

It is considered a good source of Iron, Manganese, and other vitamins and minerals. Some research shows that it may stimulate the production of pancreatic enzymes and help digestion. One study found that cumin was protective against memory loss and the damaging effects of stress on the body.

Another study evaluated its antioxidant content of and found it more effective than other common antioxidants including Vitamin C. Due to it’s high antioxidant content, some lab research has even found that it might have a role in fighting cancer.

Yet another study found Cumin effective in increasing insulin sensitivity, thus beneficial for diabetics. Still more research found anti-asthmatic properties in Cumin since it works as a brochiodiator and can help asthmatic patients.

Mark’s Daily Apple posted a great article detailing its benefits. From this article:

In diabetic rats, cumin extract was more effective at reducing blood glucose and AGE production than glibenclamide, an anti-diabetic drug.
Cumin’s anti-glycation properties proved useful in another study, in which diabetic rats were able to stave off cataracts after oral dosing with the powder.
Another study found that cumin extract reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, and pancreatic inflammatory markers in diabetic rats. It also prevented excessive weight loss. Again, it beat out glibenclamide.
Oral doses (25, 50, 100, 200 mg/kg) on consecutive days improved the immune response of mice with compromised immune systems due to restraint-induced stress. These effects were marked by a reduction in elevated cortisol and adrenal gland size, an increase in the weight of the thymus and spleen, and replenishment of depleted T cells. There was a dose dependent response, but all doses had beneficial effects.
An extract of cumin had anti-osteoporotic effects on rats, similar to estradiol, but without the associated weight gain. Cumin-dosed (orally, 1 mg/kg) osteoporotic rats had increased bone density and improved bone microarchitecture.
Cumin protected the livers of rats from ethanol- and rancid sunflower oil-induced toxicity.
One study even seems to suggest a role for cumin in weaning addicts off of opiates – here – by reducing tolerance (yeah, it could increase the subjective high, but it would mean less product was required) and dependence.
Pretty impressive benefits for an herb found in spice packets at the grocery store! If you don’t already use Cumin in your cooking, there are many ways to use it!

Uses for Cumin

I use this spice regularly in cooking and in making homemade spice blends:

Taco Seasoning Recipe:

1/4 cup Chili Powder (how to make your own)
1/4 cup Cumin Powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder (how to make your own)
1 teaspoon Oregano leaf (or oregano leaf powder)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup himalayan salt or sea salt (optional)
1 teaspoon ground pepper
To make: Put all in jar and shake well or mix in a food processor until mixed. Store in an airtight jar for up to six months. Makes approximately 1 cup. To use: sprinkle on ground beef or chicken as you would any store bought taco seasoning. 3 tablespoons is the same as 1 packet of store bought taco seasoning. Great for lettuce tacos.

Homemade Curry Powder Recipe:

1/2 cup Paprika
1/4 cup cumin
1 tablespoon Fennel Powder
2 Tablespoons Fenugreek powder (optional)- gives sweetness
2 tablespoons Ground Mustard Powder
1 tablespoon ground Red Pepper Flakes (optional)- adds spiciness
3 tablespoons ground coriander (optional)
1/4 cup ground Turmeric root
1 tablespoon ground cardamon (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon cloves powder (optional) – Adds complex flavor
To make: Mix all ingredients in a bowl, jar or food processor and store in an air-tight container until ready to use. Can be used on meats, vegetables or in soups. Especially good in with chicken, shrimp or vegetables.

Fajita Seasoning:

1/4 cup chili powder (make your own)
2 tablespoons Sea Salt
2 tablespoons Paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder (make your own)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
1 tablespoon cumin powder
To Make: Mix well in bowl or jar and store in airtight container until use. Use about 1 teaspoon per chicken breast or steak when making fajitas. I use for making Fajitas and Fajita Salads.

Chili Seasoning Mix:

1/2 cup chili powder (make your own)
1/4 cup garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder (make your own)
1/4 cup oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
1/4 cup cumin
1 tablespoon thyme
To Make: mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. 1/4 cup of mix=1 package of store bought chili seasoning. Great for all types of chili (this one is my favorite).

Cumin is even great as a stand-alone spice for making tacos, chili or fajitas if it is all you have. I keep a glass jar of it in my spice cabinet.

Vinegar of The Four Thieves Health Tonic

I mentioned the Vinegar of the Four Thieves last week when talking about natural bug spray alternatives, but this health tonic is so much more!

This recipe centers around herbs that have been known for their antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and antifungal properties for centuries. The most famous mention of these herbs in this specific combination was by four thieves during the Bubonic Plague.

According to legend, four thieves, one of whom was an herbalist, robbed the homes of many who had died of the plague. They were eventually caught and brought to trial. One version of the story recounts that they were sentenced to bury the dead but would be set free if they survived. Another version tells that they were released in return for the recipe for the tonic that they credited with protecting them from the plague.

Either way, the thieves survived, as did the legend and the recipe for their herbal vinegar. Though we hopefully won’t ever need this remedy for anything as serious as the plague, it still serves as a valuable remedy against many illnesses and is a powerful disinfectant and bug spray.

Vinegar of the Four Thieves Ingredients:

2 TBSP Thyme (dried)
2 TBSP Rosemary (dried)
2 TBSP Sage (dried)
2 TBSP Lavender (dried)
2 TBSP Mint (dried)
4-8 cloves of minced garlic (optional)
One 32-ounce bottle of organic Apple Cider Vinegar with “the Mother”
Note: Most herbs can be found locally, but are also available online at places like Mountain Rose Herbs

How To Make the Vinegar of The Four Thieves

Put all the dried herbs and garlic (if using) into a large glass jar (I used half gallon)
Pour the Vinegar over the herbs and garlic and seal tightly. The vinegar is strong enough to corrode some metal lids, so in this case, consider putting plastic wrap or a plastic bag on top and then putting the lid on.
Leave in a cool, dark, place for 6-8 weeks (for health tonic recipe) shaking daily if possible.
After 6-8 weeks, strain the herbs out using a small strainer and store tonic in smaller jars for easy use.
Uses for Four Thieves Herbal Vinegar

As I mentioned before, this vinegar makes a very effective (though strong smelling!) insect repellent. If you make it to this strength, just put 1/4 cup of the vinegar in an 8-ounce spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Spray on skin, clothes, etc. when in heavily insect infested areas. We store in the fridge to minimize the vinegar smell and make more refreshing.
In cases of illness, the Vinegar of the Four Thieves is very helpful in quick recovery. Adults can take 1 TBSP several times a day (dilute in water!!) and kids can take 1 Tsp several times a day (well diluted in water/herbal tea).
When a family member is sick, diluting this with 1 part water and putting in a spray bottle will make a potent disinfectant that can be used on surfaces or sprayed in the air.
I’ve had some people report really good success using this vinegar as a soak or topical spray for foot or nail fungus.
Diluted and used on the scalp, this remedy is also said to be effective against dandruff.
This vinegar makes an effective natural disinfectant spray for use in house cleaning.
The Vinegar of the Four Thieves smells awful and tastes almost as bad, but it is very effective against a variety of ailments! Plus, its healthier and cheaper than antibiotics!

Arnica Herb Profile

I use many herbs daily for their medicinal, culinary and therapeutic properties. One herb that I don’t use daily but always keep on hand is Arnica (or scientifically, Arnica Montana).

Though this is not an herb that can be taken internally, it has definitely earned its place in our house. It is well known for its ability to help externallywith bruises, sprains, strains, etc. and can remove shock and speed healing. It can be put on areas of trauma after falls, accidents, etc.

Arnica is native to Europe and has been used for centuries. Many athletes use some form of it to recover from muscle strain and speed recovery after a work-out.

Though it should never be taken internally, some homeopathic remedies are available that are generally considered safe. It should also not be applied to broken or burned skin.

From Mountain Rose Herbs:

How to Use:

It can be used in various ways depending on the need:

On the skin as an infusion to spray on for aches and sprains (1 teaspoon dried herbs in 1/2 cup water)
A tincture (1 ounce dried flower preserved in 8 ounces/1 cup of food grade alcohol)
An infused oil (1 ounce dried flowers preserved in 4 ounces/.5 cup oil) This post explains how to make an infused oil.
Arnica oils and creams are used topically to treat sprains, bruises, and muscle pain. Diluted tinctures of arnica are used in foot baths (1 teaspoon of tincture to a pan of warm water) to soothe sore feet.
Homeopathic arnica is traditionally used to treat seasickness. Research published in June 2005 in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that homeopathic arnica can reduce post-partum bleeding.
Important Notes:

Arnica is never to be used internally and it is important not to ingest any form of arnica except homeopathics. It is also not recommended to apply to broken or cut skin and some people may notice skin irritation from the use of arnica topically. Not recommended (even topically) while pregnant or nursing. (except in homeopathic form)

Arnica Salve Recipe

Arnica can be used in tinctures, salves, vinegar tinctures, decoctions, etc. Here is a recipe for a salve I always keep in the house:

3/4 cup oil infused with arnica (see this post for details on how to infuse oils) You can also buy the oil pre-made oil to save time.
1.5 oz Beeswax
A few drops of Wintergreen Essential Oil (also not for use during pregnancy- consult with a certified aromatherapist to  make sure you are using this or any essential oils safely)
Directions: Warm oil in double boiler. Add beeswax and stir until melted. Add Wintergreen Oil in desired amount (warning-wintergreen is very strong!). Pour into desired storage container (we use small tins or little jam jars). Let cool.

Can be used on bruises, sprains, strains, head bumps, etc.

Other Natural Remedies:

Check out my full index of natural remedies by clicking here.

I recently released my e-book Handbook of Natural Remedies with all of the remedies and recipes I use on my own family. This extensive guide is an all-inclusive primer for learning natural remedies and using them in your home.

If you’re just getting started with natural remedies, I’d also recommend some of these basic recipes:

How to make a glycerite tincture
Lavender and Honey burn salve
Herbal Electuaries
DIY Herbal Liniment Recipe
Fire Cider Cold and Flu Buster
How to make an herbal poultice with herbs
Herbal Hand Sanitizer Recipe
Natural remedies for allergies
Homemade cough syrup
Make your own natural remedies kit for your home
Healing Salve Recipe
Make your own vapor rub

Homemade Chewable Vitamins Recipe

I get a lot of questions about how I get my kids to take vitamins and while mine will just take their cod liver oil, probiotics, and magnesium without a problem…. it got me thinking.

I combined one of their favorite natural snacks (jello/homemade gummy bears) with vitamins to make a healthy, gut-boosting, and really kid-friendly multivitamin.

DIY Chewable Vitamins

I can think of endless uses for these, but these are the one’s I’ve tried so far:

Adding Vitamin C Powder and using lemon juice to make chewable sour gummies
Adding probiotics with a fresh juice base  to make GAPS friendly chewy vitamins (add probiotics after heating!)
Using Homemade Elderberry Syrup as a base to make flu-busting chewy vitamins
Adding Natural Calm for chewable magnesium vitamins
Just making regular flavors and putting them in cute molds to make gummy snacks that are nut-free and approved for school activities
I’d love to hear other ideas that you guys think about!
One caution: If your kids aren’t regularly drinking bone broth (they should be!) then start slow and only give them a few of these at a time as their gut adjusts or they might have a little loose stool while they adjust since gelatin has a soothing effect on the digestive system. The advantage to these is that they use gelatin powder as a base so they sooth the gut and give some of the same benefits as bone broth.

Ingredients

8 teaspoons Gelatin Powder (I use this one)
1 cup juice (fresh squeezed or no sugar added) Pineapple will not work
2 tablespoons of honey (optional)
Vitamins of choice. I’ve tried: Vitamin C, Probiotics, Magnesium
Instructions

In a small sauce pan over low heat, mix the juice, gelatin and honey and whisk to incorporate.
Heat slightly until gelatin is completely dissolved- it will be thick and somewhat syrup-like.
Remove from heat and whisk in vitamins, if using.
Very quickly pour into molds or even a small glass dish (oil with coconut oil) and put in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden.
Remove and pop out of molds. Cut into squares if needed.
Serve and enjoy! Tell the kids that they are gummy bears and they won’t even know that are getting vitamins!

18 votes

PRINT

Homemade Chewable Vitamins

author wellness mama

Homemade chewable gummy vitamins are a great way to give kids some extra protein and make their vitamins delicious and easy to take!

Ingredients

8 teaspoons Gelatin Powder (I use this one)
1 cup juice (fresh squeezed or no sugar added) Pineapple will not work
2 tablespoons of honey (optional)
Vitamins of choice. I’ve tried: Vitamin C, Probiotics, Magnesium
Instructions

In a small sauce pan over low heat, mix the juice, gelatin and honey and whisk to incorporate.
Heat slightly until gelatin is completely dissolved- it will be thick and somewhat syrup-like.
Remove from heat and whisk in vitamins, if using.
Very quickly pour into molds or even a small glass dish (oil with coconut oil) and put in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden.
Remove and pop out of molds. Cut into squares if needed.
Serve and enjoy! Tell the kids that they are gummy bears and they won’t even know that are getting vitamins!
courses snack