Herb Supplements for Common Ailments

For each ailment that follows, we provide a few insights into what’s going on from a herbalist’s point of view. We’ll note which tissue states are to be addressed and which herbal actions are needed to do so, and we’ll include a list of herbal allies—plants that have helpful activity relevant to each ailment. 

Finally, we share 104 formulas for herbal preparations we use to address the ailment. Each has information about how to make and take the remedy, as well as notes about variations, optional add-ins, or potential safety concerns.

The herbal allies presented are helpful for the ailment in their own ways. They’re not exactly interchangeable with each other, because each herb is unique, but feel free to experiment with replacing herbs that don’t appeal to you (or that you don’t have on hand) with others from the list of allies.

Think of each formula as a starting place, not as anything set in stone. Herbalism is as much art as it is science, and that’s especially true when it comes to formulation. Individual variation is a necessary part of making good herbal remedies, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

Abscess and Gingivitis

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), dampness, laxity Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Licorice root
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Plantain leaf
  • Rose
  • Sage leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Thyme leaf
  • Uva-ursi leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

It can be very painful to have an abscess—a fluid-filled blister or infection—in the mouth. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that can lead to loose teeth. Resist the urge to poke and prod at the gums too much—if you make them bleed, bacteria can move deeper. Treat your gums gently! Antimicrobial, astringent, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing herbs fight infection and restore healthy tissue.

HERBAL MOUTHWASH

Makes 8 fluid ounces (16 to 20 swishes)

While saltwater works well on its own, adding herbs makes it much more effective. Adjust the amounts of each herb according to taste.

Swish with 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 fluid ounces of mouthwash after brushing, and swish well, getting between the teeth and throughout the mouth, for 2 to 5 minutes.

  • 4 fluid ounces water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of uva-ursi
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of yarrow
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of calendula
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of plantain
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal
  • 1⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of licorice
  • 1⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of meadowsweet

Step 1. In a jar with a lid, combine all the ingredients. Cover the jar, label it, and shake well. This is shelf stable.

Step 2. Use this mouthwash every time you brush—twice a day is best.

Acne

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), dampness (oily) Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, circulatory stimulant, liver stimulant, lymphatic

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Dandelion root
  • Elder
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Rose
  • Sage leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Thyme leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

To cope with chronic skin problems, it’s important to treat the issue from both the inside and the outside. Topical applications (compresses, poultices, and steams) of astringent, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial herbs will clear and tone the skin directly. Internal preparations (tea, tincture, capsules) of liver-stimulating, circulatory-stimulant, and lymphatic herbs support the health and nourishment of skin tissue from beneath.

SKIN TONER

Makes 12 fluid ounces (90+ applications)

The acidity and probiotics from the vinegar combine with the astringency of the witch hazel and rose to gently but effectively tonify the skin, reducing blemishes and protecting against breakouts. 

Be consistent; results will begin to show after a few days to a week of use. This simple skin toner is a key part of vibrant skin. If your skin is sensitive, reduce the amount of apple cider vinegar.

  • 4 fluid ounces apple cider vinegar (preferably raw, unfiltered)
  • 4 fluid ounces nonalcoholic witch hazel extract
  • 4 fluid ounces rose water, or strong, well-strained rose petal infusion

Step 1. In a small nonreactive bowl, stir together the vinegar, witch hazel, and rose water. This mixture is shelf stable. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Apply this toner once a day after washing your face. If your skin tends toward dryness, rub a few drops of oil (rosehip or olive) into the skin afterward.

Step 3. Apply this toner a second or third time during the day if your acne is persistent, but don’t scrub too hard or use harsh soaps— just rinse gently with water first.

FACIAL STEAM

Makes 2 cups dried herb mix (4 to 8 steams)

For an active breakout, especially one that is oily, a steam is a great way to effectively deliver circulation-enhancing, inflammation-reducing, and bacteria-eliminating herbal action right into the pores.

  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried sage leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried thyme leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 gallon water

Step 1. In a small bowl, stir together the chamomile, sage, thyme, and yarrow. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Clean your face with gentle soap and water.

Step 3. Make and execute herbal steam: In a medium pot over high heat, boil the water. Place the pot on a heat-proof surface, someplace where you can sit near it, and make a tent with a blanket or towel. Add 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of the herb mixture to the water. Position your face over the steam and remain there for 5 to 20 minutes. (Bring a tissue; the steam also clears your sinuses!)

Step 4. Follow with spot applications of raw or herb-infused honey.

ADD/ADHD

Relevant tissue states: heat (excitation), tension

Relevant herbal actions: grounding, nervine, nutritive, relaxant, sedative

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Kelp
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

True resolution of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders requires significant attention to diet, sleep patterns, and lifestyle factors. For instance, a 2007 study by McCann et al., published in the Lancet, found that hyperactivity was strongly exacerbated by artificial colors and flavors in drinks. 

We have found removing food allergens and reducing sugar and caffeine intake very helpful in working with ADD and ADHD, along with adequate sleep and quiet time, and lots of physical activity. Herbs can make these transitions much easier and also markedly improve day-to-day ease in the world. We work with herbs to ground a restless mind, improve focus, and—when necessary—sedate anger and agitation.

GROUNDING TEA

Makes 23⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 18 to 22 quarts of tea)

Betony is a standout herb for treating ADD, with its particular talent for bringing the center of consciousness into the body and the present moment. 

The herbal allies, catnip and chamomile, help quell anxious expressions that affect digestion—a common problem for those with ADD. If you have a dry constitution, replace the catnip with linden. Meanwhile, tulsi helps cope with the stress these disorders induce, and St. John’s wort supports clearance at the liver.

Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried catnip leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water, and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

FOCUSING TINCTURE

Makes 2 fluid ounces (30 to 60 doses)

Angelica’s grounding bitterness, ashwagandha’s capacity to restore normal rhythms of energy and rest, betony’s gentle settling-down action, and tulsi’s soothing warmth help relieve moments of acute distraction. 

With ongoing use, it builds the ability to focus more easily and for longer periods. Take whenever a calming and centering influence is desired.

  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of angelica
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of ashwagandha
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of betony
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 dropperful in morning and noon.

Allergies

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), laxity (of the mucous membranes)

Relevant herbal actions: antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, kidney supportive, liver stimulant

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Mullein leaf
  • Nettle leaf
  • Plantain leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower

Allergic reactions to pollen, dust, or pets are primarily due to excessive histamine production, which ignites the inflammation underlying the runny nose, itchy eyes, and excessive phlegm.

Histamine isn’t all bad, though; it’s a necessary part of sleep regulation, brain function, and even sexual response! Antihistaminic herbs are ideal because, while they help relieve allergy symptoms, they won’t overshoot the mark and suppress histamine so much they cause adverse effects.

When trying to resolve allergies, we also must support the liver and kidneys. Among other things, the liver produces histamine—an enzyme that breaks down histamine. So, when it’s sluggish or overworked, histamine builds up and the inflammatory response worsens. The kidneys also help clear inflammatory instigators from the system, so giving them extra support helps reduce allergic symptoms.

ALLERGY RELIEF TEA

Makes about 3 to 4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 18 to 22 quarts of tea)

Nettle and goldenrod contain the antioxidant quercetin, which, according to a 2006 study by Shaik et al., stabilizes mast cells and prevents the release of histamine. Meanwhile, mullein supports the mucous membranes in the lungs and sinuses, reducing phlegm and mucus and quelling cough. Calendula and licorice improve liver function. 

Feel free to add some honey to your tea—especially if it’s raw, local honey! Unfiltered honey helps reduce allergic response because it contains some pollen grains. Introducing these to the body through the oral route helps it become less reactive to them when you inhale pollen in the springtime.

  • 1 cup dried nettle leaf (see Tips)
  • 1 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried mullein leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄2 to 1 cup marshmallow leaf (optional)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons dried licorice root

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs, including the marshmallow (if using, for a dry constitution). Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a long infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 8 hours, or overnight.

Step 3. Drink a quart or more every day, especially in the month before and during your personal peak allergy season. The earlier you start, the less you’ll suffer.

TIP: Omit the nettle leaf and increase the goldenrod if you take blood-thinning pharmaceuticals.

TIP: Want a quick fix? No time for tea? The simple combination of freeze-dried nettle leaf capsules and milk thistle seed capsules offers quick relief from allergy. Choose a high-quality brand, and take 2 of each (with plenty of water) every 4 hours.

Anxiety

Relevant tissue states: heat (excitation), tension

Relevant herbal actions: anxiolytic, nervine, relaxant, sedative

Herbal Allies

  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Elderflower
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Rose
  • Tulsi leaf

Anxiety is a kind of agitation and uncomfortable excitation, so we’ll work with calming, relaxing herbs to rebuild nervous system function and relaxation. Herbs for anxiety are very individual; you’ll likely need to experiment with several to find the one that’s most helpful for you.

Anxiety and insomnia often come together, and each worsens the other. Poor sleep stresses the body, lessening immune surveillance, detoxification, and growth and repair functions; this makes anxiety symptoms worse.

NERVINE TEA

Makes 31⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 28 quarts of tea)

Mind-calming betony and stress-melting tulsi are the best herbs we know for anxious states. This formula combines them with digestive herbs because anxiety often affects the digestive system.

Elderflower helps the “heat” dissipate, and rose calms the heart. If your anxiety manifests more strongly as digestive upset (heartburn, nausea), swap the betony and tulsi with chamomile and catnip. 

Consider adding goldenrod leaf and flower (1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup). Definitely add linden (1⁄2 to 1 cup) if you have a dry constitution or your anxiety manifests with a racing heart and high blood pressure. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried catnip leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried elderflower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried rose petals

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TINCTURE VARIATION: This nervine blend can also be prepared as a tincture. Using the same proportions listed (i.e., 1 fluid ounce tincture of betony, 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile, etc.), mix your tinctures together and bottle. Add a bit of honey to make this an elixir (see here)—that sweetness is pleasing and reassuring when we’re stressed. Take 1 to 8 dropperful as needed.

JUST LINDEN

Makes 2 to 3 tablespoons dried herb yields 1 quart of tea

If your mind is spinning too much to think about which herb is right for you, and following a recipe seems too difficult, this is a time for

Just Linden. Whether you take it as tea or a tincture (if you prefer, take 1 to 4 dropperful as needed), it’s delicious and very effective. Sometimes, one plant can be a complete formula all by itself!

Dried linden leaf and flower, as needed Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of linden per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

Arthritis

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), dryness or dampness (stagnation)

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, demulcent, joint lubricant, nutritive, rubefacient

Herbal Allies

  • Cinnamon bark
  • Ginger
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Marshmallow
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Nettle leaf (its sting)
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Solomon’s seal root

There are two major kinds of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid. In osteoarthritis, pain arises due to cartilage deterioration and synovial fluid loss; it is, at root, a condition of dryness, and mainly affects elders. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which sustained inflammation causes pain and breakdown of tissue; it’s strongly exacerbated by food intolerances and more often presents with stagnant fluid buildup in the joints. Both can be symptomatically addressed by many of the same herbs, but for best results we want to know whether damp or dry is the dominant tissue state.

If you’re feeling brave, try an old reliable remedy: Sting your aching joints with nettles! Several brisk stings on the affected joints will do it. This brings fresh blood to the tissues and disperses inflammatory detritus. The stinging sensation usually fades away in 30 minutes or so, but relief from arthritic pain follows and lasts 1 day to 1 week.

JOINT SUPPORT DECOCTION

Makes 21⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 12 to 16 quarts of tea)

Kelp’s nutritive values and ginger’s anti-inflammatory power combine with Solomon’s seal’s joint support and self-heal’s lymphatic stimulation. And, while unusual in a tea, at this proportion you’ll hardly taste the seaweed! This is great to drink before or during yoga class or other stretching exercises. Effects may take some time to become apparent. Be patient and keep at it.

  • 1 cup dried Solomon’s seal root
  • 1⁄3 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄3 cup dried meadowsweet flower
  • 1⁄3 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried kelp
  • Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, or allspice (optional, for flavor, and a little extra antioxidant benefit)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients, including the flavoring spices (if using) as desired. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a decoction: Measure 2 to 4 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a lidded pot over high heat. Add the water and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour.

Step 3. Strain and drink.

TIP: If you opt for the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, or allspice for flavor, add these as part of your dried mix, or prepare your tea with a pinch or two added for extra flavor depending on what you want each day. It’s easy and completely up to you! Many of the same herbs used here can also be applied topically. Using both applications gives faster results than either alone.

Asthma

Relevant tissue states: tension (constriction), dryness

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, demulcent, expectorant, relaxant

Herbal Allies

  • Elecampane root
  • Fennel seed
  • Licorice root
  • Marshmallow
  • Mullein leaf

Though some herbs can interrupt an acute asthma attack, they are not covered in this book. The herbs and remedies mentioned here restore lung health over time and reduce the severity of chronic asthma symptoms. 

To observe the effects of these remedies, do breathing exercises before and after you take the herbs. A simple exercise is square breathing: Breathe in, hold, breathe out, and hold again, counting to four during each step. Cycle through 10 times. This builds resilience in the lungs—and works even better when paired with herbs!

LUNG-STRENGTHENING TEA

Makes 21⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 14 to 18 quarts of tea)

The herbs here relax the lungs and induce the mucous membranes to release a little more fluid, soothing the racking dry cough. They also reduce inflammation in the lungs and, if there is any mucus present, help expectorate it. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried mullein leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup fennel seed
  • 1⁄2 cup dried marshmallow leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

LUNG-STRENGTHENING TINCTURE

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

Elecampane is a strong lung stimulant; paired with relaxant mullein and soothing sweet licorice, it builds up weak lungs and protects against infection, to which asthmatics are more susceptible.

  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of mullein
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of elecampane
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of licorice

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 dropperful 3 to 5 times per day.

Back Pain

Relevant tissue states: tension (spasms), heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, relaxant

Herbal Allies

  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Mullein root
  • Solomon’s seal root
  • Wild lettuce

Back pain can have many causes—injury, spasms, sciatica (nerve pain), disc problems, and so on. Long-term resolution requires figuring out what exactly is the root of the problem, but in the meantime these herbs and formulas will relieve pain and release tension, allowing you to move more freely.

SPINE’S FINE TINCTURE

Makes 4 fluid ounces (40 to 120 doses) 

These warming, relaxant, analgesic herbs quell the spasms responsible for most back pain, regardless of whether the pain is acute or chronic, muscular or connective, etc. If you have infused oil made from fresh goldenrod or ginger, use it as massage oil after you apply this formula topically. 

For help sleeping, take 1 to 4 dropperful of tincture of wild lettuce by mouth—this will also contribute more pain-relieving action.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of Solomon’s seal
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of ginger
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of goldenrod
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of meadowsweet
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of mullein root (see Tip)
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of St. John’s wort (optional; see Tip)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 4 dropperful by mouth 3 to 5 times per day.

Step 3. Additionally, squirt 1 to 4 dropperful into your palm and rub it into the back muscles.

TIP: If the vertebral discs are impinged or worn away, increase the mullein root to 1 fluid ounce. It specifically supports these tissues. If sciatica or other radiating nerve pain is present, include the tincture of St. John’s wort (unless you are taking pharmaceuticals). It regenerates damaged nerve tissue.

WARMING COMPRESS

Makes 1 compress

This simple application provides immediate relief.

  • 16 fluid ounces water
  • 1⁄2 cup dried ginger (see Tip)
  • 1⁄4 cup Epsom salts

Step 1. In a small pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat, combine all the ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a hot water bottle.

Step 2. Soak a cloth in the hot tea, holding it by a dry spot and letting it cool in the air until hot but comfortable to the touch.

Step 3. Lie down and place the wet cloth over your back. Cover with a dry cloth and lay the hot water bottle on top. Get comfortable and let it soak in for 10 to 20 minutes. You should feel warmth, relaxation, and relief from pain.

Step 4. Repeat as often as desired.

TIP: Have pain, but no dried ginger? If all you have on hand is fresh ginger from the grocery store, you can use that, too—sliced, chopped, or grated.

Bites and Stings

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, astringent, lymphatic, immune stimulant

Herbal Allies

  • Peppermint leaf
  • Plantain leaf
  • Rose
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Whether it’s mosquitoes, black flies, or fire ants, most bug bites are fairly simple: We just need to reduce the inflammation. Bee and wasp stings are a bit more intense: Here, our goals include drawing out the venom, if possible, reducing inflammation, and helping the immune system cope with the venom that has entered the body.

Watch for anaphylaxis! If someone stung or bitten is having difficulty breathing, seek help immediately.

COOLING COMPRESS

Makes 1 compress

Peppermint’s menthol provides a cooling sensation to the skin, while at the same time increasing blood circulation and dispersing the irritants from the bite or sting site.

  • 16 fluid ounces water
  • 1⁄2 cup dried peppermint leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup Epsom salts

Step 1. In a small pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat, combine all the ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Step 2. Soak a cloth in the hot tea, holding it by a dry spot and letting it cool in the air until hot but comfortable to the touch.

Step 3. Apply the cloth to the bite or sting.

BUG BITE RELIEF SPRAY

Makes 8 fluid ounces (number of applications varies by use)

If you regularly walk through clouds of mosquitoes or black flies or live in an area infested with chiggers, you’ll want this cooling, itch-relieving spray stocked for when you come inside.

  • 4 fluid ounces nonalcoholic witch hazel extract or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of rose
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of yarrow

Step 1. In a bottle with a fine-mist sprayer top, combine all the ingredients. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Liberally spray wherever you’ve been bitten.

Bloating

Relevant tissue states: dampness (stagnation)

Relevant herbal actions: carminative, lymphatic

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Calendula flower
  • Fennel seed
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower

Bloating may be extremely common, but it’s not insignificant! When you become bloated, it’s a buildup of gas in the bowels or a flood of fluid swelling in the lymphatic vessels wrapped around the intestines. Fennel and ginger are great for reducing gas, but for fluid bloating, you’ll want lymphatic drainers such as calendula or self-heal.

DISPERSING INFUSION

Makes 3 to 31⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 18 to 24 quarts of tea)

This helps with bloating, no matter what kind. Feel free to adjust the proportions to your taste, and if you don’t have every herb, it is still effective. Be forewarned: This will induce you to pass some gas!

  • 1 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup fennel seed
  • 1⁄2 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄2 cup dried peppermint leaf (optional)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs, including the peppermint (if using). Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

Step 3. Drink 1 to 2 teacups after meals to prevent or dispel bloating. If this is a chronic issue, drink a quart or more every day.

DISPERSING TINCTURE

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

A few squirts of this tincture blend will disperse gas and fluid bloating alike. Bring it with you the next time you head out for pizza or go to the local diner, and pass it around after the meal!

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of calendula
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of fennel
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of ginger
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of angelica

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful as needed.

Bronchitis/Chest Cold/Pneumonia

Relevant tissue states: dampness, cold (depressed vitality)

Relevant herbal actions: antimicrobial, astringent, decongestant, diaphoretic, expectorant, pulmonary tonic

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Elder
  • Elecampane root
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Pine
  • Sage leaf
  • Thyme leaf

When you have a lung infection, don’t suppress the cough—it’s a vital response! Our goal is to cough when it’s productive, so all the irritating or infectious material is expelled as you cough up phlegm, and to reduce the amount of unproductive coughing. 

If you can’t bring up the phlegm, you may find a simple cough developing into pneumonia because of the mucus buildup. (True pneumonia is a serious condition—seek higher care. Meanwhile, take elecampane and garlic—they’re your strongest allies for this problem.)

Infection-instigated coughs are usually wet, and the herbs we discuss here assume that’s the case. The goal is to get it just a little on the moist side—nice and productive—so you can expel that phlegm.

As with any respiratory condition, herbal steam is a great remedy all on its own, combating infection and greatly improving blood circulation—which means immune activity—in the lungs. Simple steam with thyme or sage is very good for this problem.

FIRE CIDER

Makes about 1 quart

Traditional fire cider recipes are blends of pungent and aromatic stimulating expectorants that will heat you up and help you get the gunk out. In this version, we sneak in some immune stimulants and a good source of vitamin C. Do not consume this if you take pharmaceutical blood thinners.

  • 1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled and chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup dried pine needles
  • 1⁄4 cup dried sage leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried thyme leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried elderberry
  • 1⁄4 cup dried rose hips
  • 2 tablespoons dried elecampane root
  • 2 tablespoons dried angelica root
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar
  • Honey or water, for sweetening or diluting (optional)

Step 1. In a quart-size mason jar, combine the garlic, ginger, and remaining herbs.

Step  2. Fill the jar with vinegar. Cover the jar with a plastic lid, or place a sheet of wax paper under the jar lid before you screw down the ring. (The coating on the bottom of metal mason jar lids corrodes when exposed to vinegar.)

Step 3. Let the herbs macerate in the vinegar for 2 weeks or longer.

Step 4. Strain, bottle, and label the finished fire cider. If the vinegar is too heating to be comfortable on your stomach, add some honey (up to one-fourth the total volume), or dilute your dose with water.

Step 5. Take a shot (about 1⁄2 fluid ounce) at the first sign of mucus buildup in the lungs, and every couple hours thereafter until symptoms resolve.

Burns and Sunburn

Relevant tissue states: heat

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Marshmallow
  • Peppermint leaf
  • Plantain leaf
  • Rose petals
  • Self-heal leaf and flower

Immediately following a burn, run cold water over the area—the skin retains heat for much longer than you’d expect. (If blisters form in the burned area, be very gentle with them and don’t break them before they naturally slough off, if you can avoid it.) 

Then, gently clean the wound, removing any dirt or contaminant. Apply the herbs, combining antiseptics to prevent infection with cooling, wound-healing herbs to encourage tissue regeneration.

Apply any of the herbal allies in a wash, compress, poultice, or infused honey—don’t use oily preparations (like salves) on burns, because they trap the heat in the tissue.

Do not underestimate the power of a marshmallow root poultice! Simply saturate a handful of marshmallow root with enough cold water to make a gloopy mass and apply it to the burn. Cover with gauze and leave in place for 20 minutes. Repeat frequently.

BURN-HEALING HONEY

Makes about 1 pint

Honey is the single best healing agent for burns: If you have nothing but plain honey, you’re still in good shape. It gets even better, though, when you infuse these healing herbs into it ahead of time.

  • 1⁄2 cup fresh calendula flower
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh rose petals
  • 1 pint honey, gently warmed

Step 1. Put the calendula and rose petals in a pint-size mason jar.

Step 2. Fill the jar with warm honey. Seal the jar and place it in a warm area to infuse for 1 month.

Step 3. In a double boiler, gently warm the closed jar until the honey has a liquid consistency. Strain the infused honey into a new jar, pressing the marc against the strainer to express as much honey as you can.

Step 4. After cooling and cleaning a burn site, apply a layer of the infused honey and cover lightly with a gauze bandage. Refresh the application at least twice a day.

SUNBURN SPRAY

Makes 8 fluid ounces

A few spritzes cool the skin and begin to reduce inflammation.

  • 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaf
  • 1 tablespoon dried plantain leaf
  • 1 tablespoon dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1 tablespoon dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 4 fluid ounces rose water

Step 1. Make a hot infusion: In a mason jar, combine the peppermint, plantain, self-heal, and linden. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes.

Step 2. Move the jar to the refrigerator until it’s cold.

Step 3. Strain out 4 fluid ounces of the infusion and transfer to an 8-ounce bottle with a fine-mist sprayer top. Use the remaining infusion for compresses or a cooling drink. It will keep, refrigerated, for 3 days.

Step 4. Add the rose water to the spray bottle. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 5. Apply copiously and frequently. Keep the spray refrigerated when not in use.

Cholesterol Management

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hepatic, hypotensive

Herbal Allies

  • Cinnamon bark
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Kelp
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Rose
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

High cholesterol is a symptom, not a freestanding problem. It is an indicator that systemic inflammation is damaging the blood vessels. Many things can cause this—blood sugar dysregulation, insufficient sleep, and stress are major factors—but the biggest one of all is diet.

Herbal approaches to reducing cholesterol levels primarily rely on the antioxidant power of the plants to reduce inflammation and neutralize free radicals. Eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, especially berries, is also very helpful.

Garlic is one of the most well-known and extensively studied herbs for reducing inflammation in the blood vessels. Adding it to your food is a simple and effective way to lower cholesterol levels and improve other blood parameters—beneficial effects start to manifest with amounts as low as two garlic cloves per day.

ANTIOXIDANT TEA

Makes about 2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 12 to 16 quarts of tea)

Gentle linden helps soften and direct the other herbs in this blend, focusing their effects on the blood vessels to improve integrity and reduce inflammation. Drink a quart or more of this tea every day.

  • 1 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried rose petals, hips, or a combination
  • 1⁄4 cup dried cinnamon bark
  • 1⁄4 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • 1 tablespoon dried ginger

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

ROSE HIP QUICK JAM

Makes about 3 ounces (2 servings)

This simple, tasty treat is a powerhouse of vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and antioxidant goodness. Mix this into your oatmeal or other hot cereal, spread it on toast, or just eat it by the spoonful!

  • 2 tablespoons dried rosehips
  • 2 fluid ounces water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon

Step 1. In a cup or small bowl, stir together the rosehips and water. Let sit for about 1 hour so the rosehips soften and absorb the water. They’ll gel into a jam-like substance.

Step 2. Stir in the honey and cinnamon.

Step 3. Prepare fresh each day for maximum potency.

Cold and Flu

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammatory immune response)

Relevant herbal actions: antiviral, immune stimulant

Herbal Allies

  • Elder
  • Garlic
  • Pine
  • Thyme leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Antibiotic treatments don’t affect viral respiratory troubles like colds and flu—they only work on bacteria. Herbs, on the other hand, offer effective assistance by supporting the body’s innate healing mechanisms.

Colds and flu generally cause very similar symptoms in everyone, but for each person one or another symptom will be most acute. For details on addressing specific symptoms, see Bronchitis/Chest Cold/Pneumonia; Cough; Ear Infection/Earache; Fever; Immune Support; Sinusitis/Stuffy Nose; and Sore Throat.

ELDERBERRY SYRUP

Makes about 1 quart (20 to 60 doses)

Elderberries have an amazing specific capacity to prevent flu viruses from invading the body and replicating themselves; they also fight colds and other viruses. Take this syrup in addition to remedies for your specific symptoms—1 to 3 tablespoons 3 to 5 times per day, whenever you suspect a cold or flu is present.

  • 3 cups fresh elderberries
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried chamomile flower
  • 2 cups honey, plus more as needed

Step 1. In a medium pot over high heat, combine the berries, water, and herbs. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 2 hours or until reduced by half.

Step 2. Use a spoon to mash the berries in the pot. Stir, simmer for 15 minutes more, and strain through a wire mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Squeeze the leftover berries well to get out every last bit of fluid. You should have between 2 and 3 cups of elderberry decoction.

Step 3. Return the elderberry decoction to the pan and place it over low heat. Add an equal amount of honey, warming it gently as you stir so it mixes thoroughly with the elderberry decoction.

Step 4. Bottle and label the syrup. It will keep in the refrigerator for several months.

TIP: Some recipes use sugar, as this creates a shelf-stable product. We try to avoid sugar, so we use honey and keep ours refrigerated. Another alternative is to also add 2 cups of tincture (in addition to the decoction and honey) to your syrup—the alcohol content will preserve it. Tinctures of ginger, garlic, pine, yarrow, and thyme are all good options.

Constipation

Relevant tissue states: cold (stagnation), dryness, tension

Relevant herbal actions: bitter, carminative, demulcent, hepatic, laxative

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Dandelion root
  • Ginger
  • Marshmallow
  • Milk thistle seed
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower

Sometimes, constipation is simply a sign of dehydration—drink some water! If it’s a chronic issue, it may be an indication of a food allergy or simply a sign that you’re not getting sufficient fiber in your diet. 

A good, thick, cold infusion of marshmallow solves both problems: It rehydrates better than water alone, and it includes a lot of polysaccharides and fibers that help move stool along.

Constipation, especially when ongoing, can be traced back to sluggish liver function. Bile produced by the liver is a digestive fluid, but it also lubricates the intestines; when production is low, things can get stuck. 

Bitters and carminatives help spur digestive function, and liver-restorative herbs (hepatics) such as milk thistle can reestablish normal function.

BOWEL-HYDRATING INFUSION

Makes 21⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 14 to 18 quarts of tea)

A bit tastier than solo marshmallow, this is a great solution for the type of constipation that often afflicts people with dry constitutions.

If you have hard-to-pass, dry, little “rabbit pellet” bowel movements, this is for you. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1 cup dried marshmallow root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried cinnamon bark
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a cold infusion: Measure 2 to 4 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in cold or room-temperature water and steep for 4 to 8 hours before straining.

BOWEL-MOTIVATING TINCTURE

Makes 4 fluid ounces (30 to 60 doses)

These bitters and carminatives will spur the bowels to movement by stimulating bile flow and intestinal peristalsis.

  • 11⁄2 fluid ounces tincture of dandelion root
  • 11⁄2 fluid ounces tincture of St. John’s wort
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of angelica root
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of ginger

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 2 to 4 droppersful every 20 minutes until relief occurs.

Cough

Relevant tissue states: heat (irritation) or cold (depressed vitality), dryness or dampness

Relevant herbal actions: antitussive, astringent, decongestant, demulcent, diaphoretic, expectorant, pulmonary tonic

Herbal Allies

  • Fennel seed
  • Ginger
  • Pine
  • Marshmallow
  • Mullein leaf
  • Sage leaf
  • Thyme leaf

For herbs to work best, we need to differentiate between a hot, dry, irritated cough and one that is wet, but cold and unproductive.

When the lungs are dry, you’ll have a racking, relentless cough; we use moistening herbs to correct this. Wet lungs rattle or gurgle and are most likely a response to infection.

LUNG-LUBRICATING TEA

Makes 23⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 18 to 22 quarts of tea)

For dry, hot lungs, these soothing and moistening herbs bring relief from a racking, unrelenting cough.

  • 1 cup dried marshmallow root
  • 1 cup dried mullein leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup fennel seed
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root, or to taste
  • Honey, for extra soothing (optional)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a cold infusion: Measure 2 to 4 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in cold or room-temperature water and steep for 4 to 8 hours.

Step 3. Strain the liquid and drink directly, or warm, if desired.

Step 4. Add honey (if using) for extra soothing.

ANTITUSSIVE OXYMEL

Makes about 1 quart (20 to 60 doses)

An oxymel is simply a blend of vinegar and honey, which combines the astringent and stimulating effects of the vinegar with the moistening and soothing aspects of the honey. Adding lung-specific herbs makes this a go-to for coughs of all kinds.

  • 1⁄3 cup dried pine needles
  • 1⁄3 cup dried sage leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried thyme leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar
  • Honey, as needed for topping off the jar

Step 1. In a quart-size mason jar, combine the herbs.

Step 2. Fill the jar four-fifths full with vinegar; top off with honey.

Step 3. Cover the jar and let macerate for 4 weeks.

Step 4. Strain and bottle the oxymel. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 5. Take 1 to 3 tablespoons as needed.

Depression

Relevant tissue states: cold (obstruction, stagnation)

Relevant herbal actions: aromatic, exhilarant, nervine

Herbal Allies

  • Ashwagandha root
  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Elderflower
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Pine
  • Rose
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

There is no one kind of “depression.” Many things can bring it on—nutritional deficiencies, too much sedentary time, a stagnant liver, a lack of sunlight (and vitamin D), gut dysbiosis, thyroid and other endocrine disorders, situational traumas and grief . . . and each requires a slightly different strategy. 

That may sound complex, but, fortunately, there’s a common place everyone can start—self-care.

Consider these remedies as a gift to yourself, something pleasant and restorative you make time for, just as you ould make time to visit a friend in need.

Peace of mind isn’t a thing in the ether—we make it in our bodies from food and water, movement and air. It takes time and conscious attention. It doesn’t happen all at once, but each step you take makes the next one easier. So, take the easiest step first—a cup of tea, a bit of elixir—and work up from there.

THIS IS FOR YOU

Makes up to 41⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for about 30 quarts of tea)

This tea helps bring you into a moment of relaxed, attentive presence. We’ve both found that it helps to practice meditation while drinking this tea. Tonglen techniques taught by Pema Chödrön are extremely helpful. You may want to look at some trees while you drink your tea; they move slowly and speak gently.

  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried elderflower (see Tips)
  • 1⁄4 cup dried rose petals (see Tips)
  • 1⁄4 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower (see Tips)
  • 1⁄4 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort (see Tips)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

Step 3. Pour yourself a cup of tea. Settle in somewhere and drink it. Take your time. You have time. Repeat often.

TIP: If you wish, add 1⁄4 cup of any one of these herbs, or 1⁄4 cup each of some of them, or 1⁄4 cup each of all of them.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

COUNT TO SEVEN

Makes about 7 fluid ounces (50 to 90 doses)

Fortifying adaptogens and uplifting woodland herbs give you a moment to pause and a breath of energy to get through your day in a focused, calm way.

  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of ashwagandha
  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of tulsi
  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of betony
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of pine
  • Touch of honey (even better if it’s infused with rose)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine all the ingredients. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 4 dropperful whenever needed. Slowly count to seven. Take a deep breath.

Step 3. Return to the world; repeat as often as necessary.

Detox

Relevant tissue states: dampness (stagnation), heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: alterative, bitter, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, hepatic, lymphatic, nutritive

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Calendula flower
  • Dandelion
  • Elecampane root
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Nettle leaf
  • Plantain leaf
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Detoxification means making improvements in nutrition, assimilation, and all the pathways of elimination. Or, put another way, it means improving the quality of what comes in, helping the good stuff get where it needs to go, and getting rid of what’s harmful or burdensome.

This is the essence of the old herbal category of alteratives, which were often called “blood cleansers” in summation of their observable effects: better fluid movement, tissue tone, circulation, and general vitality. Such remedies have always been given together with advice on a healthy regimen, including diet, exercise and movement, sleep habits, and various ways to train the mind.

LIVER LOVE TINCTURE

Makes 8 fluid ounces (3 to 12 weeks’ supply)

The liver is the great detoxifier, responsible for more breakdown and elimination of burdensome substances in the body than any other organ. With gentle stimulating and protective effects, these herbs keep the liver humming along smoothly.

  • 11⁄3 fluid ounces tincture of plantain
  • 11⁄3 fluid ounces tincture of calendula
  • 11⁄3 fluid ounces tincture of yarrow
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of dandelion root
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of angelica root
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of licorice
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of St. John’s wort (see Tip)

Step 1. In a medium bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 3 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day. Be consistent and persistent! Effects will continue to accrue with weeks to months of continuous use.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

ALTERATIVE TEA

Makes up to 5 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 40 quarts of tea)

When it comes to alterative herbs, this is one of the few places we might say, “The formula with the most herbs wins.” Because this is taken over a long period of time, it’s important to adjust it to match your personal constitution. 

If your constitution is hot, reduce or eliminate the angelica and ginger; if cold, increase the ginger or add 1 sliced garlic clove to each quart brewed; if dry, add 1⁄2 to 1 cup marshmallow leaf or linden; if damp, increase the nettle or dandelion leaf.

  • 1 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried dandelion leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried nettle leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried angelica root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup dried kelp
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a long infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 3. Drink a quart or more every day. Continue for several weeks to months.

TIP: Combining any of these herbs in the proportions listed will yield a drinkable tea that will support the goals of the formula. So, if you don’t have or don’t like a particular herb, you can leave it out without losing efficacy. Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

Diarrhea

Relevant tissue states: laxity (barrier compromise), dampness

Relevant herbal actions: astringent, demulcent

Herbal Allies

  • Cinnamon bark
  • Marshmallow
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Plantain leaf
  • Rose
  • Self-heal leaf and flower

When the lining of the bowels loses integrity, excess fluid is lost. To counteract this directly, astringent herbs restore healthy tone to the mucous membranes, so water stays in the body where it belongs.

Once this is accomplished, it’s a good idea to follow up with some soothing demulcent herbs—especially if the diarrhea has been going on for a while, as that causes dehydration, which must be corrected.

ASTRINGENT FORMULA

Makes 21⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 14 to 18 quarts of tea)

The tannins in these herbs help bind lax tissues back together so fluids stay where they belong and barriers keep their integrity. Drink a quart of tea over the course of the day.

  • 11⁄2 cups dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried meadowsweet flower
  • 1⁄4 cup rose petals

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TINCTURE VARIATION: If you prefer, make a tincture blend using the same proportions: Combine 11⁄2 fluid ounces tincture of self-heal, 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of meadowsweet, and 1⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of rose petal. Take 1 to 6 droppersful every 20 minutes until relief occurs.

CINNAMON POWDER CAPSULES

Makes 20 to 24 capsules

When cinnamon is extracted into water—as an infusion or decoction—its demulcent quality is emphasized. However, if you swallow a capsule of the powder, the capsule dissolves in your GI tract and releases the dry powder, which then absorbs excess water and exerts an astringent effect on the intestinal lining. 

This quells diarrhea quite nicely. The Capsule Machine, a handy manual capsule- filling device, helps with this recipe quite a lot.

  • 20 to 24 empty gelatin capsules, size “00”
  • 2 tablespoons powdered cinnamon

Step 1. Fill the capsules with cinnamon powder.

Step 2. Take 1 to 3 capsules when you have diarrhea. If relief isn’t obtained within an hour, take another dose.

Dry Mouth

Relevant tissue states: dryness

Relevant herbal actions: bitter, demulcent, sialagogue

Herbal Allies

  • Dandelion
  • Fennel seed
  • Ginger
  • Licorice root
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Marshmallow

Insufficient saliva isn’t just a nuisance—it can lead to serious and costly dental problems. Fortunately, this is an easy fix with herbs: Hydrating demulcents and saliva-stimulating bitters come quickly to the rescue.

DEMULCENT WATER

Makes 31⁄4 cups dried herb mix (about 1 to 2 months’ supply)

Not all demulcent preparations need to be out-and-out slimy. Just a little extra viscosity in your water bottle will keep your body and mouth hydrated.

  • 11⁄2 cups dried marshmallow root
  • 1 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup fennel seed
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root (optional)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs, including the licorice root (if using). Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your water bottle at the beginning of the day. They’ll infuse and exude their demulcency slowly over the course of several hours.

Step 3. Leave the herbs in there when you refill your water bottle; they’ll be good all day.

Step 4. Discard the herbs at the end of the day and start over in the morning.

Ear Infection/Earache

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: antimicrobial, immune stimulant

Herbal Allies

  • Garlic/onion
  • Mullein flower

The pain of an earache is due to inflammation, and although that means your body is working to fight the infection, the fluid buildup is painful. 

Recurring ear infections lead us to suspect food sensitivities, especially in children. Let’s help the body along with some herbal support. Both these remedies are topical;

THE “ONION TRICK”

Makes 4 to 8 steams (both ears)

Essentially, this is an “ear steam.” The onion’s sulfur is carried into the ear in the steam and fights the infection, either by killing microbes directly or stimulating a stronger immune response. Also, the heat is soothing—sounds simple, but it really matters.

This is the first herbal medicine Katja learned, while living as a university student in Russia. Katja has always been prone to severe and chronic ear infections, but once she learned this trick, they became quite easy to manage!

Olive oil, for lightly coating the pan

  • 1 onion (red or yellow), cut into 3⁄4-inch-thick flat slices (do not separate the rings)

Step 1. In a medium skillet over high heat, heat just a bit of oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Step 2. Add 2 onion slices, flat-side down, and sauté lightly for 1 to 3 minutes until warm and translucent (not caramelized, just hot all the way through).

Step 3. Wrap the onion slices in clean, soft cloths and lie down with a wrapped onion on each ear, like heating pads. Rest for about 10 minutes until they’re not hot anymore, and let it work.

Step 4. Always steam both ears; repeat as often as necessary.

TIP: If you have garlic but not onion, peel and chop the garlic a bit, sauté lightly, and pile it into a mound. Wrap in a cloth and steam as indicated.

EAR OIL

Yield varies

Garlic can be infused into oil very rapidly, so you can make it on demand, whereas mullein requires advance preparation. Mullein has a cooling rather than warming effect and is preferred when the earache is not relieved by heat, but rather worsened by it.

FOR GARLIC OIL

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup oil (olive, grapeseed, etc.)
  • 1 mugful boiling water

FOR MULLEIN OIL

  • 4-ounce mason jar filled with fresh mullein flowers (see Tip)
  • 2 to 3 fluid ounces oil (olive, grapeseed, etc.), enough to fill the space in the jar

TO MAKE GARLIC OIL

Step 1. In a small dish, combine the garlic and oil.

Step 2. Place the dish on top of the mug of boiling water to warm the oil. Let sit for 30 minutes, then strain out the garlic.

Step 3. Using a dropper, put 2 to 4 drops of oil in one ear as you lay your head down for 5 minutes, allowing it to settle. Switch and treat the other side.

TO MAKE MULLEIN FLOWER OIL

Step 1. Make a fresh mullein flower–infused oil as usual (see here for complete instructions); strain.

Step  2. Using a dropper, put 2 to 4 drops of oil in one ear as you lay your head down for 5 minutes, allowing it to settle. Switch and treat the other side.

TIP: To gather mullein flowers, you either need many mulleins or a lot of patience: On each plant, only a couple of flowers usually emerge each day. Fortunately, you don’t need to make very much infused oil, as you only use a few drops each time. Mullein oil can also sometimes be purchased at your local health food store or online.

Eczema and Dermatitis

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), dryness (dampness if weepy)

Relevant herbal actions: adrenal supportive, alterative, lymphatic, mucous membrane tonic

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Marshmallow
  • Plantain leaf
  • Rose
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Eczema, a.k.a. atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. It’s primarily a condition of dryness, though sometimes the lesions are weepy. 

Resolving eczema outbreaks involves quelling itching, calming irritation, drying out weeping sores (if present), and restoring healthy skin tone. Most cases of eczema are tied to some sort of food allergy, so it’s worth investigating that idea if you have chronic eczema.

LICORICE LOTION

Makes 11⁄2 cups (1 to 4 weeks’ supply)

Licorice is good for inflammation and dryness. Simple heat-infused dried licorice oil works well on eczema, but a lotion made with that oil is even better.

  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root
  • 6 fluid ounces olive oil
  • 1 ounce beeswax, chopped or grated
  • 6 fluid ounces rose water

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180°F.

Step 2. In a small oven-safe container, combine the licorice and olive oil; ideally, the root pieces should be submerged. Place in the oven for 8 hours.

Step 3. Strain and reserve the oil.

Step 4. Melt the wax into the licorice oil, making a salve (see here for complete instructions).

Step 5. Use this salve, together with the rose water, to make a lotion.

Step 6. Bottle the lotion. Cap the bottle and label it, including Shake well before each use.

Step 7. Apply to the affected area 3 to 5 times daily.

TIP: If your eczema is particularly dry, you might also apply some soft calendula and plantain salve. Make a salve as instructed here, but use less beeswax to make it on the soft side, more like ointment. You can leave this as is, or make it into lotion. Apply a thin layer when the eczema patches are dry, 2 to 4 times per day.

Edema

Relevant tissue states: dampness, laxity Relevant herbal actions: astringent, circulatory stimulant, dispersive, diuretic, hepatic, lymphatic

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Dandelion
  • Ginger (especially fresh)
  • Rose
  • Sage leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Uva-ursi leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Edema is a classic problem of stagnation—stuck flow, blockage and swelling, spongy tissue quality. In time, this may lead to heat from the “stuckness,” which then rises in the body—so belly edema may produce headaches, or swollen ankles may lead to inflamed hips. With herbs, we’ll drain the stuck fluids and tonify the lax, boggy tissues.

FLUID MOVEMENT TINCTURE

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

Let’s get those fluids dispersed throughout the body, instead of all pooled in one place. Circulatory stimulants and lymphatics together do the job.

  • 11⁄4 fluid ounces tincture of yarrow
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of calendula
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal
  • 3⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of ginger (ideally made with fresh root)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

DRAINING TEA

Makes 5 cups dried herb mix (enough for 24 to 34 quarts of tea)

This drying blend will get the lymph flowing and the kidneys filtering. Drink a quart or more every day, and add ginger, peppermint, or rose hips for a pleasant flavor, if you like.

  • 1 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1 cup dried dandelion leaf (see Tip)
  • 1 cup dried nettle leaf (see Tip)
  • 1⁄2 cup dried sage leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried uva-ursi leaf

Step 1. In a large bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: If you take pharmaceutical blood thinners, reduce the dandelion and nettle to 1⁄4 cup each.

Endometriosis

Relevant tissue states: dampness (stagnation), heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, alterative, circulatory stimulant, diuretic, hepatic, lymphatic, nutritive, uterine astringent

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Calendula flower
  • Dandelion
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Licorice root
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Nettle leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

When tissue that should be lining the uterus is growing elsewhere in the abdominal cavity, it leads to this painful condition. Endometriosis worsens as you go through your menses, because the misplaced tissue is still “trying to shed” as if it were part of the normal period.

Restoring hormonal balance, improving pelvic circulation, and reducing inflammation systemically will mitigate endometriosis symptoms.

In our practice, we’ve had very good success seeing clients turn endometriosis around. In the most successful cases, elimination of gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and caffeine made an enormous difference, along with Nettle and Friends Tea. If it seems like a lot, start with whichever action seems easiest, and progress from there!

NETTLE AND FRIENDS TEA

Makes 31⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 28 quarts of tea)

This is one variant of a blend we turn to for a wide array of problems. The nettle, dandelion, and licorice are at the core, with their nutritive and anti-inflammatory virtues; the other herbs play supporting roles.

In this case, the diuretic goldenrod and lymphatic self-heal help drain stagnant fluids that increase pressure and make endometriosis pain worse. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried nettle leaf
  • 1 cup dried dandelion leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a long infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 8 hours, or overnight.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals. If taking pharmaceutical blood thinners, prepare this as a tincture instead (see here). If taking thyroid medications, wait 2 hours after taking them before consuming this infusion.

ENDOCRINE ELIXIR

Makes 5 fluid ounces (75 to 150 doses)

This elixir brings together adaptogens and pelvic circulatory stimulants to support the health of the pelvic organs.

  • 11⁄2 fluid ounces tincture of ashwagandha
  • 11⁄2 fluid ounces tincture of tulsi
  • 3⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of angelica
  • 3⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of ginger
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of licorice (optional)
  • Touch of honey

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures and honey. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

Fatigue

Relevant tissue states: cold (depletion, depression, exhaustion)

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, exhilarant, stimulant

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Licorice root
  • Tulsi leaf

Fatigue is an indication that something is impairing recovery. Most of the time, it’s simply a lack of sleep. (Believe it or not, healthy adults need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night—every night—and most

Americans only get 6 on weekdays, 8 on weekends!) Even if your fatigue is not immediately relieved by a good night’s sleep, it’s still important to prioritize sleep. While there can be other factors in play (malnutrition, chronic illness, stress, pharmaceutical side effects, etc.), sleep is irreplaceable.

To counter fatigue, we’d like to emphasize the importance of movement for building energy. A little bit of motion can grow into greater kinetic energy if you cultivate it, gently and consistently. Tai chi and qigong are excellent for this.

While you’re working on that, we’ll draw on the talents of our adaptogens and uplifting, stimulating herbs to help break through the fog and push forward.

ADD APT AID

Makes 3 fluid ounces (45 to 90 doses)

This reliable formula has garnered much praise from our clients over the years; we consider it extremely reliable for fatigue, stress, and other states of depletion.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of licorice
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of ashwagandha
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful, at morning and noontime. Feel free to take additional doses whenever you need a boost.

MORALE MORSELS

Makes about 24 pieces

These tasty, restorative treats are a good way to get a substantial dose of beneficial herbs. This format is particularly useful because it provides the full complement of plant compounds instead of just those that are water soluble or alcohol soluble, as happens with a tea or tincture.

  • 1⁄4 cup powdered ashwagandha root
  • 1⁄4 cup powdered tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup powdered milk thistle seed
  • 1⁄4 cup powdered nettle leaf
  • 3 tablespoons powdered licorice root
  • 3⁄4 cup nut butter
  • 1⁄2 cup honey

Unsweetened shredded coconut, cocoa powder, powdered cinnamon, powdered ginger, cayenne, or whatever seems tasty to you, for coating

Step 1. In a large bowl, blend the powders together.

Step 2. Add the nut butter and honey. Stir to form a thick “dough.”

Step 3. Roll the dough into balls about the size of a walnut (1 inch).

Step 4. Roll the balls in your coating of choice.

Step 5. Eat 1 to 4 per day.

Fever

Relevant tissue states: heat, dryness (dehydration)

Relevant herbal actions: diaphoretic, refrigerant

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Elderflower
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint leaf
  • Sage leaf
  • Thyme leaf
  • Tulsi leaf
  • Wild lettuce
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Fever is your friend: It’s a vitally important immune response—and herbalists aren’t the only ones saying so! The American Academy of

Pediatrics released a clinical report in 2011 that stated: “It should be emphasized that fever is not an illness but is, in fact, a physiologic mechanism that has beneficial effects in fighting infection.” 

So, don’t give in to fever phobia—help your body do its work. Stay hydrated! Almost all serious problems associated with fever come not from the fever itself but from runaway dehydration. If a person is too nauseous to keep down fluids, sitting in a warm bath is a good way to rehydrate.

Finally, remember that temperatures are relative to individuals. Children run hot, elders run cool, and constitution influences your baseline body temperature. A limp and unresponsive person at 99°F is in more trouble than an active, alert person at 101°F. So, always look at the person more closely than the thermometer.

FEVER-MAKING TEA

Makes 3 cups dried herb mix (enough for 18 to 24 quarts of tea)

Often we want to help fever come on strong, with the help of our stimulating diaphoretics. These will help a fever be more productive, and they can also help the fever be more bearable because they cause the body to sweat. Drink a big mug of this tea whenever a fever is low and lingering and you want to boost it into an effective heat.

  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried sage leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried thyme leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried angelica root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced, for a real kick (optional)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Add the garlic (if using). Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes. For best effect, reheat before drinking and drink very hot.

FEVER-BREAKING TEA

Makes 13⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 14 to 24 pints of tea)

If the fever is too hot to tolerate, these relaxing diaphoretics and refrigerants will relieve tension and release the heat without stimulating more fire. The wild lettuce in the mix will make you sleepy, which is good—sleep is your best healing mechanism. Go to bed!

  • 1⁄2 cup dried catnip leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried elderflower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried peppermint leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried wild lettuce leaf and stalk
  • 1 pint boiling water

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Measure 1 to 2 tablespoons of herbs and place in a pint-size mason jar. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool. Drink this tea slightly cooler than usual.

Step 3. Sip on a mugful when you want to reduce a fever.

Food Sensitivities

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), laxity (barrier compromise) Relevant herbal actions: bitter, carminative, demulcent, hepatic, nervine, nutritive, relaxant, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Dandelion
  • Fennel seed
  • Ginger
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Marshmallow
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Plantain leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Food sensitivities are extremely common and run the gamut from mild to life-threateningly severe. They cause all manner of gastrointestinal upsets—heartburn, IBS, bloating, and more—but can also contribute to systemic inflammation, neurological problems, and autoimmunity.

In our opinion, everyone should periodically assess sensitivity to a few common foods: Gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.) are all common culprits. 

A 30-day elimination period similar to what’s described on Whole30.com, during which you avoid the suspect food entirely and track the severity of your symptoms, is the best way to identify if you have a sensitivity to a particular food. 

Once your individual trigger foods are identified and eliminated from your diet, there’s still some cleanup and reset work to do—that’s where herbs really shine. A cup or two of herb-infused broth and a quart of gut-healing infusion in a day will have you feeling like a new person in no time.

GUT-HEAL TEA

Makes 41⁄3 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 40 quarts of tea)

This blend of digestive herbs combines all the actions needed to restore healthy function to the stomach, intestines, and liver. It is the single most-frequently recommended formula in our practice and is open to a wide degree of individual customization: If you have lots of gut cramping, add more chamomile and fennel. 

If you’re constitutionally dry, add more marshmallows. If you run very hot, omit the ginger. If there’s an herb you don’t like, just leave it out, and if there’s one you particularly love, add more! Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1⁄2 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried catnip leaf and flower
  • 1⁄3 cup fennel seed
  • 1⁄3 cup dried peppermint leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried marshmallow leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a large bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

BUILD-UP BROTH

Makes about 3 quarts

Bone broth is very healing to the gut, especially when the bones have bits of collagen (gristle) attached. The amino acids in these parts help restore intestinal integrity, which is compromised by the food allergy reaction. Adding herbs enhances these healing and anti-inflammatory activities. If you feel particularly awful, forego solid food for a day and just have lots of broth!

One more reason to get in the bone broth habit: Broth made from bones with collagenous tissue still attached is rich in glucosamine and chondroitin. These nutrients are utilized by the body to rebuild healthy joints and connective tissues. You can buy glucosamine and chondroitin as supplements, but bone broth is a cheaper source and has so many other additional benefits!

  • 1 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried dandelion root
  • 1⁄4 cup fennel seed
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup dried kelp
  • Bones (such as from 1 rotisserie chicken; 6 pork chop bones; 1 lamb or beef shank; or the bones, head, and tail from 2 medium fish— really, any bones will do . . .)
  • 3 quarts water, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Oyster, shiitake, or maitake mushrooms, for their nutritive and healing properties (optional)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Step 1. In a large pot over high heat, combine the herbs, bones, water, vinegar, and mushrooms (if using). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Sustain boiling for 4 to 8 hours. Check often and add enough water to replace what has boiled away.

Step 2. Strain the liquid and reserve. Compost the bones and herb marc, if desired.

Step 3. Drink a mug of warm broth 2 to 3 times per day.

Hangover

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), dryness (dehydration), laxity (barrier compromise)

Relevant herbal actions: anodyne, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, relaxant

Herbal Allies

  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Ginger
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Licorice root
  • Marshmallow
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Plantain leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower

Our number-one hangover preventive and simplest remedy is milk thistle capsules. Milk thistle is one of the few herbs that are very effective in capsule form, and almost all commercially available brands are good quality. 

The best strategy is to take 2 capsules with a big glass of water before you start drinking, another 2 before bed, and 2 more in the morning. Sometimes this will prevent you from getting a hangover at all.

EASE INFUSION

Makes about 31⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 28 quarts of tea)

This gentle tea calms the most common hangover symptoms and helps with rehydration to boot. Best to mix it up before the big party, so it’ll be ready when you need it. Drink a quart or more, slowly, over the course of the day.

  • 1⁄2 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄3 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄3 cup dried marshmallow leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1 tablespoon dried licorice root
  • 1 tablespoon dried ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

Headache

Relevant tissue states: heat or cold, damp or dry, tense or lax Relevant herbal actions: anodyne, anti-inflammatory, astringent, circulatory stimulant, relaxant

Herbal Allies

  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Ginger
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Marshmallow
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Sage leaf
  • Tulsi leaf
  • Wild lettuce

Headaches arise from a variety of imbalances. Some are simple one- off causes—dehydration, sleep debt, dietary excesses, alcohol, caffeine, medications. For those, you want quick pain relief while you supply what’s missing or simply wait for the body to recover. (When unsure of where to start, turn to betony.)

For long-term relief, it’s important to identify your individual triggers, as well as the underlying patterns that contribute to your pain; this takes some experimentation. 

These two herbal remedies are designed to address the most common types of headaches we see, but try different combinations of herbs to refine the remedy and make it as personal as possible. If you have recurrent headaches and find this helps, drink a quart or more every day as a preventive.

COOLING HEADACHE TEA

Makes 31⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 22 to 28 quarts of tea)

If a headache makes you turn red-faced, and the pain feels hot, sharp, and very sensitive to the touch, this is for you. This kind of headache often results from tension, stress or anxiety, sinus congestion, or direct nerve pain. These herbs cool, relax (beware the wild lettuce may make you sleepy), and drain.

  • 1 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1 cup dried meadowsweet flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried marshmallow leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried wild lettuce leaf and stalk

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 30 to 40 minutes. Drink warm or cool. One cup of this tea should begin to give some relief.

WARMING HEADACHE TEA

Makes 31⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 22 to 28 quarts of tea)

If, when your headaches strike, you have a pale face and the pain feels cold, dull, and broad, try this blend. This type of headache is often caused by hypothyroidism, liver congestion, and circulatory stagnation. 

These herbs warm, gently astringe, and improve circulation. (If caffeine usually works as a headache remedy for you, try this.) If you have recurrent headaches and find this helps, drink a quart or more every day as a preventive.

  • 1 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried sage leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 30 to 40 minutes. Drink warm to hot. One cup of this tea should begin to give some relief.

Heartburn/Reflux/ GERD

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), laxity

Relevant herbal actions: bitter, carminative, demulcent, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Dandelion root
  • Fennel seed
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Marshmallow
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower

Contrary to what you might expect, heartburn is most often caused by low levels of stomach acid. When stomach acid is low, it causes a chain of problems in the digestive system that ultimately increase upward-moving pressure in the abdomen. 

This weakens the “trapdoor” between the stomach and the esophagus—when that’s compromised, acid is more likely to splash up through and irritate the unprotected tissue there.

Reducing stomach acid production (with antacids or acid-blocking pharmaceuticals) temporarily relieves pain, but makes the underlying problem worse. To address heartburn, first we have to heal existing damage in the esophagus or stomach (inflammation and ulcers). Then we can work to restore normal acid levels to prevent recurrence.

That stomach-esophagus “trapdoor” (the lower esophageal sphincter, LES) can also be compromised by poor alignment and stress. When in a state of stress, saliva production decreases and digestive movement is inhibited. 

A rest-and-digest state of mind is required to retain the proper resting tone of the LES. This starts by being present with your food—slow down, chew thoroughly, take your time.

MARSHMALLOW INFUSION

Makes 1 quart

If you have active heartburn, the first thing you need is a good cold infusion of marshmallow root. Keep this on hand for when there’s an attack and to heal the damaged tissue in the esophagus. When heartburn happens, just sip on this slowly and you’ll feel relief in no time.

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons dried marshmallow root

In a quart-size mason jar, combine the marshmallow with enough cold or room-temperature water to fill the jar. Cover and steep for 4 to 8 hours. Keep refrigerated, where each batch will last for 2 to 3 days.

BITTERS BLEND

Makes 31⁄2 fluid ounces (30 to 60 doses)

To restore normal stomach acid levels and reduce the conditions for heartburn to develop, take these drops before every meal.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of dandelion root
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of catnip
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of fennel
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of meadowsweet
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of St. John’s wort (see Tip)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1⁄2 to 1 dropperful 10 minutes before eating.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

Heart Palpitations

Relevant tissue states: tension (spasm)

Relevant herbal actions: nervine, relaxant

Herbal Allies

  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Ginger
  • Kelp
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Rose
  • Tulsi leaf

Infrequent, transient chest pains can be attributed to stress or even too much caffeine, but if it happens too frequently it can be a sign of more serious heart problems. 

Meditation and deep breathing exercises can be particularly helpful for interrupting stressful moments and unwinding the tension that is central to this symptom. Relaxant herbs can be taken preventatively as well as in the moment.

WHOLE HEART TEA

Makes 31⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 26 quarts of tea)

This is a tea to drink habitually—a quart or more every day—for anyone with recurrent cardiovascular tension. Over time, it will reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

  • 1 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried rose petals
  • 1⁄2 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

CALM HEART ELIXIR

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

This remedy can be taken when angina (chest pain) strikes, and it can swiftly relieve both physical and mental tension.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of betony
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of rose petals
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of linden
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce honey

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures and the honey. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day, or more frequently as needed whenever a heart-soothing influence is required.

Herpes/Cold Sores/Chickenpox

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: immune stimulant, lymphatic, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Plantain leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Thyme leaf

These common viruses are part of the same family, and the same herbs are effective for each. Together with these herbs, it will make a major difference in outbreak frequency and severity if sugar intake and stress are reduced as well—they are the main contributors to breakouts.

For long-term herpes infections, it’s also helpful to make dietary adjustments that increase the amount of the amino acid lysine in the diet, while reducing arginine—this disrupts the viral life cycle and makes it easier for your immune system to fight the virus.

COLD SORE COMPRESS

Makes 5 cups dried herb mix (about 50 applications)

This direct application stimulates local immunity and improves tissue quality so your body has the best chance to suppress the virus. For chicken pox or other full-body breakout, take an herb-infused bath with this same formula. Add a bit of baking soda, as it helps with the itching.

  • 1 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower

Step 1. In a large bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes. (Meanwhile, fill a hot water bottle.)

Step 3. Soak a cloth in the warm tea, holding it by a dry spot and letting it cool in the air until hot but comfortable to the touch.

Step 4. Lie down and place the wet cloth over the affected area. Cover with a dry cloth and lay the hot water bottle on top. Get comfortable and let it soak in for 10 to 20 minutes.

Step 5. Repeat 2 to 3 times per day.

STEAM VARIATION: You can also perform a steam using these herbs as they’re infusing. Simply make a blanket tent, position your face over the steaming pot, and steam yourself with these herbs for a few minutes before you sit with the compress.

COLD SORE BALM

Makes 5 ounces (about a 3-month supply)

This gentle salve is very soothing to irritated cold sores, and helps reduce inflammation while making your body’s environment less hospitable to the virus.

  • 1 fluid ounce calendula-infused oil
  • 1 fluid ounce plantain-infused oil
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce self-heal–infused oil
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce chamomile-infused oil
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce St. John’s wort–infused oil
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce thyme-infused oil
  • 1 ounce beeswax, plus more as needed

Step 1. Make a salve as usual (see here for complete instructions). Make it nice and soft if you’ll keep it in little jars; make it slightly firmer if you’re using lip balm tubes.

Step 2. Apply liberally to the affected area 3 to 5 times daily.

High Blood Pressure/Hypertension

Relevant tissue states: heat, tension

Relevant herbal actions: hypotensive, nervine, relaxant, sedative

Herbal Allies

  • Dandelion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Kelp
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Marshmallow
  • Rose
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Occasional high blood pressure is normal—it’s a part of the natural response to stressful situations. Over time, though, high blood pressure can cause or worsen other cardiovascular problems. 

Herbs offer a nice suite of actions to reduce high blood pressure, often by addressing root causes rather than merely acting symptomatically.

It’s worth noting that high blood pressure isn’t always bad: New information indicates that hypertension that develops in the elder years may actually help reduce the risk of dementia.

SOFTHEARTED TEA

Makes 2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 12 to 16 quarts of tea)

Reducing stress makes a big difference, so herbs that can relax the mind while soothing the physical heart are ideal. For those with very dry constitutions, prepare this as a cold infusion instead. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried marshmallow leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried rose petals

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

Hypoglycemia

Relevant tissue states: cold, damp

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, bitter, hepatic, insulin sensitizing

Herbal Allies

  • Ashwagandha root
  • Cinnamon bark
  • Dandelion root
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower

Hypoglycemia is better described as “blood sugar regulation issues,” rather than simply “low blood sugar”—it is often a matter of blood sugar levels fluctuating wildly, with spikes and valleys. 

Ideally, we should be metabolically flexible, able to go long hours without eating and able to run smoothly while cycling through a variety of fuels.

Hypoglycemia usually indicates the body is having trouble using anything except sugars and simple carbohydrates as fuel. It is closely tied to insulin resistance and diabetes and should be considered an early warning sign. The remedies here will work over time to normalize blood sugar levels and reduce hypoglycemic incidents.

Of the herbs in this book, cinnamon has the strongest activity for modulating blood sugar. As little as 1⁄2 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder per day has profound effects. Combine with a couple of milk thistle capsules to boost liver function, which also improves blood sugar levels.

Reducing simple carbohydrate and sugar intake is necessary for improving blood sugar regulation. If you have sugar cravings, take a dropperful of a bitter herb tincture, like dandelion root, or sweet herb tincture, like licorice. A chromium supplement can also be helpful.

ADAPT TO BITTER

Makes 5 fluid ounces (75 to 150 doses)

This combination of adaptogens (to improve endocrine function, including blood sugar regulation) and bitters (to stimulate digestion and normalize cravings) is a good way to reset your body’s internal fuel economy and help it become more flexible.

  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of tulsi
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of ashwagandha
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of licorice
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of dandelion root
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of St. John’s wort (see Tip)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 dropperful 10 minutes before eating.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

STEADY STATE DECOCTION

Makes 23⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 18 to 22 quarts of tea)

This combination provides consistent energy, keeping your body active and your mind focused without dips in vitality. Drink a quart or more over the course of the day. Effects may take some time to accumulate—stick with it.

  • 1 cup dried ashwagandha root
  • 1⁄2 cup dried cinnamon bark
  • 1⁄2 cup dried dandelion root
  • 1⁄2 cup dried kelp
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a decoction: Measure 2 to 4 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a lidded pot over high heat. Add the water and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour.

Step 3. Strain and drink.

Hypothyroidism

Relevant tissue states: cold, dryness

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, carminative, nutritive, stimulant

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Ginger
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Milk thistle seed
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

Hypothyroidism can be induced by hormonal imbalances (too much insulin or cortisol), by nutritional deficiencies (too little iodine), and by autoimmunity. For long-term resolution, each will need to be assessed and addressed. In the meantime, the symptoms—primarily expressions of cold and dryness—can be substantially mitigated with herbs.

DEEP WARMTH ELIXIR

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

The sweetness and warmth of this elixir will spread through the body, breaking up stagnations and building steady energy.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of ashwagandha
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of angelica
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of ginger
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of licorice
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce honey

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures and honey. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

SEAWEED SNACKS

Yield varies

Roasted seaweed has a nice, crispy texture and can replace chips as a snack. The iodine content nourishes the thyroid.

Olive oil or sesame oil, for lightly coating the seaweed 2 to 3 handfuls dried kelp, cut into potato chip–size pieces (enough to make a single layer in your baking dish)

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 2. Spread the oil—not too much—on the kelp pieces (a mister or pastry brush is helpful here) and arrange the kelp in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch oven-safe dish.

Step 3. Bake for 20 minutes.

Step 4. Store at room temperature in an airtight container and consume within 1 week.

IBS/IBD/Ulcerative Colitis

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), tension

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, astringent, demulcent, hepatic, relaxant, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Fennel seed
  • Ginger
  • Licorice root
  • Marshmallow
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Peppermint leaf
  • Plantain leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower

These similar conditions have technical differences but are often conflated (both by laypersons and physicians). Fortunately, the herbal approaches we use for each are the same: soothing remedies to heal damaged tissue, relieve constriction, and calm inflammation.

TESTY INTESTINES TEA

Makes 4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 24 to 32 quarts of tea)

This gently warming, relaxing blend calms the roiling and spasms that cause so much discomfort in these ailments. Drink a quart or more of tea every day.

  • 1⁄2 cup dried catnip leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup fennel seed
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried peppermint leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄3 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried marshmallow leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a large bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

Immune Support

Relevant tissue states: cold (depressed function)

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, circulatory stimulant, immune stimulant, lymphatic

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Calendula flower
  • Elder
  • Elecampane root
  • Garlic
  • Pine
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Thyme leaf
  • Tulsi leaf

We’re all exposed to lots of germs in the course of our lives, and there’s little we can do about it—but we can make ourselves as resilient as possible when we are, inevitably, exposed. 

Building up good host resistance or “healthy terrain” means taking care of all the body’s natural defenses against infection. 

Deep nourishment, stress management, good sleep, and consistent movement are all critical for immune health, as this distributed system relies on the movement and refreshment of blood, lymph, and extracellular fluids to function well.

ELDER AND EVERGREEN

Makes 5 fluid ounces (75 to 150 doses)

The gentle boost to immune activity this formula provides helps stave off illness if you venture into a kindergarten classroom, airplane, or other garden of germs!

  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of elderberry
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of pine
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of angelica or elecampane
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of calendula
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

GARLIC ELIXIR

Makes 4 fluid ounces (30 to 60 doses)

Garlic may not seem like the most delicious of flavors, but mellowed by some honey and lifted on the aromatics of thyme and tulsi, this potent immune system stimulant gets quite a bit more palatable. This is also great as an oxymel. Note: Do not take this concurrently with pharmaceutical blood thinners.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of garlic
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of thyme
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi
  • 1 fluid ounce garlic-infused honey

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures and honey. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 4 droppersful 2 to 4 times per day.

Indigestion/ Dyspepsia

Relevant tissue states: cold (stagnation), tension

Relevant herbal actions: bitter, carminative, relaxant

Herbal Allies

  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Dandelion root
  • Fennel seed
  • Ginger
  • Licorice root
  • Peppermint leaf
  • Sage leaf

If you’re reading this book cover to cover, you’ve probably gathered that we like to look for the root causes of things. If you’re having chronic digestive discomforts, take a hard look at your diet to see if you have any food sensitivities. 

Lucky for you, though, indigestion is a problem for which herbal quick fixes are ready at hand—read on for two simple, portable solutions.

BEFORE-MEAL BITTERS

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

Indigestion often means just that—incomplete digestion. This formula stimulates all your digestive fluids—saliva, stomach acid, bile, and pancreatic enzymes—so digestion is as thorough and complete as possible.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of dandelion root
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of sage
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of catnip
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful 10 minutes before eating.

CORE CARMINATIVES

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

This formula warms the body’s core, stimulating your digestive organs and keeping the bowels from getting sluggish. If peppermint isn’t your style, substitute angelica.

  • 11⁄2 fluid ounces tincture of ginger
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of fennel
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of peppermint (see headnote)
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of licorice

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 dropperful after each meal, or whenever your guts feel uncomfortably stuck.

Inflammation

Relevant tissue states: heat

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, alterative, anti-inflammatory, lymphatic

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Licorice root
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Nettle leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Inflammation is an essential part of the healing process and critical to immune responses to infection. But when it is uncontrolled and goes on for too long, it can lead to serious problems: Systemic

inflammation is associated with almost all chronic illnesses. Many aspects of our modern lifestyle contribute to systemic inflammation—diets high in sugar and industrial seed oils, insufficient sleep, sedentary habits, unrelenting stress. We can transition to an “anti-inflammatory lifestyle” by making sensible, stepwise changes in these habits. 

And of course, in the meantime, we can work with herbs! Here we highlight some superstars well known for their capacity to reduce inflammation, no matter where in the body it occurs.

COOLING FORMULA

Makes 41⁄2 fluid ounces (35 to 60 doses)

This combo of cooling, anti-inflammatory herbs circulates through the entire body and calms inflammation wherever it’s raging.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of nettle
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of calendula
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of yarrow
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of meadowsweet
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of licorice
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of St. John’s wort (see Tip)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 2 to 4 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

COLD FIRE FORMULA

Makes 4 fluid ounces (30 to 60 doses)

Inflammation doesn’t always present with surface heat signs. If you run cold but still have signs of systemic inflammation (e.g., hormonal imbalances, high cholesterol, or an elevated C-reactive protein reading on a blood test), try this formula.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of ginger
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of garlic
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of licorice
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of yarrow
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 2 to 4 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

Insomnia

Relevant tissue states: heat (agitation), tension

Relevant herbal actions: hypnotic, relaxant, sedative

Herbal Allies

  • Ashwagandha root
  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Rose
  • Wild lettuce

Wild animals don’t have insomnia. Hikers in the wilds don’t either, actually. According to a 2013 study in the journal Current Biology, just a few days in an outdoor environment, with no artificial light exposure, is enough to reestablish normal circadian rhythms—even in people who are habitual “night owls” in their city lives. 

This tracks with a large and growing body of evidence that indicates that our electrically lit environments are directly responsible for most sleep disturbances we experience.

Reducing evening exposure to bright lights—including TV, computer, and smartphone screens—is one of the most important steps you can take to fight insomnia. Dimming lights and avoiding screens for at least an hour before bed, and taking the herbal remedies offered here, are sure ways to improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep.

If you require a little extra help to get a good night’s sleep, you might also consider trying natural sleep-promoting supplements.

Resurge is one of the most popular melatonin supplements that promise to help you sleep better.

It contains melatonin and the herb Ashwagandha as ingredients. Research shows that your body naturally produces melatonin, a hormone that tells your brain it’s time to go to sleep. In other words, the primary function of this hormone is to let the body know when it is time to go to sleep so that it will relax and sleep easily. 

The pineal gland produces melatonin, but it is also produced in other places, including the ovaries, bone marrow, and gastrointestinal tract.

Although more research is needed, current evidence suggests that melatonin can be useful in helping people get to sleep. When taken for short or long periods of time, melatonin supplements appear to be safe for adults, according to studies

Resurge supplements might allow your body to absorb enough melatonin to maximize your natural melatonin production. Apart from that, it is also marketed as a weight-loss supplement because epidemiological studies show that insufficient sleep is associated with a higher risk of obesity. 

Resurge also includes the extract of ashwagandha in its ingredients because according to some research, ashwagandha can help people fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and have better sleep quality. In one actigraphy-based study, participants reported better sleep after taking ashwagandha for six weeks.

However, since the supplement industry is barely regulated, you might want to read some reviews for the Resurge supplement before making any purchase.

Remember that you should always consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplement, especially if you are pregnant or taking medication. 

END-OF-THE-DAY ELIXIR

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

This blend of relaxants and gentle sedatives doesn’t force sleep but helps relieve the tension, anxiety, and distraction that make it difficult to transition into sleep. 

This formula (and any herbs taken to aid in sleep) is best taken in “pulse doses,” which is much more effective than taking the total dose all at once right at bedtime. It gives the herbs time to start working in your system and emphasizes to the body that it’s time to transition into sleep.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of betony
  • 3⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of ashwagandha
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of catnip
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of linden
  • 1⁄4 fluid ounce honey (plain or rose petal–infused)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures and honey. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. One hour before bedtime, take 1 to 2 dropperful.

Step 3. Thirty minutes before bedtime, take another 1 to 2 dropperful.

Step 4. At bedtime, take the final 1 to 2 droppersful.

SLEEP!

Makes 4 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

For this formula, we recruit wild lettuce, the strongest hypnotic (sleep-inducing) herb in this book. This is especially helpful if part of what’s keeping you up at night is physical pain, as wild lettuce also has a pain-relieving effect. This formula, like End-of-the-Day Elixir, is best taken in “pulse doses.”

  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of wild lettuce
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of betony
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of linden

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. One hour before bedtime, take 1 to 2 droppersful.

Step 3. Thirty minutes before bedtime, take another 1 to 2 droppersful.

Step 4. At bedtime, take the final 1 to 2 dropperful.

Joint Pain

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), dryness (friction), tension

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, lubricant, relaxant, rubefacient

Herbal Allies

  • Cinnamon essential oil
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Kelp
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Solomon’s seal root

For acute or stand-alone pain in a particular joint, try one of these remedies. They’ll accelerate healing if there’s been an injury and reduce painful inflammation, as well.

The acronym RICE—rest, ice, compression, elevation—is a mnemonic for first aid treatments for sports injuries. The very doctor who coined this term and process, Gabe Mirkin, has actually recanted on at least the first two points. 

He no longer recommends either complete rest or ice applications for injuries, noting that current science shows these both delay recovery.

Gentle movement that doesn’t cause pain and herbs that help increase local blood flow and speed wound healing have served us well.

JOINT LINIMENT

Makes about 8 fluid ounces (100+ applications, 30-day supply)

This liniment follows in the tradition of “hit medicine” that originated in martial arts. Warming the area, increasing blood flow, lubricating the joints, and quelling inflammation all contribute to the overall effect.

Healing joint pain is best done with both inside-out and outside-in remedies.

  • 4 fluid ounces ginger-infused oil
  • 2 fluid ounces Solomon’s seal–infused oil, or tincture of Solomon’s seal
  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of meadowsweet
  • 80 drops peppermint essential oil or cinnamon essential oil (or both!)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the infused oils, tincture, and essential oil(s). Cap the bottle and label it, including Shake well before each use.

Step 2. Hold your palm over the bottle’s mouth and tilt it to deposit a small amount in your palm. Rub between your hands to warm the treatment, and apply to the painful joints.

Step 3. Massage the liniment into the joints until your hands no longer feel oily. Really work the liniment into the tissue—rubbing helps in its own right.

Step 4. Repeat the application 3 to 5 times per day. More is better!

KELP WRAP

Makes 1 application

Seaweed is very mineral rich, and, surprisingly, much of this nutrient content can be absorbed directly through the skin to accelerate wound healing at an injury site. Kelp also serves to reduce pain and inflammation when applied this way.

  • 1 strip dried kelp (long enough to cover the injured area)
  • Hot water bottle, for warming (optional)

Step 1. Drop the kelp into a pot of hot (not boiling) water. It will rehydrate and become soft and pliable.

Step 2. Remove it from the water and wrap the still-warm kelp around the joint that hurts.

Step 3. Cover with a cloth or towel and hold a hot water bottle against it, if desired. Leave in place for 20 minutes.

Step 4. Repeat 2 to 3 times per day for best effects.

POULTICE VARIATION: If your kelp is already chopped, make a poultice instead—a warm, wet mass of rehydrated kelp—and apply to the affected area.

Leaky Gut

Relevant tissue states: laxity (barrier compromise), heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: astringent, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Marshmallow
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Plantain leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Leaky gut syndrome is often due to dysbiosis, because unfriendly microorganisms in the intestines secrete toxins that damage the intestinal lining’s cells. Leaky gut is also a common result of food sensitivities, as the inflammatory response to the allergenic food weakens the lining of the intestines. 

At the same time, it’s a major contributor to food sensitivities, because compromised barriers allow various undigested food proteins through; the immune system regards these as potentially dangerous and mounts an inflammatory response—and now this food is a new trigger. As you might imagine, this vicious cycle often leads to an ever-dwindling set of “safe” foods. 

Correcting a leaky gut is a critical aspect of long-term digestive (and whole-body) health.

Good vitamin D status is essential for many aspects of health, including gut integrity. Vitamin D helps keep the “tight junctions” in the intestinal wall at a proper degree of permeability—not too loose, not too tight. For most Americans, a daily vitamin D dose of 5,000 IU is necessary to maintain adequate levels.

BARRIER INTEGRI-TEA

Makes 4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 21 to 32 quarts of tea)

These gentle, tissue-tightening, wound-healing herbs help the intestinal mucous membranes achieve a healthy degree of integrity once again. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried meadowsweet flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

HONEY PASTE

Makes about 1 cup (18 to 40 doses)

An herbal powder honey paste is a good delivery method to target the intestines—the powdered herbs travel deep in the GI tract before being absorbed. You can stir this into tea or hot cereal, or just eat it off the spoon!

  • 3⁄4 cup honey
  • 4 teaspoons powdered marshmallow root
  • 1 teaspoon powdered calendula flower
  • 1 teaspoon powdered plantain leaf
  • 1 teaspoon powdered goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1 teaspoon powdered self-heal leaf and flower

Step 1. Put the honey in a jar and warm it gently by placing the jar in a small pot of hot (not boiling) water on the stove or on a hot plate. (Don’t let water get into the jar; keep the water level in the pot 1 to 2 inches below the mouth of the jar.) As the honey warms, a moment will occur when it transitions suddenly to a thin, watery consistency. When this happens, turn off the heat and stir the powdered herbs into the honey.

Step 2. Stir very, very well, even for a few extra minutes after you think it’s all stirred in, so it will not separate or clump as it cools. The paste will thicken as it cools and even more over time.

Step 3. Take 1 to 3 teaspoons 3 times per day.

Menopause/ Andropause

Relevant tissue states: cold (stagnation)

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, alterative, cholagogue, hepatic, nutritive

Herbal Allies

  • Ashwagandha root
  • Calendula flower
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Nettle leaf
  • Sage leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

During menopause and andropause, the gonads (ovaries, testes) begin to decline in activity. Meanwhile, the adrenal glands take on the responsibility of producing estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones. 

When this process is unruly or uncomfortable, it generally boils down to either liver deficiency or overload, or adrenal depletion.

Many people looking for phytoestrogens try soy, clover, or hops supplements. Those looking for phytoandrogens often try pine pollen extracts or any of a thousand other “natural testosterone solutions.” 

But these don’t work the same way pharmaceutical hormone replacements do. In either case, if your fundamentals aren’t lined up, it’ll be slow going. First, build good self-care habits around food, sleep, stress, and movement; then address major confounding issues such as impaired detoxification, Hypoglycemia, Inflammation, and Stress; and then see what remains.

SAGE AND WISDOM FORMULA

Makes 2 fluid ounces (30 to 60 doses)

Sage is famed for its ability to calm night sweats, a common issue in the transition to elderhood. (This is likely as much to do with its stimulating effects on liver function as with any phytoestrogenic activity.) Combining sage with adaptogens deepens the effect on hormonal balance.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of sage
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of ashwagandha
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of licorice
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

HEPATICLEAR

Makes 21⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 14 to 20 quarts of tea)

This tea blend gets the liver going and clears out stagnant fluids in the body—supporting good blood “filtration” to eliminate excessive hormones. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root
  • 1⁄4 cup St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

Menstrual Cycle Irregularities

Relevant tissue states: cold (stagnation), laxity

Relevant herbal actions: astringent, carminative, circulatory stimulant, emmenagogue, nutritive, rubefacient

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Dandelion leaf
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Kelp
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Nettle leaf
  • Sage leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

This includes various disruptions of the menstrual cycle. Each is addressed slightly differently, but a few overarching actions emerge that help with all of them: nourishing the body, improving circulation, and stimulating the liver and kidneys to clear away used-up hormones.

Delayed or absent menses may be due to a lack of adequate nourishment, especially protein, or to disruptions in hormone levels. (Sometimes these share a cause. A high-sugar diet is nutrient- poor, and the havoc it wreaks on blood sugar levels has a cascade effect that disrupts hormone balance. Stress makes us tend to eat gratifying but poor-quality food, and excessive stress-response hormones interfere with the normal actions of estrogen and progesterone.)

Irregular cycles, with no predictable pattern, may also be due to poor nourishment, liver stagnation or strain, or an irregular lifestyle—especially erratic sleep habits. The daily cycle shapes the monthly cycle, like small and large gears interlocking in a watch. 

Over Heavy bleeding generally comes from hormones not clearing efficiently at the liver, though it may also be connected with the development of fibroids or polyps. If heavy bleeding persists, seek medical attention.

STEADY CYCLE TEA

Makes 31⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 28 quarts of tea)

These herbs provide substantial nourishment and a bit of gentle kidney, lymphatic, and endocrine stimulation. Long-term use of a formula like this has been the major factor in improvement for a great many of our clients with menstrual irregularities of all types. Add ginger if you run cold, betony if you’re frequently anxious, and peppermint for taste (if you like it). Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried nettle leaf
  • 1 cup dried dandelion leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried kelp

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a long infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 8 hours or overnight.

BLEEDY TEA

Makes 3 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 26 quarts of tea)

To bring on menstruation, drink this tea for 3 days to 1 week prior to the expected start of your next period. Drink this tea very hot for best results. Reheat as necessary, and drink a quart or more over the course of the day. For a stronger effect, take a dropperful of angelica tincture together with each cup of tea.

  • 1 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄3 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄3 cup dried angelica root

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

Muscle Soreness/ Post-Workout Recovery

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), tension

Relevant herbal actions: anodyne, nervous trophorestorative, relaxant, rubefacient

Herbal Allies

  • Cinnamon bark
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Wild lettuce
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

A bit of delayed-onset muscle soreness after a hard day’s work or an intense workout is normal. Rest well! Recovery time is when muscles grow stronger; if you don’t give them time to recover fully, you’ll confound your efforts. Eat well, too—providing the necessary nutrients speeds recovery. Bone broth with seaweed added is a great place to start.

MUSCLE RUB

Makes 8 fluid ounces (100+ applications, 30-day supply)

These warming herbs increase local circulation, simultaneously reducing inflammation and soothing tension. If, after applications, you’re still in a lot of pain when it’s time to go to bed, take 1 to 2 dropperful of wild lettuce tincture for further relief.

  • 2 fluid ounces ginger-infused oil
  • 2 fluid ounces goldenrod-infused oil
  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of ginger
  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of meadowsweet
  • 80 drops peppermint essential oil or cinnamon essential oil (or both!)

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the infused oils, tinctures, and essential oil(s). Cap the bottle and label it, including Shake well before each use.

Step 2. Hold your palm over the bottle’s mouth and tilt to deposit a small amount in your palm. Rub between your hands to warm the treatment, and apply to the painful joints.

Step 3. Massage the liniment into the joints until your hands no longer feel oily. Really work the liniment into the tissue.

Step 4. Repeat the application 3 to 5 times per day. More is better!

Nausea

Relevant tissue states: heat (agitation), tension (spasm)

Relevant herbal actions: antiemetic, carminative, relaxant

Herbal Allies

  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Fennel seed
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint leaf

One way or another, nausea almost always comes from food—a sensitivity, some indigestion, various potential infections. Especially if nausea happens frequently, look closely at your diet—keeping a journal can be helpful—to identify any patterns that occur around its appearance. Maybe when you eat on the run, or eat wheat products, or have really fiery spices—whatever it is for you, the only way to identify it is to pay attention in an organized way.

After a bout of vomiting, some warm, slightly weak Calm Core Tea can be the easiest thing to drink for quite some time. Then slowly reintroduce broth, then soup, then stew . . . gradually progressing from food prepared to be very warm and moist to food that is more cool and dry, like salad.

Both of the following formulas are also excellent for morning sickness. If you feel you can’t get anything down at all, just one drop of ginger tincture all by itself on the tongue can be helpful, or even just smelling strong ginger tea.

CALM CORE TEA

Makes 31⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 26 quarts of tea)

For most cases of nausea, this combination of the best herbal antiemetics should help very quickly. If you know you prefer (or dislike) the flavor of one of these ingredients, feel free to adjust its proportion. This also helps as a preventive—if prone to nausea, drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried catnip leaf and flower
  • 1 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried peppermint leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup fennel seed
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

Step 3. Drink a cupful, slowly, in small sips. If the nausea is very severe, just sit for a while and inhale the scent rising off the hot tea.

GENTLE GINGER ELIXIR

Makes 5 fluid ounces (60 to 120 doses)

This elixir is one to keep in your herbal first aid kit at all times. You never know when nausea will strike, and a quick herbal relief will be very welcome. Make this with ginger-infused honey if you have the time to prepare that in advance.

 

  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of ginger
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of catnip
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile
  • 1 fluid ounce honey

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine all the ingredients. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful every 20 minutes until relief occurs.

Pain Management

Relevant tissue states: varies substantially with each presentation 

Relevant herbal actions: analgesic, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, circulatory stimulant, lymphatic, relaxant

Herbal Allies

  • Chamomile flower
  • Ginger
  • Kelp
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Tulsi leaf
  • Wild lettuce

Pain is not one thing; pain is complex. This is true even at a high level of abstraction. Things known to increase systemic inflammation and exacerbate pain wherever it occurs in the body include food sensitivities, depression, sedentation, insomnia, stress—each a nearly universal burden on our population. Pain is also complex in each instance, variously composed of inflammation, swelling, constriction, pressure, and spasms.

Anytime these many causes and factors influence a situation, we might be inclined toward frustration or despair—“It’s too big to fix!”

But this also means we have many avenues of approach to try resolving the problem. Aside from rational lifestyle changes to move more, sleep better, and so on, it’s also known that meditation, acupuncture, and even simple warmth can increase endorphins— our internal painkillers. 

Gentle touch can “distract” the nerves carrying the pain signal to the brain, reducing its intensity. And herbs can address each of the disordered tissue states contributing to the pain.

When pain is chronic, it is essential to sort out the hot vs. cold, dry vs. damp, and tense vs. lax aspects of the presentation and adjust herbal formulas accordingly.

DAYTIME PAIN COMBO

Makes 7 fluid ounces (50 to 90 doses)

Take this tincture blend consistently for best effects; you’ll feel different by the time you need to refill, but only if you stick to your dosing schedule. You need the signals these herbs give the body to reach a saturation point and sustain it.

  • 4 fluid ounces tincture of tulsi
  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of meadowsweet
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of ginger

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 2 to 4 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

NIGHTTIME PAIN COMBO

Makes 7 fluid ounces (100 to 150 doses)

Wild lettuce is here for you. Switch to this formula an hour or two before bed so its effects can soak in and peak as you transition into sleep. Keep it near the bed in case you wake up during the night.

This formula (and any herbs taken to aid sleep) is best taken in “pulse doses,” which are more effective than taking the full dose at once right at bedtime. This gives the herbs time to start working in your system and reminds your body it’s time to transition into sleep.

  • 3 fluid ounces tincture of wild lettuce
  • 2 fluid ounces tincture of chamomile
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of ginger
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of meadowsweet

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. One hour before bedtime, take 1 to 2 dropperful.

Step 3. Thirty minutes before bedtime, take another 1 to 2 dropperful.

Step 4. At bedtime, take the final 1 to 2 dropperful.

PCOS

Relevant tissue states: cold (stagnation), dampness

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, alterative, cholagogue, diuretic, hepatic, hypoglycemic lymphatic, nutritive

Herbal Allies

  • Cinnamon bark
  • Dandelion leaf
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Nettle leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

PCOS stands for “polycystic ovarian syndrome,” although not everyone diagnosed with PCOS actually has cysts. Its symptoms might include irregular menstrual cycles, excessively high levels of sex hormones (including both estrogen and testosterone), facial and body hair growth, and infertility. 

Ovaries are extremely sensitive to fluctuations in insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar, and there is a strong correlation between PCOS and uncontrolled blood sugar levels. When insulin levels are high and the system becomes overworked while coping with that, other hormones may become elevated in the body.

REGULATE AND ELIMINATE

Makes 31⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 20 to 28 quarts of tea)

This tea has two goals: improve the regulation of blood sugar and accelerate the elimination of hormonal “trash.” Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄3 cup dried dandelion leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried nettle leaf
  • 1⁄3 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried cinnamon bark
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. Johns wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a long infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 8 hours or overnight.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

MAINTENANCE MORSELS

Makes about 24 pieces

With a decent amount of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates, these make a great snack to help you avoid eating sugary things between meals. This is a key way to improve blood sugar regulation; plus, these herbs help with insulin sensitivity and hormonal balance, too!

  • 1⁄3 cup powdered cinnamon
  • 1⁄3 cup powdered milk thistle
  • 1⁄3 cup powdered nettle leaf
  • 3 tablespoons powdered tulsi leaf or St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)
  • 3⁄4 cup nut butter
  • 1⁄2 cup honey
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut, cocoa powder, powdered cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, or whatever seems tasty to you, for coating

Step 1. In a medium bowl, blend the powders together.

Step 2. Add the nut butter and honey. Stir to combine and form a thick “dough.”

Step 3. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in your coating of choice.

Step 4. Eat 1 to 4 per day.

TIP: Do not use the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

PMS

Relevant tissue states: cold, dampness (stagnation), tension

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, antispasmodic, diuretic, hepatic, nervine

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Dandelion
  • Elderflower
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Sage leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Rose
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

PMS can have both emotional and physical symptoms. These tend to overlap when viewed as patterns—coldness can present as both mental depression and the physical stagnation of sluggish menses, for instance.  This means that addressing the physical often takes care of the emotional, and vice versa.

Because PMS can manifest in different ways for different people, many herbs have the potential to help. Experiment to find your favorites, but start with herbs that warm the core, increase flow, and support eliminatory organs such as the liver and kidneys.

During menarche (when menses first begin in adolescence), it’s normal for the period to be a little unpredictable and for pains to occur. These formulas help normalize the cycle and reduce PMS symptoms.

GLOW WITH THE FLOW TEA

Makes 33⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 24 to 30 quarts of tea)

For cramping, bloating, kidney pain, and exhaustion, as well as frustration, depression, and irritability, this tea is a winner. Drink this tea every day in the week before menstruation, and continue during menstruation, if desired. (In fact, you could just drink it every day of the month—it’s that tasty!) For a deeper effect, take a dropperful of ashwagandha tincture and a capsule of powdered milk thistle with each cup of tea.

  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried elderflower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup dried rose petals
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or longer.

Step  3. Drink a quart or more over the course of the day.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

PMS ELIXIR

Makes 33⁄4 fluid ounces (50 to 80 doses)

This helps stir up the pelvic blood and lymph, warm the core and release constrictions there, and settle difficult emotions.

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of dandelion
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of goldenrod
  • 1⁄3 fluid ounce tincture of sage
  • 1⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of angelica
  • 1⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of ginger
  • 1⁄4 fluid ounce honey

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures and the honey. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 droppersful 3 to 5 times per day.

TIP: If you typically have very heavy flow, omit the angelica and reduce the ginger by half.

Postpartum Support

Relevant tissue states: cold (depletion, stagnation)

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, alterative, hepatic, nutritive

Herbal Allies

  • Dandelion root
  • Kelp
  • Milk thistle seed
  • Nettle leaf
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

Growing a baby and giving birth is an exhausting and depleting process, and for many mothers, it’s immediately followed by another depleting and exhausting process—lactation. The process of labor and delivery also includes intense hormonal changes, which absolutely have emotional as well as physical effects. 

Traditional postpartum support efforts focused on deep nutrition and herbs for liver support as a foundation for recovery, and ours do, too!

BACK TO BASELINE TEA

Makes 2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 12 to 16 quarts of tea)

Especially for someone who had trouble conceiving, who is insulin- resistant, or who has other hormonal issues, the liver is the first place to focus. You can’t get back to baseline, mentally or hormonally, until the liver is able to restore normal levels.

St. John’s wort stimulates the liver and speeds clearance of hormones ready to be broken down. It also increases production and uptake of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the enteric nervous system. 

Between this and its slight bitterness, St. John’s wort improves digestive function—often a site of sluggishness for pregnant people and new mothers.

If St. John’s wort is contraindicated (i.e., if mom or baby take prescription medications), work with powdered milk thistle capsules or dandelion root tincture, along with tulsi infusions, instead. Feel free to add any flavor herbs, either to the mixture or on a cup-by-cup basis. Peppermint, fennel, chamomile, pine, sage, and ginger are all compatible flavors. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

Rash

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), dryness or dampness, laxity

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, astringent, demulcent

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Kelp
  • Licorice root
  • Plantain leaf
  • Rose
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Uva-ursi leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

A sudden appearance of a rash generally means you’ve come into contact with some kind of irritant—an irritating plant, a toxic chemical, or perhaps an insect bite or sting. Wash the area well with soap and water. 

Then apply insights from basic herbal energetics: If the rash is dry, use moistening herbs and preparations; if it’s damp and oozy, use drying agents.

If there doesn’t seem to have been any contact with an irritating plant, chemical, or other direct trigger, the rash may be an external reflection of an internal imbalance. Allergies can cause this, of course, as well as overworked internal detoxification systems.

DRY RASH SALVE

Makes 9 ounces (60-day supply)

Salves are emollient due to their oil and wax content, especially when they have a moisturizing oil, like olive oil, as the base. In this simple formula, the herbs’ healing and anti-inflammatory effects enhance the emollient effect.

  • 3 fluid ounces calendula-infused oil
  • 3 fluid ounces plantain-infused oil
  • 2 fluid ounces licorice-infused oil
  • 1 ounce beeswax, plus more as needed
  • 1. Prepare a salve as usual
  • 2. Gently apply a thin layer to the affected area at least twice a day.

WEEPY RASH POULTICE

Makes 41⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 12 to 18 poultices)

Contact with poison ivy and similar plants often produces a rash with fluid-filled blisters. These call for astringents, and those are best delivered in a water extract—a poultice or compress.

Learn to identify the plants that cause contact rash in your area! Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac all grow in the US. Check out poison-ivy.org for great pictures and details about how to make a positive identification, as well as how to tell them apart from benign look-alike plants.

  • 1 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1 cup dried rose petals
  • 1 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried uva-ursi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • Boiling water, to make the poultice

Step 1. In a large bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Measure 4 to 6 tablespoons of the herb mixture and place in a heat-proof dish.

Step 3. Pour just enough boiling water over the herbs to get them fully saturated—not so much that they’re swimming. Let the herbs soak for 5 minutes.

Step 4. Apply the mass of herbs, warm and wet, to the affected area. Cover with a cloth. Keep in place for 5 to 10 minutes, then gently pat dry.

Step 5. Repeat 1 to 3 times per day.

TIP: If you don’t have these herbs on hand, plain green or black tea bags will do the trick! Just get them warm and wet, apply them over the rash, and let them sit in place for 20 minutes.

Seasonal Depression

Relevant tissue states: cold (depression)

Relevant herbal actions: exhilarant, nervine, stimulant

Herbal Allies

  • Angelica
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Calendula flower
  • Dandelion flower
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

When the sun is low and the skies are grey, most everyone feels a little less enthusiastic about customer service and commuting.

There’s no mystery here! When these feelings become obtrusive, we call it depression. But what if that’s not quite it? Ancestrally, it’s completely normal for us to have “hibernatory” behavior in winter, as the light wanes. 

Vitamin D levels decline, too, which affects multiple hormonal patterns in the body. When these internal, seasonal shifts run up against external social norms—the expectation that we should all be homogenous in output, attitude, and behavior throughout the various seasons—it can be easy for something normal to become pathologized.

Does that mean nothing is wrong? Well, if you’re hibernating and feel good about it, nothing’s wrong! But if you’re hibernating and feel despondent about it, you should fine-tune things, both in your body and outlook. Herbs are an ideal ally for this.

SOLSTICE ELIXIR

Makes 8 fluid ounces (many doses)

This is a bottle of sunshine. Plan ahead! Make this at summer solstice with fresh plant matter for optimal results. If you have the chance, infuse your honey with freshly gathered linden flowers for 1 month before making this formula. It’s divine!

  • 4 fluid ounces tincture of dandelion flower
  • 11⁄2 fluid ounces tincture of calendula
  • 11⁄2 fluid ounces tincture of tulsi
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of St. John’s wort (see Tip)
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce honey

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures and honey. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 1 to 2 dropperful 3 to 5 times per day, plus more as needed.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

SUNNY TEA

Makes 21⁄2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 14 to 20 quarts of tea)

Warming, uplifting, and exhilarating, this formula wakes up your brain and helps you remember the sunlight, even when clouds are in the way. Feel free to add 1⁄2 cup of your favorite aromatic herbs—catnip, chamomile, peppermint, even sage or thyme—whatever tastes good to you! We want this tea to be a source of delight. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

Sinusitis/Stuffy Nose

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), laxity (mucous membranes) Relevant herbal actions: antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, decongestant, demulcent

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Garlic
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Pine
  • Marshmallow
  • Sage leaf
  • Thyme leaf
  • Uva-ursi leaf

Runny nose is a vital response to a cold or the flu! Believe it or not, mucus is actually full of antibodies. Drying it up with pharmaceutical decongestants makes the tissue more susceptible to infection.

Keeping mucous membranes at a happy medium—not too dry, not too drippy—helps shorten the illness and prevent complications. If not connected to a full respiratory infection, or if chronic or recurrent, the cause of symptoms is likely a complex of bacterial, fungal, and viral components. (This is why it can persist even after multiple rounds of antibiotics.) 

Antimicrobial herbs are less specific than antibiotic drugs, which is a benefit in this case, meaning that they can counteract a variety of pathogens and compromised states simultaneously.

Grating fresh horseradish and breathing its fumes, or eating prepared horseradish or wasabi, is a great way to clear the sinuses. If you’ve been blowing your nose a lot and the skin is irritated, some soft, simple salve or lanolin is very soothing.

SINUS-CLEARING STEAM

Makes 2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 4 to 8 steams)

Steaming is a universal treatment across cultures for any respiratory system troubles, including those related to the sinuses. The combination of hot steam and the evaporating volatile oils from the herbs makes it very difficult for pathogens to survive and stimulates immune response in the mucous membranes.

  • 1 cup dried pine needles
  • 1⁄2 cup dried sage leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried thyme leaf
  • 1⁄2 gallon water
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped, per steam (optional)

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix the pine, sage, and thyme. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make and execute an herbal steam: In a medium pot over high heat, boil the water. Place the pot on a heat-proof surface, someplace where you can sit near it, and make a tent with a blanket or towel. Add 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of the herb mixture to the water, along with the garlic (if using). Position your face over the steam and remain there for 5 to 20 minutes. (Bring a handkerchief, your nose will run as your sinuses clear!)

Step 3. Repeat 2 to 3 times per day.

TIP: Similar microbe-clearing benefits can be gained by working with aromatic herbs as incense or a smudge stick (a tightly wrapped bundle of leaves, lit on one end to produce medicinal smoke). A study by Nautiyal et al. in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that “[when] using medicinal smoke[,] it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria from the air within confined space.” Conifer trees like pine are particularly good at this.

Sore Throat

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), dryness or dampness

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, demulcent, mucous membrane tonic

Herbal Allies

  • Cinnamon bark
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Licorice root
  • Marshmallow
  • Sage leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower

Sore throats are generally due to infection, whether that’s a simple cold, the flu, or strep throat. When choosing remedies, it is helpful to differentiate between the hot, inflamed, dry sore throat and the cold, wet sore throat induced by post-nasal drip. Use extra demulcents for the former and astringent mucous membrane tonics for the latter.

SORE THROAT TEA

Makes 2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 12 to 16 quarts of tea)

We make this perennial favorite in a big batch every winter.Sore throat is the early warning sign of a cold coming on—and if you start with this tea right away, it can cut the sickness short before it gets going.

Add any spices you like, such as allspice, clove, or star anise. You can also include orange peel—simply chop the peel of your (organic!) oranges, and let dry fully before adding.

Stir in some lemon and honey if you like the flavors. Lemon has some antimicrobial action, and the sour and sweet flavors both stimulate the flow of healthy mucus, which fights infection. You can also add a bit of butter, ghee, or coconut oil—just a 1⁄2 teaspoon or so per cup of hot tea. 

The medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in these oils are topically antimicrobial, and add a nice “coating” quality to the drink.

  • 1 cup marshmallow root
  • 1⁄2 cup dried ginger
  • 1⁄4 cup dried cinnamon bark
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step  2. Make a decoction: Measure 2 to 4 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a lidded pot over high heat. Add the water and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour.

Step 3. To enhance the soothing effects of the mucilaginous herbs in this blend, cool the tea fully after decoction, then continue to cool for 1 to 2 more hours. Strain, and reheat before drinking.

Step 4. Drink liberally throughout the day.

HERB GARGLE

Makes 16 fluid ounces (enough for several gargles)

Sage is an aromatic astringent, and it specifically kills rhinovirus—a virus that causes many colds. Combining it with vinegar and salt enhances these properties. If you have a dry sore throat, you may want to follow this with a nice cup of marshmallow tea.

  • 8 fluid ounces water
  • 2 tablespoons dried sage leaf
  • 8 fluid ounces apple cider vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons salt

Step 1. In a small pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Remove it from the heat and add the sage. Cover tightly and let infuse for 20 minutes.

Step 2. Strain the liquid into a pint-size mason jar.

Step 3. Add the vinegar and salt, cover the jar, and shake well.

Step 4. Pour off 1 fluid ounce or so and gargle with it for 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse your mouth out with water afterward—the vinegar’s acidity can wear down tooth enamel if left in place.

Step 5. Repeat 3 to 5 times per day.

Sprains and Strains

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), tension and/or laxity

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, circulatory stimulant, connective tissue lubricant, lymphatic, nerve trophorestorative, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Cinnamon essential oil
  • Ginger
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Kelp
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • Solomon’s seal root
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower

The pain of an injured joint is your body speaking a warning to you. Heed it! Don’t let a minor strain become a serious sprain. Rest the joint—but don’t immobilize it; gentle movement allows blood to move through the injury site and speeds healing. 

Drink some bone broth, eat some seaweed, and work with herbs to reduce inflammation, improve blood exchange, and restore the connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia).

One of the best methods for healing a sprain is alternating hot and cold compresses or baths. Heat exposure brings in fresh blood, while cold constricts the vessels and squeezes out stuck fluids. 

Alternate between 3 minutes of hot and 30 seconds of cold. Go back and forth a few times, and always finish with hot to bring fresh, healthy circulation to the area.

SOFT TISSUE INJURY LINIMENT

Makes about 8 fluid ounces (100+ applications, 30-day supply)

This is similar to Joint Liniment, but we add some extra vulneraries, lymphatics, and nerve-healing herbs to address the other types of tissue damaged in an injury.

  • 3 fluid ounces ginger-infused oil
  • 2 fluid ounces Solomon’s seal-infused oil or tincture of Solomon’s seal
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of St. John’s wort
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of self-heal
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of meadowsweet
  • 40 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 40 drops cinnamon essential oil

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the infused oils, tinctures, and essential oils. Cap the bottle and label it, including Shake well before each use.

Step 2. Hold your palm over the bottle’s mouth and tilt to deposit a small amount in your palm. Rub between your hands to warm the treatment, then apply to the painful joints.

Step 3. Massage the oil into the joints until your hands no longer feel oily. Really work the liniment into the tissue.

Step 4. Repeat the application 3 to 5 times per day. More is better!

Stomach Ulcer/ Gastritis and H.pylori Overgrowth

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), laxity (barrier compromise)

Relevant herbal actions: antimicrobial, astringent, demulcent, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Licorice root
  • Marshmallow
  • Meadowsweet flower
  • Plantain leaf
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

Inflammation of the stomach causes discomfort and interferes with digestion; when it gets severe, it can lead to ulcers. Helicobacter pylori is an opportunistic type of bacteria that proliferates when stomach acid is low. 

It’s considered by conventional medicine to be “the” cause of many ulcers but is also a normal member of the gut flora for most healthy people, too. It only seems to cause problems when stomach acid gets too low, and eliminating it entirely with antibiotics is known to have some downsides. 

Still, when it does overgrow, it’s necessary to get it back in check. At the same time, we can work directly to heal the ulcers and reduce inflammation—getting to the root of the problem and healing it there.

COATING AND HEALING INFUSION

Makes 2 cups dried herb mix (enough for 12 to 16 quarts of tea)

If you have an active ulcer, this blend helps protect the sensitive tissue, coating the open wound. It also encourages healing of the underlying tissue. Sipping on this slowly throughout the course of the day gives the best results, as you’ll be continuously bathing the ulcer with these soothing, healing herbs. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 3⁄4 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried marshmallow root
  • 1⁄2 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a cold infusion: Measure 2 to 4 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in cold or room-temperature water and steep for 4 to 8 hours. (You can prepare this at night and have it ready for the next day.)

RESTORE ORDER INFUSION

Makes 21⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 14 to 18 quarts of tea)

This combination of tissue healers and antimicrobials will corral H.pylori and other rambunctious microorganisms, while tightening and preventing further damage to the stomach lining. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1⁄3 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄3 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄3 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried meadowsweet flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried licorice root
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

Stress

Relevant tissue states: heat (agitation), tension

Relevant herbal actions: adaptogen, nervine, relaxant, sedative

Herbal Allies

  • Ashwagandha root
  • Betony leaf and flower
  • Catnip leaf and flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Elderflower
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Linden leaf and flower
  • Rose
  • Sage leaf
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Tulsi leaf

Everyone’s stress is the same, and everyone’s stress is different. We all have the same physiological response to stress—racing heart, shallow breathing, narrowed focus, heightened cortisol and blood sugar. 

But we react to potential stressors differently—something that bothers one person might roll right off another’s back. Whatever is stressing you, herbs can help both as a short-term rescue in the immediate moment and in the long-term to build more “nerve reserve” and poise in the face of difficulties.

RESCUE ELIXIR

Makes 5 fluid ounces (40 to 80 doses)

When you need a quick respite from a hectic day, this is your best friend. This remedy works best if you can step away to a private space for a moment. Center yourself, breathe deeply for a few breaths, take your tincture, breathe a few more times, and return to the world. A little ritual goes a long way!

  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of tulsi
  • 1 fluid ounce tincture of betony
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of catnip
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of chamomile
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of elderflower
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce tincture of rose
  • 1⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of goldenrod
  • 1⁄4 fluid ounce tincture of sage
  • 1⁄2 fluid ounce honey

Step 1. In a small bottle, combine the tinctures and honey. Cap the bottle and label it.

Step 2. Take 2 to 4 dropperful whenever needed.

EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE

Makes 33⁄4 cups of dried herb mix (enough for 22 to 30 quarts of tea) Another of our old reliables, this tea has gotten us and our clients through some tough times. It’s great for those days when you feel like everything is falling down all around you—just make a cup, drink it as deliberately as you can, and let the warmth and relaxation move through you.

If your stress manifests with a feeling of heaviness and downtrodden exhaustion, include 1⁄4 cup of dried goldenrod and/or sage. If it shows up as digestive upsets, include 1⁄4 cup of dried chamomile and/or catnip. If your stress is chronic and ongoing, work consistently with Add Apt Aid, as well. Drink a quart or more every day.

  • 1 cup dried betony leaf and flower
  • 1 cup dried tulsi leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried linden leaf and flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried rose petals
  • 1⁄2 cup dried elderflower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower (see Tip)

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool enough to drink.

TIP: Omit the St. John’s wort if you are concurrently taking pharmaceuticals.

UTI

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation), laxity (barrier compromise)

Relevant herbal actions: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic

Herbal Allies

  • Dandelion leaf
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Marshmallow
  • Nettle leaf
  • Thyme leaf
  • Uva-ursi leaf
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

You may have heard that urine and the urinary system are sterile. It turns out that’s not true! Recent advances in analytical techniques have revealed that there is a large variety of microbes that live in the urinary system, both friendly and not so—just like in the intestines.

So, a UTI, rather than simply being an “invasion” of pathogens, is actually a state in which unfriendly bacteria have been able to proliferate, and the mucous membranes of the urinary system have been compromised, losing their integrity and innate defenses. 

For this reason, herbal approaches to resolving UTIs are at least as focused on improving the health of the urinary mucosa as they are on killing microbes.

About cranberry juice: Drinking lots of liquids, any kind, helps eliminate or prevent a UTI by flushing out the troublesome bacteria. 

Cranberry juice is better than plain water, though, because it has some diuretic effects and makes it difficult for bacteria to adhere to the walls of the bladder and urethra. It’s not usually enough to stop a full-blown infection, but if you start it early—when you first detect symptoms—and drink a lot (a quart or so a day), it will work! Choose unsweetened cranberry juice for best effects.

UTI TEA

Makes 21⁄4 cups dried herb mix (enough for 14 to 20 quarts of tea)

This blend calls on one of our most potent anti-UTI herbs: uva-ursi. For best results, drink this as soon as you’re aware of your UTI—if you catch it on the first or second day, this is as close to a guaranteed win as you’re going to find! 

Don’t drink this for more than 2 weeks; uva-ursi is too strong for long-term use. If you’re prone to chronic UTIs, convert this to a long-term-use formula for prevention purposes by simply removing the uva-ursi. (If you have any pre-existing kidney diseases, use this modified version only, even for short-term use.)

  • 1⁄2 cup dried nettle leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried dandelion leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried marshmallow leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried uva-ursi leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower

Step 1. In a small bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a long infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 2 to 3 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover tightly, and steep for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 3. Drink a quart or more daily until symptoms resolve—and then one extra day after that. Also drink a quart of unsweetened cranberry juice, for good measure.

ANTISEPTIC SITZ BATH

Makes 1 sitz bath

Getting the herbs directly in contact with the affected tissues is always ideal. A sitz bath is an excellent remedy, and with this external application we can add apple cider vinegar to alter the pH of the urinary tissues—helping combat the infection.

  • 1⁄2 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried thyme leaf
  • 1⁄4 cup dried uva-ursi leaf
  • Boiling water, for infusing the herbs
  • 1⁄4 cup Epsom salts
  • 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar

Step 1. In a quart-size jar, combine the herbs. Pour in enough boiling water to fill the jar, and cover it tightly. Let infuse for 20 minutes.

Step 2. Strain the infusion into a dish basin or other container big enough to sit in.

Step 3. Add the Epsom salts and vinegar. Stir to dissolve.

Step 4. Add a bit more warm or hot water if necessary, so all your relevant parts are submerged when you sit in the soak. If you have cuts or abrasions, the vinegar may sting. In that case, dilute with water or more herbal infusion, or omit the vinegar. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 5. Repeat 1 to 3 times per day, depending on severity.

Wounds

Relevant tissue states: heat (inflammation)

Relevant herbal actions: antimicrobial, astringent, emollient, lymphatic, vulnerary

Herbal Allies

  • Calendula flower
  • Chamomile flower
  • Goldenrod leaf and flower
  • Kelp
  • Marshmallow
  • Pine
  • Plantain leaf
  • Rose
  • Self-heal leaf and flower
  • St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • Yarrow leaf and flower

When working with a cut, scrape, abrasion, or other open wound, it’s important to always follow the same order of operations: 

Stop the bleeding. Direct application of pressure is usually the best way to accomplish this.

Clean the wound. Any particulate or foreign matter must be completely washed out of the wound or it will slow healing and allow infection to take root. A wound wash or soak with astringent, antimicrobial herbs is very effective for this stage.

Prevent or manage infection. Wound washes and soaks are also good here. Herb-infused honeys are extremely effective for this stage, serving both to disinfect and encourage healing. (Don’t put tinctures directly into wounds unless you have no other option; even then, dilute them at 1 part tincture to 5 parts purified water, because alcohol inhibits cell growth.)

Encourage healing. Herb-infused honeys, poultices, compresses, and baths are all appropriate for open wounds. Once the wound closes (or if it was never very deep to begin with), you can transition to a salve. Choose herbs that are vulnerary, lymphatic (to drain blisters), and—especially in later stages—softening or emollient (to prevent scarring).

WOUND WASH

Makes 3 cups dried herb mix (enough for 10 to 20 quarts of wound wash)

If you’re in a hurry, a simple wash with rose water or nonalcoholic witch hazel extract is very effective during the cleaning stage. After that, transition to soaks and compresses with a formula like this. In the later stages of wound healing, you may want to add 1⁄2 cup dried marshmallow or kelp for their emollient effects.

  • 1⁄2 cup dried calendula flower
  • 1⁄2 cup dried plantain leaf
  • 1⁄2 cup dried rose petals
  • 1⁄2 cup dried goldenrod leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried chamomile flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried self-heal leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried St. John’s wort leaf and flower
  • 1⁄4 cup dried yarrow leaf and flower
  • Salt, for the infusion

Step 1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the herbs. Store in an airtight container.

Step 2. Make a hot infusion: Prepare a kettle of boiling water. Measure 4 to 6 tablespoons of herbs per quart of water and place in a mason jar or French press. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and steep for 20 minutes or until cool.

Step 3. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart of infusion you’ve made.

Step 4. Soak the wounded part, or apply a compress over the affected area.

Step 5. Repeat as frequently as you can, at least 3 times per day.

PINE RESIN SALVE

Makes 8 ounces (40-day supply)

Pine resin salve is our go-to for wounds that have closed or were never very deep. You can work with the resin of other conifers, too.

Resin can be harvested directly from the trees—you’ll find whitish globs of it along the trunk where branches were lost. Leave enough on the tree to keep the wound sealed—this resin is how the tree forms a scab! It will probably have bits of bark, dirt, insect parts, etc., stuck in it—don’t worry! We’ll filter that out during processing.

After gathering resin, use a bit of oil to wash your hands—soap and water won’t work. Just drop a bit of any liquid oil you have handy into your hands and scrub as if it were soap. The resin will

soften and separate from your skin. 

Then you can use soap and hot water to wash it away. You can use plain oil for infusing your resin, but starting with an herb-infused oil means you get the good actions of all these herbs, instead of just those the resin contributes.

  • 6 to 8 ounces pine resin or another conifer resin
  • 8 fluid ounces total calendula-infused oil, goldenrod-infused oil, and/or plantain-infused oil
  • 1 ounce beeswax, chopped or grated, plus more as needed

Step 1. In a small pan over low heat, combine the resin and infused oil and heat gently, stirring frequently. The resin will soften and dissolve, infusing the oil with its virtues.

Step 2. Pour this warm oil through a few layers of cheesecloth. Wrap the mass that remains and squeeze it to extract as much oil as possible.

Step 3. Prepare a salve using this resin-infused oil (see here for complete instructions).

Step 4. Apply to the wound several times a day, using fresh, neat bandages each time.

GLOSSARY

adaptogen: Normalizes endocrine function and increases the body’s resilience in adapting to stress (for example: ashwagandha, licorice, tulsi).

alkaloid: A type of plant constituent, alkaloids often have strong effects on human physiology and are frequently the most potent chemicals found in an herb.

alterative: Supports nutrition, digestion, assimilation, circulation, or elimination and thereby improves the quality of the circulating fluids—blood, lymph, extracellular fluid (for example: angelica, ashwagandha, calendula, dandelion, elder, garlic, milk thistle, nettle, St. John’s wort).

analgesic/anodyne: Relieves pain (for example: ginger, goldenrod, linden, meadowsweet, mullein, St. John’s wort, wild lettuce, yarrow).

anticatarrhal: Tonifies mucous membranes in the sinuses and lungs; helps eliminate mucus (for example: goldenrod, mullein, peppermint,npine, sage, thyme).

antiemetic: Relieves nausea and prevents vomiting (for example: fennel, ginger, peppermint).

anti-inflammatory: Reduces inflammation through any of a wide array of mechanisms, e.g., antioxidant capacity, circulatory stimulation, relaxation, counter-irritation, etc. (for example: garlic, ginger, goldenrod, linden, marshmallow, meadowsweet, milk thistle, mullein, peppermint,

plantain, Solomon’s seal, St. John’s wort, thyme, yarrow).

antilithic: Breaks up or prevents the formation of kidney or gallbladder stones (for example: dandelion, goldenrod).

antimicrobial: Inhibits the growth of or destroys bacteria, fungi, amoebas, and other microbial pathogens (for example: angelica, calendula, chamomile, cinnamon, elecampane, garlic, pine, marshmallow, meadowsweet, mullein, peppermint, plantain, rose, sage, self-heal, thyme, tulsi, uva-ursi, wild lettuce, yarrow).

antiseptic: Clears pathogens from infected tissue (for example: goldenrod, pine).

 

antispasmodic/relaxant: Prevents or relaxes muscle spasms, releases tension (for example: ashwagandha, betony, catnip, chamomile, cinnamon, elderflower, fennel, ginger, goldenrod, mullein, peppermint, Solomon’s seal, thyme, wild lettuce).

antitussive: Quells coughing (for example: elder, licorice, sage).

antiviral: Helps the body fight viral infection (for example: elderberry, self-heal, St. John’s wort)

anxiolytic: Reduces feelings of anxiety and promotes calm (for example: betony, catnip, chamomile, linden, tulsi).

aromatic: Pleasant-smelling herb that stimulates the gastrointestinal system, encourages circulation, and often stimulates or relaxes the brain and mind (for example: angelica, catnip, chamomile, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, ginger, goldenrod, pine, linden, meadowsweet, peppermint, rose, sage, thyme, tulsi, yarrow).

astringent: Restores tone and causes constriction of tissues (for example: betony, cinnamon, elderflower, goldenrod, meadowsweet, pine, plantain, rose, self-heal, Solomon’s seal, uva-ursi, yarrow).

biofilm: When certain bacteria and other microorganisms infect tissue, they can form a cooperative structure called a biofilm. This makes it more difficult for your immune system, antimicrobial herbs, and antibiotic drugs to fight the infection. Certain herbs, such as elecampane and uva- ursi, are proficient at disrupting biofilms.

bitter: Both a flavor and an action; stimulates digestive secretions, improving digestion and assimilation (for example: angelica, dandelion root, elecampane, St. John’s wort, wild lettuce, yarrow).

carminative: Promotes digestion, expels gas, and relieves cramping in the gastrointestinal tract (for example: angelica, catnip, chamomile, fennel, garlic, ginger, goldenrod, peppermint, sage, thyme)

cholagogue: Promotes the flow and discharge of bile into the small intestine (for example: dandelion root, fennel, peppermint) 

constituent: Any chemical naturally produced by an herb, particularly those that contribute to medicinal effects.

demulcent: Moistens, protects, and soothes mucous membranes throughout the body (for example: cinnamon, kelp, licorice, linden, marshmallow, plantain, Solomon’s seal).

diaphoretic: Opens the skin channel of elimination, promoting perspiration and releasing heat (for example: angelica, betony, calendula, elderflower, elecampane, ginger, linden, peppermint, sage, tulsi, yarrow).

diffusive: Stimulates movement of blood from the body’s center to the surface and periphery (for example: angelica, betony, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, sage, tulsi, yarrow).

diuretic: Increases the flow of urine (for example: dandelion leaf, elder, fennel, goldenrod, pine, marshmallow, meadowsweet, nettle, self-heal, uva-ursi, yarrow).

dysbiosis: A state of imbalance in the composition of the gut flora—too many unfriendly microbes, not enough probiotics.

emmenagogue: Promotes menstruation (for example: angelica, elecampane, ginger, thyme, yarrow).

emollient: Soothes and softens the skin (for example: kelp, licorice, marshmallow, milk thistle, plantain).

exhilarant: Lifts spirits and elevates mood (for example: dandelion flower, rose, St. John’s wort, tulsi).

expectorant: Expels mucus from the lungs and throat; may be stimulating or relaxant (for example: angelica, elecampane, licorice, marshmallow, milk thistle, mullein, pine, plantain, thyme).

flavonoids: A large class of herbal constituents that often have anti- inflammatory or immune-stimulating effects.

galactagogue: Increases production of breast milk (for example: fennel). grounding: Centers the mind in the body and settles restless thoughts (for example: angelica, betony).

hepatic: Strengthens and tones the liver (for example: betony, catnip, garlic, milk thistle, plantain, sage, St. John’s wort, tulsi, wild lettuce, yarrow).

hepatoprotective: Restores healthy liver function (for example: licorice, milk thistle, plantain).

hypnotic: Induces sleep (for example: wild lettuce).

hypoglycemic: Lowers blood sugar levels (for example: cinnamon, tulsi).

hypotensive: Reduces elevated blood pressure (for example: garlic, linden, Solomon’s seal).

immunomodulator: Elevates immune system activity if it is deficient, but reduces excessive activity, as occurs with autoimmunity (for example: ashwagandha, self-heal, tulsi).

inulin: A prebiotic fiber found in dandelion root, elecampane, and other herbs.

laxative: Promotes easy passage of stool (for example: dandelion root).

lymphatic: Stimulates the movement of lymph and disperses stagnation (for example: calendula, self-heal).

macerate: To soak herbal material in a menstruum (solvent) to extract its constituents into the liquid.

marc: Plant material that has been used in an extraction (tea, tincture, etc.) and has been separated from the menstruum (solvent).

menstruum: The liquid (alcohol for a tincture; water for tea) used to make an extract from an herb.

mucilage: A complex of long-chain polysaccharides that exudes from demulcent herbs when infused into cool water.

nervine: Calms nervous tension and nourishes the nerves (for example: angelica, betony, catnip, chamomile, elecampane, linden, meadowsweet, rose, sage, St. John’s wort, tulsi, wild lettuce).

nutritive: Contains substantial amounts of vitamins, minerals, or phytonutrients (for example: dandelion, elderberry, kelp, marshmallow, nettle, rose hips, Solomon’s seal).

phytonutrients: Any herbal constituent with nutritional or medicinal value, particularly those unique to herbs (i.e., bioflavonoids, terpenes, alkaloids, etc.).

prebiotic: Composed of starches and fibers that human digestive fluids don’t break down, prebiotics are food for your friendly gut flora (probiotics).

pulse dosing: Taking herbs in smaller divided doses over the course of an hour, rather than a single large dose; a preferred strategy for remedies that improve sleep.

refrigerant: Directly cools the body, reducing fever and inflammatory excesses (for example: rose, wild lettuce).

resin: A blend of sticky constituents produced by some herbs or the sticky exudate of certain trees (e.g., pine).

rubefacient: Increases blood flow to the surface of the skin, dispersing inflammation and congestion in deeper areas (for example: garlic, ginger).

sedative: Depresses function or metabolic activity in an organ or tissue (for example: catnip, chamomile, linden, mullein, wild lettuce).

sialagogue: Stimulates the production of saliva (for example: dandelion root, fennel, ginger, licorice, linden, marshmallow).

stimulant: Increases activity or metabolism in a system, organ, or tissue, e.g., circulatory stimulant, immune stimulant (for example: angelica, cinnamon, elderberry, elecampane, garlic, ginger, sage, yarrow).

styptic: Arrests or reduces external bleeding due to astringent action on blood vessels (for example: self-heal, yarrow).

tonic/trophorestorative: Colloquial term for an herb that maintains or restores healthy function and increases vitality in a specific organ or type of tissue, e.g., cardiac tonic, nervous trophorestorative, etc., (for example: chamomile, elecampane, kelp, mullein, nettle, Solomon’s seal, St. John’s wort).

volatile: Herbal constituents are said to be volatile if they evaporate at room temperature or when exposed to boiling water. Essential oils are the distilled, volatile chemicals extracted from an herb.

vulnerary: Accelerates wound healing by promoting cell growth and repair (for example: calendula, chamomile, goldenrod, kelp, marshmallow, meadowsweet, pine, plantain, rose, self-heal, Solomon’s seal, St. John’s wort).

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