Welcome to Day 31 of the 40 Day Herbalist Challeng. Over the course of this week, we will look at herbs that you might want to include in a basic herbal first aid kit for home use if you are looking at using simples. We’ll be looking at 5 herbs each day, and also explore some other herbal first aid topics along the way!
When I first started putting together my herbal first aid kits, it was much easier to focus on individual herbs and learn to combine them as compounds later. It also makes sense to focus on the most versatile herbs, so finding herbs that have multiple uses instead of one very specific use is usually a good idea. The following 5 herbs are some of the most versatile that I know of, and I’ve included the reasons that I keep them in my own herbal first aid kit.
Besides being useful for digestive health (which is one of it’s most well-known uses), I also like having it on hand for respiratory health support during coughs and colds, and it’s a warming, relaxing herb to have on hand for menstrual cramps.
Herbal Actions: carminative, bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic,emmenagogue, expectorant, and nervine
Elderflower tea is a staple during cold and flu season and allergy season. It was traditionally used to help work up a good sweat at the first sign of feeling under the weather, and it’s also a good upper-respiratory support herb during allergy season.
Herbal Actions: anticatarrhal, antispasmodic, diuretic, diaphoretic, sedative
Common garden sage is more versatile than it’s current culinary status indicates. This is one we keep on hand mainly as a tea. A hot cup of sage tea with a little honey is a traditional way to comfort a sore throat. In addition, because sage is traditionally thought of as a nervine that supports and rejuvenates the nervous system, it’s a great tea for calming down and relaxing at the end of a stressful day.
Herbal Actions: diaphoretic, carminative, nervine, antispasmodic, astringent
Meadowsweet is a very balancing herb for the digestive tract, so I love having it in my first aid kit for that reason alone, but it’s also a traditional antirheumatic used to support bodies in pain. As a digestive herb, it’s astringency meant it was historically given during bouts with diarrhea, it’s traditional association with balancing the stomach made it a common herb to reach for during episodes of heartburn, gastritis, and even nausea.
Herbal Actions: antirheumatic, carminative, antacid, antiemetic, astringent
Yarrow is probably top of the list on just about everyone’s first aid kit. It can be used as a diuretic to support the urinary tract and was traditionally used as a diaphoretic to help “sweat out” a fever. It’s a bitter, so it’s useful as a digestive support herb, and externally it’s very supportive of the healing process whenever there are injuries like cuts and bruises. It’s very balancing for menstrual flow, whether it’s too heavy or too light. It’s astringency made it a traditional herb for diarrhea and dysentery. All reasons that I keep yarrow on hand always!
Herbal Actions: Diuretic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, bitter, hepatic
For today’s mission, I’ve included links to more resources on the five herbs for today’s challenge so you can read more about them. I’d also like for you to begin thinking about what type of herbal first aid kit you might like to make. You can see my article, 3 Types of Herbal First Aid Kits, to get some ideas. At this point, don’t worry so much about listing what herbs you would like to include. Take a few minutes to write down the ideal purpose of your kit (at home use, while on the go, during emergencies, or another specific situation), and the types of health imbalances you want it to be most useful for.
All the best,