Sunday, May 13, 2018

Readers' Favorite Backyard Remedies

List ArticlePrior to each issue of The Essential Herbal, we used to pose a question to The Essential Herbal Yahoo List (when it was a lot more active than it is now), and ask for ideas, recipes, or crafts dealing with that question.  They were a lot of fun.  This one is from the May/June ’06 issue.
What is the one home remedy that comes from your back yard (or wherever your plants are), that you make every year?

Photo credit:  Lori Stahl

☀️My answer:  Every year, I fill a jar with chopped up plantain, jewelweed and aloe.  They are covered with either vinegar or alcohol (depending on what I have around).  That way we always have something on hand in very early spring - when bug bites and poison ivy are present, but the "remedy plants" aren't up yet.

☀️One of my favorites that seems to come in handy at some point each summer is sage in apple cider vinegar for poison ivy.  Bertha Reppert casually mentioned this one at an herb gathering one spring. That summer, just as the Renaissance Faire began, almost all the actors managed to get poison ivy. As soon as she could, the Queen came to our shop because she could barely walk with poison ivy all over her feet!
We remembered Bertha's instructions to fill a bottle with bruised sage leaves, then pour apple cider vinegar into the bottle until full.  We gave the solution to the Queen the next morning with instructions to dab it on her feet as often as she could.  She was very grateful because it dried up almost overnight and she shared it with the cast.

☀️I always make myself some rose petal vinegar, to use as a sunburn treatment. I use red or pink roses from our garden, and organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (it smells and feels better than "regular" vinegar), and just infuse them together until the vinegar is a gorgeous red/pink shade. Then i strain off the roses, and put the vinegar into a beautiful, cut-glass decanter I got years ago at an antique store. I keep it in the bathroom and add a cup or two of the vinegar to my bathwater after I get my first sunburn of the year. I use a bit of lavender body oil after my rose-vinegar bath and my sunburn is practically healed immediately!

☀️So many come to mind, but the one I'm the most anxious for is a green drink made with tender new leaves of mints, chickweed, plantain, calendula, dandelion, etc. whirled in the blender with apple juice or pineapple juice or both.
Drinking this is like pouring pure sunshine (we never can get enough of here in western WA) into your body.  A great tonic packed for of vitamins.  Yum!!!
My second favorite is Calendula flowers, Lavender, Plantain, Chickweed, Comfrey & Lobelia infused in virgin olive oil.  We make several gallons as a base for our very healing salves and to add to our soaps.
This is the hardest topic because there are so many that our family couldn't live without.  Enough Basil Pesto for the winter, gallons of different Herbal Vinegars for flavor & digestion, Echinacea, Oregon Grape, Usnea for tinctures, and, of course, Spearmint, Catnip, Fennel, Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Thyme for teas.

☀️I have Yarrow planted, and you can use the leaves for cuts and wounds to aide with disinfecting and bleeding.  I learned this from reading Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar! She also suggests that you can take a pinch of dried herb, place in nose when you have a nose bleed.

☀️The last several years I have made 2 quarts of echinacea tincture using Echinacea purpura root and 100 proof vodka.  It helps to ward of those pesky colds and flu. Between my friends and family all is used. This year I think I will double my stores.

☀️My  favorite concoction as well as everyone who tries it is my Comfrey Salve...
We pick leaves, wilt them just a bit in the sun and solar infuse for two to three weeks, strain, and make a salve using a 5:1 ratio of beeswax, add in eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender & peppermint essential oils. My emerald salve heals very fast and is great for poor noses sore from colds, hands that are very chapped and minor skin abrasions. It heals so fast it is amazing.
Deb Sturdevant

☀️For the past 20-25 years I've made an Herbal Salve with Calendula, Comfrey, Plantain and St. Johns Wort harvested from our gardens.  I infuse the fresh herbs in olive oil.  After six-eight weeks I make the salve. I harvest & infuse those herbs on a regular basis throughout the growing season so I have plenty for the entire year. If I have a good crop of Arnica.....I'll use that
Karen Lee Hegre

☀️We like to make nettle soup in the early spring.
Mary Ellen Wilcox
Makes 6 servings
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled coarsely chopped
½ cup uncooked rice
4 quarts stinging nettle tips, loosely packed
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Wash nettles (wearing rubber gloves) by plunging them into a sink full of water, then lifting them out of the water, leaving any debris behind.
In deep pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Stir in the onion and sauté until the onions are soft and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the grains are translucent, about one minute.
Add the nettles, the garlic and the broth and bring the soup to a full, rolling boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice is very tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the soup in small batches to a blender and purée until smooth. Add the salt and pepper and serve hot.

☀️Ooooh...every spring I can't wait til the mint pops up so I can make this incredibly refreshing skin toner (I call it Minty Orange Julep Face Tonic).
I take about 3 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves (usually peppermint, spearmint and a mint called [what else] Mint Julep and sometimes a little bit of pennyroyal) and cover them with a cup of boiling water and let them sit (covered) until the water has cooled.  In another bowl I put the zest
from an organic orange and cover that with a cup of boiling water, cover the bowl and let it cool.  Then I strain the water off the mint and orange peel, combine the mint water and orange water and, yum yum … mint and citrus toner!  I add about a tablespoon or so of Everclear per 1/2 cup of "tea" and bottle 'er up.  This is the most awesome "wake me up in the morning" skin freshener.  I like to apply it with a cotton ball, but others prefer misting it with a spray bottle.  My friends say they can *feel* it working and
toning their pores.
Barbara Korando

☀️Here is a summer recipe that is good for all ages.

Watermelon facial refresher
2 Tbsp. watermelon juice
1 Tbsp. vodka
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. witch hazel
Make sure that you don’t have any seeds in the watermelon juice.
Combine all ingredients and stir well.
Pour into an air tight container
To use: apply to face with cotton balls. Store in the refrigerator.

And here is one to keep the bugs away!
Bugs away!
1 tsp. citronella essential oil
2 cups witch hazel
3 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Mix together well. Pour into a spray bottle. Apply to exposed skin liberally.
(does not need to be kept in the refrigerator)

☀️Well, as you might guess from my frequent allusions to it, the most useful herb in my garden is feverfew. Although I've tinctured it, I prefer to eat the fresh leaves when I have a migraine.
Feverfew tastes nasty, so I roll up the leaf and pour salt on it before I pop it into my mouth. Like salting a radish, that takes away the intense bitter flavor.
If the headache is especially bad, I'll eat two leaves. Within the half hour, I usually realize I'm feeling well again.
Feverfew is quite hardy. It's a great fresh remedy from March through December. After that, I use the tincture or drink feverfew tea.

☀️I have been mulling this over, this last year has really been the first year I grew any of my own herbs.  But the one I appreciated the most was my calendula.  Those little darlings would bloom, and I would pick the blooms off, then they would grow and bloom again!  I infused them in olive oil, which is used in almost all my products.  The next best thing was my mints, everyone enjoyed either picking them fresh and eating or making heavenly iced tea, which believe me, is a quick remedy, on hot Oklahoma days!

☀️We always have to make lavender vodka--it is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. We use for injuries, used it to disinfect all sorts of things and it smells so much better than Lysol.  It prevents infections and even will cure athlete's foot...once you have it, you will find many uses for it.
Greenspirit Nursery,   N Idaho

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