Herbal Medicine

Updated 9/22/01

Oak's First Aid Kit
Note:  I or a member of my family have personally used each of these treatments and lived to tell about it.  Your own results may vary.  Read the caution statement and use your own judgment.
Caution:  Unless you know exactly what you're doing, NEVER substitute home remedies for competent medical care by a licensed physician!

These offerings are for reference only and while many may be effective, their use is at the sole risk of the reader.

Antibiotic:  Garlic is a natural antibiotic and has been used to prevent infection in wounds for centuries.  I apply a little commercially available garlic oil when at home.  In case of a cut or scrape away from the kitchen, just look around until you see those familiar looking shoots of wild garlic (sometimes known as "wild onions").  Dig up a bulb or two, peel away the outer skin and squeeze the juice directly onto the wound.

Antiseptic: I just thought lavender oil smelled nice until Amberflame showed me what a great antiseptic it is. She uses it all over the house, from disinfecting countertops to treating our scrapes and scratches.

Bee stings:
For most people wasp and bee stings are painful and annoying, and can be relieved somewhat by topical application of a small amount of wet tobacco.  (If you are allergic, venomous insect bites and stings can be deadly.  Get emergency medical treatment immediately!)

Sprinkle a bleeding wound with cayenne pepper:  This sounds worse than it is!  It will quickly stop bleeding in mild cuts and actually burns much less than most over the counter treatments.  I have to admit I was skeptical until I tried it myself.
Note:  This is not for major wounds.  For any injury where arterial blood flow (spurting) is evident, apply direct pressure to the wound and get emergency medical treatment immediately!

Bruises and muscle aches:
Comfrey tincture applied to the affected area works wonders for minor bruises, aches and muscle strains.  I apply a gauze bandage saturated with the stuff and leave it overnight.  This is also helpful in soothing minor (1st degree) burns.  For hard to bandage areas, such as hands or feet, I've used a clean cotton glove or sock in place of gauze.

While medical science still hasn't come up with a cure for the common cold, they've come pretty close: The new zinc lozenges are the best thing since sliced bread for knocking one out in a hurry!  We keep them on hand and the whole family takes them whenever one of us gets the sniffles.  Besides helping your body fight off the infection, they actually seem to help prevent the spread of the virus by making the nasal passages an inhospitable environment for it.  Look for them flavored ones with extra vitamin C.  Besides zinc, the things your mama always told you still help, too:  Drink plenty of fluids, especially fruit juices rich in vitamins.  Avoid coffee, tea and other caffienated beverages, as they actually make you lose fluids.  Hot chicken soup is good for helping break up congestion.  Echinacea is a good herbal supplement to take during cold and flu season, and extra doses help strengthen the immune system.

This is not a major problem for me;  I once slept through an explosion that destroyed a home a half block west of me, and knocked a friend of mine who lived a half block to the east off his couch.  When I sleep, you might as well just ring the bed with crime scene tape and give it up until morning.
Once in a blue moon I'll succumb to everyday life's worries with a sleepless night like everyone else, though.  When that happens a puff or two of damiana smoke is very relaxing and lets you wake up refreshed.  I also understand it works well when brewed into a tea, but never tried it that way myself.
[Also see contributions from friends, below.]

Warm garlic oil (I use the commercial gel caps sold as dietary supplements) to body temperature and place 4-5 drops in the affected ear, using a bit of sterile cotton to hold in if necessary.  The warm oil will coat and soothe the ear, and garlic is a natural antibiotic.  (My pharmacist recommended "sweet oil", a type of mineral oil, for it's analgesic qualities.  It makes the ear feel better but does nothing for the infection.)
Rainbowchild once complained of an ear infection on a Friday evening after her doctor had closed for the weekend.  It became so severe she was throwing up and running a fever that night.  The next day I bought the garlic oil and treated her ear.  She felt better within hours, and when she was able to see the doctor on Monday morning all signs of the infection were gone!
[Also see contributions from friends, below.]

Sore throat:
This remedy's been around so long it's almost cliché, but it works:  Gargle a warm solution of a teaspoon of salt in a cup of water.  Repeat as necessary.

To keep my sanity until I could get into the dentist's office the last time I lost a filling I packed the cavity with cotton saturated with clove oil.  This keeps out food particles and deadens the nerve endings due to the natural anesthetic qualities of cloves. Amberflame also adds that a garlic clove placed in the mouth between the infected tooth and the gum is supposed to be effective. While she's never tried this herself for toothache, she has used it for sore gums and it worked wonders!

Contributions from Friends

Acacia Moon wrote in, saying, "Take a garlic clove, slice the root end (so the juices are there) and place it (root end pointing into the canal) in the infected ear, making sure of course it is small enough to fit in the ear, but big enough not to go inside the canal. The clove will suck out the infection. Change the clove when it becomes shriveled.
It works well. My son had his first ear infection the weekend of his first birthday. He got Biaxin 10 days, Infection still there; got amox for another 10 days, Infect still there; Got amox and augmentin to help
the amox get into the cells for another 10 days. (The 3rd round of antib's forced me to take action) The garlic proved effective!
A lovely grandmother witch gave me this. She said her grandmother used it on her mom  and so it has continued."

Love it! I'll add for the benefit of those reading this that in my conversations with Acacia, she stresses that the garlic clove goes into the outer portion of the ear canal where it can be easily reached, not deep into the canal itself. For this reason it probably wouldn't be a good idea to try the whole clove remedy with very small children, as they might push it deep into the ear canal where it might become stuck, or pull it out and choke on it if they put it in their mouth. Acacia also told me about an herbal mixture that's available in health food stores now called "Garlic Ear Oil" that she's used with great success; This blend consists of muellin flower oil, mineral oil, garlic oil and Vitamin E. I'll be looking for it! One additional comment for any "City Witches" that might not know the difference: The root end of a garlic clove is the fat end. The pointy end should be sticking out of the ear when you've done this right. - Oak

Sage writes, "Some times children experience fighting sleep and here is what I have done at times for my little ones.  Simply brew chamomile tea and a bit of milk and it helps them relax and this more often than not has helped them sleep when they have been fighting it."

Great idea, Sage!  Chamomile is a natural and safe nervine with sedative properties, and warm milk is also a traditional sleep-inducer.  The flavors blend well too, resulting in a nice "milk and honey" effect that wee ones love. Thanks! - Oak

And in this contribution from Debra, "Two things really, for insomnia, the age old thing of lavender oil again, put a few drops on a hankie or similar and place in your pillow case (making sure you don't get neat oil on your skin for the night) and a cup of chamomile tea before bed.  Unoriginal but very effective.  Either that or the madness of a toddler all day to tire you out!"

I can't believe I forgot about the lavender oil! Amberflame mostly uses it around the house as a disinfectant, but has also recommended it several times in the past to friends with sleepless children, and with great success. Lavender is very soothing scent, and is often useful whenever you need to relax. A nice side effect is that many users report pleasant dreams after sleeping with a lavender sachet. Thanks for the great tip, Debra!

Herbal Links:

All Herbal Shareware and Freeware on the Net

Algy's Herb Page

Ashlynn's Grove's Herbal Database

Bonne Sante's

Herbal Encyclopedia from Rev. Dr. EarthAngel

Herb of the Month

Herbal First Aid Page from Greenlink

Herb Guide from Earth Tribe


Basic Herbal Preparations from Juniper & Sage

Kathie's Herb Page

The Old Craft Homepage

Tara's Herbal Garden

 If you have a favorite herbal spell, remedy or web page to share, E-mail me!

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