As I was talking to my friend one day, the conversation turned to how we handle stress. A fellow mom of four children, my friend admitted that she often gets stressed out with the craziness that can accompany having a bunch of kids to care for.
“Oh yes, I said. I so know how that goes. I’m really good at stressing out over nothing and turning into a total spaz.”
She looked me quizzically and said, “Really? You always seem so mellow. I figured you’re always pretty calm.”
I do believe I laughed in her face. (Sorry again, friend.)
The truth is, while I have gotten so much better at reducing stress and staying calm over the last few years, I still have a talent for making mountains out of mole hills. Like Mt. Everest sized mountains from tiny mounds of dirt you need a microscope to see.
Thankfully, I’ve learned some tricks to help me reduce those perceived problems so that I can calmly handle the situation.
Reducing clutter helped a ton (clutter turns me into a spaz super fast), as did minimizing outside commitments. And then there are natural remedies, like herbs and essential oils.
DIY Herbal Infusion for Stressed Moms
Today, I’m sharing an herbal infusion that’s easy to make and incorporate into your daily routine. You can make a large batch of the infusion on a regular basis and sip on it throughout the day. Or, if you’d like to make it as needed, you can drink it as a tea instead.
This mixture includes a few herbs that are particularly great for women, especially those who are feeling a bit stressed out. The herbs included are soothing and full of minerals to help support a healthy body.
- Red raspberry leaf: Full of easily assimilated minerals. Also soothes inflammation in the digestive tract and tones the uterus.
- Lemon balm: Soothes the digestive tract and calms the nervous system.
- Nettle leaf: Rich in minerals, especially calcium. Great for calming muscles spasms and toning the uterus.
- Lavender buds: Soothes frazzled nerves and promotes a feeling of calm.
So how do you make this calming, mineral-rich infusion? It just takes a few simple steps.
Put all of the herbs in a quart-size Mason jar with a lid and shake well to combine. Create a label with the ingredients and brewing directions and stick it on the jar.
Bring at least a quart of water to a boil and remove from heat for a few minutes. Place 2 Tbsp of the tea in a quart-size canning jar. Carefully, pour the hot water over the tea, leaving an inch of head space. Screw the lid on tightly and let it brew for at least 8 hours. Strain out the herbs and sip on the infusion through the day. Enjoy hot or chilled.
You can also make just a cup of tea. I either use my brewing basket or TARDIS tea infuser that my brother got me (Whovian here) to brew tea in. You can also use a tea ball or whatever strainer you have handy.
Put 1 tsp tea in your brewing device of choice and put it in your tea cup. Fill the cup with that just-boiled water and let it steep at least five minutes.
(Please consult with a health professional knowledgable in the use of herbs before consuming this infusion if you are pregnant or nursing.)
Do you handle stress well? What helps?
When I decided to start using herbs in my home, I was totally overwhelmed and had no idea where to start.
Which is funny because I come from a long line of natural healers and my dad has been running an organic herb farm since I was 5-years-old … (I have to come to things in my own time, ok?)
Anyhow, as I was in my kitchen whipping up some healing lip balm, I thought about what tips I wish I would have known at the beginning. Tips that, had I considered them, would have made the process much simpler (and saved me a lot of money).
I can’t go back in time and tell myself, but I can share what I’ve learned with you. So here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
1. Know your why
Why do you want to start using herbs? Is it so you can make a few remedies here and there or do you want to completely change up how you approach health? Of course, many people will fall somewhere in between.
It just helps to know why you’re doing this so you know what you’ll want to learn and where to start.
Depending on your why, you need to learn about how to use herbs. If you’re in it for a few simple remedies, a basic guide will give you the rundown on a handful of herbs, tell you how to prepare them and give some recipes.
If you’re looking for more in-depth knowledge, there are lots of books to check out and some great courses available that you can take from home at your own pace.
3. Keep it simple
Don’t go crazy buying every herb out there. It’s tempting, I know. Especially when you’re dad runs a wholesale herb company …
Instead, I recommend choosing a few herbs to get started with. Which ones? Well, if you have a resource you’re using, you’ll probably see a few herbs mentioned several times in recipes. Start with those.
Over the last few years, I’ve really simplified which herbs I use in my house. Here’s what’s in my medicine cabinet.
Start making the basics. Teas, infusions, poultices. These are all very easy ways to get your feet wet, so to speak. Once you’re comfortable with how to prepare herbs, start experimenting.
Maybe that recipe could use a little comfrey. Or perhaps adding calendula would make it even better. Or maybe you even come up with your own recipes (it’s super fun).
5. Make remedies
Choose a few remedies to start with and get in the kitchen. I recommend starting with an infusion if you’re feeling a bit intimidated – they’re super easy. Simple balms are a great place to start, too.
This infused lip balm is easy and if you want to kick it up a notch, try this multipurpose healing ointment. Want more ideas? My ebook, DIY natural remedies, has lots of recipes to help you get started.
Herbal Academy of New England
There are some great resources available to help you learn more about using herbs in your home. One of my favorites is the Herbal Academy of New England. They have two courses, an herbal introductory course and an intermediate course (which I’ll be enrolling in soon) to help you on your journey.
I encourage you to check out their website. In addition to the courses, they have several helpful blog posts.
Do you have any tips for budding herbalists?
You know the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It’s true. The best way to stay healthy and protected against illness is to boost your immune system.
So today, I wanted to share with you some of the ways I boost my immune system naturally (and, you know, take care of my family, too) so that I stay healthy all year long.
Warning: by boosting your immune system, you may experience fewer sick days, more savings on healthcare and better health overall.
Eat Real Food
1. Scratch cooking
Real food is free of harmful chemicals and additives and as close to its natural state as possible. Making the switch to real food made from scratch has been the most impactful decision as far as boosting my immune system goes. I love cooking from scratch with single ingredients because I know what’s going in my body. Need help making the switch? Try this free Real Food Crash Course.
2. Reduce sugar
Sugar inhibits a healthy immune system response which is why I recommend avoiding all processed sugars. I recommend making the switch to natural sweeteners, but still eating them only on occasion because your body doesn’t differentiate between the two.
3. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies
Many people simply do not get enough of the fresh fruits and vegetables their bodies need. These essential foods contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc. that our bodies need to run properly. If you aren’t getting 5-13 servings of fruits and veggies each day, you are more prone to illness and disease (here’s some research and recommendations for getting more in your diet).
I had a huge problem with not getting enough produce in my diet. I’m making progress by keeping it simple. I try to add a handful of spinach to dinner or half an avocado (and the spinach) to a smoothie so I can add in more fresh fruits and veggies. I also take Juice Plus daily for those times when I don’t get enough.
Herbs and Essential Oils
4. Elderberry syrup
Elderberries are high in vitamins A, B, and C and help support a healthy immune system. You can easily create your own elderberry syrup and take it daily for immune support (here’s an elderberry syrup how-to with dosage instructions).
Astragalus is a Chinese herb that is often used as an immune system booster and to combat cancer. This is a great herb to take prior to any big outings to help prevent the illnesses that often occur after being around lots of people. I recommend taking astragalus via tincture or capsule.
6. Trilight Immune Boosting tincture
This pre-made tincture combines immune-boosting herbs like echinacea, elderberry and thyme that I use specifically with my kids. I love it because they ask to take it and it boosts their immune system whether we’re hanging out with a bunch of friends who might be sick or they’re starting to feel a little yucky themselves.
7. Oregano essential oil
Oregano essential oil is an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory oil that strengthens the immune system. It’s best diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the bottoms of the feet. It’s typically used for a short period of time (7-10 days or so) to fight illness.
8. Frankincense essential oil
I use frankincense essential oil on a daily basis as part of my wellness routine. It’s an immunity-boosting essential oil that’s also helpful in reducing stress (perhaps another way it’s so helpful in boosting the immune system?).
9. Melaleuca essential oil
Melaleuca or tea tree essential oil is anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory. Dilute with a small amount of your favorite carrier oil (mine is coconut oil) and apply along the spine on a regular basis.
I’m not a fan of prescribing 30 minutes a day, three times a week. Instead, I recommend moving your body as much as possible. Walk more. Sit less. Hike. Run. Stretch.
11. Reduce stress
This is just as important as using immunity-boosting herbs or eating real food. Constant stress wears your body down and weakens your immune system. Pinpoint what’s causing the stress in your life and determine what can be done to change that (and often, it’s a change of mindset and determination to be grateful no matter what the circumstances).
12. Improve sleep
Sleep is a vital time of healing and restoration for our bodies. If you’re not getting enough, create a bedtime routine. Try going to bed a bit earlier. Say no to screens after 8 pm. Use calming essential oils before bed. Your body will thank you.
How to Use Essential Oils to Boost Your Immune System
I touched a tiny bit on essential oils you can use to help your immune system, but there are many more ways to use them as part of a wellness routine that maintains a healthy immune system.
Join me for a free, pre-recorded class on How to Use Essential Oils to Boost Your Immune System. You’ll be able to listen instantly (as soon as you confirm your email) and get plenty of helpful tips for using essential oils to create a healthier lifestyle.
How do you boost your immune system naturally?
For the first few years of my marriage, I was a bit clueless as a homemaker. I thought cooking from scratch meant heating up convenience foods. I piled my dirty dishes in my laundry basket to take to my mom’s because I didn’t have a dishwasher. And my budget didn’t even include food. Food.
That’s … important.
Thankfully, I learned a lot over the years.
Experience taught me that budgets are important because debt stinks, my husband is definitely the baker in our family since I love to get “creative” with recipes and you don’t use bleach on a brown carpet to stop a smoothie stain (yes, I seriously did that).
And the rest, well, the rest I learned through those wonderful sources of wisdom that always help me get a clue – books.
It is because of the wisdom shared by others that I now consider myself a pretty competent homemaker. I budget, meal plan, take care of my family naturally and homeschool our four kids without going crazy (most of the time). I haven’t even bleached a carpet lately!
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My history with herbal remedies began when I was pretty young. You see, I grew up on an herb farm, where my dad managed the growing and processing of herbs for a world-wide herbal wholesale company. (He still does, in fact, and we’re living there on our bus.)
The summers were great with the smell of peppermint filling the air. And Dad put a lot of those remedies to use. Teas, decoctions, poultices. All were used for a variety of ailments.
And then there was his favorite – baking soda in water. I’m still not sure about that one…
Even though I grew up with herbs all around me, it still took me a while to embrace the natural lifestyle. Thankfully, though, I eventually came around.
A few years agoI began learning more about herbs. An avid reader and researcher, I learned as much as I could about herbs and how they could benefit my growing family.
I became confident, knowing I was helping my family stay healthy. And I think it’s the coolest thing when someone asks me an herbal question and the answer pops in my head with thinking.
It wasn’t difficult to get there. I don’t have a degree in herbs – I taught myself with excellent resources, time and practice.
If you want to know more about herbs, start devouring the information. Check your library for free sources. Search different websites with herbal info. Take an herbal course. Or three.
My first herbal course was from Vintage Remedies. It laid a great foundation for my current knowledge and I highly recommend their resources. Another course that I’ll be signing up with shortly is this Intermediate Herbal Course. Never stop learning.
Get to know your herbs by creating remedies with them. First, create a simple herbal medicine stash. Then, start using them. Here’s a quick run-down on how to prepare herbs.
Choose simple ones that require few herbs (you’ll notice most of mine use the same ingredients over and over again). Several recipes are available free on this blog:
You can also check out my ebook, DIY Natural Remedies for more recipes.
Keep track of what works
Record what works best for you. If you find that plaintain works best for a dry cough, write it down. It’s good to know for next time. You’ll also remember what didn’t work, what needed tweaking and which ones your kids liked best.
Once you have the basics down, start experimenting. Make your own small batches of teas based on what you’ve learned. There’s nothing quite like knowing that you created your very own herbal remedy recipe that works.
Keep it simple
It’s easy to become zealous over this new hobby and purchase pounds and pounds of herbs that will just sit in your cabinet. Oh wait, that’s what I did. The downside of super-easy access to quality herbs, I guess.
In my experience, there are only 15 herbs that I need. Half of them are used on a regular basis, while the others stand-by for certain illnesses. But just 15. Wish I would have figured that out a few years ago…
How have you integrated herbs into your family’s healthcare?
A few years ago, natural remedies were anything but simple in my home. With three cupboards full of herbs, essential oils and tinctures, a large tote full of herbs in the garage and a drawer full of accessories, I decided it was time to simplify natural remedies.
And so I began the slow process of going through all my stuff, evaluating whether it was something I needed or not. While I’d love to say that after that initial purging, I was left with a small amount of essentials for my natural remedy cabinet, the truth is, it took me a few rounds of decluttering.
So here’s what’s left after all that simplifying:
Stocking a Natural Medicine Cabinet
Coconut oil is antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial on its own. It makes a great addition to any ointment because of its healing properties. If using coconut oil, you may use a smaller amount of beeswax, omit it altogether or mix it with shea butter for a creamy consistency. (If you have a coconut allergy, try jojoba, almond or grape seed oil instead.)
- I add shea butter to ointments that need to be moisturizing.
Great for steeping loose leaf tea. I also pour my infused oils through my brewing basket after the initial straining to get tiny bits of herbs out. This basket is my favorite.
Small muslin bag with drawstring
- Very helpful for steeping bath herbs
Medicine dropper that holds 30 mL
I like a few different storage options for things like tinctures, balms and essential oil blends.
Raw, local honey or Brown Rice Syrup (for babies)
- For making lozenges and syrups. Raw honey can also be used as a topical healer.
I actually have a lot more essential oils than what’s listed here, but these are my must-haves that get used most often. I highly recommend a 100% pure essential oil brand, like doTERRA, so you can use your essential oils for more than just cleaning recipes.
Since I’ve started using essential oils more, I don’t use herbs as much. However, I still like to keep at least 4 oz. of each of the following herbs on hand. If you don’t grow your own, I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.
DIY Natural Remedies
Have you ever set out to make your own DIY Natural Remedies, only to be hit with overwhelm?
I know I did when I got started. The natural remedy books I read called for long lists of herbs, essentials oils and accessories. Dutifully, I bought what they suggested (I’m grateful my dad’s an organic herb farmer – that helped with the investment costs!). And you know what?
I didn’t use much.
What I found was that I only needed a few of these ingredients for many of the recipes I made. If the recipe didn’t call for one of my top herbs, I knew which one(s) could be substituted. Knowing what properties I was looking for made this simple. And I was delighted to find I could create many DIY Natural Remedies without taking up much space.
And so I offer you DIY Natural Remedies. This ebook contains 25 simple recipes you can make with just a few ingredients. No need to fill your cabinets with herbs – just a handful will do (ok, maybe two handfuls). Same with essential oils, accessories and other ingredients.
You can learn more and buy the book here.
Psst! Want this + my other two books at a 60% discount? Check out the DIY Wellness Collection.
What’s in your natural medicine cabinet?