A few years ago, natural health was anything but simple in my home.
And so I began the slow process of going through all of 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 medicine cabinet, the truth is, it took me a few rounds of decluttering.
Now, though, I’ve simplified my stash to the point that I’m happy with how little I have because I know that I have everything I need (at least 98% of the time).
So while I can’t tell you exactly what you need for your family, I can share some tips I learned along the way:
Keep only the essential accessories
I had soooo many accessories – strainers, muslin, cheesecloth, tea balls, storage containers. Oh, the storage containers. (I may have a problem with collecting jars and such.) After evaluating my needs and thinking about all of the times I’d used my natural remedies, I was able to get rid of most of it.
Here’s what I kept:
- Small muslin bag with a drawstring
- Brewing basket for steeping tea
- Medicine dropper that holds 30 mL
- Storage containers: Glass mason jars, amber bottles for tinctures, roller bottles for essential oil blends, sample vials for essential oils and some tins for ointments/balms.
- Mesh strainer for straining herbs
- Scale that measures ounces and grams
Work with your space
Knowing how much space you have to work with is very handy. If you only have one cupboard, you know that you need to be more choosy than someone who has a few cabinets worth of space. If that’s the case, I’d choose a mix of herbs, essential oils, tinctures and a small collection of accessories, especially storage containers.
I have the latter right now and most of what I use is essential oils. I do keep a handful of herbs on hand, though, as well as some multi-purpose ingredients.
Use multi-purpose ingredients
I have a very small amount of ingredients that I use regularly when I’m making natural remedies, whether that’s an essential oil blend, a healing ointment or lip balm. By narrowing it down to those few ingredients, I was able to make things a lot simpler and clear up some much-needed space.
I talked about my multi-purpose ingredients a few days ago and if you haven’t read that post yet, check it out – it has a great list at the bottom of recipes you can make with said ingredients.
Learn to Substitute
I have my favorite herbs and essential oils and other people have theirs. So when my recipe calls for a particular ingredient that you don’t have, you may have something similar that you can use instead.
For instance, my soothing herbal bath tea contains a few different herbs that have skin-soothing properties. These herbs happened to be what I had on hand when I created the recipe for my irritated skin. Many other herbs would work just as well.
You just need to start learning the healing properties of what you have so you know what to use.
Share with friends
There’s no rule that says that if you decide to pursue natural health for your family, that you have to do it by yourself. If you have a friend or friends (even if they’re online) who are also into it, maybe you could share with them. I’ve split herbs with friends, as well as homemade remedies.
Different people have different interests, so maybe you could swap some bars of homemade herbal bar soap with a friend who is gifted at making healing ointments. That way, you’ll both have what you need and you won’t feel so overwhelmed with feeling like you have to know how to do everything.
Choose a few key recipes
In my home, I have a few key recipes that I make frequently. I know which herbs I need for those, so I keep bigger amounts of those herbs in stock. Herbs like marshmallow root, calendula and comfrey are often used in my recipes, so I have at least a pound of each on hand.
I know we need remedies for owies, irritated skin and congestion so I have recipes on hand (and herbs to make them) for each of the ailments we deal with regularly.
Figure out what you’ll be treating most often and look for recipes to treat those, then stock your natural medicine cabinet accordingly.
Don’t buy without a plan
If you see that there’s a sale somewhere on bulk herbs, don’t give into the temptation to buy as much as you can. That is, unless you have a plan. I’ve found that if you purchase herbs (or essential oils) without a plan for what you’re going to do with them, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed and surrounded by bags of herbs.
Don’t do that to yourself.
Instead figure out what you need first and then go shopping. And if possible, buy only what you need.
Try small amounts first
Speaking of only buying what you need, if you’re new to natural health, I recommend starting off with small amounts of everything.
If you’re buying essential oils without having used them a lot before, I recommend people start with doTERRA’s Family Physician Kit. It contains 10 small bottles of essential oils to help you start using essential oils for therapeutic purposes.
If you’re buying herbs, places like Mountain Rose Herbs sell smaller packages of herbs. These can be great if you’ve never tried herbs before and you don’t want to start off with pounds of herbs that you’re not sure how to use. I also recommend them for recipes that call for herbs you know you’ll only use once or twice.