Essential Oil and Herb Quick Reference Chart

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Front side of chart.

Last spring I created this chart for a class I was teaching on herbal first aid. The chart covers commonly used herbs and essential oils and their properties and gives suggested remedies for common first aid situations and illnesses. This laminated chart is two-sided. The front side is color coded based on the safety of the herb or oil and covers 17 herbs/oils. The back side of the chart is covers 66 ailments and conditions listing the herbs/oils that are good for them. Cautions are listed on the front of the chart.

The chart measures approximately 7 x 4 inches. It is printed on heavy cover stock and laminated so that you can take it with you so that you’ll know what to do when you are out and about or travelling away from home. If you find it helpful be sure to comment here and let me know.

Back side of the chart.

Back side of the chart.

Color-coded by safety level.

Color-coded by safety level.

Disclaimer: By purchasing this chart, you take full responsibility for any outcomes based on it’s use and release the author from any liability either real or perceived. The author makes no claims as to expected results and takes no responsibility for either positive or negative results. This chart should be considered to be personal opinion and is based on personal research and should be taken as such. It should be used with common sense, your own personal research and should not be considered medical advice. See full Disclosures/Disclaimers here. By requesting to purchases this chart you release the author from any liability and agree to all the terms and conditions in the Disclaimer linked above.

Herb and Oil Quick Reference Chart

Laminated quick reference chart. Great for your first aid kit.


Eczema Healers

IMG_0718I have some pretty bad eczema that flares up during times of stress. It’s been a problem on and off for the past year. If didn’t know it was eczema at first. Actually, I thought based on my symptoms that I might have an auto-immune disease. I had coin shaped red patches that flared up on my legs, arms and hands. I struggled and struggled for a long time to find a remedy that would help it and found nothing. That’s when I broke down and finally went to the dermatologist. They identified it as “numular eczema” and gave me a prescription for a low-level steroid cream to use when it flares up. I used it initially to get a handle on it as it was getting out of control and the spots were spreading to new places. Since then I’ve tried to only use it during particularly bad flare ups but I’ve still been at a loss to find a remedy that actually helps it besides the steroid cream the doctor gave me. Most natural remedies I’ve tried have actually inflamed it and made it worse. Particularly oils. Any type of oil or oil based remedy makes it worse and not better. This is particularly true of essential oils but also of very basic oils like olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, etc.

In the past year I’ve tried pretty much everything you can think of to help improve this eczema from topical remedies to diet changes to traditional medicine. My particular form of eczema is stressed based. I admit – it’s been a stressful year. So, my eczema comes and goes and waves but since this ailment began it has never completely disappeared. It’s gotten better for periods of time and then worse again. I eliminated various foods (sugar, caffeine, etc.) to see if that made a difference. It didn’t. In fact, the doctor told me that this particular form is not related to diet like many forms of eczema is, but instead is the body’s direct response to stress.

While it was relieving that my condition was only eczema, it was not particularly encouraging that it was related to stress since I can’t exactly eliminate that from my life. Life is life right? It’s stressful sometimes and you can’t always remove those stressors. I also suspect that my flare ups are related to hormone fluctuations. Also I thing that I can minimally control. So, I kept trying things and I think I’ve finally landed on a couple of things that are causing my eczema to actually heal and improve.

As I started researching further I looked specifically for herbs that have steroid-like actions and properties. I found three. Then I started experimenting with a medium that I could use to apply these herbs that wouldn’t aggravate my eczema. I found two. Here are my solutions that seem to be helping my eczema.

1. Powdered Herbal Paste: yarrow flower powder, lavender flower powder, turmeric powder, bentonite clay. Yarrow is a very powerful healing herb. Lavender has anti-histamine and healing properties. Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Bentonite clay is cleansing and toning to the skin. Mix all the powdered herbs and the clay. Store the combined powder in a glass jar. When ready to apply, remove a small amount of powder and mix with a small amount of water in a glass container to make a medium textured paste (not watery, but not like mud). Apply with a popcsicle stick to affected areas of eczema and leave until it dries. Gently remove with a washcloth and warm water. If this paste feels too drying to your skin, remove the bentonite clay and make a paste with just the powdered herbs. This paste can calm a flare up that is dry and scaly. Note: Turmeric stains clothing yellow so avoid getting the paste on your clothes.

IMG_07052. Natural “Hydrocortizone” Cream: I know, I know…. Combining the words “hydrocortizone” and “natural” in the same sentence is an oxymoron right? Well, here we will combine the three herbs that have naturally occurring “steroid-like” properties with the two mediums that did not aggravate my eczema – tallow and lanolin. Tallow is the rendered fat of beef. It is a fat that is solid at room temperature and has historically been used for skin ailments. I had heard and read that it was good for eczema but had never had an occasion to try it. Well, I finally was able to get my hands on some grass-fed soup bones and I made some. I was pleased to see that it did not aggravate my eczema like all the other oils and fats did. However, alone it did not particularly improve it either. I also found that lanolin was not aggravating. I saw some improvement from applying lanolin overnight on the worst spots and putting a cotton glove on my hand so that the lanolin didn’t rub off while I slept. I was always better in the morning but then would flare up during the day from washing my hands, heat from cooking ,washing dishes, etc. So, for this remedy a combination of lanolin and tallow will be the medium in which we are going to infuse the steroid-like herbs. Those are chamomile, licorice root and calendula flowers. To make this cream, put your lanolin, tallow, chamomile, calendula and licorice root in a jar and loosely cover with the lid. Use 1 part lanolin to 3 parts tallow. For the herbs use a 1:2 ration of dried herbs to fat/lanolin. Set the jar in a sauce pan on top of a washcloth and fill with about 2-3 inches of water. Simmer until the tallow and lanolin have melted. Swirl the herbs around in the jar to cover them all. The herbs should be fully immersed in the tallow/lanolin mixture. If they aren’t add some more tallow and lanolin. When everything is melted, simmer for about 5 minutes more. Turn off the heat. You how have infused the herbal properties of the chamomile, calendula and licorice root into the tallow and lanolin. Strain immediately while hot through a wire mesh strainer into a glass storage container. For convenience, I also poured some into some old, empty lip balm tubes so that I can easily take this with me when we are out. I find that environmental factors make my flare ups worse. We took the subway the other day and something down there made the eczema on my hand flare up from being almost completely clear to a red, itchy mess. So I plan to apply this all day even when we aren’t at home. Allergy Note: If you have allergies to ragweed, dandelion, sunflower or safflower you may want to omit chamomile as it is in the same family.

tallow and lanolin melting and herbs infusing

tallow and lanolin melting and herbs infusing


tallow, lanolin and my little jar of eczema salve

tallow, lanolin and my little jar of eczema salve

I hope these remedies help your eczema stay clear. It’s making mine better already.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. Use at your own risk. Author takes no responsibility for the results of using these remedies. Read full Disclaimer here.

Texas Fire Cider

IMG_0518I ran across this Fire Cider recipe from Mommypotamus this week. I decided immediately that I wanted to make it mostly because I was curious as to how spicy it would be. So, sick kids got me to thinking about it again. I decided to make while all my sick ones were napping yesterday afternoon. I couldn’t find all the ingredients (like turmeric root) and some (like horseradish) are ones that I’m not a big fan of. So, I changed it up a little and made my Fire Cider – Texas style with flavors and ingredients that I love from my native Texas. And I promise, it will be just as spicy and beneficial towards fighting off the bugs and viruses as the original. Here’s what I did.

Start with quart size jar and throw everything in.

Texas Fire Cider:

2 heads of garlic, coarsely chopped (I left the skins on they are a good source of quercetin)
2 tbl. ginger root, peeled and chopped
3 jalepenos, quartered
1/2 cup white onion, sliced
3 limes, juiced along with some zest
1 tsp. black peppercorns
dash or two of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper (I used some of both – I know, crazy right?)

Fill the jar and cover with raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar is good – don’t use the grocery store brand) covering everything. You may want to use a fermenting weight if your items float to keep everything below the liquid. This will prevent spoilage. Put a lid on. If the lid is not plastic you can put some wax paper under the lid before you put it on to prevent the vinegar from coroding the lid. Let it sit for 2-4 weeks. Strain and drink as shots or dilute in water.

I’ll let you know how spicy mine is. Are you brave enough to try it?


Everything in the jar.


Vinegar added.

Vinegar added.


2-Minute, 2-Ingredient DIY Sunblock

7.13.12 104If you’ve read my blog at all then you know that I have a kid who reacts to lots of things – including sunscreen. A fun-filled day trip to Coney Island resulted 2 weeks of no sleep due to the itchy rash that he got where ever we had put sunscreen on him. What does that mean? No more sunscreen for us! So, what’s a mom to do? Make her own of course.

I immediately went to the internet and researched all the homemade sunscreen and sunblock recipes. I came away knowing that I wanted to go with a zinc oxide based sunblock since that seemed to have the best safety profile and effectiveness ratings. However, I didn’t want to spend the money on a huge bag of zinc oxide powder from Amazon. (Note: It is much more affordable now than it was when I was looking 3 years ago and available in smaller bags.) So, necessity breeds creativity here. I was in the drug store and realized that Desitin is 40% zinc oxide. Immediately I knew I had instant sunscreen here.

Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute. There is no way I’m rubbing that white gooey stuff all over myself and my kids. What a mess!” And you would be right. Yet, never fear. All you need is 2 minutes to turn that Desitin into a smooth, lotiony sunblock.

Most zinc oxide sunblocks with an SPF of 30 are 20% zinc oxide. Which means that if you mix equal parts Desitin and your favorite lotion, it cuts the percentage of zinc oxide in the mixture by half and you have an instant SPF 30 sunblock! It’s that easy.

Playing at the lake. She would play there all day if we would let her.

Playing at the lake. She would play there all day if we would let her.

I’ve used this  Desitin sunblock with my homemade lotions for the past three years and it works great. I find that this sunblock is fairly waterproof, but if you want to improve that “waterproofness” of your mixture then add a little bit of liquid lanolin to it. Our oldest loves the water and has played for hours in the full sun without a sunburn. So, what are you waiting for? Everyone run to their medicine cabinet and pull out that tube of Desitin and start mixing!

If you want to make your own lotion first to mix the Desitin with, you can visit the Herb Shed and scroll down for directions and more sunscreen tips and recipes. If you use regular lotion and find that you can’t get the Desitin to blend well, then melt the two ingredients (lotion and Desitin) in heat proof bowl over a small saucepan (double boiler technique) until it is blended. I like to mix it with a popsicle stick so that I can just throw it out when I’m done and don’t have to worry about cleaning the mixture off of my spoons. The other nice thing about this recipe is that you can make small batches easily so that you don’t have to worry about unused sunscreen, or you can make a large batch if your family goes through a lot of sunscreen.

Here’s to a happy and sunburn free summer!

Note: Zinc oxide can stain dark clothing so take care when applying it. Also, individual results can vary so use with care and common sense. The author is not responsible for any adverse reaction or sunburns if you choose to use the recipe recommended here. Read my full Disclaimer here.

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Visit the Herb Shed if you want to make a homemade lotion to mix with your Desitin.

Make your own delicious herb and tea blends

140130_0000You don’t have a to be a tea master to come up with your own tasty herb and tea blends. It just takes a little experimenting to figure out what tastes go well together and what combinations taste good to you. Here are some of my favorite. These are ones that the flavors blend particularly well together. As with any herb, be sure you know the herb you are using if you begin using one that is new to you. My favorite research resources are listed at the end of this post. Take responsibility for your herb use and do your own research (see my Disclaimers page here). Please make note of any cautions that I list on these blends, but keep in mind that this is not a complete list. You should always research it further if you aren’t sure that an herb is safe to use or consult with your doctor or an herbal practitioner.

12.1.11 003My favorite herb and tea blends:

Christmas Chai – A great robust, flavorful chai. Click for recipe

Dandelion/Red Raspberry Leaf/Red Clover – Ironically, I don’t much like the taste of these herbs individually, but put together they are quite delicious. All three herbs are very nutritious and dandelion and red clover work very well together as a gentle blood purifier and liver cleanser. Please note that Red Clover is an estrogenic herb and should be avoided if pregnant or nursing.

Chai/Nettle/Chastetree Berry/Milk Thistle – I came up with this blend when I started to use chastetree berry to help balance my hormones and I think I like this blend of flavors better than plain chai tea. The chastetree berries have a light peppery flavor that really accentuate and blend well with the chai and nettle. Mmmm. Another cup please. Chastetree berry is safe and beneficial to use while nursing but not during pregnancy. Milk Thistle is a good liver support herb.

Chai/Nettle/Turmeric/Cocoa Powder – If you do your reading, you’ll find turmeric has many health benefits (read more here and here). Turmeric has many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is great for any issues of inflammation and joint pain. You may want to avoid turmeric if pregnant or trying to conceive. As for the rest, who could ever object to chocolate, and then nettle is my favorite herb of all time. This blend is tasty and delicious if blended with a little sweetener and cream. For best results, brew your dried herbs as a tea and then blend 1/4 tsp of each powder with your favorite sweetener and cream in an immersion blender. If left to sit the powders may settle to the bottom a little. Caution: Turmeric is not for long-term use. Consume no more than 1 tsp. per day and use with caution if pregnant or nursing.

English Breakfast/Nettle/Yellow Dock/Tumeric/Cocoa Powder – This may seem like a strange combination but it is a variation on the previous recipe and quite tasty in it’s own right. Yellow Dock is a good liver cleanser and blood purifier. This (or the recipe above) is my substitute when I feel like coffee is getting to me and I need to take a break from it. Simmer 2 tsp. of English Breakfast, 3 tsp. Nettle and 1/2 tsp. of Yellow Dock in a sauce pan in 2 cups of water until you have a strong tea. Strain and rinse the pan. Return the tea to the pan and add 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp of turmeric. Stir and heat until combined. Sweeten with maple syrup and cream to taste.  Caution: Turmeric is not for long-term use. Consume no more than 1 tsp. per day and use with caution if pregnant or nursing. Yellow dock is a cleanser and laxative. Not for long-term use (8-10 days at most). Do not use if pregnant or nursing.

Turmeric/Ginger: Continuing on the turmeric theme, I found this recipe just yesterday for “Golden Milk.” It’s made with coconut milk and sounds delicious.

Nettle/Raspberry flavored black tea – This may be my all time, most basic, go-to blend that I never get tired of. I find something about the flavor of the nettle and raspberry flavored black tea (I purchase mine here or here) to be very satisfying and delicious. I like to drink this blend straight with no sweeteners or added milk or cream.

Nettle/Garlic/Cinnamon/Ginger: This is my go to tea when I’m feeling like I’m coming down with something or that I need a little extra immune boost. I can’t say enough about the health benefits of nettle and garlic (my two favorite herbs). And one of the thing that I like the most about the herbs and this blend is that it is very safe for anyone to consume. Steep using a tea infuser/strainer: 1 tsp nettle, 1-2 cloves coarsely chopped garlic, 1 tsp. chopped fresh ginger root, 1 cinnamon stick.  Sweeten with honey. You could even add some black tea to the mix if you wish.

Black Raspberry Tea/Lime: This one is easy. Brew some raspberry flavored black tea and squeeze in some fresh lime juice. Mmmm. Refreshing.

Experiment with your own blends. What do you like?

(Note: All external links on this site are for informational purposes only and not affiliate links. I receive no compensation for any purchase made through these links.)

Christmas Chai Tea

Christmas Chai Tea

New and Improved Chocolate Spice Toothpaste

130606_0000This is a paste version of my Chocolate Spice Tooth Powder recipe. My kids didn’t like the powder version much because the texture was dry and it wasn’t sweetened. This sweetened paste is quite tasty. First simmer a pinch of stevia leaf (maybe half a teaspoon), 2 cinnamon sticks in 1/2 cup of distilled water for 15 minutes. While this simmers, blend the powdered ingredients from the powder recipe. Turn the heat off the liquid mixture and let it cool a bit. Strain the herbs from the liquid and add two drops of clove essential oil. Add just enough of the liquid to your powder mix to make a thick paste (you might not need the whole amount of liquid so add a little bit at a time so that your end product isn’t too runny). Blend with a popsicle stick and store in a glass jar. Apply to your toothbrush using a popsicle stick. This does not have an indefinite shelf life like the powder does, but should last a couple of months if you use distilled water. I like to make a large batch of the powder since it doesn’t go bad and then make small batches of paste as we need it.

Chocolate Spice Tooth Powder

9.16.13 021This is my new favorite invention. My kids don’t like the powdered texture as much as their regular toothpaste but I like that this recipe has an indeterminate shelf life, the cloves and cinnamon disinfect, the bentonite clay absorbs the toxins and helps remineralize the teeth, and the cocoa powder whitens. I can say that I did see a noticeable difference in the whiteness of my teeth after just two uses. And it tastes pretty good too!

While researching for this recipe I found this interesting article on Science Daily about the oral health benefits of cocoa. Chocolate good for the teeth? Who is going to argue with that? Here’s what they say…

“… an extract of cocoa powder that occurs naturally in chocolates, teas, and other products might be an effective natural alternative to fluoride in toothpaste. In fact, his research revealed that the cocoa extract was even more effective than fluoride in fighting cavities. The extract…helps harden teeth enamel, making users less susceptible to tooth decay.”

That sounds pretty good to me. I actually initially thought of the cocoa powder in this recipe for taste and I thought that it might help in whitening teeth, but the research above seems to indicate that it may offer even more benefits.

9.16.13 045So, wanna try the chocolate tooth powder with me? Here’s what you do… it’s easy!

Combine 1 tsp. powdered cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, 1 tsp. cocoa powder, 2 tsp. bentonite clay an a pinch of sea salt. Stir and store in a glass jar (due to the bentonite clay it is best not to store in plastic or metal containers).

To use, wet your toothbrush and dip in the jar and brush adding more water to your toothbrush if needed. Try it out!

(See Disclosures and Disclaimers here.)

Mint Berry Toothpaste

9.16.13 047This is an updated version of my Candy Cane Toothpaste recipe. The taste is not drastically different, but the dried elderberries at an extra touch of flavor and color. It is made the same way as the Candy Cane Toothpaste with a few minor adjustments.

FIrst, simmer the following ingredients to make a very strong tea using 2 cups of distilled water (this will prolong the shelf life), 1/2 cup peppermint leaf (for taste and disinfecting purposes), a bit of stevia leaf (to sweeten –  doesn’t take much – 1 tsp. or less), and 1/8 cup dried elderberries,. Strain the dried herbs and reduce the liquid to about 1/2 cup. Mix your tea into bentonite clay with a popsicle stick (do not use metal utensils) until desired texture is achieved. To prolong the shelf life and add a little taste, add one drop of peppermint oil (take care not to add more than that or it may be too strong). Store the mixture in glass jar (as pictured above) and apply to toothbrush with a popsicle stick. This mixture should last about 3 months at room temperature.

How I got rid of a UTI without using conventional antibiotics

(Note: Urinary Tract Infections can be serious, so please don’t consider this treatment in place of medical advice. If symptoms are severe or you have fever definitely see your doctor right away as you don’t want to ignore a UTI as it could develop into a kidney infection which is much more serious.)

130705_0002I have successfully treated two UTI’s in the last three years using garlic. Here are the steps I followed.

1. For the first three days eat 8-10 garlic cloves a day. I usually eat 2 cloves with my meals and then 1-2 more in between meals with a light snack. (If you can’t stomach eating a whole clove you could try a garlic supplement but I’m not sure that it would be as effective.)

2. Rub garlic oil (click and scroll down for the recipe to make your own) on your lower abdomen and the bottoms of your feet 4-5 times a day. Focus on massaging the lower 2/3 of your foot below the toes and heel and around the arch of your foot.

3. Drink a glass of water every hour. Drink nettle tea.

4. Avoid sugar for the first 5 days. Sugar will feed the bacteria.

5. Between day 3 and 5 (or when all symptoms are gone) the amount of garlic eaten can be reduced to 4-6 cloves a day. Continue eating 4-6 cloves of garlic for 10-14 days from the onset of symptoms. It is important to continue eating the garlic for the full 10 day to two week period. Garlic is an effective antibiotic but just like with regular antibiotics, if you stop a course of antibiotics too soon your infection can return. I stopped too soon one time before the infection was completely gone and my symptoms came back. If you stop eating the garlic and symptoms return, continue eating for at least a week to 10 days more.

garlic oil

garlic oil

Within 4-6 hours of beginning to eat the garlic and using the garlic oil on the first day when I realized I was getting a UTI, my symptoms diminished. For the first three to four days they would tend to return in the morning after going overnight without additional garlic or fluids, and then diminish again throughout the morning and be mostly gone by afternoon. By day 4-5 my symptoms had basically disappeared. But, DON’T stop eating the garlic. Eat it for the full 10 days to two weeks just as you would finish a course of normal antibiotics.

Most people know that cranberry juice is recommended for UTI’s. The reason is that it changes the acidity level of your urine making it more acidic and thus creating an environment were it is difficult for bacteria to survive. I chose not to do cranberry juice because I don’t like it and I don’t do well with juice in general. If you choose to drink cranberry juice in addition to eating garlic, be sure that you buy unsweetened cranberry juice as the added sugar won’t help.

And be if you’ve never eaten this much garlic at one time before be prepared for it to clean you out. Garlic is a good cleanser and you may experience some bowel discomfort due to it’s cleansing effects as it works all the bad stuff out of you.

Here’s to good health!

How to make Garlic Oil

130705_0003Whenever my kids are sick they smell like garlic. I rub garlic oil all over them. I rub it on behind their ears, down the sides of their neck, on their feet, on their chest. You get the idea. Garlic is anti – everything (bacterial, fungal, viral, septic, etc.). It’s one of the most effective herbs at healing the body from infection and it is very effective at cleansing. One of my herb books tells the story of how in WWII when penicillin was scarce the medics carried cloves of garlic with them which they used to triage their patients. It’s one of my favorite herbs and one of the reasons that I like it so much is that it’s safe. It’s food after all. I add it to almost all my cooking. A whole head of garlic goes in to each batch of chicken broth and I use it in my well drops too. So, rub it all over and eat it up to stay well. For the directions on how to make your own garlic oil, visit the Herb Shed and scroll down.

Magnesium Oil: new uses and benefits

Have any of you tried the Magnesium Oil recipe from Wellness Mama? I made some up earlier this summer. And I just found a new and exciting use for it. Let me explain.

magnesium oil

magnesium oil

I typically take a magnesium supplement, which I found to be especially helpful during my last pregnancy. (All my aches and pains from sore muscles disappeared as long as I took it – it was amazingly helpful! In terms of mobility I didn’t even feel like I was pregnant.) And I’ve been using Wellness Mama’s magnesium oil recipe off and on too (honestly – I’m not very good at remembering to use it). However, last night I had a very sore muscle in the middle of the night from overexertion during the day. I was using peppermint oil for the discomfort which helped, but in the morning when I woke up I thought that I should try applying some magnesium oil on it. I knew that the magnesium was good for muscles and had helped before when I was pregnant, so I tried it. I sprayed some on and rubbed it in. It helped a lot! Now by afternoon the muscle is barely sore. I wish I had thought of this in the middle of the night. Keep it in mind in the future for sore muscles. It helped me immensely.

My General Store – one stop shopping for homemade things

Brookshires store shelvesVisit my General Store to find all the recipes for the things that I make myself in one convenient place. They are organized by category for easy reference. Let me know if there is a recipe that you’d like to see that isn’t posted yet. I’m updating things all the time. Happy shopping!