One crucial component to any herbal first aid kit is Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. This is seriously one of my favorite herbs.
Known as a styptic, yarrow is useful to stop bleeding. I’ve used this herb many times for this purpose and it is almost magical how well it works! Next time you have a minor cut or wound to treat and you need to stop bleeding, go for some common yarrow.
How to Use Yarrow to Stop a Bleeding Cut
Using Yarrow as a Styptic
Fresh or dried, it works just as well either way.
Grow some in your medicinal herb garden to use as needed. Both the common ‘wild’ variety (with white flowers), and the garden variety (with white to wine red blooms), are effective as a medicinal herb.
Harvest and dry some to be kept in your natural first aid kit so you always have it on hand. Good quality dried yarrow can be good for about one year, maybe a little longer. This is just a good medicinal herb to have on hand so make a habit each summer of harvesting and drying what you estimate you would use for the year.
WATCH NEXT: How to Identify Yarrow … Coming Soon!
Obviously, for serious wounds seek medical attention!
There are so many reasons to decide to grow your own herbs. Expense, availability, freshness, health, and the advantages they provide in the garden are just a few of the reasons we cram as many herbs as we can into our growing space.
Whether you live in the city and have only a small patio with room for a few containers, or you live in the country and have acres upon acres of growing space, herbs are definitely worth a little growing room. You could always trade in a little of that lawn. 😉 Here are a few reasons why we think you might want to do so…
1. Save more money by growing your own herbs than any other garden crop.
Pound for pound, if you do a good job of making use of the herbs you grow, they will save you more money than any other garden crop. Do you know dried dill costs something like $175 a pound? A package of cilantro seed, at about the same price of one of those little bunches from the market, will keep you in this favored herb for months. One little mint plant from the nursery will spread and provide you with endless amounts of mint tea.
2. Herbs, like everything else, taste better when home grown.
Have you ever compared homegrown and store-bought tomatoes? What about lettuce or cucumbers? Herbs are the same! Nothing beats the freshness, quality, and taste of homegrown herbs.
a handful of Cuban oregano to be dried
3. Cooking with our own homegrown herbs, not only tastes better, it is so rewarding!
There is something deep down satisfying about providing for your own needs. To prepare a meal entirely (or even just supplemented) with homegrown ingredients nourishes more than your physical being.
4. Brew up your own herbal tea blends!
Try drying some herbs, not just for cooking but also to make your own tea blends. You will be hooked! I love being able to brew up a pot of homegrown herbal tea for guests. I also love the flexibility of customizing the herbal tea blends for what is needed for the day whether something to help relax, combat a cold, or increase concentration. To be on the safe side, start with common herbs you find in blends in the tea aisle at the market. Try a little blackberry leaf, lemon balm, and chamomile flowers for a lovely herbal blend.
During the growing season, you will always have fresh herbs to gather from your own herb garden. How long does that bunch of cilantro from the market stay fresh in the refrigerator? If you are lucky enough to have mild winters where you live, you might even have fresh herbs available to you year round. We learned last winter that cilantro stays nice in our Pacific Northwest garden all winter as long as it is protected it from the rain.
6. You will have fresh herbs available at a whim.
You will love being able to go to your own garden for a handful of herbs on a whim having decided to whip up a marinara sauce or herb butter. Having fresh ingredients available without adding them to a shopping list and waiting for a trip to the grocery store is a huge convenience. Sow parsley once a year in your herb garden for a constant supply. A rosemary shrub will give you fresh springs year round. Chives are one of the first herbs available for harvest in early spring.
so nice to just step out your door and snip a little fresh sage and parsley
7. There are so many different varieties of herbs you can grow!
How many kinds of basil can you find at the grocery store? How many kinds of mint or oregano? We have five kinds of basil in the greenhouse at the moment, three kinds of oregano in the garden, and I’ve lost count of the various kinds of mint. Branch out and learn to appreciate the differences!
8. Availability of uncommon herbs that are otherwise hard to find.
Have you ever even seen Lovage at the market? Lovage is a nice old world medicinal and a great substitute for celery. Lovage is also one of the many perennial herbs, once established it is quite easy to grow.
a little jasmine for your tea?
9. Many herbs are very easy to grow once established.
Herbs such as lemon balm, mint, and oregano grow so effortlessly that I like to plant them where they stay self-contained so that they don’t take over. Put these aggressive herbs in a bed with a border or next to a path where they can only spread so far. Allow annual herbs such as cilantro and dill to flower and go to seed to let them volunteer around your garden, no sowing required.
10. Grow your own pharmacy!
…or ‘farmacy’ 😉
Lemon balm is great for nervous tension. Chamomile and hops will help you relax before bed. Echinacea will boost your immune system. Dandelion root serves to detoxify your liver. Stinging nettle is a great source of nutrients and iron, a common supplement during pregnancy and for those who struggle with anemia. And everyone knows lavender is excellent for anxiety and depression. I could go on, and on… Get yourself a good herbal medicine book and study up!
The more you incorporate herbs into your diet and daily habits, the healthier you will be! The tradition of herbal medicine teaches that herbs are best used preventatively to maintain a state of health and well-being. Add herbs to all your recipes… dill on eggs; cilantro, parsley, and basil in your salads; lovage in your soups and chowders; tea, tea, and more tea… hot and iced!
12. Herbs are great for your garden too!
Herbs in your garden can serve many purposes. Many herbs help attract beneficial insects and repel pests. When arranged as companion plants they can increase yields and quality of the plants around them. Mint repels cabbage caterpillars. Yarrow increases the aromatic quality of other herbs. Garlic can help control blight on potatoes and tomatoes!
Get out there and plant some herbs!
When planning your herb garden, decide which herbs to grow based on what you like to use. I like to keep the herbs close to the house and easily accessible so that even in poor weather they are easy to get to for harvesting. For best success, try to group herbs together according to their light and water needs. Some herbs don’t like a ton of water so don’t plant those together with herbs that do. I prefer to stay away from containers because of the time it takes to water them in the summer heat but if that’s all you have room for it is better than nothing.
I love having herbs in the garden because at our place plants have to earn their keep. While we have five acres, most of it is sloped timber. Our gardening area is actually not very large so we focus on edible landscaping. We have a few plants that are there simply because we enjoy their presence. But for the most part, plants we choose to grow need to fulfill multiple purposes. Herbs are edible, medicinal, and either attract beneficial insects or repel pests. If for some reason we could no longer have a large garden and I had to downsize, herbs would definitely take priority over other plant selections.
We love tea. Well, I guess it’s more the infusions we enjoy. What’s the difference, you ask? Grab a cup of tea, get comfortable, and let’s talk about it! 😉
We have enjoyed experimenting with our own tea blends over the last year or so using herbs we grow on our small farm in addition to wildcrafted ingredients from our region. There are so many herbs to work with, the possibilities are endless! I have been drinking herbal teas for years, but to be able to gather our own and try them alone or in various blends is remarkable.
wildcrafted nettle, blackberry leaf, and comfrey hanging to dry
Tea is like anything else from the garden. It tastes so much more vibrant and alive when it is homegrown versus what you get in the tea aisle of the grocery store. If you don’t have a garden or time to do your own wildcrafting, a quality source like Mountain Rose Herbs or ACHS’s Apothecary Shoppe is the next best thing. Quality herbs make all the difference.
My HERB 101 class through American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) started this week. I’ve been learning and caring for my family using herbalism and nutrition for almost twenty years but have just recently decided to formalize my education. With just the first week of work behind me, I can already tell this course is going to be quite in-depth and well worth my time. Our first activity is regarding herbal teas versus infusions, something I am familiar with but still have a lot to learn about.
What is the Difference Between Herbal Tea and Herbal Infusions?
Herbal teas are made using less herb and steeping for a shorter period of time than herbal infusions. Teas are weaker than infusions and are generally consumed for pleasure and refreshment.
Herbal infusions are made using a higher herb to water ratio, generally, one ounce herb (by weight) to one ounce of boiling water (by volume), are steeped longer, and are used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.
To Make Herbal Tea:
Use one teaspoon of dried herb (or two teaspoons if using fresh herbs) per 8 ounce serving of finished tea. You can use a single herb, or a blend depending on what you are in the mood for.
Place loose tea into a teapot or use a tea strainer such as the Press-N-Brew tea bags, or one of the tea strainers you can buy at various stores.
Add 8 ounces per serving of hot, pure, clean water (no chlorine or fluoride). Temperature should be just under boiling.
Allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. Cover to keep warm during steeping.
Remove the tea bag or strain. Many people prefer to stay away from the metal strainers, definitely don’t use aluminum.
Use immediately. Do not store.
Enjoy! Honey, lemon, or milk may be added, or not, to taste.
To Make an Herbal Infusion:
Weigh out one ounce of dried herb (or two ounces if using fresh herbs) per 16 ounces of desired infused water. The desired ratio is 1 ounce herb : 16 ounces water. You can use a single herb, or a blend depending on the desired effect.
Place loose tea into a pot with a lid. You can use a teapot or any pot with a lid. Just be sure stay away from aluminum as it can react with the constituents in the herbs, and has also been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
Measure 16 ounces of clean, pure water (no chlorine or fluoride) into a pan or electric kettle to boil. Premeasure the water so that once it boils, you don’t waste time doing this before pouring the boiling water over the herbs. You want the water to be as close to boiling as possible when it is poured over the herbs to draw out as much of the plant constituents as possible in this process.
Allow to steep for 10-20 minutes. Depending on the herb being used, you can allow it to steep for up to an hour, if desired.
Strain the infusion using a non-aluminum strainer, and serve!
May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Enjoy your medicinal herbal infusion! Honey, lemon, or milk may be added, or not, to taste.
My Assignment for this Week
My HERB 101 assignment for this week was a practical discussion comparing herbal teas and infusions and was as follows.
Maybe you will want to try it yourself. If you aren’t sure what to use, stick with herbs that you would normally find in the tea aisle to be on the safe side. If you do this activity, let me know what you think! I would love to hear about your experience.
ACTIVITY – HERB 101, Module 1: Herbal Teas and Infusions
Choose two herbs from your herbal kit that you would like to combine and prepare as a tea.
1. Follow the directions on the Press-N-Brew tea bags and use 1 teaspoon of the blended herbs to prepare two tea bags. Use the first to prepare one cup of tea.
2. Then, use the second, to prepare an infusion as outlined in the Herbal Preparations lecture. Conduct a taste test on both, and discuss your results.
This week, replace one cup of coffee with a new type of herbal tea!
Here is what I did…
For this activity, I chose to try the dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) because that is the herb we are focusing on for the research portion of this module. I’ve had it in tea before but never this isolated. I chose to combine the dandelion root with something that I am more familiar with, German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) so that the properties of the dandelion root would stand out. I also chose the German chamomile because we were doing this activity just before bed after a very active day and could use something to help us relax.
I mixed one teaspoon of each herb and then divided the mixture between two of the Press-N-Brew tea bags. I normally do loose leaf teas and infusions but was interested to try the bags. After filling them with the blended herbs, they sealed easily with a hair straightening iron as suggested in the directions.
We use our clean, crisp Pacific Northwest well water for everything. No chlorine or fluoride there. After boiling the water with an electric kettle I poured 8 ounces into one mug to steep for 10 minutes for the tea, and just 4 ounces into another mug to steep for 20 minutes for the infusion. I used less water for the infusion in hopes of it being closer to the actual infusion instructions. (I wanted to follow the instructions for this activity to start but was a little confused about how to proceed because of the directions for a proper infusion shown in Dorene Petersen’s video. It seemed like I should have used a lot more of the herb. I wanted to start out with doing the activity as directed but plan to try it again this evening with the proper proportions of 1/4 ounce herb : 4 ounces boiling water for a small serving.) I covered both mugs while they steeped.
When the steeping time was complete, the family got together and compared the two brews. We found this infusion to be only slightly stronger in smell, taste and color than the tea, but not a significant difference. I thought the dandelion would give a much stronger bitter flavor, but it remained quite mild.
I personally found the tea to be quite weak. We prefer a stronger infusion and typically do nearly a tablespoon of loose herb per 8 ounces of water, steeped for at least 15 minutes. If we are using tea bags, we just leave the bag in the cup while enjoying the drink.
After each of us sampled the brews and gave our opinions, I returned the herbs to the water, added a little honey, and consumed as usual. This blend made for a very pleasant bedtime blend that we found quite relaxing after a long and active day. Perfect thing to help us relax and drift off to sleep.
Time to quit tossing the dandelions from the lawn and add them to our herbal apothecary instead! I might even (gasp) let them go to seed!
freshly wildcrafted blackberry leaf
Disclaimer: This information is for research and educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Do your research.
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Western Red Cedar leaf blended with wild blackberry leaf, echinacea, rosemary, sage, and lemon balm. Good for colds, respiratory infection, concentration, stimulating the immune system, or just to brighten up these gloomy Pacific Northwest winter days.
I have been loving this tea!
This is the first time I’ve tried cedar leaf in an herbal tea blend, but it won’t be the last. It lends that distinctive cedar-woodsy, sharp note to the tea which compliments the rosemary and sage nicely. A touch of honey to sweeten my cup and I’m in tea heaven. Why did I not learn of cedar tea until now?
A note of caution, care must be taken with the internal use of western red cedar. It is not for extended use by those with kidney weakness, or for use during pregnancy. If in doubt, consult your health care professional before partaking. That being said,
Enjoying a small amount of cedar leaf in a cup of tea now and then is a pleasure that has long been enjoyed by the First Nations of this area, and I plan to join them. =) (more…)
Hi, I’m Tania.
Thanks for stopping by! I love to grow things and I love to make things from scratch! If you like those things too, subscribe so we can stay in touch! Happy reading :)