found that alarmed me was how much we used to know and, as a society,
have now forgotten. It was only two generations ago that my ancestors
hit these shores. My family came from the poor of Ireland and you
can bet that Great-Grandma didn't go running to the doctor or the
drugstore when Great-Uncle Billy got a chest cold. She went to her
kitchen garden or the neighbor's kitchen garden or the neighborhood
crone and got what she needed there. Most of us don't have a kitchen
garden and wouldn't know what to do with it if we did. I'd like
to see that change. We should not be this helpless and hapless.
On our little patch of
clay-based bottom land, I have a large Aloe that gets the leaf gel
tapped regularly for kitchen burns. There's a Plantain patch under
the pond bench that is used to treat insect bites. The mints are
used for headaches and tummy gas. The catnip, growing in elevated
window boxes so the cats can't frolic it to death, is used for upset
stomachs and sleeplessness.
We harvest Calendula
heads to use for skin problems and sores. There's a really decorative
stand of Comfrey in the front yard that has done it's duty treating
bruises and torn muscles. The different sages are used to disinfect
sores and cuts. (Lavender does this also.) A tea of meadowsweet
(in ground), willow (in pot), calendula (in raised planter) and
mint (in flower bed) is a very effective sunburn treatment. And
The point is, with a
little bit of land (or pots -- many of my herbs are grown in pots),
some good weather and a little dedication, you can directly utilize
nature's bounty without the shrink-wrapped middleman of over-the-counter
medications and First Aid treatments.
What's even better is
that what I make here is very often more immediately effective than
the OTC products. I think that's because everything is fresh, whole
and not loaded with an alphabet of preservatives. For the most part,
the medicines are put together when needed. For seasonal illnesses,
I'll make up the oils or tinctures ahead of time that are the bases
for the final forms so they'll be on the shelf, ready to be used,
when the need arises.
Not everybody needs to
make up everything. Everyone has specific health problems as well
as their fair share of the usual wear and tear from surviving in
this world of ours.
cabinet should have those aids available that are specfic to the
needs of the people in the household and only you are the one who
can say what they should be.
I focus on remedies that
I know we'll need. Several of us cook so there's always some kind
of burn remedy available. Some of us have skin problems so there
are different types of salves. Several of us are very physically
active and suffer from bruises, scratches and the occasional broken
bone. Our joints ache, our noses run and our heads hurt. I plan
for these. That, really, is the best you can do. When something
unfamiliar comes up, it's time to do some research.
This is the kind of mindset
that I'd like to encourage.