Our apothecary at the Chestnut School is no mere medicine cabinet; it holds the stories and healing signatures of herbs gathered from local wildlands, cross-country travels, and our school gardens. The medicine in its bottles is much more than roots, leaves, and bark. It’s the essence of fields and forests, birdsong and butterfly kisses, babbling streams and fertile dirt, sunshine, and cool afternoon breezes. Are you curious about how to start a home apothecary of your own? We’ve simplified the process by choosing the ten best herbs to start your home herbal apothecary.
When we think of healing plants, our minds gravitate toward the plants growing at our feet – the garden herbs, weeds, and woodland plants of the forest floor – but there’s a veritable treasure trove of healing remedies towering above. Humans have been harvesting and using medicine from trees for millennia, and medicinal trees and shrubs probably already grow near where you live.
When violets begin to pop up in the spring landscape, it’s our cue that a vernal promenade of mineral-rich, cleansing herbs is in full swing. Violet keeps excellent company—look for herbs like chickweed, cleavers, dandelion, plantain, and stinging nettles when violet’s heart-shaped leaves and purple blooms appear on the scene.
In our kitchen, we almost always have a batch of this sauce on hand. We store it in the refrigerator and pull it out as needed. It is delicious spread onto toast or bagels and topped with fresh tomatoes and chickweed. This sauce is a convenient way to add fresh garlic to dishes just before serving. Baked fish, home fries, and roasted roots are all enhanced by this tasty sauce.
This ebony brew is a true bittersweet elixir, enriched by the deep earthiness of the mushrooms and the hearty sweetness of the cinnamon and maple syrup.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana, Hamamelidaceae) is our kinky, golden-star flower shrub or small tree that blooms in cold weather, when all other flowers are absent from the landscape.
The homegrown benefits of witch hazel are easy to overlook as an herbalist, as witch hazel is not traditionally something you think of planting in the garden or making medicine with for your apothecary—drugstore brands are what most people associate with witch hazel.
There are over one hundred species of pine worldwide, and most have recorded medicinal uses. Cultures around the globe have used the needles, inner bark, and resin for similar ailments.
Need to get your urinary tract back on track? This tea blend is helpful for addressing the symptoms and the root cause (primarily, bacterial infection) of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
This goldenrod tincture blend is helpful as an internal remedy for sinus congestion due to seasonal allergies, head colds, or sinus infections.