My Home Apothecary

I frequently keep an Amazon wishlist so that when people feel the need to get me something (ie. grandparents on Christmas), I have an easy link so that they can see things I may want/need. Two Christmases ago, I received the amber dropper bottles and 00 gel capsules that I had been wanting; what I did not think about was the awkward situation that arouse when I opened these gifts. My uncle was convinced I was manufacturing meth, or some sort of other drug. My grandparents became slightly worried. My mother rolled her eyes. I am the “special” kind of person in my family, however I had a plan for these gifts that I received.

 

Now, I have finally started to use my unusual Christmas gifts; I have started my own small home apothecary. The purpose of my apothecary is to attempt to get away from commercial and over the counter drugs for more natural solutions to common ailments. I primarily create tinctures and capsules, however I have also started things like herbal scrubs, salves, and a “master tonic.”

A quick overview:
– Tinctures are solutions of herbs left to age in either alcohol (my preferred method), or glycerin, usually for a period of 2-4 weeks. I’m going to speak about alcohol, since it is the method I am familiar with.
– Capsules are ground herbs and spices placed into gelatin capsules for ease of consumption; usually used as supplements.
– Scrubs are either sugar or salt based, and are meant to either ease ailments (such as dry skin or pain from arthritis) or exfoliate dead skin. They can also provide relief from breathing issues such as asthma via the oils used in them.
– My “master tonic” is a concoction of many things, I will post the recipe below.

Tinctures

  • Tinctures are┬áherbal solutions soaked in alcohol (or glycerin). I use everclear as my alcohol of choice, although whiskey can also be used. The higher the proof the better, hence why I use everclear. A higher proof allows the chemicals in the herbs to bind to the alcohol solution. I soak my tinctures for around 3 weeks, kept in a dark cabinet or closet and shaken once a day for the first 5 days and then weekly after that. Regardless of the size of your mason jar, you should fill it 3/4 full of herbs ground as finely as you can, then cover the herbs in alcohol. Once your tincture has set for at least 2 weeks, filter out the herbs from the alcohol and divide into amber or blue jars for use (light can damage or degrade the healing properties). To use, simply take 2-5 drops of whatever tincture, as often as hourly (or as needed, use your best judgement).
    • Tinctures that I currently have in my medicine cabinet and use frequently include:
      • Garlic – antifungal/antiviral/antibiotic; good to keep bugs away; immune system support
      • Ginger – eases stomach pains, indigestion, nausea, motion sickness; can help ease allergies; may help minor headaches
      • Basil – helps migraines; eases sore throat; immune support; eases nausea
      • Mint – eases stomach ailments; helps bad breath; migraine relief; calming
      • Sage – relief from colds; mild sedative; helps heartburn; relieves menstruation symptoms
      • Oregano – allergy relief; PMS relief; immune support; anti-inflammatory; kills parasites (topically or internally)
      • Tarragon – detox; weight loss; anti-aging; anesthetic; healthy hair & skin
      • Lemon – eases stress or anxiety; helps bad breath
      • Parsley – metabolism regulation & weight loss; bad breath aid; good for digestive system and urinary tract
      • Rosemary – “heal all:” enhance memory; relieve stress or anxiety; headaches; muscle spasms; anti-inflammatory; improves circulation (I take my rosemary everywhere with me)

Capsules

  • Capsules are simply finely ground herbs/spices that have been divided into gelatin capsules so that they can be easily consumed. This can be done with nearly any herb or spice. They should be used supplementally or preventively as you see fit. Many herbs can do many different things and have many benefits. Taking a capsule daily is a good way to prevent multiple ailments, as opposed to a tincture which are generally taken as needed. I have a CapMQuick device that allows me to easily fill my 00 gelatin caps. With capsules, make sure that you are using good quality herbs or spices. Slightly more expensive will offer greater benefits in the long run.
    • Capsules that I have in my apothecary include:
      • Turmeric – “heal all:” antibiotic; blood purifier; helps cough/asthma; lowers cholesterol; speeds wound healing
      • Cinnamon – controls blood sugar; helps with weight loss; anti-clotting; anti-inflamatory; anti-oxidant
      • Curry – stimulates immune system; promotes bone health; benefits cardiovascular system
    • Other beneficial capsules/capsules that I plan on making soon include:
      • Cayenne – improve circulation; sinus relief; helps break fevers; detoxifying
      • Nutmeg – antibacterial
      • Cumin – anti-inflammatory; anti-oxidant
      • Ginger – nausea; heartburn; bloat



Scrubs

  • I typically create scrubs and give them as gifts. I use scrubs to exfoliate and also for aromatherapy. My general recipe calls for 75% sugar (or coarse salt) to 25% oil (I use high quality coconut oil for my gifts and quality olive oil for personally used scrubs – some people don’t like how very oily the olive oil is). Once you have this base, you can add any essential oils or herbs that you like. I also usually add a few drops of food coloring, to make them a bit more appealing, but it’s certainly not necessary.
    • Scrubs that I have made or keep around the house include:Lavender sugar (+6 drops lavender essential oil) – promotes relaxation; relaxes muscles and skin; stress relief
      • Eucalyptus sugar (+5 drops eucalyptus essential oil) – opens airways; improves breathing; using on the bottom of your feet can help a lot if you have a cold
      • Rosemary salt (+finely ground rosemary – allow to sit for at least a week) – anti-inflammatory; helps headaches; stress relief
      • Peppermint salt (+finely ground mint leaves PLUS 2 drops peppermint essential oil) – helps breathing; gets rid of nausea; good for skin and sore muscles

“Master Tonic”

  • The master tonic that I make uses a variety of ingredients to create an anti-fungal/anti-viral/anti-bacterial tonic that can be taken a dropper full every hour or two as needed for ailments such as the common cold. I caution you to take it in steps, as it may not sit well with people who have sensitive stomachs. This tonic is no joke! The original recipe is here. I modified it slightly to fit my own preferences, see below.
    • Fill one, 1/2 gallon milk jug (or other similar sized glass bottle) with equal parts of the following:
      • Hot peppers (I used a mix of jalapenos and cayenne)
      • Onions (the hotter/spicier the better)
      • Ginger
      • Horseradish (the real stuff, nothing prepared in a jar)
      • Lemons (I squeezed out the juice then added juice & lemon)
      • Garlic
    • Make sure all ingredients are chopped as finely as possible; this will increase the surface area and allow for maximum nutrient/chemical absorption into the tonic.
    • Once all ingredients are added, cover them in apple cider vinegar (make sure you’re using a brand with “the mother,” like Bragg’s)
    • Allow to sit for 3-4 weeks in the dark. Shake/invert once daily. Then divide into amber/blue bottles and store for use.

      See that layer of “sediment” at the bottom? That’s the good stuff!

Building a home apothecary has proven to be a fun endeavor for me, and I continue to learn about new beneficial plants and herbs to add. Here’s a link to my Pinterest apothecary board. I’m always adding things to it and trying new ideas. ­čÖé

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