Tag Archives: Essential oil

Herbal Medicine Kit – Cuts & Scrapes Part 2

Welcome Back…

…to another posting of the Herbal Medicine Kit. We will be discussing the herbs Oregon Graperoot, Goldenseal and Lemon essential oil. We will be making Tincture of Goldenseal and Lemon & Tea Tree Antiseptic Spray.

Let’s get to it…

Cuts & Scrapes Part 2

Scraped Elbow!

Regardless of how careful you might be, the human body is subject to all kinds of injuries, not the least of which are cuts and scrapes. Throughout history, people have used herbal remedies to treat minor skin disturbances. The ancient Romans made strange compresses using spider webs to treat their cuts and scrapes. Native Americans used sphagnum moss in a similar fashion. Don’t ignore basic first aid when it comes to treating a cut or scrape, apply pressure to stop the bleeding, and then clean the wound. Here is where herbs come in; they can effectively clean and soothe many common, everyday cuts and scrapes.

Check with your doctor if you have concerns about using herbal remedies.

Sprays, which can be potent antiseptics are good for raw wounds or any injuries that you want to avoid touching.

Lemon & Tea Tree Antiseptic Spray

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Lemon & Tea Tree Antiseptic Spray

Oregon Grape Root

Oregon Grape

Oregon-Grape, the state flower of Oregon, derives its name from its use as a medicine and food along the Oregon Trail, and that popularity as a food and medicine nearly led to its extinction in the late nineteenth century. The plant was also included in the traditional diets and medicines of the Pacific Northwest aboriginal peoples. Both the leaves and root bark of this evergreen perennial are used medicinally, and the root, containing the powerful alkaloid, berberine, was officially included in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1905 to 1916.

Oregon- Grape leaves greatly resemble holly leaves, and the plant bears beautiful yellow flowers and small, tart, purplish-black fruits that resemble grape clusters. Oregon-Grape was included in many culinary preparations, including a jelly that is rich in vitamin C, and the root was also used as a greenish-yellow dye (the berries were a source of purple dye). Blackfoot Indians called it Ot-to-gue and used it to check rectal hemorrhage, dysentery and stomach troubles. The Kwakiutls made a bark tea to offset an excess of bile, and Oregon-Grape was also found to be beneficial for open boils, kidney troubles and as a topical antiseptic for wounds. In Europe today, Oregon-Grape is used topically to treat psoriasis and dry skin rashes. Some of the principal constituents in Oregon-Grape include alkaloids (especially berberine, berbamine, isocorydin and oxyacanthine), tannins and vitamin C.

***Berberine-containing plants (Barberry, Oregon-Grape, Goldenseal, etc.) should not be used by pregnant or nursing women. Those who suffer from hyperthyroid conditions should not take Oregon Grape Root Herbal Supplement, and diabetics should use Oregon-Grape Root only under the supervision of a physician. There is some evidence that berberine may interfere with the efficacy of tetracycline medications. High doses (many times the recommended amount) may cause vomiting, lowered blood pressure and lowered heart rate, lethargy, nosebleed, skin, eye and kidney irritation. Do not take Oregon-Grape Root if you have chronic diarrhea, a duodenal ulcer or excessive stomach acid, as it could make these conditions worse. Oregon- Grape root is not recommended for prolonged use.

Oregon Grape Root Tincture Printable

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Oregon Grape Root Tincture




Goldenseal is a hardy, herbaceous, North American woodland perennial that grows under two feet in height with a thick, yellow root and a single, erect stem producing leaves and a flower. The flowers are small, white; and a patch of Hydrastis will not remain in blossom longer than a week or ten days. From the flower, a single, red, inedible fruit emerges, but it is the roots, dug from three-year-old plants, that are used in herbal medicine. Its botanical genus, Hydrastis, is said to be derived from two Greek words signifying “water” and “to accomplish,” probably attributed because of its active effect on the body’s mucous membranes secretions.

In 1798, Benjamin Smith Barton observed that the Cherokees used it as a folk cancer remedy, which is also one of the earliest observations of the occurrence and treatment of cancer among American Indian groups. Few wildflowers were as important to the American Indians as the versatile Goldenseal. The roots supplied the Cherokee and Iroquois with a brilliant yellow dye for their weapons and clothing, a paint for their faces (giving the plant one of its common names, Yellow Indian Paint) and medicinal remedies for indigestion, inflamed eyes, mouth ulcers, cancer, tuberculosis and edema.

It may not have been effective for all those ailments, but its use as an antiseptic and in stopping bleeding was well noted. Pioneers quickly adopted Goldenseal, and it became a mainstay of pioneer medicine, frequently sold as an ingredient in patent medicines in traveling medicine shows. The root is an ingredient in many herbal remedies, as it not only possesses medicinal virtues of its own, but it also appears to enhance the potency of other herbs. Goldenseal has also found its way into modern medicine as a treatment for inflamed eyes, and some drug manufacturers include an alkaloid extracted from the root in their eye drops.

Once common in eastern North America, Goldenseal has almost become extinct in many places by commercial harvesting, and the plant was cited on the CITES list for protection and conservation, making it a rare and expensive commodity. Some of Goldenseal’s constituents include alkaloids (hydrastine, berberine, canadine and hydrastanine), tannins, beta-carotene, fatty acids, resin, albumin, essential oil, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium selenium, zinc, vitamins A, C and E and B-vitamins.

Lemon Essential Oil

Fresh Lemons

The virtues of the lemon and its close relative, the citron, have been well-known throughout history. The poet Virgil had this to say:

And dulling tastes of happy Citron fruit, Than which, no helpe more present can be had, If any time stepmothers worse than brute have poyson’d pots, and mingled herbs of sute With hurtfull charmes: this Citron fruit doth chase Blacke venome from the body in every place.

Writing in her 1931 book on herbal medicine, Maude Grieve says, “The lemon is the most valuable of all fruit for preserving health.” This was written in the days before aromatherapy, so Grieve couldn’t have had complete knowledge of the importance of lemon essential oil. She wrote, “The oil is not very active, and is used chiefly for flavouring.”


Like many essential oils, the constituents of lemon oil have antiseptic properties. What makes these properties noteworthy in lemon oil is that here they’re combined with a delightful aroma. Lemon is a great modifier for medicinal-smelling oils like tea tree and eucalyptus. Lemon works synergistically on a therapeutic, aesthetic and emotional level. This is very important when working with blends containing strongly medicinal oils, which may have a tendency to produce a negative aesthetic or emotional effect in aroma-sensitive people.

Lemon oil is uplifting and cleansing. It replaces negative emotions by creating a cheerful atmosphere of freshness and purity. It can help dispel mental fatigue and psychological heaviness. The aroma of lemon can inspire increased concentration and awareness. A Japanese study suggested that after diffusing lemon oil throughout a busy office building, typing errors decreased by 54%.

Because lemon oil is clarifying and aids the decision making process, it’s called the rational oil. Lemon is associated with the color yellow, with light and warm, penetrating energy. Simply placing a drop or two of lemon on a tissue can produce marvelous results. It’s a great addition to gently uplifting aromatherapy blends, along with other citrus oils as well as lavender and neroli.


Lemon oil is powerfully astringent and antiseptic. Because it can cause skin irritation if used by sensitive individuals in dilutions exceeding 5%, it should not be applied undiluted to skin. Five drops or less of lemon oil should be added to a teaspoon of a carrier oil. Lemon oil can contain up to two percent furanocoumarin compounds, including bergaptene. These compounds act as photosensitizing agents, which can increase the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light, causing accelerated burning and skin damage. Don’t use lemon oil on the skin in the presence of sunlight.

**Courtesy of Aura Cacia

Recap: Today we discussed the herbs Oregon Graperoot, Goldenseal and Lemon essential oil. We made Tincture of Goldenseal and Lemon & Tea Tree Antiseptic Spray.

Looking ahead: Next week we will end our series on Cuts & Scrapes with a look at deeper wounds requiring a Poultice and Wound-healing Tea. We will look more in-depth at Plantain, Astragulus and Baptisia

Reminder: Have on hand fresh Comfrey or Plantain leaves, Astragalus root, Baptisia Root and Echinacea Root.

I am participating in the following Blog Hops:

Homestead Barn Hop

Eco KIds Tuesdays

Wildcrafting Wednesday

Until next post…

Blessings to you and yours,





I am also a Contributing Author at:

Modern Homesteaders


Herbal Medicine Kit – Cuts & Scrapes

Ode to the Herbalist who gives from their soul For helping the ill once again feel whole.

~Natalie Vickery

Welcome Back…

…to another posting of the Herbal Medicine Kit. Today we are learning about and discussing Herbal Preparations for Cuts & Scrapes. We will be discussing Comfrey and Calendula, the essential oil Tea Tree and making a Herbal Healing Salve.

Let’s get to it…

Cuts & Scrapes


Cuts and scrapes, we all get them. Everybody…everyday. This is probably one of the first times you will reach for your Herbal Medicine Kit.

The first step in treating Cuts and Scrapes is to stop the bleeding. The second step is to treat the wound to prevent infection and promote speedy healing. There are as many studies on herbs and their beneficial properties as there are studies about them. For instance:

Studies show that tea tree, lavender, lemon, thyme, sage, eucalyptus and garlic are potent germ fighters.

Lavender, lemon, bergamot, thyme, chamomile, pine and sandalwood are know to increase the number of white cells, which are your fighters, attacking infection-causing bacteria.

We can’t forget antiseptic type herbs such as tea tree, goldenseal, barberry or Oregon grape root.

To encourage healing try plantain, comfrey, aloe vera, lavender, baptisia, calendula, St. John’s Wort,rose geranium.

Also try; cinnamon, eucalyptur, garlic, lemon, oregano, sage, sandalwood, tea tree and thyme for their healing properties as well.

Healing Herb Salve

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Herbal Healing Salve



Comfrey is a perennial herb that is believed to have originated in Europe and Asia. The plant belongs to the family Boraginaceae. The plant can grow up to a length of 5 feet, and has hairy, large and broad leaves. The roots of the comfrey are usually black, while the flowers are small and white, pink or purple in color. The plant has been renowned for a long time for its medicinal properties. However, some of its species are poisonous. Its name is derived from the Latin word comfera, which means knitting together.

Advantages of Comfrey Herb

It has been considered a healing herb since ancient times. The ancient Greeks and Romans, used this wonder herb for alleviating a number of ailments including bronchial problems, wounds, heavy bleeding and broken bones. Its popularity grew during the middle ages, mainly for healing fractures. Its main active ingredient is allantoin, which has the ability of stimulating cell proliferation. So, it can be effective in replacing the damaged cells of the body. Besides allantoin, another important compound found in it is mucilage. Both allantoin and mucilage have anti-inflammatory properties. So, they are used in alleviating the pain and inflammation associated with broken bones, sprains, arthritis, wounds, etc. Mucilage is also effective in intestinal disorders, while allantoin augments the immune system to fight against infectious diseases. The roots and leaves of comfrey can be applied as a wash, ointment and poultice. It is an expectorant and a mild sedative. It can induce blood clotting and heal ulcers, both external and internal ulcers. Many use it as an herbal remedy for diarrhea, bleeding gums and gangrene. It can also be used to enhance skin and alleviate skin problems like acne, boils and abscesses. It is widely used in homeopathic treatment for several diseases. According to some studies, it can be beneficial in diabetes and reducing the level of cholesterol. Roots of this plant have been used for a long time in relieving lung problems. In Ireland, it is mainly used for treating problems associated with the circulatory system. It is abundant in protein and vitamins. Vitamin A and C are abundantly found in comfrey. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, that protects the body from the damaging effects of free radicals and also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, vitamin A is required for improving vision and proper growth and development of bones. It is one of the rare plants that contains the vitamin B12, essential for the formation of red blood cells, cell division and proper development of nerve cells. Besides, these essential vitamins, it is also rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium and germanium. Germanium is a powerful antioxidant, while calcium and phosphorus are required for healthy teeth and bones. Potassium is essential for maintaining the electrolyte balance in the body. In addition, it assists in regulating the blood pressure level and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Zinc facilitates energy metabolism and strengthens the immune system, while magnesium is important for a healthy heart, teeth and bones.

Comfrey Root

  • The presence of the anodyne substance in the comfrey root helps in relieving severe and chronic pain along with the inflammation that injuries bring along.
  • It treats ulcers of the mouth as well as internal ulcers that might develop in the throat. It destroys the parasites that cause these ulcers and lead to relief.
  • It is infused with the properties of demulcent. This lends it the ability to smoothen the inflamed mucus membranes and thereby cures coughs and sore throats along with any other irritation that is caused in the throat.
  • Comfrey root tea has been known to provide relief and cure several skin conditions like burns, abrasions, insect bites, boils and other irritations.
  • The ingestion of comfrey tea has been known to lead to the production of new cells thus leading to the faster healing of sprains, injuries and fractures.
  • A powdered form can be prepared and then made into a paste. This paste can be applied directly to the wounds. It can also be used as a wet bandage over the sprains and fractures for faster healing.
  • The comfrey root extract is used as a very effective diuretic. It lends the body to accumulate great amounts of water and then dispels it. In that way, it leads to dispelling of the varied toxins and waste matter from the body. It thus prevents kidney and urine infections like kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
  • With the toxins being flushed away, the results are seen on the skin as well. It leads to the cure of varied skin diseases like acne and eczema which are caused by excess heat and inflammation in the body.
  • The comfrey root is also a very effective expectorant because it leads to clearing of the blocked airway by allowing the mucus to loosen and thereby free the lungs.
  • It also has the properties that allow it to clot any wound faster and therefore helps in healing as well.
  • It strengthens the pituitary gland in the body.
  • It has been used as an agent to strengthen the bones for several centuries. It causes the bones to regain strength and thereby prevents osteoporosis and any other diseases that come about due to weak bones.
  • It has a high content of proteins which help in carrying forth several bodily functions as well.
  • It helps in the treatment of fever and helps to quell frequent thirst.

As is clear, there are varied forms that the comfrey root can be consumed and used in, both internally and externally. The roots can be dried and the powder used in several forms. For example, to make tea. Which is done by boiling the powder in water for 20 minutes and adding sugar or honey for taste. The powder can also be used as a dressing on varied wounds. One can also use the extracts for the same purpose.

Though comfrey has been used internally to relieve a number of disorders like indigestion, stomach and bowel problems, thyroid disorders, hernia, coughs, lung problems, hemorrhage and even cancer, recent studies have shown that its consumption can be dangerous. Studies conducted in this regard have revealed that it contains a compound, known as pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA), which is hepatotoxic and carcinogenic. Accumulation of pyrrolizidine in the body, may block the hepatic vein and cause liver failure. These findings induced the United States Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning in 2001, against the internal usage of herbal products containing comfrey. Please use your own informed judgement or consult your medical practioner of choice when deciding to use Comfrey internally. However, it can be applied externally, as no known side effect of external application has been discovered so far.



Medically referred to as calendula officinalis, the calendula flower is basically native throughout the Mediterranean region, with its name having been derived from the Latin calend, meaning the first day of the month. As a herbal medicine, calendula gained its significance, to cure skin ailments and injuries. Calendula is acknowledged to be a rich source of antioxidants, and helps prevent skin cells from damaging. What’s more, it is highly recognized for its anti-bacterial characteristics, as a result of which, it is used as a salve to cure dry skin rash, and foster healing of wounds.

Calendula Cream

While calendula cream is used as an ointment, countering several skin ailments, it can be easily made at home with the help of some dried calendula petals. Being a rich source of natural antioxidants, as mentioned above, calendula cream helps in recovering damaged cells, and preventing further damage. Research suggests that calendula is also known to relieve menstrual cramps in females, and stomach aches as well. Calendula oils, creams, and ointments are used for topical applications, and are acknowledged as effective moisturizer to dry and chapped skin. Calendula cream is so soft, that it can be applied to infants too in case of diaper rash, without caring much. Those suffering from dermatitis or eczema have gained immense relief from calendula creams as it reduces skin-inflammation to a great extent. If a person is plagued by a lot of acne scars, calendula cream for acne serves as a great remedy to eradicate those scars, for it prevents the formation of scar tissues.

Calendula Ointment

Calendula Oil & It’s Uses

It is cherished for its mildness, for which it can be used even by those people who have a sensitive skin. Apart from being a mild and soothing oil, calendula has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial and anti fungal properties, which make it an ideal oil to treat a number of skin disorders and infections. More commonly, it is the oil preferred for treating dry and chapped skin, skin rash, wounds, burns, inflammation, skin irritation and several other skin disorders. Commercially, it serves as an excellent base for salves, lotions, creams, herbal ointments and many other natural cosmetics. It is also one of the commonly used base oil in aromatherapy.

Calendula Oil Benefits

Its benefits can be attributed to its medicinal properties. This oil possesses anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. At the same time, it is so mild that it can be used on infants and young children as well. Even people having sensitive skin can also benefit from this oil.

  • It is an excellent remedy for soothing and moisturizing dry and chapped skin.
  • Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, this oil can be used for skin sores and inflammation.
  • It can relieve the swelling and inflammation caused by bruise or muscle sprain as well.
  • This oil is gentle enough to be used on babies or infants. Using this oil for diaper rash can help to provide significant relief in this skin condition.
  • The oil extracted from calendula blossoms can also be used for accelerating the healing of minor cuts or wounds, acne, burns, insect bites, bed sores and sore feet.
  • It is a traditional remedy for some common digestive problems like, stomach cramps, flatulence, constipation and colic.
  • People suffering from dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema can also benefit from the topical application of calendula extract and oil. This oil can reduce the skin inflammation associated with such conditions.
  • It is renowned for its antifungal properties. It can work as an amazing remedy for ringworm, jock itch and athlete’s foot.
  • This oil can also be helpful for conditions like, varicose veins, spider veins, leg ulcers and chilblains. Chilblains is the condition characterized by the inflammation of the hands and feet, due to an exposure to extreme cold or moisture.
  • Apart from these, you can use it for scars, or for preventing or reducing the formation of scar tissues. Oil derived from calendula can increase the collagen level, and this is the reason why it can prevent the formation of scar tissues, while facilitating the healing of wounds.

So, this oil can be considered beneficial for maintaining a healthy and problem free skin. It can be termed as an invaluable oil, when it comes to skin care. Using this oil for massaging the skin can help in cell regeneration, besides making your skin soft, supple and radiant.

Calendula Tea Recipe

Herbal Tea

This herbal tea is made of fresh or dried flowers of calendula plant. The fully open flowers are usually hand picked and washed gently with a light spray of water, before the petals are removed. Once removed, the moisture has to be blotted with tissues and then, the petals have to spread evenly on screens that are placed in a warm, dark location that has good ventilation. Make sure to turn the petals frequently, so as to ensure proper drying. Once dried completely, collect them in plastic bags that have to be stored in the refrigerator. You may also use store bought organic calendula tea. In order to prepare a cup of this herbal tea, add two teaspoons of calendula petals into a tea infuser and place it in a cup of boiled water. Let it steep for around ten to fifteen minutes and after that, you can use it with or without sweeteners.

Benefits of Calendula Tea

As mentioned, calendula has been used by humans for a very long time, in various forms. This herb can be used in various ways and calendula tea is very popular. This herbal tea is said to have various health benefits.

  • It is widely used for treating bowel problems like, stomach ulcers, heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, stomach upset, gastritis, etc.
  • It is said that calendula can protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Calendula tea is also claimed to have detoxifying properties.
  • Gargling with this herbal tea is said to be good for relief from sore throat and inflammation of the mouth.
  • It is also beneficial for conjunctivitis or pink eye, as cool calendula tea is used to rinse the eyes.
  • It is also said to be effective in regulating menstrual cycles.
  • It is claimed that this herb can fight infections, arrest bleeding, help in collagen production and sooth skin.
  • So, it is used to treat burns, cuts, wounds, bruises, etc.
  • Some people use it for relief from pain and inflammation caused by bee and wasp stings.
  • Even fever and common cold is said to be treated with calendula tea.

Calendula tea is not to be consumed for more than three times a day. In short, calendula tea is said to improve health in many different ways. However, it should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Even though calendula is said to be one of the safest herbs, it may cause allergic reactions in people, who have ragweed allergy or those with pollen allergies. It is also suggested that if you want to use calendula tea for treating health problems, consult a qualified herbal practitioner and act as per his instructions.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil is also known as the Melaleuca Oil or the Tea Tree Oil. This highly effective and useful oil has many benefits and uses. The oil is native to Australia and now we have other varieties of oil cultivated elsewhere. Studies have shown that the plants belonging to this family are always aromatic because they have glandular dots on their leaves. This, when crushed, releases essential oils of varying amounts and constituents. This oil has antifungal, antiviral, antibiotic and antiseptic properties. The oil is obtained by the steam distillation of the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia. It has also been discovered that the aborigines used a number of tea tree leaves to concoct medicines for coughs and colds. They crushed the leaves and inhaled or soaked them, which was then applied to the various pains and aching parts of the body. The research has shown it to have many beneficial uses, which is why we have this oil being used for various reasons.

Benefits and Uses

Tea Tree

  • Tea tree oil has properties that can be help one feel fresh early in the morning. How? Simple, just add a few drops of this oil in water and it can be used as an effective mouthwash.
  • The oil has got beneficial properties for the skin. Tree tea oil soap is available very easily in the markets. This soap has softeners and conditioners that help to gently cleanse away the dirt and odor. The soap renews the softness of the skin and adds to the suppleness.
  • This oil is also beneficial for the hair. The shampoo has properties to help you tackle the dandruff problem. Tea tree oil shampoo can be used for a lot of other scalp problems. Look for shampoos that have this oil or simply add some drops to the shampoo you currently use.
  • You can use the oil for your skin problems as well. Tea tree oil is commonly used for acne treatment and is found in most products. Here, even a tiny drop, if applied directly to the acne, can help to clear the skin from acne.
  • It is also used in moisturizing lotions.
  • It is also used to prevent or treat athlete’s foot. This is especially useful when you go camping, backpacking and in such cases, you can simply rub a few drops over your feet or even sprinkle the bottom of the shower area with it.
  • Tea tree oil has also been used for a lot of dental problems. Studies have shown that a consistent use of the oil based dental products when combined with nutritional products have shown to be very effective in various cases that can range from mild to moderate cases of dental disease.
  • This has often prevented the use of antibiotics. If you are out camping or even at home and need to protect yourself from insects, you can go in for tea tree oil based gel or ointment. You can even apply it neat to the area if you want it be relieved from pain and itching of that area.
  • The oil also has antiseptic and bacterial properties, which is why it is used in the treatment of cuts, burns, infected splinters and all kinds of wounds.
  • This oil also is highly useful for aromatherapy. You can add a few drops of it to 30ml of base oil. Massage it in your body to relieve pain from rheumatics.

We can thus see the benefits of tea tree oil are many. One can add the use of tree tea oil to the daily life and see a how it can help in improving your life to a considerable extent!

Recap: Today we looked at several new herbs; Calendula, Comfrey and Tea Tree essential oil. We also made Herbal Healing Salve.

Looking ahead: Next post we will looking at Cuts & Scrapes part 2. This will cover the herbs Oregon Graperoot, Goldenseal and Lemon essential oil. We will be making Tincture of Goldenseal and Lemon & Tea Tree Antiseptic Spray.

Reminder: Have on hand Goldenseal, Lemon Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil, Oregon Graperoot and Aloe Vera.

I am participating in the following Blog Hops:

Homestead Barn Hop

Eco KIds Tuesdays

Wildcrafting Wednesday

Until next post…

Blessings to you and yours,





I am also a Contributing Author at:

Modern Homesteaders



Candle Making…in scavenged vessels

SAM_0458Candle making, a true farmgirl skill.  We go through a lot of candles here, to make the house smell nice and to read by, so sometimes it is nice to supplement with ones I have made.  I think various molds would be fun to try, tapers and tea candles and such, but without all of the fun trimmings and trappings of fancy candle making, I have resorted to using coffee cups.  Or canning jars.  Or whatever I find.  I got these fine looking vessels at the dollar store.  You can find wax and wicks at homesteading stores or online.  I purchases a giant bag of organic soy wax and the wicks that I thought would work. (I really had no idea, I simply guessed!)


At the shop, I have a separate pan and measuring cup when dealing with wax.  Once or twice you can get all the wax out and scrub it up nice, but we simply make too many lotions, salves, and now candles to have to worry about it.  So, these instruments are specifically for wax.  They ain’t pretty, but they get the job done.  Pour wax to the top of the measuring cup and heat water to boiling.  As the wax melts, stir it with a chop stick and add more wax until the finished product is about 2 cups.  Do not add any water or oils, just straight wax.


Ahh, my old nemesis, the wick.  It insists upon releasing its grip, and running amuck as soon as I pour the wax in.  It is truly a test of my patience.  I have found a few tricks.  Use a good glue, and glue the bottom of the wick to the bottom of the coffee cup.  Press down on the metal part with a chopstick.  The longer you leave it, the less likely it will dislodge and become a horizontal wick!


(I love chopsticks, can you tell?  I am the one putting them in my purse at the Chinese restaurant.)  Twist the wick (carefully) around the chopstick to hold it in place.


When the wax looks completely melted, give it a stir again.

A Note on ScentsNow is the time to add fragrance or essential oils to your product.  You will add them into the coffee up or the wax, your choice.  Funny story about the oils.  I wanted all natural scents wafting through my house.  So, I used about 60 drops of essential oil and….nothing.  Not strong enough.  I used an ounce of essential oil.  Emily casually walked in and said, “Your candle is on fire.”  I said, “Oh good!  I can smell the pine essential oil from here!”  She instructed me to go see the candle and sure enough, the whole thing was on fire with my hutch not far behind it!  Bonfire in the living room!  So, I just use enough essential oil to cover the metal ring at the bottom of the wick, but alas it doesn’t really emit much scent.  So, I broke down and bought fragrance oils.  I can tell people how bad they are all I want, but at the end of the day at Walmart when I am picking up smelly candles….Well, I may as well buy the fragrance oil and try to save a few bucks.  I poured an ounce of oil into the coffee cups, and they aren’t bad but they aren’t like Yankee Candleeither, so I am not sure what the trick is.  Most people like softly scented or scent free candles anyway!  Fragrance oils are endocrine disruptors so if you have thyroid problems, you may want to opt for essential oils.


Now, with one hand use a chopstick to hold down that pesky metal part at the bottom of the wick and with the other hand pour hot wax into the coffee cup.  That 2 cups of melted wax will make two 12 oz. coffee cups into candles.  Leave it now for several hours to set.  Remove the chopsticks and clip the wick down to 1/4 inch.  They are ready to burn brightly!

Candle Tips: Always burn candles until the wax is melted all the way to the edges or you will have a shallow hole and it will not burn evenly.  Keep wicks trimmed to 1/4 inch to prevent bonfires in the living room.  Use a snuffer, fun to say and will keep your wick from sidling to the edge of the candle.

The original article may be found here: http://farmgirlschool.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/candle-making-in-scavenged-vessels/

This is a guest post by Farmgirl of http://farmgirlschool.wordpress.com

April 19, 2013

Herbal Medicine Kit – Bruises

“My little herb garden along the stonewall

The thyme and rosemary beginning to crawl

Onto the path that lies under my feet

In and out of the crevices, ever so sweet”

~ Linda R. O’Connell

Welcome Back…

…to another posting of the Herbal Medicine Kit. Today we are learning about and discussing Herbal Preparations for Bruising. We will be discussing Arnica, Witch Hazel,Chamomile & St. Johns Wort. And crafting a Herbal Ice, Tincture of Arnica and a recipe for Bruise Compress.

Let’s get to it…


Medical dictionaries define a bruise as:
“an injury just below the skin where the skin is not broken,”

For simple, uncomplicated bruising, herbs can be quite helpful! The best herbs for treating bruises are those that discourage swelling and promote quick healing, such as Arnica, Chamomile, Lavender, St. Johns Wort and Witch Hazel.

In Germany, pharmacies sell more than 100 different arnica preparations to reduce inflammation caused by bruising. Arnica is also popular in North America, although many turn to our ever popular St. Johns Wort too. Another classic remedy is Witch Hazel tincture.

Whichever herb you choose, the sooner you get it on the bruise, the better! To further diminish swelling, apply a tincture-soaked compress that has icel slipped inside its folds. Or use herbal ice cubes.


Arnica Montana

Arnica herb, known for its medicinal properties is a genus of 30 species. This plant belongs to the Asteraceae family of sunflowers. It offers many benefits and therefore, finds an important place in the list of medicinal herbal plants. Arnica plant is mainly found in Europe and North America. However, eastern region of Asia also has many Arnica species. In olden days, the North Americans used this medicinal herb for improving blood circulation and in the treatment of sore throat. These people also used the herb as a febrifuge. A febrifuge is a medicine used in the treatment of fever. Following are some of the arnica uses which will help you to get a wider view of this herb.

The use of arnica for medicinal purposes has a long history. This plant was used by the famous German poet, Goethe in the treatment of chest pain. Tea prepared from leaves of arnica was used by Goethe for the treatment of chest pain. It is important to note that one shouldn’t take arnica without the guidance of a medical practitioner. Arnica is most commonly used as a topical medicine i.e. for the treatment of skin disorders. However, there are many other purposes for which this herb can be used.

The herb is effective in the treatment of pain. A component called sesquiterpene lactone present in this herb is helpful in the healing of pain. Applying arnica externally results in proper blood circulation to that specific body part. The increase in blood supply automatically warms that body part and reduces pain to a great extent.

Arnica oil is mainly used for the treatment of injuries, bruises, swellings, sprains and dislocation. The macerated oil especially proves to be helpful in the treatment of strained muscles and bruises. The macerated arnica oil is prepared by infusing the arnica plant in a certain base oil. Muscle relaxation is one of the important benefits of arnica oil. It helps by reducing the soreness of muscles.

The oils obtained from flowers, roots and rhizomes of arnica plant are used in the preparation of perfumes; these are volatile oils present in small amounts. Arnica is used in reducing the recovery time of physical trauma; it is also used to recover from overexertion. Arnica oil is used for stimulation of hair follicles and rejuvenation of scalp. Creams made from arnica are used to provide temporary relief from skin-related problems like sunburn. Similarly, insect bites can also be treated with medications that are prepared from arnica. The sesquiterpene lactone component of arnica also acts as anti-inflammatory agent.

Tincture of Arnica

Click HERE to print recipe!

St. Johns Wort

St. Johns Wort

Hypericum Perforatum, also known as St. John’s Wort, has been used from ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages, when it was considered to be a magical plant which could ward off evil spirits and keep disease away. This plant has the best reputation among medicinal herbs. Thousands of tons of St. John’s Wort plants are turned into medicinal products every year. St. John’s Wort seems to have gained a lot of success as an antidepressant remedy. That is primarily because depression is the most spread-out disease in the world these days.

But the plant use cannot be limited to depression. People suffering from weather sensitivity for instance, and who are confronted with headaches, anxiety, sleep disorders, concentration problems and so on because of the meteorological phenomena, fully benefit from the St. John’s Wort treatment. Patients who suffer because of the gloomy weather respond the best way to this kind of natural remedy. The result of using this plant is a positive mood, filled with joy and optimism.

They say obsessive compulsive disorders could also be treated with St. John’s Wort. One half of a cup for several times a day is said to have a good effect on people suffering from this condition. Although the studies made in this respect are rather few and sometimes contradictory, based on the practical evidence taken by doctors by observing how their patients’ state of mind improved after the constant use of this plant, one could say that with the help of this remedy one can obtain good results in curing such a disease, or at least in reducing the intensity and frequency of the patients’ manifestations.

St. John’s Wort is not as efficient for curing anxiety as it is for depression, numerous patients and especially the ones suffering from anxious depression have obtained encouraging results with the use of this plant. It’s highly recommended to use a mixture of St. John’s Wort with linden, in equal proportions.

It is also excellent for curing obesity and weight problems. It’s a well-known fact that overeating and eating too little are both related to emotional unbalances in the human system. And many doctors in Germany and in the US have obtained remarkable results by treating patients suffering from obesity with this plant. Since it gives a state of positive energy and of vigilance, it reduces the suffering produced by the reduction of food intake. It puts somebody in the mood of leading an active, sportive life and because of that it’s really efficient against obesity. The treatment does not aim only at losing a few pounds. These pounds might in fact be regained when the next emotional crisis comes along. St. John’s Wort is said to resolve the patients’ main issue, i.e. their lifestyle.

Some other problems that can be solved with the help of this miraculous plant are nicotine or alcohol addiction. This has been tested on animals which had been previously induced alcohol or nicotine addiction. When these two have been instantly ceased, they had a lot fewer negative symptoms. In practice, patients who wish to give up on these vices have higher chances to succeed if they follow a St. John’s Wort treatment, which on one hand can help reduce the adjustment period’s negative effects, and on the other hand can help put into motion the psychological resources for getting through difficult times. A cure can last for about 6 weeks and it must generally be followed by another 3-4 weeks of pause.

PMS syndrome can also be efficiently treated with this plant. Of course, every patient’s symptoms may vary. In this respect, the observations made by Bratman and Rosenthal show that the patients’ psychological dispositions are highly improved; thus, there is a reduction in symptoms such as mental irritability, depression, attention and concentration deficiencies, as well as mental hyper excitability. All these are typical of the premenstrual or menstrual period and can be successfully treated with St. John’s Wort. The very same doctors have noticed an improvement in the general mental state of women in their pre-menopausal period. In all of these cases, one can take St. John’s Wort powder four times a day (one teaspoon), during a period of 28 days with 10-14 days of break.



Chamomile (also spelled camomile) plant got its name from the Greek words chamos and milos, which represent ground and apple respectively. This means low-growing (ground level) shrubs with the smell of apples. A variety of these plant species can be found in Europe, North Africa and some parts of Asia. English chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla ) are most commonly used for medicinal purposes, in comparison to their counterparts. Though, both of them have almost similar properties, German chamomile oil is more potent than the English chamomile. Dried flower heads of both varieties are used in manufacturing herbal tea, ointments, potpourri, herb pillows, shampoos, herbal medicines and cosmetics.


Use of chamomile dates back to the time of ancient Egyptians. They believed that the plant is a sacred gift from God, and a cure for many diseases. They used to offer the flowers of this plant, to the Sun God. This herb was an important ingredient of the embalming oil used for mummification. It was also used for cosmetic purposes in ancient Egypt. While the Romans used chamomile to make incense and beverages, Hippocrates, the Greek physician believed that this herb is also useful in treating congestion and dysmenorrhea. In the middle ages, Anglo-Saxons graded this plant as one of the Nine Sacred Herbs. Monks also played an important role in experimenting and propagating knowledge about the medicinal properties of chamomile. During this period, alchemists in Europe started extracting essential oil from these herbs through distillation. It was the predecessor of the present-day distillation process. Over centuries, the popularity of these plants increased and spread to different parts of the world. Today, with the advent of aromatherapy and other types of alternative medicine, these plants are grown commercially.


Chamomile has a long history of medical use. Though there is no scientific research conducted to back the efficacy of its medicinal properties, it has been widely used in the treatment of a variety of diseases and disorders. Some people have reported side effects like allergies, after being treated with this herb.

Chamomile is said to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Experts also believe that this wonderful herb has antifungal properties too. Chamomile tea is no stranger to us, and we all know the various benefits of chamomile essential oil. Similarly, chamomile extract is also said to be very beneficial, medically. The extract is in powder form and ethanol is used to extract various compounds from the chamomile flowers. This extract has been very useful since a long time due to its soothing powers. Let me introduce to you the chamomile benefits for your health.

There are several health benefits of chamomile. Chamomile extract helps to provide relief to a person suffering from cardiovascular diseases. This extract is also helpful in treating fever, common cold, sinus infections, etc. Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile, the extract is used to treat various skin problems like eczema and skin disorders. The anti bacterial properties of this wonderful herb make the extract a wonderful treatment for intestinal problems. Minor health issues like teeth pain, indigestion, sore throat and diaper rash are also treated with the help of this extract. Due to the smooth fragrance of the extract, it can be mixed with water and used as a mouthwash.

Chamomile extract is also used to treat the more serious problems like blood clots and a lowered immune system. People suffering from jaundice are recommended to take this extract in the form of tea to get the chamomile tea benefits. Alternative medicine suggests the use of chamomile in treating water retention and inflammation in the digestive system of the human body. Due to the sedative properties of this herb, people suffering from insomnia and migraine are also suggested to consume this extract as it will enable them to fall asleep. Cramps in the stomach and other muscle cramps can also be treated by consumption of this extract. Pain in the joints due to arthritis, osteoarthritis and swelling of the limbs can also be treated by drinking herbal tea made from this extract.

The cosmetic uses of chamomile include the use of this extract in lotions, face creams and in shampoos. Chamomile oil is popular for aromatherapy. Adding a cupful of this extract into a hot water bath will help the person relax as chamomile extract helps in relieving stress from the body. Gels containing chamomile and chamomile oil also help in reducing various skin disorders like acne and scars. If the skin is irritated or inflamed, applying this extract to the skin will help in providing relief to the person.

Herbal Ice

1. C Distilled Water

1 tsp Chamomile Flowers

1 tsp Lavender Flowers

Pour boiling water over the herbs and let steep in a covered pan for about 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs and freeze the tea in a medium size ice cube tray. One the cubes are frozen, pop them out and store them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Herbal Ice can then be ready for any bruise emergency. Simply apply directly to the bruise or wrap inside a Bruise compress.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel uses are mostly attributed to promoting skin health and hair care. Other than these, it is effective to treat diarrhea, dry mouth, hemorrhoids and infections. For know what else witch hazel is employed for, read on.

Witch hazel is an ornamental shrub or small tree that bears bright yellow blooms in winter season, when other flowers are hardly present in the garden. This plant not only yields breathtaking fragrant blooms, but it is used in herbal medicine for treating several health conditions. The effectiveness of witch hazel for treating skin symptoms has been known since a long time by now. In fact, the oldest skin care product commercially sold in the United States was based on witch hazel. With this brief introduction, let’s delve more on witch hazel uses and benefits.

Uses of Witch Hazel

Witch hazel applications are many and varied, while this plant is specifically known for its therapeutic benefits on skin and hair care. All parts of the shrub or tree are useful, including the leaves, bark, flowers and twigs. The curative effect of this plant is credited to the presence of catechol tannin, a phenolic derivative. Witch hazel extract is a clear solution sold as over the counter liquid in pharmacy stores. Listed below are some of the profound witch hazel uses that you may prefer to know about this wonderful plant:

Witch Hazel for Skin
Witch hazel benefits for skin in many ways. Be it the unsightly acne, itchy poison ivy rash, diaper rash or painful chickenpox blisters, witch hazel is the ultimate remedy. You can use a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel water over the affected skin areas to quicken the healing time. Using it in the same way helps combat the discomfort symptoms of sunburn and windburn.

Witch Hazel for Tired Eyes
Another witch hazel usage is for refreshing tired eyes. This also includes getting rid of bags under eyes. Never indulge in putting witch hazel directly over the eyes. What you can do is soak a clean rag in cold witch hazel water and place it over closed eyes for about 5 minutes. Repeating it twice daily will cure redness, puffiness and swelling of the eyes caused due to eye stress.

Witch Hazel for Hair
There are a plethora of hair care products that contain witch hazel as one of the ingredient components. To mention a few, you may come across hair toner, hair oil and anti dandruff shampoos that contain witch hazel. A common non medicinal usage of this plant extract is to set hair while perming or curling. In short, you can apply witch hazel solution instead of hair holding sprays.

Witch Hazel for Hemorrhoids
Witch hazel usage in terms of alleviating hemorrhoids is worth mentioning. Indeed, it is known as one of the most effectual home remedies for treating annoying hemorrhoid symptoms, including bleeding, swelling and at times, infections. When used with glycerin and other skin formulations, witch hazel has shown positive responses in shrinking external hemorrhoids.

Witch Hazel for Pregnant Women
It is effectual to treat varicose veins during pregnancy. The astringent property of witch hazel helps constrict the blood vessels, thus reducing swelling, pain and discomfort symptoms. Nevertheless, as with any herbal remedy, some women may be oversensitive to witch hazel water. Hence, it is always safer to take advice from the concerned physician before using witch hazel extract or other products.

Other Uses
Besides the above mentioned points, witch hazel is beneficial to reduce muscle aches, swelling and inflammatory responses. Adding few drops of witch hazel in mouth rinsing or gargling soothes soreness in the mouth, gums and throat. Other therapeutic uses of witch hazel include stopping minor bleeding, and treating infections, diarrhea, dry mouth and mucous colitis.

Bruise Compress

Click HERE to print recipe!

Recap: Today we learned about Herbal Preparations for Bruising. We discussed Arnica, Witch Hazel, Chamomile & St. Johns Wort. And crafted a Herbal Ice, Tincture of Arnica and learned a recipe for Bruise Compress.

Looking ahead: Next post we will be learning about Burns & Sunburns…just in time for the upcoming Summer! We will take a look at Aloe, Lavender & Comfrey more in-depth and craft a homemade Aloe Gel, Aloe Burn Spray and a recipe for a “Bath for Burns”.

Reminder: Have on hand Arnica, Witch Hazel, Chamomile, Comfrey, Plantain leaves, Calendula Flowers. Lavender Essential Oil, Colloidal Oatmeal or regular rolled oats milled, Aloe Vera Juice, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera Leaves, Vitamin C powder.

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Until next post…

Blessings to you and yours,


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Herbal Medicine Kit – Bites, Stings & Splinters; Final!

“Teas and tinctures, salves and balms
Studying the plants from dusk till dawn”
~ Natalie Vickery

Welcome back…

…to another posting of the Herbal Medicine Kit. Today we continue our 4 part look at Bites, Stings and Splinters with Part 4…our final installment! Next post we will be moving on to “Bleeding”. Today we will be looking more in-depth at several herbs & Essential Oils; Citronella, Eucalyptus, Pennyroyal, Cedar and Rose Geranium…AND making 1 recipe; Insect Repellent!

Let’s get to it…

Citronella Essential Oil


Citronella oil can be identified with its color less, or faint yellow color and fresh lemon-citrus fragrance. It is obtained from tall perennial citronella grass which is grown in Sri Lanka, Java, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. This grass basically belongs to the lemon grass family. Citronella essential oil is extracted from fresh or dried citronella grass with the help of steam distillation process. Some natural components of citronella oil are citronellal, citronellol, geraniol, geranyl acetate, limonene etc. Two different varieties are available. One is the Ceylon and the other one is Java. When it comes to citronella oil uses, the Java variety is more widely used. This is because the essential components geraniol and citronellal are present in higher amount in this variety.

How to Use Citronella Oil as an Insect Repellent

Citronella oil acts as an excellent repellent for insects like mosquito, fleas, ticks, moths, etc. For this reason, it is preferred as a safe and non-toxic insecticide over toxic chemical based insect repellents. Citronella oil can be used in many different ways for this purpose. Other naturally occurring substances like peppermint oil and cinnamon are also added in these products to enhance the insect repellent property of citronella. To keep insects away from your house or garden area, you can use citronella candles and lamps. When you burn them, the fumes will spread over a large area and control insects. To keep insects at bay in a barbecue, or pool side picnic, use citronella oil pellets. Place these pellets around the plants in the recreational area and you will not be disturbed by insects. For flea control in pets of the house, flea collar with citronella oil is highly effective.

Other Uses of Citronella Oil

Citronella oil uses are not just confined to repelling insects. It has various medicinal values. It has a major role in perfume industry too. Here are a few other uses:

As Aromatherapy Oil
Citronella oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties. When this essential oil is diluted with a base oil and massaged on the skin, it releases a warm sensation that provides a soothing relief from muscle cramps and painful joints. It is also good for abdominal cramps caused due to gastrointestinal infections and menstruation. It not only helps to get rid of physical discomfort, but also has a relieving effect on your senses. Massaging with this aromatherapy oil relaxes the taut nerves, reduces anxiety and gives peace and tranquility. It can also cures stress induced migraine and headache.

As Anti-microbial Agent
Citronella oil has antiseptic qualities and can be safely used on wounds. It will heal up the wound by promoting formation of scar tissue. It will also protect the area from bacterial attack. Its fungicidal attributes help in the treatment of various forms of fungal infection on skin.

As Astringent
Another important use of citronella oil is as an astringent for oily skin. Many women find it difficult to put on makeup as their skin is excessively oily. They can just take a few drops of the oil on a cotton ball and rub it on the face. This will remove excess oil from their facial skin. Then, they can apply their regular makeup.

As Perfume Oil
In perfume industry, Java citronella oil is in great demand. It is a vital ingredient for manufacturing various perfumes. This is because geraniol present in this oil serves as the basic building block in the perfumery work.

There are no major side effects of using citronella oil. However, it might not be safe for pregnant women. Some people have complained about skin irritation after applying citronella oil on skin. Therefore, you must test in a small portion of the skin before using it on wider areas.


Citronella Lotion
2 ounces distilled water
2 ounces olive oil
120 drops citronella essential oil
A lotion is an emulsification of water and oil. To prepare: Put water into a deep mixing bowl. Begin to drizzle in the oil slowly and beat vigorously with a wire whisk. By the time all the oil is added you should have a nice creamy white lotion. Stir in the citronella oil. Pour into a lotion bottle and label.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil


Eucalyptus oil is derived from the leaves and stems of the eucalyptus tree, also known as Eucalyptus globulus or fever tree, which is a tall tree with leaves that are pointed, bluish-green in color, and highly aromatic. The oil is extracted by a process of steam distillation, with about 110 pounds of the leaves or stems required to make 2 pounds of oil. It is thought that the therapeutic properties of this oil was probably first known by the Aborigines of Australia, since the plant originates from there, who had used it to treat fevers and skin problems.

The Properties of Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptol is the chief active ingredient along with other elements like valeraldehyde, sequiterpene, terpineol, pinocarveol, pinen, camphen globulal, cineol, fenchen, and butylaldehyde. Eucalyptus oil has a warming effect on muscles and feels cool on the skin. It has strong antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is also helpful for relieving fevers and coughs, lowering blood sugar, and is also a diuretic.

Mainly because of its anti-inflammatory properties, eucalyptus essential oil is often used as an ingredient in preparations made for relieving joint, nerve, and muscle pains. Psychologically, it helps in combating exhaustion and dispelling mental lassitude. Its beneficial effects can be felt when it is used in room humidifiers and vaporizers.

Many therapists consider eucalyptus oil as an universal oil which can be used in its undiluted form on the skin of adults. However, others advise caution about using it directly on the skin, and instead suggest that it be diluted in a massage lotion or a carrier oil. It is one of the most popular amongst the essential oils since one of its properties is enhancing the effects of other essential oils.

For example, when combined with lavender oil, it enhances its sweetness. Adding it to pine and marjoram essential oils can increase the expectorant and decongestant effects. When eucalyptus oil is combined with orange or bergamot oil, it increases its stimulating effects.

Uses of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
• For muscle pains and aches, mix 10-15 drops of this oil with 2 oz of grape seed oil or sweet almond oil, and massage it on the affected area using circular motions.
• In order to relieve colds and coughs, use eucalyptus oil to make a chest compress as well as a massage oil. This will help in loosening the phlegm and improve respiration.
• Adding a couple of drops of this medicinal oil on a piece of cloth or handkerchief and inhaling the aroma whenever required can also alleviate the symptoms of cold.
• The powerful germicidal properties of eucalyptus can help in healing insect stings or bites, ulcers, burns, and wounds. Put a few drops on a dressing and apply it on the affected area.
• In order to get rid of dandruff, add about 10 drops of this herbal oil to the shampoo you use, and massage it well into your hair and scalp, and allow it to stay there for about 3-5 minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water.
• For a stimulating and cooling effect on the body and mind, make a blend of eucalyptus oil and other essential oils and apply it on your pulse points.

Using Eucalyptus Oil for Sinusitis

There are three ways by which you can take advantage of the therapeutic properties of eucalyptus oil for treating sinusitis and related symptoms – steam inhalation, dilution and application/direct application.

Steam Inhalation
This is the most popular method that relieves sinus inflammation, clears nasal congestion and soothes respiratory blockages as well. For doing this, you need to fill a small tub or a large bowl to about 3/4th of its capacity with hot water. Next, add some eucalyptus oil, either a few drops or a teaspoonful (depending upon how strong you want the steam to be), to the water. Now, look into the tub of fragrant water and hang a towel from your head such that it covers the front and sides of your face as well as the water containing vessel. This compartment of sorts makes sure that the steam does not escape so that you can inhale as much as you want with your nostrils. Keep your mouth closed and breathe in deep so that the eucalyptus essence-laden steam reaches deep inside the nose and the upper respiratory tract. This method is very effective in providing relief from inflammation of the sinuses and blood vessels inside the nasal cavity, soothing nasal congestion and sinus headache.

Dilution and Application
This method is a more direct way of using eucalyptus oil for sinus headache and facial discomfort caused by inflamed sinuses. You need to add a few drops of eucalyptus oil in some other mild, non irritating oil such as olive or coconut oil. When diluted, it can be applied directly to the aching and swollen regions without risking any kind of skin irritation or rashes. This method is suitable for treating sinusitis in people who have sensitive skin but don’t have enough time to go through the steam inhalation method.

Direct Application
This is the easiest and most common method. All you need to do is apply a few drops of pure, undiluted eucalyptus oil directly on the site of discomfort such as the forehead, temples and cheek areas closest to the nose. You can also apply a very teeny-tiny amount along the edges of the nostrils so that the vapors gradually enter the nose and clear out blockages. Now, this method is suitable only for people who have healthy, unbroken and normal skin that is not susceptible to rashes or other reactions on coming in contact with strong chemicals.

So, these are the three ways in which you can reap the benefits of eucalyptus oil in its purest, most organic form to treat sinusitis. A word of caution though – make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after using eucalyptus oil and before touching your eyes as if it comes in contact with your eyes, eucalyptus oil can make your eyes burn and water for quite sometime. No amount of splashing will work and the discomfort will go away on its own. Also, since eucalyptus oil is highly flammable, keeping it away from flame is very important for safety purposes. Otherwise, when used properly, eucalyptus oil is an excellent and extremely effective remedy for treating inflammations of any kind, be it of the sinuses, muscles or joints.



Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides ), known as American pennyroyal, and Mentha pulegium, known as English or European pennyroyal, are both members of the Lamiaceae or mint family. These two beneficial herbs, though classified in different genera, have similar chemical constituents and medicinal properties. We will be looking at the American Pennyroyal today.

American pennyroyal is also known as mock pennyroyal, mosquito plant, fleabane, tickweed, stinking balm, and hedeoma. This aromatic American native thrives in limestone-rich soil, in fields, and in sunny patches of open woodlands throughout North America. American pennyroyal was used extensively by Native Americans to treat a variety of ailments from headache and stomach distress to itching, watery eyes, and fevers. For external use, the leaves were crushed and applied to the skin to repel mosquitoes and other insects. American pennyroyal came to be called squawmint and squaw balm because of its traditional use by native women to promote menstrual flow. Women in some Native American tribes reportedly drank hot pennyroyal tea regularly as a method of contraception. Pennyroyal was listed as a medicinal drug in official publications from 1831–1931. It was included in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as an abortifacient (an agent that induces abortion) until 1931.

American pennyroyal is an annual mint with small, oval leaves arranged opposite each other on a square stem. Leaves are entire and may be sparsely-toothed or smooth on the margins. The erect stems grow to 1 ft (31 cm) high from a many-branched root system. The tiny blue-violet flowers grow in whorls from the leaf axils on the top half of the stems. The fragrant herb blossoms in midsummer. The entire plant exudes a strong, acrid aroma and has a mint flavor. The scent is offensive to fleas, chiggers, mosquitoes, and other irritating insects.

General use
Pennyroyal has been used traditionally as a stimulating tea to relieve digestive disorders, gall bladder disorders, gout, nausea, and nervous conditions. Pennyroyal leaf, prepared as a hot infusion, will promote perspiration. Some herbalists suggest the additional treatment of a hot footbath while drinking the herbal infusion as a remedy at the onset of colds and flu. Pennyroyal may relieve headache, bring down fever, and quiet coughs. It has also been used to treat bronchitis and sinusitis. As a carminative (gas-reliever), pennyroyal is considered an effective remedy for flatulence, a virtue it shares with other mints. The herbal infusion has also been used traditionally to treat suppressed menstruation.

By far the most controversial and dangerous use of pennyroyal is as an abortifacient. Its emmenagogic properties stimulate uterine contraction and promote menstrual flow. The essential oil has been used for centuries to induce abortion. This use of the essential oil of pennyroyal is extremely risky, and has sometimes been lethal to both the mother and the fetus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported on a 1998 fatal case of pennyroyal overdose in a self-induced abortion. Both pennyroyals contain as much as 85% of the toxic phytochemical pulegone in the essential oil.
Pennyroyal is also considered potentially dangerous because of its hepatotoxicity, or ability to harm the liver. Of four cases of pennyroyal poisoning reported in San Francisco in 1996, one patient died from liver damage. As of late 2001, researchers are studying the pathways of pulegone metabolism in the human body in order to determine the degree of toxicity more precisely.

The best use for this potent herb is an external application as an insect repellent to deter mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, and other pests. It is also soothing as a skin wash to relieve itching and rash. Pet collars, woven from the freshly gathered stems and leaves, will deter fleas, and bunches of the herb, hanging to dry, will also keep pests at bay. Many commercial products contain the oil of pennyroyal in insect-repellent preparations.

The essential oil of pennyroyal and the fresh or dried leaves and stems are medicinally active. Gather fresh leaves in the summer, on a dry and sunny day when the herb is in blossom. Hang bundles of the herb to dry in a light, airy room out of direct sunlight. When the herb is thoroughly dry, strip the leaves from the stems and store in tightly sealed, clearly labeled, dark-glass containers.

Place 2 oz of fresh, or 1 oz of dried, pennyroyal leaves in a warmed glass container. Bring 2.5 cups of fresh, water to a boil and add it to the herbs. Do not boil the tea. Cover and infuse the tea for about 10 minutes. Strain.
The prepared tea will store for about two days in the refrigerator. This infusion may be used externally as a soothing skin wash.

Pregnant women should never ingest pennyroyal, particularly the oil, nor should they apply the oil externally as it may be absorbed through the skin. Pennyroyal essential oil contains as much as 85% of the ketone pulegone, an extremely toxic phytochemical. Overdose of the essential oil has been reported to cause severe liver damage, coma, and death. Quantities as small as 0.5 tsp of the essential oil have caused extremely toxic reactions. The effective abortifacient dosage is dangerously close to the lethal dose. Women have died when attempting to induce abortion by ingesting pennyroyal oil. American pennyroyal contains twice as much of the toxic volatile oil as European pennyroyal.



Cedarwood oil has been in use for a considerable length of time for varied purposes. It is widely used in aromatherapy for its pleasant, woody smell, and sedative properties. Apart from being a sedative, the oil has several important medicinal properties.

Cedar or Cedrus atlantica is an evergreen tree of the genus Cedrus. The wood chips and sawdust of this tree are steam distilled to extract a light yellow to orange-colored viscous oil, with a woody and spicy flavor. Today, a large part of the commercial demand for cedarwood oil is met by the oil extracted from the woods of Juniperus virginiana, which is also known as red cedar. It has been known to mankind since ancient times for its medicinal and insect repelling properties. However, in ancient times, the Lebanon Cedar tree was used for oil extraction.

Health Benefits of Cedarwood Essential Oil

• It has several therapeutic uses such as, for treating infection of the respiratory and urinary tract.
• Ancient Sumerians used it a base for paints and in Tibet, it is still used in the temples, as an incense.
• In modern times, it has found a wide range of applications in human society, due to its insect repelling, antiseptic, sedative, antispasmodic, expectorant and many other important properties.
• The rich and soothing aroma of cedarwood oil has made it an important aromatherapy oil. The oil is known to have sedating and calming effect on the body and mind and hence, extensively used in aromatherapy to help individuals to relax. It can be very effective in conditions like, stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
• As it can regulate sebum production, it can be effectively used for skin conditions like, seborrhea and infection of the epidermal cells.
• It can help relieve cough and congestion due to its expectorant quality.
• It can help in the removal of phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tract and lungs, and thereby, reduce congestion.
• One can also use it to get relief from headache.
• It has antiseptic properties and hence, can be used to heal minor wounds. Due to its antiseptic properties, it is used as an important ingredient in many herbal antiseptic creams.
• Cedar oil is a natural insecticide. This oil can repel mosquitoes, bugs and moths and many other insects.
• Many people also use this oil for hair, especially for dry hair, and to induce hair growth along with other essential oils.
• Even people having the problem of dandruff can also benefit from using it.
• For women, this oil has the added benefit of resolving the problems of irregular menstruation, and some discomforts like, nausea and fatigue that generally accompany menstruation.

Cedar can also be used for several health conditions including arthritis, cystitis, bronchitis, rheumatism, gout, hypertension and obesity. It can improve general health and well-being by improving metabolism, and facilitating the smooth operation of the nervous and digestive system.

Other benefits include, curing acne, toothache, spasms of the muscle, respiratory system and nerves, dermatitis, kidney disorders, etc.

Cedar is one of the most important essential oils for human health. Probably, this is the reason why the oil has been in use for such a long time. However, some individuals can experience skin irritation, especially if it is used in high concentration. In addition to this, women are usually advised to avoid the use of this oil during pregnancy.

Rose Geranium

Rose Geranium

Origin of Geranium oil

The plants originated from South Africa as well as Reunion, Madagascar, Egypt and Morocco and were introduced to European countries such as Italy, Spain and France in the 17th century. There are about 700 different varieties of the plant, yet only 10 supply essential oil in viable quantities, since the normal garden geranium produce far too little oil for extraction.

It is a hairy perennial shrub, often used in hedgerows, and stands up to about one meter high (3 feet) with pointed leaves, serrated at the edges. It has pinkish-white flowers. In early times geraniums were planted around the house to help keep evil sprits at bay.
The leaves and stalks are used for extraction, and the oil is obtained through steam distillation.

Geranium oil is not indicated to cause any side effects, since it is non-toxic, non-irritant and generally non-sensitizing, yet can cause sensitivity in some people. Due to the fact that it balances the hormonal system, it might not be a good idea to use in pregnancy.

Therapeutic properties
• Rose geranium oil has a balancing effect on the nervous system and relieves depression and anxiety, while lifting the spirits and making the world an easier place to live in. It has a balancing effect on the adrenal cortex and is great for relieving stress.
• Its haemostatic nature helps the body systems to balance themselves and since the adrenal cortex is stimulated and balanced, the hormonal system of the body is also corrected and aligned.
• On the lymphatic system it has a greatly stimulating effect and with that helps with detoxifying the body and also affects female health in treating PMS as well as balancing vaginal secretion and heavy periods.
• It has a general diuretic effect on the body and balances the water systems in the body, correcting any poor elimination of water and waste material.
• It is useful for treating jaundice, gall stones and can also be used for restraining nose bleeds and other hemorrhaging.
• On the skin, rose geranium oil helps to balance the secretion of sebum and clears sluggish and oily skins, while the antiseptic and cicatrisant properties make this oil an effective aid to help with burns, wounds, ulcers and other skin problems.

This uplifting oil has a great all-over balancing effect and this extends to the skin – where it helps to create balance between oily and dry skin, keeping the skin supple and clearing congested skin and the emotions – where it helps to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, and to balance the hormone system.

Geranium oil blends well with
Although essential oils blend and mix well aroma-wise with one another, Geranium oil does go very well with other oils such as angelica, basil, bergamot, carrot seed, cedarwood, citronella, clary sage, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, lime, neroli, orange and rosemary.


Rose geranium shortbread
Cream 1 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in 2-1/2 cups flour and 1 large or 2 small dried and crushed rose geranium leaves. Chill. Divide in half. On an ungreased cookie sheet pat each half into 7 or 8 inch circles. Prick each circle several times with a fork. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Rose geranium sugar
To make rose geranium sugar, fill a pint jar about 1/4 full of sugar, and add a layer of rose geranium leaves, gently washed and dried thoroughly, then add more sugar and add another layer of rose geranium leaves, and so on until the jar is full. Put the lid on and let it sit for a couple of weeks. Use the sugar to sweeten tea, add it to fruit salad, use it to make frosting and so on. You will think of lots of ways to use it when you have it!

As a Homesteader, Prepper, Gardener, Herbalist, Hiker and anyone who spends any amount of time outdoors…we all can appreciate a good Insect Repellent that doesn’t contain ingredients we can’t pronounce and that we know are just…not…good…for…us!
This recipe is Essential Oil based, most of these oils you can find at your local health/whole foods store or online. Check your resources section of our first post.

Insect Repellent

Click HERE to print!

The beauty of the above recipe is that Mosquitoes, ticks, creepy crawlies and flying insects hate the smell of herbs such as eucalyptus, pennyroyal and citronella.
BUT,…it’s not very good smelling and you will probably repel more than insects! So with the addition of Rose Geranium our DIY Insect Repellent becomes much more pleasant but still keeps bugs away!!

Recap: Today was the last in our series of Bites, Stings, and Splinters. We took an in-depth look at the Herbs/Essential Oils of Citronella, Eucalyptus, Pennyroyal, Cedar and Rose Geranium. We also made a recipe for Insect Repellent and there are a few other mini-recipes tucked into the body of the text as well!
Looking ahead: Next post we will be moving on to our discussion on “Bleeding”. We will talk about the herbs; Agrimony and Yarrow. Make a Tincture of Yarrow & a Herbal Compress to Stop Bleeding.
Reminder: Have on hand Yarrow, Vodka or Everclear, Distilled Water and a soft Cloth for a compress. I will include a handy quick look chart for compress…BONUS printable!

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Until next post…

Blessings to you and yours,


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