Building an apothecary
I have spent some time now studying herbalism through Cornell University. It has been amazing and interesting for those that love to use nature to heal. Living out here it is rather imperative to keep an apothecary of healing herbs. Because we live a little distance from a hospital it can take time to get there. It is also extremely expensive to seek medical care. Add to that the more we use modern western medicine the less it works for us. It is losing it’s effect from over use. For me too there are other factors such as PTSD in medical situations. I am not advocating not getting medical care. I am advocating, when one can, one might wish to treat themselves herbally instead first give it a chance if it isn’t helping then go to the doctor. I am advocating get vaccinated and not just for covid. I am also advocating for avoiding medical care when possible. It isn’t always possible. For example not taking an antibiotic for strep throat leads to heart problems later. But if you have a cold or you are coughing up a lung first try something like eastern white pine, give it a chance and then if it is of no use, and you are really suffering go get the help you need. You will be surprised how well herbs work for so many different things.
I am not one of those anti science types. Homesteading stands on a chair of four legs. Leg one is called nature and or climate. Second leg is called science, third leg is called hard work, and 4th leg is education in survival and a whole host of other matters that make it possible to live this way including some working grasp of agricultural science, environmentalism, biology of both humans and other living things, chemistry, physics, etc… That is what you need to live well as a homesteader. So I really don’t understand the anti vaccer crowd. I understand making a concerted effort to be natural in all that one does. I certainly try very very hard. I can see the value in things like raw milk. But this idea that vaccinations are bad, I will never understand that…
There are two things I look at when I evaluate things, one of them being has it stood the test of time? The other being the science. If something stands the test of time though not always usually there is a science based reason why it works so well that it has been used for long stretches of our human existence. Herbs are like this. Then there is the science. A great example would be herbs that contain terpenoids, quite often are great antimicrobials for example. There are all sorts of science studies of the phytochemicals indicating this. But science is new. For a long time in human history we had no idea why these things worked. Just that they did. So if it stands the test of time and or science this is what I look for. Which is why I am for vaccines and cool with raw milk from healthy cows, and find it silly that it is hard to get around here. Humans have been drinking milk for how long? And for most of that time they drank it raw. And yes, on occasion when the cow wasn’t healthy there were issues. And I would hope anyone drinking raw milk keeps good track of the cow’s health. But if that cow care is in place then where is the harm? I can’t find any and can in fact find a host of benefits. So, there is this thing called being reasonable and having common sense. There is a time and a place for everything, from a vaccine to a raw glass of milk, and even for an antibiotic. Making the effort to be natural is commendable, destroying your health for it, or enduring untold suffering, well, that is just silly and highly unproductive.
I keep an apothecary cabinet. Periodically I shop for herbs online or I get them from the garden if I grow them myself. Some things I forage for in the woods. For example, we have several eastern white pine trees, great for coughs. Jewel Weed is plentiful around this yard for poison ivy. Raspberry leaf can be ripped off raspberry bushes that grow wild near the forest. And so much more. I am always adding new knowledge about herbs and new herbs to my little cabinet apothecary. Then when I need it, it’s all there. I have earned this right though. Earned it by learning how to use these substances and how to obtain them and use them safely. I encourage everyone to learn to use them safely because not all herbs are in fact safe. For example, foxglove, is just digitalis. Highly highly poisinous. And only true hard core experts with science lab measuring equiptment should be using it. Which is why I don’t, I am good but not that good and I do not have measures that perfect. It is a beautiful flower used all over the place in yards and as ground cover and garden decoratives. But it can seriously kill people. I have to say I am shocked that it is cannabis the herb that is on everyone’s poop list rather than foxglove, hensbane, or something like aconite…. But no dead is fine with Nancy Raegan, slightly mind altered for a few hours now that one is the crime. Priorities priorities…. Some folks in this world need to check theirs.
Herbal supplements and treatments are not regulated by the FDA. It is important that you either get them from sources you know and trust, or stick to products that come with third party certification or quite honestly you could be putting anything into your body including hensbane or even foxglove for all you can know. One thing is for sure, the current system leaves the current consumer open to all kinds of health risks. Which is troubling. So always look for that third party certification that it is at least what it claims to be on the bottle. If it claims third party certifaction but does not have the seal of a third party lab this is not something I would buy for my apothecary. I would be concerned about the validity of the claim. Which may or may not be valid. How can we know without the third party lab’s logo indicating they have in fact tested it.
I also use herbs for my skin care and for other things around the house. Some plants have been used as animal feed. For example clover and goats. They go great together because the estrogen in the clover, can confuse their bodies into thinking they are pregnant even if they are not. That is free milk right there folks! No breeding involved. No worries about the occasional kidding issues that can arise. Pigs grow quite large on the bark of eastern white pine, which has also been used by the native populations in this region in bread and in numerous other ways including as wood for canoes and paddles. It is even being studied presently as a possible medicine for covid. Please note it is being studied. It isn’t a covid cure. In fact many plants have been used as the basis for drugs we all know and rely on. Just ask the nearest opiod addict. He should be able to tell you all about his love of the poppy flower that makes up the base of his drug of choice. Also utilized by the medical profession to treat coughs, and pain. So plants studied and utilized as a base for a treatment for medical conditions is nothing new. Take the variety of yew tree that is the basis for cancer treatment…. The list goes on and on. At this time there is no cure for covid. There is no fully protective or curative plant treatment. Only plants being studied to eventually perhaps fit that purpose later down the line once all the science is in. It is also important to keep in mind, a few other things when talking about these things. Which is these phytochemicals can and do interact with medicines and with each other sometimes very negatively. They can also have side effects. Not much is known of the interactions for eastern white pine. But, it seems to impact platelets and it may not go well with anticoagulants. it may also go badly with many other things. Information simply is not available. Which is why it is always imperative to discuss these matters with your doctor BEFORE taking a supplement or herb or plant for medical purposes.
So how can we possibly have a base for a medicine for covid and we really don’t know for sure weather it is safe? Well, that is a fun question. One ethnobotanists botanical pharmacists would answer by telling you that every day, we destroy this planet we kill plants that could help us and our rate of destruction far exceeds our rate of study. Who knows what magical plant substances are out there? Maybe a cure for altzheimers? Perhaps we already bulldozed it in the Amazon? This is another reason I am such an advocate for everyone doing the work for changing how we are living. The destruction we are doing is going to effect us on so many levels. Diseases will run rampant and we will not necessarily have the tools to fix it because of all that we have already destroyed. Then what? I really don’t know. I suppose then it was nice knowing you. I loved my natural life and I am so sorry none of us will survive. So much is being destroyed. And our children will pay by suffering in ways we can’t imagine of diseases we can’t imagine and we will have no tools to help them. I hope I am dead before we reach that day because I don’t want to see it. We call this destruction progress. And quite frankly I don’t understand our word choice any more than I understand Nancy Reagan’s just say no priorities….
Cannabis has many great healing properties. But there are also many other great herbs for a whole host of issues. For example, cat’s claw to support cancer sufferers going through chemo, garlic, mint, turmeric is a god sent for a bad back. Mix it with valerian and a little cannabis and wowz. I live in a state where that is legal. If you don’t follow the law. Even if it is a stupid law. And it is a stupid law. Menopause? Have you met black cohosh? What about red clover? Motherwort? Plants are a gift and it is such a shame we don’t use them far more than we do. And on a homestead, they are highly useful as they save us time and money quite often. And when they aren’t as effective as we need them to be, that is what medical treatment is for. Time and place for everything.
One of my favorite uses for herbs is skin care. If you are going to go that route, if you use essential oils make sure when you buy them that you are purchasing food grade because you will find so many other uses for that stuff. And safety first has to always be the goal.
I have been having a blast gradually building my little apothecary.
Adding to it with each course through Cornell that I take.
I am very proud of this knowledge I have worked hard to acquire.
Make sure to always check with your doctor before treating yourself herbally.
Thank you for reading.
Amanda of Wildflower Farm