The Apothecary

Disclaimer: The following information is supplied for interest only and is not intended as a medical guide. Any individual who chooses to use them does so of his or her free will, and I will not be held responsible for the effects of these remedies on anyone who uses them. If you are sick, please visit a medical practitioner. What works for me may not work for you.

A note about Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia or M. leucodendron): This is a superb healing and antiseptic oil which can be used undiluted on the skin. It's fantastic for acne — just dab on the spots when you think of it. I've seen it do marvelous things with athlete's foot, flaky skin rashes, and boils. We also use it as an antiseptic wash for cuts and sores, diluted with water (a few drops oil in a tablespoon of water). It can also be used in water as a disinfectant wash for bathroom surfaces.

Colds and Flu

As soon as I feel the slightest sniffle or hint of a sore throat, I take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, 800 milligrams of echinacea, and two Blackmores horseradish and garlic tablets, and I take them three times a day until the sniffles are gone. I cook lots of pasta dishes with tomatoes, onions and garlic, and I drink lots of orange juice and herbal tea. I also like to take a hot bath with a handful of herbs tied in a calico bag and soaked in the water (eucalyptus leaves, rosemary, pennyroyal is one of my favorites). Sipping pineapple juice throughout the day will ease a sore throat, and makes a pleasant change from orange juice.

Keeping this up for a day or two usually means my cold never gets past its initial stage. I haven't had a bad cold since I've started using this cold-chasing technique. Stress can aggravate sickness, though. If you have a cold, please stay home from work if at all possible, so that you do not spread your cold to other people and cause them to lose work time too.

Herbal teas for colds: Yarrow, rosemary, pennyroyal (but not during pregnancy!) or peppermint.

Bath for Colds: Two drops thyme oil, two drops tea-tree oil, four drops lemon oil, one drop eucalyptus oil. Swish round in the bath water before getting in. Don't use if you're nauseous or running a high fever.

Ginger Tea: Use one tablespoon fresh grated ginger root per cup of water. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes and sip throughout the day.


Equal parts of marjoram and lavender oils, used in an oil diffuser or rubbed gently into the temples, often cure my tension headaches.

Headache Teas: Chamomile, sage, rosemary, peppermint, wormwood; any of these made into a tea and drunk will ease a headache.

Jeanne Rose's Headache Inhaler: In a small vial (preferably of dark or opaque glass) mix ten drops lavender oil, ten drops peppermint oil, ten drops marjoram oil, ten drops rose oil, five drops clove oil. Carry with you and inhale to cure a headache.

Sore Throat

Sore Throat: Sip pineapple juice during the day; it soothes the sore tissues without giving the gluggy coated feeling your throat gets during bad head colds.

Sore Throat Tea: Equal parts of sage and rosemary, with a spoonful of honey. Pennyroyal tea with honey is also good, but do not take during pregnancy.

Tired Eyes

Tired Eyes: Cover the eyes with any of the following and lie down in a darkened room. Be sure to keep the eyes closed! Cold tea bags, raw potato slices, raw cucumber slices.


Drink peppermint tea, or an infusion of half peppermint and half rosemary. An infusion of equal parts peppermint, chamomile and lemon balm is also useful. Make a tea of anise, caraway and peppermint.

Feet: Care and Problems

Athlete's Foot: Apply diluted tea-tree oil (half oil, half water) several times a day. Apply cider vinegar directly to the area. Soak feet in a warm infusion of red clover.

Tired Feet: Soak in a warm foot-bath with any of the following added:

  1. Two tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
  2. One tablespoon each of bicarbonate of soda, and sea salt. Add four drops rosemary oil.
  3. One drop each lavender, rosemary and cypress oil.


Apply neat tea tree oil, or undiluted lemon juice.

Bread Poultice to Draw a Boil: Put breadcrumbs in a calico bag, or between two layers of gauze. Dip into boiling water and wring out. Apply to the boil and cover to keep hot. Have a second poultice ready to apply when the first one cools.

Cooked, hot mashed onion can also be used as a boil poultice.

Cuts and Scrapes

Yarrow is good to stop a bleeding cut incurred by shaving; just bruise a fresh leaf and press it to the spot for a few minutes.

Wound Wash: In ½ cup water mix five drops each lavender and tea tree oil. Dip cotton wool in the mixture and swab the area until clean of dirt and other impurities.


Use catnip, chamomile or valerian root tea.

Sleep pillows can be effective; use a small pillow a few inches square, stuffed with the appropriate herbs and slipped inside the pillowslip on top of your regular pillow. Failing that, a few drops of essential oil on a cotton wool ball or scrap of cotton can be placed inside the pillowslip. Neroli, chamomile, marjoram, lavender or rose are my suggestions.

Jeanne Rose's Herbal Sleep Pillow to Rekindle Energies During the Night: Eight parts rose petals, four parts mint, four parts rosemary, one part crushed clove.

My Small but Strong Sleep Pillow: Approximately equal quantities of rose petals, chamomile, mint and rose geranium. Add a few drops of neroli essential oil (and I like a drop of clary sage too). This one's quite strong and floral.

Interesting Dreams Pillow: Stuff your pillow with mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)! It produces truly spectacular technicolor dreams. I like to add a drop or two of clary sage oil to help me get to sleep, and because it has the quality of being able to open the third eye. It also produces euphoria, but don't overdo it because in large quantities it can cause headaches.

Insect Bites

For mosquitoes, etc, apply a dab of undiluted lavender oil or tea tree oil to the bite. If there are many bites, take a bath containing half a cup of cider vinegar, ten drops lavender oil, five drops thyme oil. Apply lavender or tea tree oil to all bites after the bath. You can also dab on witch hazel, or a potion of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in water.

Herbal Bath to Soothe Insect Bites: Some or all of rosemary, orange peel, chamomile, alfalfa, comfrey, eucalyptus, mint, lemon balm, parsley.


Prevention is much better than cure! Wear an SPF 15-plus sunscreen every day of the year.

Sunburn Soother Lotion: Chop an unpeeled cucumber into milk and simmer. Cool and apply to the affected area.

Sunburn Lotion: Squeeze a washed, chopped, unpeeled cucumber through cloth to extract the juice.

Mix equal parts of cucumber juice, milk, strong tea and witch hazel and apply to the affected area.

Cold chamomile tea, watermelon juice, slices of cucumber laid on the area, or cold black tea will soothe sunburn.

Herb Baths

Directions for all herb baths: Soak about ½ cup of herbs in water overnight.

The next day, simmer for about ten minutes and strain the liquid into the bath water or place about ½ cup of herbs into a drawstring bag made of fairly loosely woven material (cheesecloth is ideal), or place in the center of a circle of material, and secure tightly. Tie the bag on the tap so that hot water from the tap flows through it.

For Insomnia: Equal quantities lemon balm, chamomile, catnip, hops.
To Relieve Eczema: Equal quantities comfrey, lemon grass, nettle, dandelion, peppermint.
For Bruises, Swellings and Sprains: Thyme, marigold (calendula), comfrey.
Aching Muscles And Joints: Chamomile, comfrey root, sage, nutmeg or thyme, nettles, rue, chamomile, dill, mugwort, comfrey.
Rejuvenating Bath: Comfrey, alfalfa, parsley, orange peel.
To Heal Sores: Comfrey, nettle, red clover, rosehip, lemon grass.
Another Healing Bath: Yarrow, rosemary, chamomile, comfrey.
Antiseptic Bath: Peppermint, rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus.
After a Aorkout: Bay leaf, rosemary, hyssop, lavender.
Itchy Skin Bath: Lavender, orange peel, thyme, mint, sage, rosemary, comfrey root, cloves, rose leaf.


Drink heaps of water before going to bed, and drink more every time you wake up during the night.

I found this remedy on Usenet somewhere, but as I haven't had a hangover for a while I can't vouch for its efficacy: Rub both armpits with lemons.

Essential Oil Blend for Hangovers: Two drops Geranium, two drops Peppermint or two drops Sandalwood, two drops Juniper, two drops Grapefruit. Both these blends are designed to reduce nausea, refresh and uplift.

Aches and Pains

Add half a cupful of bicarbonate of soda to your bath to soothe aching muscles and joints.

Aching Bodies Massage Oil: Add to 100 milliliters carrier oil (grape seed, macadamia, almond or olive) 20 drops lavender oil, ten drops rosemary oil, ten drops eucalyptus oil, five drops peppermint oil. Shake well to mix and leave several days to blend.

Simple Massage Oil: Take a handful of chamomile flowers and add to 100 milliliters carrier oil. Leave the oil in a warm place for two weeks, and use as a massage for sore, aching bodies. You can also make this oil by adding 40 drops essential oil of chamomile to 100 milliliters carrier oil. The scent will also ensure you a good night's sleep.

Aching Back Massage Oil: Mix one part lavender oil with four parts carrier oil and use to massage the aching back.

Herbal Bath for Aching Joints: Use a large handful each of chamomile, eucalyptus, sage and comfrey root. Simmer for 15 minutes in a liter of water, strain and add the liquid to a warm bath.

Soak yourself for half an hour.

Essential Oil Blends

I use one of those little oil burners (you know, the things with a cup containing water and essential oils heated gently over a candle), and here are some of my favorite blends for creating different moods and effects. Please use only true essential oils, they smell so much better and have true therapeutic effects. Also, the fakes usually smell awful and leave nasty lingering scents in your burner.

Mind and Air Freshener: Two drops Rosemary, two drops Cedarwood, two drops Lemon. Creates a nice fresh scent that gets rid of odors and is quite masculine.

Another Mind Refresher: Two drops Rosemary, two drops Juniper, one drop Lemon. Like deep breaths of fresh air.

Cheer-up Oil: Two drops Geranium, three drops Bergamot. This is a flowery, cheering blend to balance the emotions. If you don't mind using expensive oils you can add two drops Rose.

Headache Remover: Three drops Lavender, three drops Marjoram.

Sleep Oil: One drop Lavender, one drop Marjoram, one drop Sandalwood, two drops Clary Sage. A lot of people find this scent mildly unpleasant, so you could add something like neroli or chamomile to sweeten it. I like it, but then I really like clary sage oil.

Expensive Sleep Oil: Two drops Chamomile, two drops Rose, one drop Marjoram.

Romantic Blend: Two drops Grapefruit, two drops Rose Geranium, two drops Patchouli, one drop Lavender. This is a very musky, heavy floral blend.

Antibacterial Blend: Equal amounts Lemon and Tea Tree. I use this in an oil burner and also add some to water for an air spray. It smells fresh and pleasant as well as fighting nasties in the air, and has good room deodorizing qualities as well.

General Instructions

Infusion: This is made like a tea. Cover 30 grams of dried herb, or 60 grams fresh, with 500 milliliters of boiling water. Cover and leave to steep.

Decoction: Instead of leaving the herb to steep, simmer it gently in the water.

Please see your health care practitioner before making any changes to your method of health care.

The Bookshelf: Bibliography

Jeanne Rose, Herbs and Things. This was actually the first book on herbs I read, when my mother borrowed it from the library. It has lots of recipes for sleep pillows, aphrodisiacs, cosmetics and herbal remedies for everything under the sun. Lingering elements of the sixties, with small sections for spells and magick, psychedelic sacraments, and the language of flowers. A fascinating read.

John Lust, The Herb Book. An encyclopedic listing of herbs with descriptions, remedies, and information on dyeing, cooking, brewing, etc, with herbs. Rather American-biased but a must-see nonetheless. Maude Grieve, A Modern Herbal. This one's rather England-biased, full of snotty comments about the inferior quality of herbs and oils produced elsewhere, but absolutely packed with information. It includes information on the properties of fruits, tea and coffee, and some vegetables.

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