Friday, 3 August 2012

Herbs Around the Home - Part 2

My previous post discussing the benefits of using herbs around the home was all about Lavender. Its antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-fungal, antiseptic and anti-viral properties definitely make it superior for use in the home to most other herbs. However, some or all of these properties are present in other common herbs so I thought I'd share some more ideas for using them around the home.

Herbs for First Aid

"The art of healing comes from nature and not from the physician" Paracelsus 1493-1541

Herbal medicine has been practised for thousands of years by all civilisations. Today, a much greater understanding of how the remedies work has been achieved by research and the science of phytochemistry, the study of chemicals in plants. Below, I've suggested a few ways that herbs can be used in the home for minor complaints.

Remember that allergic reactions may occur when using essential oils or herbal preparations so it is very sensible to take medical advice from a qualified aromatherapist or doctor before using them and please don't use if pregnant or breast feeding.

  • apply a touch of lavender or peppermint oil neat on the temples or on the nape of the neck.
  • drink chamomile, peppermint or lemon balm tea.

Minor Burns
  • cool the burn under running cold water then apply neat lavender oil or mix it with the aloe vera gel
  • aloe vera gel - keep a plant on your window sill, cut a leaf and apply the gel straight away.
  • calendula cream - my favourite, it's amazing, I've used it for years now. I keep a tube handy in the kitchen and as soon as I catch my hand on a hot dish or iron I apply it and keep rubbing it in until the pain goes, I'm rarely left with a mark.

Insect Bites
  • apply a drop or two of neat or diluted lavender oil or lavender oil mixed with well diluted peppermint oil as needed.
  • apply tea tree oil as needed.
  • apply a small amount of calendula cream as needed.
  • witch hazel applied directly.


Aloe Vera Plant

  • aloe vera gel applied directly.
  • chamomile tea applied directly.
  • a few drops of lavender oil added to some cool water and sprayed directly on the burn or applied with a compress.
  • witch hazel applied directly.

Muscle Sprains and Strains
  • arnica cream applied directly to the area (not to be taken internally).
  • blend some comfrey leaves and make a poultice from them (not to be taken internally).
  • 5 drops of lavender oil in a teaspoon of oil rubbed into the area or use it neat.

  • arnica cream applied directly.
  • witch hazel applied directly.
  • calendula cream rubbed into the area.

  • drink chamomile, dill, lemon balm or peppermint tea.

Cuts and Scrapes
  • witch hazel applied directly.
  • diluted tea tree oil on a cotton wool pad to cleanse and disinfect a cut.
  • cleanse the area then apply undiluted lavender oil.
  • aloe vera gel applied to the cleansed wound. 

Sore Throat
  • Place two sage leaves in a cup of hot water, leave to infuse for ten minutes, then gargle with the tea.
  • Place one tablespoon of fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves in a cup of hot water, leave for ten minutes then either drink the tea with a teaspoon of honey or gargle with it.

Herbs as Fresheners

Bring the freshness of your garden into the house by using herbal air fresheners. Not only are they much safer to use than chemical air fresheners, their sweet fragrance is soothing and natural.
  • add a few drops of lavender, peppermint or rosemary oil to the water in the bowl at the top of an oil burner and light the candle below.
  • use dried chamomile flowers or dried lavender, rosemary, lemon thyme and peppermint leaves in pot pourri mixtures.
  • place sachets of dried fragrant herbs inside cushions and in drawers.
  • make the room spray mentioned in my lavender post
  • add freshly cut herbs to flower arrangements
  • deodorise footwear by mixing a few drops of antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, rosemary, peppermint or tea tree with some bicarbonate of soda. Cut the feet off an old pair of tights or use a pair of socks, then scoop the mixture inside, tie and leave inside the shoes overnight.

Cleaning, Disinfecting & Other Uses of Herbs

Rosemary's antiseptic and antiviral properties make it an ideal choice around the home. One of the ingredients in the well known antiseptic, Oil of the Four Thieves, Rosemary has been used for centuries as an antiseptic. Some ideas you may find useful include :

  • Rosemary Disinfectant - simmer a handful of leaves and stems in some water for about half an hour, strain and decant into a spray bottle
  • Disinfect hairbrushes and combs - soak in a solution of 250ml hot water, 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda and 5 drops of rosemary essential oil.
  • Use this method as a way to prevent your cats from clawing at the carpets and furniture - I haven't tried it yet but I will report back when I do!

Peppermint is also a great choice for use in the home, not only is it a natural pest and insect repellent, it smells wonderful.

  • Peppermint and Lemon Glass Cleaner - mix the juice of a lemon with 500ml of sparkling water and add half a teaspoon of peppermint essential oil and one teaspoon of cornflour, pour into a spray bottle and wash away!
  • Adding as few drops of peppermint oil to your floor cleaner will help prevent bugs from entering the room.
  • dab some peppermint essential oil on to cotton wool balls and place them in areas where mice can enter the home.
  • Mix peppermint oil in distilled water and use as a general cleaning spray.

Chamomile is both anti-fungal and antibacterial and believe or not, all you have to do is brew a cup of chamomile tea and you can use the liquid to :

  • wipe down the kitchen sink and workbenches
  • wipe out cupboards and spray on shower areas to deter mildew
  • spray on plants and vegetables to deter fungal diseases

Basil is another natural disinfectant and a useful fly deterrent :

  • Plant it in pots near to your outside doors to prevent flies entering the home
  • Place a basil plant on the table when you're eating outside.
  • combine basil essential oil with other antiseptic essential oils in cleaning sprays

And on a last note - have you ever seen weevils in your kitchen cupboard? Sounds gross doesn't it? But years ago I found them in packets of pasta in my kitchen cupboard in a flat that we were renting, YUK! Apparently if you add bay leaves to your packets of pasta, flour and rice they can help to deter these nasty bugs!

Let me remind you again that allergic reactions may occur when using essential oils or herbal preparations so it is sensible to take medical advice from a qualified aromatherapist or doctor before using them and please don't use if pregnant or breast feeding.