Simple Steps to Using Medicinal Herbs

If you’ve never tried medicinal herbs before, now is a good time to make them part of your health and wellness plan. With colds and flu and new threats like COVID-19, we are all fighting to stay as healthy as possible. If you think using medicinal herbs sounds complicated, it’s not. It can be as simple as drinking a cup of yummy herb tea. 

In the short video below, I outline a few of the herbs I’m using right now. Use this as a springboard to try with your own family. Just as a reminder, I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. Consult your health care practitioner with any specific questions regarding the use of herbs and medications you may be taking or health conditions you may have. This is for educational purposes only.

Medicinal Herbs

Below are the medicinal herbs I mention in the video. I’ve included just a few of the actions each herb is known for – there are more beyond what I list. Feel free to research them for more in-depth information. And please note, I am using the herb — NOT the essential oil.

  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Thyme is an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, a respiratory antimicrobial, and a relaxant. It can be prepared as a steam, infused in water as a tea or infused in vinegar for topical use, or used as a tincture. You’re probably most familiar with it as a cooking spice. Concerns: Thyme is very warming and may be too much for young children. Try sage or fennel instead internally and try pine for steams.
  • Mullein (Verbascum thapsus, V. densiflorum). Mullein is a antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal (removes excess mucus), moistening expectorant, respiratory relaxant, and nervous sedative. It’s excellent for coughs. Mullein can be prepared as a tea, tincture, or applied topically. Concerns: Mullein leaves have tiny hairs. If you are using the leaves fresh, be sure to strain the tea well. 
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale). Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and relaxant. It can be made into a tea, tincture, added to food, and even candied. It can also be used topically in a remedy to help with aches and pains. Concerns: Ginger has a blood-thinning effect, so consult your doctor if you take blood-thinner medication. Also, ginger may increase the menstrual flow of those with already heavy cycles.
  • Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, (Ocimum sanctum, tenuiflorum) is an adaptogen, an antimicrobial, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), nervine, and immunomodulator. It can be used as a tea, a tincture, and infused into honey. Concerns: Tulsi can have a significant blood-sugar lowering effect, so if you take medications for high blood sugar, monitor your glucose levels regularly.
  • Elder (both berries and flowers) Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis. Elder is an antimicrobial, antiviral, an immune stimulant, an antitussive (reduces the urge to cough), a respiratory antispasmodic, and a relaxant. It can be prepared as a tea, tincture, elixir, syrup, and honey infusion. Artisans also use elderflowers to make flavored liqueurs. Concerns. Don’t eat the berries raw. Cook them first. Large amounts have a laxative effect. 

Bulk Herb Resources

I purchase many of my bulk herbs at the Good Earth store in Broad Ripple, Indiana. If you don’t have a local source, try purchasing bulk online. I’ve used both of these businesses and can vouch for the quality of their products.

Note: Keep in mind that during the pandemic, herb businesses have been inundated with orders, so at times a company may stop taking orders until they can get caught up.

Thyme, a Powerful Herb

As I noted in the video, thyme is a perfect herb to use in a steam for respiratory issues. Its antimicrobial action is in its essential oil, which is released in the steam.

To give a bit of background on how a steam works, it helps to understand the following information. When a person inhales, the molecules are absorbed into two different parts of your nasal cavity: the olfactory part and the respiratory part. According to Jade Shutes in Foundation of Aromatherapy, “As the aromatic air-born molecules travel up through the nasal cavity, some molecules are absorbed by the olfactory epithelium [that go into the brain and limbic system], while the remainder are inhaled via the respiratory tract into the lungs.”

Effective Against Pathogens

What happens next with a thyme steam is pretty amazing. In the book Herbal Medicine for Beginners, Katja Swift and Ryn Midura state that “Breathed deeply into the lungs, thyme steam kills respiratory pathogens on contact, warms and moistens the lungs, and loosens phlegm.”

If you’d like to explore this more, here’s a link to the study Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review. It’s published in the journal Evidenced Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The article lists some of the specific pathogens that thyme kills. It’s fascinating that this tasty herb is so powerful! The article also lists several other herbs and the pathogens that they are effective against too. To find that information quickly, just scroll down the article until you see the chart.

How To Do a Thyme Steam

Now that you understand how a thyme steam can be beneficial, let’s look at how to do one.

  • Boil from 1/2 to 1 gallon of water in a large pot. Remove from heat.
  • Set the pot on a heat-proof surface.
  • Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dried thyme leaves (the same thyme as you cook with) to the pot.
  • Create a tent with a towel and sit under the tent with your face about 12 inches above the pot. Deeply inhale the steam for 5 to 10 minutes or so.
  • Be careful not to spill; carefully monitor children if they are nearby. If using with children, pine needles (Pinus strobes) may be a gentler choice for them.

How To Make an Herbal Tea

All of the herbs discussed here can be infused (even the ginger root) in just-off-the boil water. You can use these herbs individually or mix and match them together for a blend.

  • Boil about 8 ounces of water.
  • Add from 1 tsp. to 1/2 tbs. of dried herb, depending on how strong you like your tea. If using fresh ginger, cut about one inch of the root into thin slices. Cover the top (so the constituents don’t evaporate with the steam) and steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Strain and drink.

Thermal Carafe

Interested in making a larger batch of tea in the morning? Here’s an affiliate link to the thermal carafe that you see in the video. I use this almost everyday to make about one quart of tea that I drink throughout the morning and early afternoon. Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of dried herbs for 1 quart of tea.


Tinctures, or herbal extracts as they are also called, are another simple way to enjoy the healing benefits of herbs. They are stronger than a tea and can be used simply by adding a dropperful to a few ounces of water and drinking. It’s a several week process to make tinctures at home, but they are widely available online and in local health food stores.

Favorite Medicinal Herbs

I pray you’re staying healthy during these challenging days. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to care for yourself and family. Perhaps you have a favorite herb you’ve been using lately to try and boost your immune system or as an anti-stress remedy. Feel free to leave a comment or question below.

Thanks for stopping by!

email signature

Discover 5 New Ways to Celebrate a Natural Christmas


The older I get, the more I appreciate the simple things in life.

Celebrating Christmas often puts us into a frenzy as we try to create the perfect holiday for ourselves, our family, and friends. In this post, I’ve curated some natural holiday ideas that I love because of their focus on nature and simplicity and/or the true meaning of Christmas. Try one or try them all, but I pray that you will have the time to experience the love and blessings of God this Christmas season.

A Natural Christmas

  1. 5 Ways to Make Your  Home Smell Good for the Holidays. This amazing post from the Herbal Academy is full of wonderful ideas. Many of them would make a fun activity to do with children. I can’t wait to try #5, the Holiday Spice Potpourri. The spices in this blend are some of my favorites, and besides that, it’s a visual treat for the eyes too.
  2. Old-Fashioned Popcorn Balls from Mother Earth Living. Remember the popcorn balls we used to make and eat as children? Here’s a recipe to enjoy. Even though they purposed this for Halloween, I always associate popcorn balls as a special treat of Christmas.
  3. 55 Last Minute Herbal DIY Gifts.This post by Joybilee Farm has an incredible assortment of herbal gift ideas that you can make. Inspiration is just oozing here. From beverages and food to oils, candles, and beauty products, your biggest challenge will be deciding what to make.
  4. The Twelve Herbs of Christmas. I like this post because it lists 12 different herbs historically associated with Christmas and explains their meaning in the Christmas story. For example, did you know that tradition has it that Joseph cut branches from a thyme bush to make bedding for Mary and baby Jesus? Also along those lines is a post of mine on Essential Oils in the Bible and how to use them today. It includes a recipe for creating a frankincense and myrrh skin blend, which would make a lovely gift for someone or to keep for yourself.
  5. Natural Nativity. Finally, I’ve included my natural, rustic nativities. Each fall, I make these miniature nativity scenes from tree bark from Hickory & Oak Sawmill and Lumber Company (my brother-in-law’s sawmill) and from beeswax. I sell them at Christmas in my Etsy shop if you would like to add one to your home.

What is a favorite way you celebrate a natural Christmas? I’d love to hear about a tradition you have or a new idea you want to try this year.

Merry Christmas!

Herbal Infused Water

It’s September and as I look at my aromatherapy garden, I can see the season changing before my eyes.

My chamomile and cosmos are spent and withered. But the zinnia are going strong and the asters are just getting started. Many of my herbs are still happily blooming, ready and waiting to be plucked and enjoyed. One of my favorite ways to use them is as a healthy water flavoring. 

Healthy Water Flavoring

Early autumn is still a perfect time to enjoy the infused water I’m going to share with you today. It couldn’t be simpler; it tastes wonderful and is so much better for you than soda. This recipe and its variation are also easily adapted. I’ll give you my favorite infused water recipe that I made this year, but, really, you can use whatever herbs you have on hand.

Herbal-Infused Water

Enjoy refreshing water infused with fresh herbs and/or fruit.

  • 2 leaves Rose-lemon Scented Geranium
  • 2 leaves Old-fashioned Rose Scented Geranium
  • 5 leaves Lemon Balm
  • 3 leaves Peppermint
  • 3 leaves Pineapple Sage
  • 1 quart Water
  1. Pick all the fresh herbs and rinse off.

  2. Put herbs in a pitcher and fill with water. Gently prod the herbs with a wooden spoon to release the oils of the herbs.

  3.  Cool in refrigerator or add ice and drink immediately. 

  4. Variation: Add slices of cucumber, orange, lemon, and/or lime. I found that each day the lime was in the pitcher, its flavor became stronger and overpowered the mix. If you use lime, you may want to remove it after the first day.

If stored in the refrigerator, this recipe will keep for about 3 or 4 days. I keep adding water to the pitcher. After four days, discard the herbs and fruit and start over again.


You can see the water in the top left corner

Over the summer, I made a big batch of herb and fruit-infused water that I took with me to a craft fair. The temperature was 96 degrees that day, and I gave the water to everyone who stopped by my booth. It was a hit, and it kept me hydrated during the seven hours I worked.

Enjoy your herbal water, and if you make it, leave me a comment and let me know which herbs and fruit combination you used. You may also want to check out my posts on herbal infused sun tea or my video with personal trainer Sarah Lewis and her Lavender-Vanilla Chai tea recipe.

Botanically Me,

Caffeine Free Chai Tea

Do you love chai tea but the caffeine doesn’t love you?

I can’t do caffeine, so I was excited when my friend and personal trainer Sarah Lewis told me about her recipe for Lavender-Vanilla Chai tea. She then whipped up a cup for me, and oh, my, the taste was heavenly!

I know there are other tea enthusiasts out there who would love the caffeine free version of chai, so Sarah happily agreed to do this video tutorial with me. You can watch below, but keep reading for the recipe.


Customize Chai Tea

One of the fun things about chai is that you can customize the recipe to your taste. The book that I mention in the video is Healing Herbal Teas: Learn to Blend 101 Specially Formulated Teas for Stress Management, Common Ailments, Seasonal Health, and Immune Support by Sarah Farr (note: the link is an affiliate link for Amazon.)  I have this book and in it she has nine different chai recipes!

Sarah uses lavender as her base, and it makes a very fragrant, lovely tea. Lavender is a relaxing herb, so drinking a cup of this lavender chai is a wonderful way help your stress melt away. In addition, the spices that make up chai have so many wonderful  health benefits. They are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, warming, and carminative.

Note: Sarah likes her tea very spicy, so adjust the amount of spices to your own taste. Also, she likes to bring the milk mixture to a boil, but other chai recipes call for simply warming the milk mixture so that you don’t scald it. I would recommend trying that first because then you can probably avoid the “film or casing”  we mention in the video.

Lavender-Vanilla Chai Tea

Try this fragrant, dessert-like caffeine-free chai tea.

  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3/4 inch of fresh ginger root
  • 8 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinch black pepper grated
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract per cup)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup whole milk (or your choice milk)
  • half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers (add up to 2 tbsp)
  1. Pour the filtered water in a stainless steel or ceramic pan and add the first seven ingredients. Put on the lid.  Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain this chai mixture concentrate and set aside. Add the vanilla bean (which you have mushed in a mortar and pestle enough to release the vanilla flavor) to the concentrate and infuse for 2-5 minutes. Strain this out.

  2. Add the milk and lavender flowers to another saucepan, put the lid on, and warm without boiling. Turn off heat and strain the flowers out. 

  3. Fill your cup about 2/3 to 3/4 full with the chai mixture. Add the lavender milk mixture. If using vanilla extract, add that now. 

  4. Top with Half and Half if desired. Sweeten with honey or other sweeter if desired to taste. Enjoy!

  5. The concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

You can reach Sarah Lewis via her Facebook page if you would like to schedule a personal training session in the Indianapolis area. She is also available for Skype personal training sessions if you are long distance.

Let us know if you try the recipe and any of your favorite chai “modifications.”

Botanically me,

Herbal Workshops for Indoor Herbs

Wouldn’t you love to be able to enjoy the healing plants of summer in winter too?

I know I would! There’s nothing better than fresh herbs. That’s why I’ve created a workshop to help us enjoy indoor herbs for wintertime use.

Schedule Workshop Now

During the Herb & Tea Workshop, you’ll make a cutting from your choice of herbs from my aromatherapy garden to take home with you. You can select from the following herbs: scented geranium, lemon verbena, lemon balm, peppermint,  lavender, or Rosemary.

Once the plant has taken root, you can transplant it in a small pot to watch it grow through the winter and then harvest from your own mini indoor herb garden. I’ll be sure to send home directions so you know exactly what to do.

Here’s what the hour-long herb workshop includes:

  • Taking a cutting from an established herb plant from my garden (includes the pot and soil).
  • Teaching time on how to care for your herb, along with some of the benefits of the type of herb you choose.
  • Printed directions on how to care for your herb.
  • A cup of herb tea. You get to choose the base of your tea (red rooibos, green rooibos, green tea) plus additional herbs, many of which are fresh from my garden: chamomile, sage, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and thyme, depending on what is available. Besides the fresh tea, you’ll enjoy the lovely aromatherapy experience as you pick the fresh herbs from the garden.

I offer the herb workshop in Westfield, Indiana, and the cost is $30 per person. Schedule the herb workshop now or call 317-513-4270 with questions. When scheduling, be sure to give me your contact information.

Botanically me,









How To Make Baby Salve

Ever the game players, my daughter and son-in-law asked us to play a word game just shortly after arriving to our house for Thanksgiving. “Hmm. They’re getting a little overanxious with this game thing,” I remember thinking.

Five minutes later we were trying to puzzle out a maze of words when my husband started yelling, “Is it true? Is it true?”

With my mind on Thanksgiving details, I was only half with it. I looked closer at the words. “Andrew. August. Amber. Baby. Expecting.

I jumped up and down for the next five minutes as it sank in that we were going to be grandparents!

Best Diaper Cream for Babies

With that joyful news, I started pondering what botanical product I wanted to make for the baby shower. I’m all about chemical-free and natural, so I thought a salve that could double as a diaper rash cream would be perfect.

As I worked on the formulation, I realized that for a newborn, simple is best. Over the last few years, information has changed a bit regarding essential oil usage on newborns. The current information that I learned in my certification studies is that it’s best to wait until a baby is about six months of age before starting to use highly diluted essential oils topically. Please keep in mind that this applies even more so for premature babies because they have high skin permeability. (And please remember, it’s never a good idea to have a baby ingest essential oils, either.)

Now the caveat to my previously mentioned “nevers” is if your child is under the care of a doctor, naturopath, or clinical aromatherapist, and they advise otherwise.

However, in this case, I left out all essential oils from the recipe so that I—or you—wouldn’t be worried about using the baby salve on any age baby.

With that in mind, let’s look at the recipe. It’s really pretty simple.

Baby's First Salve

A natural, chemical-free salve recipe that doubles as a diaper cream.

  • 70 grams extra virgin olive oil (58%) ((EVOO is perfect for medicinal products))
  • 36 grams calendula oil (30%)
  • 14 grams beeswax (12%)
  • steel tin or glass container

Makes aout 4 ounces of salve.


      1. Weigh and measure out all your ingredients. 

      2. Begin melting the beeswax in a double boiler.

      3. When partially melted, add the calendula oil and olive oil.

      4. As you add the oils, the beeswax may harden again a bit, so continue to stir until everything has liquefied. I find that using a baby fork to stir works very well and it’s easy to clean.

      5. Remove from heat, carefully wipe down the pot you are pouring from so that no moisture drips into your containers and pour immediately into sterilized containers.

      6. Let set until it has hardened, about an hour or two depending upon the size of containers you are using.

      7. As it hardens the salve will change from clear to opaque.

      8. Be sure to label your product, including the ingredients.

      About the Ingredients

      Olive oil is a wonderful oil to use when making medicinal type products. It has a low risk of oxidative degradation. It contains vitamins E, K, squalene, and carotenoids. It’s an antioxidant that is helpful wound healing, dry skin, and for eczema,  just to name a few things.

      Calendula oil is an herbal oil you make through infusion, and it’s a powerhouse oil for the skin. I love growing my own calendula, drying it, and using it to infuse olive oil. It’s wonderful for wound healing and tissue repair, inflamed skin conditions, cracked skin, cracked nipples due to breast feeding (nontoxic to baby), burns, insect bites, and damaged tissues and ulcers.

      Beeswax is an emulsifier and a thickener, which makes it so beneficial in natural cosmetics. It helps seal in moisture to your skin. It is also healing for your skin. A powerful trio of ingredients used together in many recipes are beeswax, honey, and olive oil. It’s interesting to note that beeswax is being studied for its antimicrobial properties.

       How To Use Baby’s First Salve

      There are several ways to use this salve.

      •  Apply it when changing baby’s diaper to protect the skin and help heal it.
      •  Nursing mothers can use this salve on sore/cracked nipples. It is not harmful to babies.
      • Irritated patches of skin. My grandson has been teething and was constantly drooling, which caused a rash on his chin. My daughter applied some of the salve to this area.

      For sanitary purposes, I would recommend reserving a separate container of the salve for using with diaper changes and a separate container for other uses.

      Baby’s First Salve is a simple, easy way to safely care for and nurture your little blessing. And best of all, since you made it, you have complete control over every ingredient. If you decide you don’t want to make your own, you can purchase Baby’s First Salve from my line of botanical products.

      Use in good health!

      Botanically me,