What’s In Your Medicine Cabinet?

This journey into my medicine cabinet began quite by accident several years ago. It was born out of fear. Fear we might not have access to affordable healthcare in the future. Fear a geo-political event or severe weather emergency might leave us without required medical attention. Fear of personal suffering or worse, of watching my family suffer needlessly.

What did people do before the age of specialization? Nowadays everyone defaults to the “trained professionals” and “experts”, but for thousands of years prior people actually succeeded in taking care of themselves. Surely we modern humans have not out-smarted ourselves to such a degree we cannot take back that responsibility and become empowered.

I can't tell you what you need in your own medicine cabinet. Everyone has different health needs and profiles, meaning you must identify your own particular list tailored to fit your individual needs and wants. But perhaps by sharing what little I have learned over the past three years I can pass along a few tidbits of wisdom and nudge your thought process in this direction.

Many ordinary plants are a natural source of medicine. Our bodies recognize this and can actually utilize the resources of a plant in concert with our own physiological systems to boost our ability to heal and stay healthy. The theory behind natural medicine involves looking at our entire body’s interconnected systems as one would view an orchestra rather than targeting an affected organ, body part, or just the string or brass section. After all, it really doesn’t matter if those pills killed your headache every few days over the years if they destroyed your liver in the process. So here is what is in my medicine cabinet.

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Our yard and neighboring fields are covered in what most would call 'weeds', many of which are medicinal. I have picked Yarrow leaves and blossoms from many of these fields, dried them separately and vacuum sealed them in canning jars. Yarrow can be made into a paste or poultice with baking soda and water to staunch bleeding in an emergency or taken as a bitter tea (I add honey) for many purposes, including fighting infection.

I grow and dry lavender to keep on hand for tea used to treat stress, insomnia and to aid in gastro issues. And there is no stronger remedy for upset stomach and the full gambit of gastrointestinal distresses than peppermint leaves. It literally grows like a weed around here. In fact Cog keeps mowing my little garden patch thinking it is a 'weed'. I even grow a variety called chocolate peppermint. I pick off fresh leaves if they are more accessible than dry ones, put them in a tea mesh ball and cover with very hot water for 5-10 minutes. Nearly all of these dried herbs can be prepared into tea this way.

The basic 'delivery' herb I use for the family tea when I want to add anything additional to it is dandelion root. Anyone can find a patch of dandelions, dig up the roots, cut them into pieces and then let them dry. It has a bland but pleasant taste and has very strong properties to detoxify your body of unwanted substances. We actually buy ours organic for about $17 per pound.

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Salves (think of Vick’s Vapor Rub, Chapstick, lip balms) are easy to make. I started with this wonderful basic instruction and began to experiment and modify in order to make a base out of coconut oil, jojoba oil and beeswax. I experimented with different amounts of each to make some salves really stiff and waxy and others a bit more goopy and easy to spread. To the base of these three ingredients I add some liquid Vitamin E and whatever essential oils accomplish the medicinal goal I am presently focused on. I have one with lavender and thyme for itches, bug bites and bee stings. Another big helper is lemon and eucalyptus for chest or head colds. I have come up with some creative concoctions and would be glad to share any of my recipes upon request.

One salve I have bought repeatedly is an organic comfrey salve for a recurring sports injury of a tendon our teen has suffered from. Comfrey is a well known and dependable liniment that is commonly used on horses, and regardless of your species of mammal it greatly accelerates the healing of internal tissue damage.

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Aside from the organic beeswax for salves, I also use a number of other bee products. At the first sign of sniffles in our home, whether from cold or allergies, a scoop of fresh raw honey in a hot cup of tea is a must. There have been many mainstream studies on the powerful antibiotic and anti-viral properties of these wonderful bee substances. I buy organic bee propolis for us to take as supplement, which can be especially important during the winter months when immune systems are taxed by less exercise and sunshine.

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Having some extra tools such as these small medicinal funnels, a mortar and pestle to manually crush herbs, a simple suture kit are just practical to have on hand. There are also various amber or blue bottles you can buy in bulk to use when mixing your own essential oils with a base carrier oil such as Jojoba. They store better for a longer effective shelf life when protected from light in these darker tinted glass vials. I have also found sticks with wicks inside and a cover used to apply undiluted oils to carry my most used scents. A few whiffs of frankincense not only opens my mind, but it dries up my sinuses within a few minutes.

As a reminder, essential oils are not the extract of the medicinal property of the plant but something much stronger. These oils are the essence of the plant obtained through the process of distilling many pounds of the organic plant resulting in a small amount of a pure and potent liquid substance. Just a drop or three of a particular oil can be an enormous healing aid when used the correct way.

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It is important to vet the quality of these oils and how they were processed to ensure therapeutic grade quality. But once you become acquainted and comfortable with them they can open up a whole new world for you. Except for a few emergency and fall back items to stock in our house, almost every product formerly bought in the drugstore I now make from organic and natural substances at home. I read the ingredients on the labels of items we no longer purchase and I am amazed at the things we were putting in or on our bodies unnecessarily.

There are only two supplements I still purchase, aside from bee products, in the form of a pill which we take regularly. Turmeric C3 (Curcumin and black pepper), which my family just won’t eat in their foods, is simply magical. The second is Vitamin D3 for when the sun don’t shine, so to speak. I have written about these supplements here on TIF and I provided many links on other pages for both of these resources.

Also in my homemade bag of remedies are many ways to combat headaches, even chronic ones. There is so much good information on this topic that I will present it in a separate upcoming article.

In addition our medicine cabinet contains homemade re-mineralizing toothpaste, organic oils for daily oil pulling and bentonite clay for swishing, drinking and applying to various skin conditions. These are all used for natural prevention and maintenance which can both eliminate unwanted exposure to toxins and help restore healthy pH balance necessary for good oral health.

Not included here is an extensive list of practical and emergency first aid supplies which has overflowed into a third decent sized storage bin. In short, a well prepared home should be able to become it's own Emergency Room. From ace bandage wraps and slings for sprains, splints for breaks and supplies for basic wound stitching, all these supplies are just common sense when you live far from hospitals and trauma facilities or if you are concerned they won't always be available. Being on the front line when the bleeding needs to be staved or circumstances prevent timely treatment by a medical expert can make all the difference. So for my piece of mind it is well worth the financial cost and time spent to properly prepare and try to be ready. The bottom left hand column of Mrs. Cog's Links contains a list of medical websites which will help you better prepare for unexpected needs.

Good information is the most valuable part of self-reliance in my opinion. Knowing what to do or which books to open in order to become knowledgeable about any topic or issue and having them on hand before situations arise has empowered me to travel far beyond where I originally intended to go. Without automatically ruling out modern medicine, I look to all sources before making decisions. The Merck Manual is what doctors need to know inside out before passing their final exams. For diagnostic purposes it is an excellent reference. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic ancient healing cultures have timeless remedies that are still used successfully today. Herbal and alternative health models offer yet more information.

The more I know, the more I find I don’t know. But I know much more than I did. My fears about these issues are gone. There isn’t really a greater gift to yourself or your loved ones than empowering yourself to stay healthy and overcome whatever life may dish up.

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6 thoughts on “What’s In Your Medicine Cabinet?”

    1. Ha HA! Why am I having this strange redolent wave flow over me. What can it be…hmmm. Oh my, get out of your dreamy musings miffed, this occurred this morning!

      Here’s your Comfrey infusion my darling.

      Well, I was hoping for coffee.

      If I give you the coffee first, the infusion will sit unpartaken. Better medicine before pleasure.

      He glowers briefly but sips as I leave. I return with a large mug.

      The coffee! See, I have finished the tea.

      Oh no my love. I am so sorry but this is your bone broth. It has been simmering for 3 days with turmeric, powdered colostrum from New Zealand cows, fresh Reishi mushrooms locally grown. Black pepper and sun flower lecithin. The bones were from cattle raised locally so they will impart all the energies of our environment. Damn, if only the nettles were growing! Can you imagine what I could have extracted from them?

      The gaze was deeply penetrating in its horror and it did intensify when he peered into the cup and saw the iridescent, deep brown thick swirling mass. He grasped the mug wincing with trepidation. The grimace was subtle but momentary.

      Um… That is quite interesting.

      Do you like it?

      I will try to for your sake.


        1. We wives do mirror the same thoughts. However we know in our hearts our husbands love us dearly. They see our intentions are based on love, solace and nurturing though the medicine is sometimes unpleasant.

          Tonight I sip my own bone broth when I sit in his office to explain why I am already over budget by $100 this month. Unfortunately there is no substance I can taste to assuage the bitterness of Truth. Therefore, *sigh*, I will drink my drink neat with no mixer and plead for mercy.


  1. Tripped over the link: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/
    I “roll my own” supplements when I can find bulk supplies and the added information is quite helpful.
    At the age of 66 I still don’t take any prescribed medications and my physicals are clean.
    It’s gotta be the mindfulness of health that causes health…

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