From the June 2005 Idaho Observer:

What everyone should have in their home apothecary

by Ingri Cassel

Recently a friend asked me what he should do for the "flu" – elevated temperature, malaise, fatigue, and all the symptoms that go along with experiencing the "flu" going around. This friend has called me every time he is experiencing what he would consider a health emergency. My frustration has always been that he invariably does not have any of the specific tools at his disposal that we have in our home apothecary at all times. As a result, I promised him that I would give him a basic package of herbs and supplements along with instructions for their use.

There are very few people who live so abstemiously and have such a positive outlook on life that they are in a constant state of perfect health. Most of us live somewhere between chronic ill health and continually working on improving our overall health and well-being. Rather than repeat all the information that has been in the Back to Basics column for the past six years, we will simply cover the common acute illnesses and minor emergencies such as wound care and poisonous spider bites. We would also like to hear from you if you have a sure remedy for something we haven’t mentioned.

The Common Cold and Flu

There are many "remedies" that speed recovery from the common cold. The following summary is what Don and I have found to be most effective.

*Stop eating – especially proteins and starches. A pH test of your saliva will likely show that you are overly acid. You will need to detoxify your system with plenty of liquids. If you must, eat only raw fruits and vegetables such as apples, lemons, carrots and celery.

*Clean your bowels – It is also a good idea to make sure your bowels are able to move freely for quick elimination of toxins. Perfect 7 intestinal cleanser (or other "bulking" agents with psyllium in it), an herbal laxative and/or an enema can do wonders for purging your body of the toxins the cold "germs" are thriving on.

*Boost vitamin C intake to 10 grams per day– Best to take ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate in powdered form and mix one gram in juice or herb tea. Drink this mixture every hour, or 10 times throughout the day.

*Oregano oil – Mix 10 to 1 with olive oil in an amber "dropper" bottle. Placing a half dropper full under the tongue followed by herbal tea or vitamin C-fortified juice every hour does wonders.

*Yarrow, red raspberry leaves, taheebo, chaparral leaves and echinacea – All beneficial teas for alkalinizing and boosting the immune system to rid the body of excess toxins. I gather yarrow flowers and leaves every summer and drink the tea usually mixed with taheebo at the first sign of an "imbalance." Though not very tasty, this tea is a must for influenza and/or chemical poisoning.

*"Plague formula" – this formula originally came from Dr. John R. Christopher and has been used successfully when other natural remedies do not seem to work as rapidly as desired. Dr. Schultze has a formula that includes equal parts of ginger root, garlic cloves, horseradish, onion and serrano peppers – juiced and mixed with raw, organic apple cider vinegar. This is good to have on hand and will usually stop a cold from manifesting if used at the first signs of a sore throat.

*Cayenne apple juice – Apple juice, cayenne pepper and ginger root powder – 8 oz. of apple juice warmed on the stove with 1 tsp. of 30,000 H.U. cayenne and 1 tsp. of ginger root powder. Drink this mixture 3-4 times per day when experiencing a cold or flu.

*Red Raspberry Leaf tea – an infusion should be made when vomiting is an issue and nothing can be held on the stomach. Drink only this tea mixed with nothing else until you are able to hold this infusion down without vomiting.

*Cayenne Lemonade – this extremely alkalinizing and liver cleansing drink is made by taking an empty quart jar, juicing two fresh lemons, adding a teaspoon of cayenne and adding Grade B maple syrup to taste and filling the rest of the quart jar with purified water. This drink is usually used in conjunction with fasting. The recommendation is to drink four quarts daily for a minimum of three days.

*Sweat baths – Sit in a bathtub as it is filling up with hot water, as hot as you can take it. Add one tablespoon ground ginger root, one tablespoon cayenne and one tablespoon ground mustard seed. While in the bath, drink a full 8 oz. cup of yarrow tea. Stay in the bath until you are sweating profusely and feel somewhat dizzy. Dry off as quickly as possible and go immediately to bed. It must be remembered that fevers are therapeutic and only dangerous if one is dehydrated. Our bodies will absorb much water through the skin. Fluoridated and chlorinated water should be avoided for therapeutic baths.


*Lavender essential oil – works even faster than aloe vera gel in minimizing the severity of a burn from a fire or stove. We keep a bottle on hand in the kitchen and by the wood stove.

*Hydration – For sunburn, it is best to hydrate the skin as much as possible with Aqualin, a gel made from plain water, and aloe vera gel. I have not been able to locate Aqualin "water gel" and am nearly out of this amazing product so if you know of a source, call The Idaho Observer. Never use chemical sunscreens. Simply minimize exposure during the hottest portion of the day (usually 10 AM to 2 PM). Avoid applying oil-based lotions directly to severe sunburns.

For severe burns (2nd and 3rd degree), a paste made with comfrey root, wheat germ oil and raw honey should be applied liberally.

Cuts and wounds

If the wound is bleeding profusely, immediately apply cayenne pepper to the cut. This will stop the bleeding while acting as an antiseptic. If the wound is deep, follow with powdered comfrey root. It is important to drink a quart of carrot juice daily and take plenty of vitamin C, liquid minerals and calcium when trying to heal a severe wound.

*Counter pressure – Many wounds are caused by a hand being slammed in a door jam or something heavy falling on a person’s foot. In this case it is good to know about "counter pressure." Pressing firm and steady with the tips of your fingers on the affected area until it stops throbbing will keep the wound from bruising and swelling intensely.

Bee Stings, Spider bites and Mosquitoes

If your bloodstream is clean and your liver is functioning properly, the following advice works well. On the other hand, if you are allergic to bees and wasps, you need to do a colon cleanse followed by a liver/gall bladder flush.

The homeopathic remedy, apis mellifica, is good to have on hand and works wonders for alleviating the reaction to bee and wasp stings. Bentonite clay is my remedy of choice for bee stings and spider bites. Clay will draw out the venomous poison from the bite. It is also good to take a blood purifier such as chaparral, burdock root, taheebo, echinacea or yarrow. Taking herbs in tea form or as a tincture is much more effective than taking capsules or tablets. Extra vitamin C will aid the body in detoxifying from bug bites. If the bite is from a scorpion or a black widow, apply a constricting band 2 to 4 inches above the bite to keep the venom from spreading to the rest of the body. Apply ice to the bite while preparing a clay paste. Apply the clay paste and then ice on top of the clay and seek medical help.

To repel mosquitos, avoid refined sugars and refined carbohydrates. Supplementing with a good vitamin B-complex and additional B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (Pyridoxine) has worked wonders for many people who used to find mosquitoes drawn to them. Others have found that eating lots of raw garlic has the same effect. A good mosquito repellent is Buzz Away which contains primarily essential oils of citronella and eucalyptus. I have also made my own insect repellent by adding citronella oil to unscented lotion.

Essential oils of lavender, lemongrass or oregano are also good to apply directly to mosquito bites to minimize swelling and itching.


For chronic indigestion and heartburn, avoid coffee and all caffeinated beverages. Drink plenty of purified water in between meals. Thirty minutes before eating a meal, make a beverage of one tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar and half a teaspoon of raw honey in a glass of warm water. Swish each mouthful of this beverage thoroughly with saliva before swallowing. When eating, chew each mouthful thoroughly. As Dr. John R. Christopher says, chew your liquids and drink your solids – meaning that everything we put in our mouth should be thoroughly mixed with saliva before swallowing. A pint and a half of saliva is available for digesting each meal and it is the saliva that stimulates our body’s production of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid.

For an upset stomach due to poor food combining or over eating, several drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water works well. We keep on hand a product still available in many pharmacies called spirits of peppermint since it mixes with water better than the essential oil and works almost instantaneously. Don Harkins prefers Dr. Schultze’s "Digestive Tonic" which contains ginger, fennel and peppermint.

Nose bleeds

If you ever encounter someone who is prone to sudden nose bleeds, tell them to buy a box of plain Knox gelatin. The next time they have a nose bleed, empty a packet of Knox gelatin into a glass of water and have them drink it down. If it continues to bleed, use a second packet in a glass of water. Then tell the person to supplement their diet with vitamin C, bioflavinoids and a liquid mineral supplement.

Leg Cramps/Menstrual Cramps

Most "cramping" and spasms are due to a deficiency in calcium and magnesium. We have found that most people are deficient in the full spectrum of minerals but calcium is the number one mineral needed for all body functions. When it is lacking in the diet, our body’s will take it out of our bones for nervous system and brain function, leading to osteoporosis. Excessive animal protein actually has a negative impact on calcium assimilation, as does a lack of exercise.

*Eat more fruits and vegetables and buy a juice extractor. Drink up to a quart daily of vegetable juice from carrots, celery and beets.

*Take a quality calcium/magnesium supplement and liquid minerals. Avoid supplements in tablets or capsules.

*Heavy and painful monthly periods are often due to a toxic liver and congested bowel.

*Hormone imbalances are becoming more and more common and can contribute to menstrual problems. Several herbs such as dong quai, red raspberry leaf, blessed thistle, and black cohosh have helped women with irregular cycles and with menopause.

*Parasites are also a contributor to heavy and painful periods. I have found that the Croft Zapper is the simplest and most effective tool yet for relief of pain as well as "zapping" parasites dead.

Immobilizing back pain and muscle spasms

When someone’s back just goes out, it is usually due to stress. For a quick recovery, take lots of extra assimilable calcium and magnesium while getting a good deep tissue massage. Our favorite deep penetrating oil for massaging deep into the area of pain is Dr. Schultze’s Deep Tissue Oil. Begin doing several yoga exercises that gently stretch the lower back and other areas of your body needing stretching. Avoid dehydrating beverages such as coffee, sodas and alcohol and drink a minimum of eight glasses of clean water daily.

NOTE: This is meant to be a summary of the most common emergency type ailments we encounter. We are hoping to hear from our readers to fill in the gaps, especially since I did not mention what to do for removing a deeply embedded splinter, or what to do for a sprained ankle or headache.

It is important to be discerning and seek professional help if the situation is of a serious nature and your confidence level in natural remedies is low.

Postscript: Though knowledge of healing herbs may be largely forgotten, it has been our experience that every region of the country still has at least one person who knows which medicinal plants are in the area, where they grow and how to prepare them for use. These people are generally very loving, compassionate and overjoyed to share their knowledge. They can usually be found through inquiries at your local health food store.

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