Herbs and Oils – Apothecary at Home
Over the past few years, I’ve come to recognize the importance and value in creating my own care products. Some things, like soap, I’ve tried and found that I don’t have the patience for, so I buy handmade soaps from reputable artisans, but other things I’ve dabbled in to try it out and found that I prefer making them myself.
Of late, herbal supplements have come under fire for not actually containing the herb that the label says, which can cause effects ranging from ‘nothing’ to ‘severe allergic reaction’, depending on what the supplement capsule actually contained and the user’s health history is. Some of the fillers used were rice flour and soy-based. If you were on a gluten-free or ketogenic diet, that could be enough to affect the user.
Of particular interest to me was that saw palmetto berry was one of the supplements they tested. I have PCOS, and have been taking a bi-phasic herbal blend to help regulate my symptoms, and SPB is one of the ingredients. I’ve been creating my own, because there isn’t a version of this particular blend available commercially, and I like to tweak things to my own use rather than use a recipe I find somewhere else, but I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to ‘think’ that something is helping, or worse – rule it out as helpful because you were really taking a capsule full of fillers.
This has further application as well. For Pagans on a shoestring budget, buying commercially packaged encapsulated herbs might be an easy way to access more expensive and/or uncommon herbs in small, inexpensive amounts for spellcrafting. While not the best quality, sometimes that might be the best option available. But if you’re counting on those herbal energies to aid your spellcraft, what’s the effect of using an entirely different set of energies (based on the fillers or actual product in the capsule)?
For my own purposes, both for personal/healing use and for spellcrafting, I’ve found it less expensive and a way to ensure the quality of the herbs I use, to slowly build up my apothecary cabinet with herbs and oils. I usually buy herbs in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs, essential oils and carrier oils our local health food store or from a company like Young Living, Eden’s Garden or DoTerra, and sometimes even from the grocery store (for tea-tree and avocado oils). I like Wyndmere’s blends (Clearer Skin is awesome!!), and have tried other brands as well. It’s definitely expensive, but when you plan out your purchases over a length of time, you can build a quality apothecary cabinet that you can depend on.
At this point, I’ve built my supplies to the point where I feel the need for cohesive storage, and have started buying containers (when they’re on sale, making them $1 each) and making labels for my herb jars. I’ve recently discovered the KonMari method of simplification, and have been taking strides to make her stance of ‘have nothing in your life that doesn’t bring you joy‘ my own. My herbs and oils, which are essential to my daily practice and family’s health, bring me joy because I know their value, and I want them to be more easily accessed and beautiful. I just created new labels:
I found a couple of old spice racks at Goodwill, and use that to store my oils in (and on – they’re creeping out of the spaces as my collection grows). Eventually, I will get around to re-painting them, but for now, they’re plain wood-grain and lovely in their simplicity.
My goal in writing this post is two-fold. One, if you’re a new Pagan, a new-to-herbcraft Pagan, or a Pagan who is under financial constraints, to let you know that ‘slow and steady’ is the way to go. It takes time, but eventually, you get to the point where you have the tools you want at your disposal. It’s absolutely worth the time and effort (and delay) that it takes to build your cabinet to ensure that the quality of the products you’re using is as good as you can make it. Secondly, to encourage those of you who haven’t taken the leap into herbcrafting for health use to give it a try. Start with something simple and easy, like tinctures (which only require herbs and alcohol or vinegar), or something honey-based, like elderberry syrup or ‘throat coat’ (made with honey, lemon and ginger – just add slices of lemon and ginger to a honey jar and let sit. Add a tablespoon to hot tea. Re-fill with honey when it gets low; add new lemon and ginger occasionally). Once you get some of those basics under your belt to build confidence, you can branch out into creating your own supplements. It feels good to take charge of your health, and to know exactly what you’re putting into your body.