Lemongrass 1Because of our temperate climate here in the Southeast we are fortunate to be able to garden almost year round.  One plant that grows extremely well in the South is Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates).  This hardy perennial grass thrives on neglect yet adds beauty and contrast to any garden.

Known mostly as a culinary herb in Asian cooking, Lemongrass is also a wonderful addition to any medicinal herb garden.  If you have ever had the opportunity to smell Lemongrass you will have noticed that it is quite aromatic.  Aromatic herbs get their scent from their high content of volatile oils.  Lemongrass essential oil is derived from the plant by distillation and is used extensively in Aromatherapy.

Aromatic herbs like Lemongrass are warming and dispersive which means they spread out through the system, warming things up and getting things moving.  Because aromatic herbs get things moving they are considered stimulating.  If you think about an area that has been bound up and where very little is moving (stagnation) you can imagine that area will feel tense.  A good example would be in the first stages of a cold when the body is tense.  However, once the tension is dispelled or dispersed the area once again feels relaxed.  Therefore, aromatic herbs are also considered to be relaxing.

When one is suffering with accumulated gas aromatic herbs like Lemongrass help dispel the gas and relax the area; this action which occurs is referred to as Carminative.  Aromatic herbs also help to reduce spasms or are “antispasmodic”.

Aromatic herbs are both antiseptic and antimicrobial (inhibits the growth of organisms such as bacteria and viruses).  Because aromatics contain volatile oils which irritate tissues the body wants to flush them out to prevent further irritation.  This flushing of oils occurs through urination or exhalation making aromatic herbs like Lemongrass extremely beneficial for conditions associated with the respiratory or urinary systems.  Aromatics also tend to draw energy upward and outward which would also explain their affinity for the respiratory system.

Some of the many medicinal benefits of Lemongrass include:

  • Antimicrobial (kills or inhibits microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites)
  • Mildly diuretic
  • Promotes the digestion of fats
  • Effective insect repellent
  • Antioxidant
  • Contains various vitamins and minerals to include Vitamin A and C, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium
  • Urinary and Respiratory conditions

Spicy Lemongrass Cold and Flu Tea:


16 oz water

1 tbsp dried (2 tbsp fresh) Lemongrass

3 thin slices of fresh ginger

6 cloves

3 pepper corns

6 Cardamom seeds

1 tsp fennel

Honey (optional)

Place the herbs into cool water and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer the herbs with the lid on for approximately 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.  Strain off herbs. Experiment with other herbs and spices such as mint, basil and allspice for variations. Add a smidge of honey, sit back and enjoy.

Note:  If you find this tea a bit drying you can add moistening herbs such as Licorice or Marshmallow Root.


  • May be dried and used later in tea preparations
  • Refrigerated fresh in a sealed container for up to 3 weeks
  • Fresh stalks may be frozen for up to 6 months and then thawed when ready to use

Cooking:   Lemongrass combines well with peaches, pears and other fruits, ginger, chillies, cucumber, cinnamon, other aromatic herbs and coconut milk.

For those of you in the Southeast perhaps consider growing yourself some Lemongrass.  Although we don’t hear or see much on the medicinal benefits of Lemongrass, it is certainly a wonderful addition to your medicine cabinet and herb garden.

© Natalie Vickery 2012

Medicinecabinet1I must admit that prior to beginning my journey as an herbalist my medicine cabinet was loaded with over the counter and prescription drugs. I did have some herbs, but wasn’t quite sure how and when to use most of them. Over the years I have managed to “weed” out the synthetic drugs and replace them with herbs and remedies that work with the body and have few if any side effects.

As a mother I was and am very concerned about the risks associated with most of the over the counter drugs used for kids. Barring a broken bone or conditions requiring a trip to the emergency room I have a remedy for just about any acute situation that may arise.

When you are first starting to make the transition from synthetics to herbs it never hurts to make a plan. I find that the best way to do this is by making a list of acute illnesses which occur frequently within your household such as colds, ear infections, sore throats, etc. It also never hurts to anticipate injuries from accidents or trauma. For example, here a just a few of the conditions that I have treated within my family:

– Bug bites and stings
– Dog or animal bites
– Puncture wounds
– Headaches
– Sinus infections
– Colds and Flu
– Rashes
– Bumps, bruises, sprains and strains
– Fungal infections
– Constipation
– Urinary and Respiratory tract infections


Initially, it can be a bit expensive to restock your medicine cabinet. However, there are quite a number of remedies that you can make at home that will save you some money. If you are just starting out and you are interested in making your own herbal remedies at home you can check out my book, “Herbal Preparations and Applications”. This book covers just about everything you need to know to make your own herbal remedies, how to use them and includes a number of recipes you can try at home.


The herbs and spices found in your kitchen are wonderful allies and can be used for numerous acute conditions. Most of these kitchen herbs are antiseptic as well as antimicrobial meaning they have an effect on bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. Some examples include Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Rosemary, Garlic and Onions. Some examples for using cooking spices in lieu of over the counter drugs include:

GINGER ROOT can be used to quell nausea:

– Add a thumb size piece of ginger root to one quart of water and bring to a boil. Simmer with lid on at low heat for 30 minutes. Let the mixture cool. Strain and drink ½ – 1 cup as desired. You may sweeten this with honey.

PARSLEY can be used as a poultice to help ease the pain of insect bites and stings.

– Simply crush, chop or chew up the leaves and apply them to the affected area.

An herbal infusion made with FENNEL can be used for gas, bloating or intestinal spasms.

– Place 3 tbsp of fennel in a pot and cover it with 3 cups of water.
– Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat.
– Simmer the mixture until it is reduced by ¼ to ½ .
– Strain out the seeds.
– Drink a 1-3 cups as needed

There are also other items in your kitchen that can be used for acute conditions to include Baking soda, Apple cider vinegar, Honey, Lemons and Salt.


As a parent I know all too well how helpless we can feel when our kids get sick. Having knowledge is power and enables us to calmly and rationally deal with these acute illnesses when they do arise. In order to help you feel more comfortable in dealing with these conditions I have put together a number of articles in this upcoming series which will include various conditions we might encounter and natural ways of treating them at home. Hopefully this information will allow you to eventually “Weed” out those over the counter drugs and replace them with safe and effective remedies that you can make at home.


Before we talk about gathering your supplies let me introduce you to Hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is a traditional technique which uses water applications to help restore vitality and remedy pain. Most traditional cultures use some form of hydrotherapy when treating disease.

Cold and/or warm water can be applied in such a way as to stimulate or sedate, reduce inflammation, ease pain and expedite healing. The only thing required to use hydrotherapy at home is water which most of us have available to us. Some of the ways that you can use Hydrotherapy at home include:
Bruises – Run a cloth under cold tap water, wring it out and apply it to the bruised area. Apply a dry towel or wool scarf over the wet cloth. Allow the cloths to stay in place until they become warm and then repeat the procedure several times per day.

Cuts and Scrapes – Allow the area to bleed briefly which will flush out and cleanse the wound. The area should then be run under cold water for approximately two minutes and then apply a compress. Once the compress is in place follow the same procedures as with bruising.

Burns – To help remove the heat and pain associated with a mild burn run the area under cold water for approximately ten minutes. Apply a compress as mentioned above, but do not allow it to dry out. If the compress does dry out do not try to remove it but instead soak the area in cold water.

Bleeding – Apply a cold compress as close to the area or organ as possible to stop bleeding. According to herbalist James Green a cold compress may be applied to the upper portion of the back to stop a nose bleed or relieve nasal congestion.

Strep/Sore throat, swollen lymph nodes or Cough – Apply a cold compress around the neck. Make sure that the compress does not lie directly on the back of the neck but closer to the hair line. Wrap the compress in a wool cloth or scarf and leave in place until it is warm or dry. Repeat this procedure several times a day.

Nervousness, Agitation and Depression – Soak in a neutral or warm bath (96 – 98 deg F) for approximately 30 – 60 minutes

If you are interested in learning more about Hydrotherapy check out my book entitled, “Hydrotherapy: Reference Guide to Using Water Therapy”. This book discusses all the various applications and includes over 55 remedies you can use at home.


In my next article we will begin to gather up our supplies and learn several more techniques for dealing with acute conditions. If you just can’t stand to wait for the next article to come out you can find all of this information and more HERE or subscribe to my blog or newsletter to get a copy hot off of the press.

LavenderWhen I first started learning about herbs I was fascinated that you could take chamomile to help you sleep, fennel for an upset stomach or apply various herbs to help heal cuts and scrapes.  Herbal remedies seemed to really excel when it came to dealing with acute conditions.  However, when it came to dealing with chronic conditions these remedies were falling short.

I began asking myself what I was doing wrong;  Was I not using the correct herb?  Was I not giving enough of the herb?  Why was it that these herbs that I had used so often with acute conditions where no longer working when it came to dealing with chronic conditions?

Like thousands of other folks trying to use herbs I would pick up an herb book, look for the condition I was dealing with and see what herbs were used for that condition.  The key to using herbs successfully with chronic conditions is much more complex than you may think.  Contrary to what you read on “meme’s” or information written in mainstream media, herbs are not a “one size fits all”.  In other words, what works for one person may not work for another.  Just like each of us are very unique, so are herbs; herbs can be moistening or drying, heating or cooling or they can stimulate and/or relax.  Therefore, in order to be effective we must understand these subtleties and how to apply them appropriately.

If you pick up any herb book and open it up to the section on conditions or where they list the uses of the herbs you will more than likely see a whole laundry list of uses for that particular herb.  For example;  I have three herb books sitting on my desk as I write this article.  If I look up St. John’s wort in the first book it says it is used for nerve pains, neuralgia and depression.  The second book lists at least 40 conditions for the use of St. John’s wort ranging from Anemia to Wounds and everything in between.  And finally, the third book also includes a long list of uses and includes the fact that St. John’s wort is an anti-inflammatory.   So what does that mean….an anti-inflammatory?  Does that mean that if there is any inflammation anywhere in my body I can take St. John’s wort and the inflammation will go away?  What would you say if I told you that inflammation is part of the natural healing response and that it is not always the best thing to suppress that process.  Would you still assume that you needed St. John’s wort?

I’m not insinuating that the general public is ignorant by any means.  What I am trying to convey is that herbalist study for many years like their counterparts in conventional medicine to learn the intricacies of using and applying herbs both safely and effectively.  There are quite a number of herbalists who work side by side with doctor’s and various other health care professionals advising them on the safe and effective use of herbs.  Now that just makes sense to me to have an herbalist recommending herbs as opposed to a doctor.  Unless a doctor has been specifically trained as an herbalist they are probably doing the exact same thing that I mention above and that is looking in an herbal reference book for a particular condition and then seeing which herbs are recommended for that particular disease .  Would you want your mechanic operating on you or your doctor fixing your car?  Probably not…

What Do Herbalist Do?

Like I mentioned before, many herbalists have trained and studied for years on the safe and effective applications and uses of various herbs.  Some herbalist’s work strictly with family and friends, other’s set up shop within their communities and others work in clinical settings to include hospitals or other health related organizations.  Quite a number of herbalists like myself do consultations with clients.  A consultation is basically sitting down with someone who is skilled and knowledgeable in their field, in this case an herbalist, and having them outline a specific plan to meet the clients needs.  Seeing an herbalist to recommend herbs is like having your taxes done by an accountant.  Would you really want an herbalist doing your taxes or an accountant advising you on the use of herbs?  Trust me…you do not want me doing your taxes.

When Should I See an Herbalist?

Home remedies, as I mentioned, are wonderful for dealing with acute conditions.  However, if you are dealing with a chronic condition or an acute condition that just won’t resolve I highly recommend seeing an herbalist.  The body really does all of the healing;  However, an experienced herbalist can help uncover certain imbalances that are hindering the healing process and make recommendations on the specific uses of various herbs to enhance the healing process.  Herbalists don’t necessarily specialize in disease processes, but rather look at various ways that diseases present in the body.  In conventional medicine they name the presentations things like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, PCOS, etc.  Herbalists see people of all ages and some may specialize in areas to include midwifery, acupuncture, naturopathy, etc.

If you are interested in learning more about what to expect from a consultation or if you are interested in setting up an appointment CLICK HERE.  If you are looking for an herbalist in your area check out my list to the right hand side of the page for herbalists in Florida.  If you are outside of Florida and looking for someone in your area try a “google search” or leave me a comment telling me where you are located and I will try to recommend someone in your area.

Herbal Preps and Apps 2D

Come join me for a weekend long Medicine Making intensive!!

(Saturday Oct 4th and Sunday Oct 5th)
(10 am – 4 pm each day)


ONLY $125.00

Herbal Preparations and Applications:

In this class the student will learn how to make herbal preparations and how to
use them safely and effectively for both acute and chronic conditions. The student will learn how to make the following preparations and discuss the following:

– The Safety of Herbs
– Tinctures
– Nourishing, Medicinal, Cold Water, Solar and Lunar Infusions and Decoctions
– Salves
– Infused herbal oils (Crockpot and Oven method included)
– Poultices
– Compresses
– Fomentations
– Oxymels
– Elixirs
– Syrups
– Honeys
– Electuary
– Vinegars
– Liniments
– Steams
– Pills and Lozenges
– Using Powdered Herbs
– Solubility of Herbal Constituents
– Dosages


–  Bring a bag lunch to enjoy along with some light refreshments and drinks that will be served.

–  Directions will be sent after registration

–  If the class size is large it will be held out doors so wear appropriate clothing and shoes.

–  Any questions call Natalie (904)613-2738

Class Fee:

Regularly $144.00


ONLY $125.00 (ends Sept 25th)

Carminative drops 4When suffering with accumulated gas, bloating or griping of the bowels we should think of the wonderful array of aromatic herbs which are often found in our kitchen cabinets.  Aromatic herbs can help dispel or prevent gas, relax the area and help to ease colic and griping of the bowels; in herbal terms this action is referred to as Carminative.

With any condition we should look to determine the root cause.  The formation of gas is natural although in excess it should be a signal to look at improving digestion.  There are a number of conditions that may be associated with excess gas formation.  For example, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when the number of “bad” bacteria in the gut outweighs the number of “good bacteria”.  Because “good” bacteria are essential for proper digestion, SIBO prevents foods from being properly digested.  Undigested foods begin to ferment and the process of fermentation leads to the formation of gas.

Certain foods may contribute to gas formation especially if digestion is poor.  The buildup of gas formation can be reduced by eliminating suspected foods.  Herbs can be wonderful adjuncts while looking for the underlying cause of excess gas.

Some examples of Carminative herbs include Anise, Black Pepper, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Ginger, Nutmeg and Peppermint.

Here is a wonderful recipe I created which was inspired by a formula called “Confection of Pepper”, that I came across in an old herbal I was reading.  The ingredients in my formula include Black Pepper, Caraway seeds, Fennel seeds and Honey.  Aromatic Carminative drops are designed to be taken as an aid to digestion after a large meal or when there is gas, bloating, colic or griping of the bowels.  This formula may be effective as a palliative remedy for those who suffer with Irritable bowel.

Aromatic Carminative Drops


½ tsp Caraway seeds (powdered)

½ tsp Black pepper (ground)

2 tsp Fennel seeds (powdered)


Combine the herbs in a small bowl and add enough honey to make a paste.  The paste can be rolled into small balls about the size of a pea and then dusted in licorice root or anise seed powder.  You can also leave this as a honey paste and just take a about 1/8 – ¼ tsp as needed.


CayenneBotanical Name: Capsicum annum; C. frutescens

Family: Solanaceae

Parts Used: Fruit

Actions: Stimulant, diffusive, carminative, diaphoretic (stimulating), rubefacient, expectorant (stimulating), antiseptic, astringent, emetic, alterative

 Tissue States: Depression, Atrophy

Energetics: Warming/Drying; Acrid


As a stimulating herb Cayenne acts on the circulatory system spreading throughout, warming and toning the system. Cayenne can warm the periphery where there are cold hands and feet and open the pores to increase perspiration. Herbalist Matthew Wood says it is an herb that is useful when we age and, “the heart muscles are starting to become lazy and the circulation is getting stagnant in places.” Acting on the heart and blood vessels, Cayenne may be beneficial in increasing the strength of the pulse without affecting the rate.

Cayenne increases metabolism, peristalsis and digestion while helping with the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats. Cayenne may be beneficial where there is a lack of function in the stomach or the intestines with poor appetite and weak digestion. As a carminative, Cayenne may be beneficial in helping to relieve gas and bloating or cramping of the stomach and bowels.

Topically, Cayenne increases circulation at the surface bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area helping to expedite healing and relieving pain. In cases of sore throat a compress soaked in Cayenne may be applied to the throat while also taking internal doses. A diluted infusion of Cayenne can also be used as a gargle for tonsillitis and is indicated for hoarseness when the uvula is relaxed.

Uses and Preparations:

– Research suggests that Cayenne may help protect the mucosal lining of the stomach from the effects of NSAIDS. (Stargrove)

– Tincture (1:5 in 25%)

– Infusion/ ½-1 tsp with to 1 cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 mins. Mix 1 tbsp of infusion with warm water and drink as needed (Hoffman)


Composition Powder

Bayberry bark (Myrica cerifera) 16 parts

White Pine Bark (Pinus strobus) 8 parts

Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) 8 parts

Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens) 1 part

Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) 1 part

Combine dried powdered herbs. Add 1 tsp to hot water; Indicated for colds, flu, fever and poor circulation.

Cayenne Gargle for Sore Throat


1 tsp Cayenne powder

1 tbsp Sage or Thyme(dried)

2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp Sea salt

2 tbsp Honey

1 pint of water

Make an infusion by pouring boiling water over the herbs and steep for 10 minutes. Strain off the herb and add the remaining ingredients to the sage and cayenne infusion. Use as gargle as often as needed.


– In large doses it may cause vomiting and/or pains in the stomach and bowels.




Chamomile 1Life is stressful to say the least.  Consider the burden placed on the body when we are exposed to constant stress.  When under stress the body releases chemicals that trigger physiological reactions such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, constriction of blood vessels, and release of glucose into the blood stream for energy.

Imagine what happens if these physiological reactions occur over and over again and what kind of strain that places on vital organs and the body as a whole.  This kind of constant stress can lead to headaches, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, fatigue, weight gain and a host of other health problems.

Not all of us have the luxury of dashing off to some remote and exotic vacation spot where we can lounge on the beach and watch the sun set.  However, there are a number of things that we can and should do to help reduce stress in our lives in order to promote better overall health: Continue Reading »


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