Herbal Remedies

Kathryn and Antonia on Elsie Street in Bernal Heights, San Francisco, 1970

As a hippie chick in San Francisco in the 60’s I can assure you that my herbal qualifications run both wide and deep! Prior to Antonia’s entrance onto planet Earth I had spent a goodly amount of time living in a community out in Sonoma County woods where food and accompanying herbs were, I would have to say, central to our lives. A macrobiotic lifestyle was essential to our living together. We ate only organic foods, mostly rice and fruits and vegetables. Sugar and desserts were not part of the picture. But herbal remedies were.

When later Antonia and I lived in Holland our first year was spent being part of an international group of folks running a vegetarian restaurant. Upstairs was an herb shop and Antonia spent many afterschool hours up in that herb shop among dozens of large glass bottles of herbs. The folks who ran the herb shop were given to gifting her with long fat licorice (root) sticks and I’m certain there are people other than myself who would still recall little Antonia walking around chewing with great delight on a frayed licorice stick!

Therefore it is no surprise that to this day our respective kitchens are always abundantly full with many choices of herbs! Though I’m certain many of you have found your way to many of these same herbal remedies I thought I’d take time to give you a peek into our cupboard here and share the tried and true we rely upon. Interestingly, the glass jars full of herbs that used to line my counters have been replaced largely by (high quality) commercial products in boxes. I deeply appreciate that there are companies with good ethics and standards who have made herbs available to the public which are healthy and trustworthy. I also appreciate that specific remedies have been created that I now count upon, such as Throat Coat made by Traditional Medicines.


Still, we rely on certain basic simple herbs for their healing qualities. First and foremost in my kitchen is probably chamomile. I sleep really well and get lots of sleep every night. But on the rare occasion I am awakened from my good slumber I am not inclined to go back straightaway to that restorative sleep. Sometimes I really do have to get up and make a cup of chamomile tea (by nightlight, trust me) in order to easily fall back into a good sleep. Chamomile is also good as a digestive remedy, as is ginger.

Green tea has become a daily staple in my kitchen. By now you’ve probably heard of the antioxidant properties of green tea. Every week I prepare a large portion of it in a stainless steel pan that is reserved just for my green tea. I add a bit of local raw honey to it and keep it in the frig. Every day I drink green tea with my lunch. I find having it on hand ensures I will keep it in my daily diet, and preparing it beforehand in a large quantity saves on the exorbitant costs of buying it in a store. Most store bought varieties are laced with high fructose corn syrup, and heaven knows what else. Nothing good. And if you get into the practice of making it in bulk at home you will wonder why you ever went with a commercial version. It’s so much better (and economical) freshly made at home!

The only strong caffeine that is incorporated into my life is black tea in the morning with honey and soymilk. I really love the fruit flavored black teas available, and blackberry sage is my favorite at the moment.

I keep peppermint on hand because people who visit sometimes ask for a pick me up, though they don’t want to drink caffeine. Peppermint is stimulating, and also helps with digestion. I have both peppermint and spearmint growing in the kitchen garden. Sometimes I pick a few leaves and add to the weekly green tea.

Another herb we rely upon is licorice root. I turn to licorice root to be kind to my stomach, but you must know that overuse of licorice root is discouraged. My favorite form of licorice root is to buy in bulk from the health food store and store myself.

Last herb I will mention here is lemon verbena, which my dear friend Conny grows in her garden and I was the lucky recipient of a goodly amount. It has a very special flavor. I’m told the French drink it in the evening (though they call it an infusion). Truly a pot of lemon verbena is a lovely way to enhance the day’s end, as we prepare ourselves for the night’s sleep.

Enjoy your herbs, dear readers! And please share with me your favorites.

Love and kitchen blessings,
Kathryn xoxoo

13 Responses to “Herbal Remedies”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kathryn Hall, Jamie Franta. Jamie Franta said: RT @KathrynHallPR: New post on Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Herbal Remedies http://tinyurl.com/4fqmvlh […]

  2. Great suggestions, mom! Traditionals makes some wonderful blends, but I do find myself preferring mixing my own herbs together. How lucky I am to have been raised with herbal remedies! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love you,

  3. Hi, Antonia! Yes, I’m sooo glad you were raised on herbs! I will always cherish the memories of your being with the herb folks in Amsterdam and be grateful for what they added to your understanding and knowledge. You have really taken the ball and run with it, using herbs for deep healing work. Bravo! Admire you deeply for it. Love, Mom xoxo

  4. We have been living on chamomile tea this winter, especially when upset stomachs hit around the holidays. It’s my go-to tea in the afternoon & evening after my morning coffee. I also like it with orange rinds, etc. for additional C. I also find that all the mint teas really help. Simple oil of pepermint mixed with honey & added to regular tea is also a lifesaver if GI systems don’t want to behave. Always in my tea storage area.
    Digging out of the mid-west storm…we got 1 inch of ice & little snow so have trees & limbs down everywhere. Our yard is littered with branches & the top of the cherry tree is resting across the power line in the back yard but it has not broken through yet. We are waiting until the electric company gets to everyone without electricity until they can get to us. Could have been so much worse! Chicago had the 3rd heaviest snow storm in history. Cleveland had the most snow this last December that they have ever recorded. Oh, to be in California!
    Cheers, Cousin Julie

  5. Hi, Julie, I must try adding orange zest to my chamomile tea! Traditionals makes a chamomile/lavender that’s good for the evening. I’ve never heard of using oil of peppermint in tea. I must check that out. Thanks! Stay warm! It breaks my heart when the trees get weighted down with ice and snow. ๐Ÿ™ Kathryn xoox

  6. More 1960s/1970s SF hippie chick stories please.

  7. Hi, Roger NM! Welcome! This made me laugh, of course. Maybe I will do another excerpt from my book! Some early stories in there! Thanks! Kathryn xoxo

  8. My daughter and I do teas. My Mom and I had coffee almost every afternoon of her last years. There is joy in such companionship.

  9. Hi, Alice, You bring up a lovely point, that the simple act of sharing a cup of tea with a loved one is a very precious activity indeed. Thank you! Kathryn xoox

  10. How great is that pic, dear Kathryn. I had the same middle-part hairdo, hair waste-length but I ironed it ! Is that a knitted poncho? I had several … and what I wore to bed, just in case, visiting LA after the big earthquake. Love my daily green tea … hot & cold with fresh lemon or fresh mint! Also have a complete tea drawer for other taste treats. I do love my freshly ground rich Starbuck’s French Roast ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Hi, Joey! Oh, I love this comment! I had this immediate thought that the longstanding gardening bloggers should have a Flashback day when we all post a photo of ourselves back in the day. Like, Moms w/ First Child, or something like that. How fun would THAT be?? LOL! I’ll work on that one.
    Love, Kathryn xoxo

  12. what a lovely pictures of yours! I look at it and I can see myself ๐Ÿ™‚ maybe you are my sould sista?

  13. Hi, Ewa, Oh, we are definitely soul sisters! LOL! This pic will now underscore your letting me know my book reminded you of “Hair”! Big hugs! Kathryn xoxo

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