DIY Plant Remedies For Every Room In Your Home, From An Herbalist

Herbalist By Christine Buckley
Herbalist
Christine Buckley is a community-based herbalist, professional cook, food stylist, and visual artist. She is the author of Plant Magic: Herbalism In Real Life. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Kitchn and Healthyish, and she has displayed work at the Honolulu Biennial and MoMA Studios. She studied herbalism at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism and the Center for Herbal Studies.
Hand Picking Dandelion Greens

Image by Laurence Braun / Plant Magic: Herbalism in Real Life

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It's safe to say that things are difficult right now, and it's natural to feel ungrounded, anxious, and distracted. As an herbalist, I believe that one of the best ways to rediscover a sense of comfort and grounding is to prioritize our connection to nature. Anyone who's ever taken a walk through the woods or sniffed a fragrant bouquet can probably agree.

Here are some ideas adapted from my new book Plant Magic: Herbalism in Real Life on how to bring plants and herbs indoors during this time when so many of us are stuck in homes, apartments, or one-room cabins you share with your newly-WFH partner and three animals (just me?). Though I'm providing one plant-based remedy per room, the idea is not necessarily to tackle all of these at once. Instead, pick one herbal remedy from the list and try it on for a week or two, then swap it for another, or gradually add on more from there.

Bathroom: rose water

Both uplifting and calming, rose has a long history of use in Middle Eastern cultures during ceremonies of mourning. Its sweet scent can help gently pull us up from feelings of hopelessness and despair. I like to keep a spray bottle of rose water (here's how to DIY your own) in my bathroom so I can spritz it on my face after I wash up. I close my eyes, spray, and breathe in deeply, allowing the cooling, sweet scent of rose to transport me.

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Bedroom: linden, rose, and chamomile tea 

Brewing Homemade Dandelion Tea

Image by Laurence Braun / Plant Magic: Herbalism in Real Life

With all the apps to swipe through, articles to read, and memes to scan out there, winding down can be tough even when the world isn't dripping with confusion. Maintaining a steady bedtime routine can help you set yourself up for better sleep, and sipping a calming tea can kick yours up a notch.

Store a blend of equal parts dried linden, rose, and chamomile in your pantry, then steep a teaspoon per cup in hot water every night as you're starting to wind down. (Try to drink it at least an hour before bed so you don't wake up in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom.) The combination of the three herbs is moistening, soothing, and cooling and can help ease any pressure we might have put on ourselves over the course of the day.

Home office: rosemary, gotu kola, holy basil, and lemon balm infusion

It's worth noting that these days, many of us are attempting to work "normally" under circumstances that are highly unusual and stressful. But if you're finding it difficult to stay focused at your home setup, these stimulating herbs might help. Rosemary and gotu kola can both increase blood flow to our brain, promoting mental clarity and calming systemic stress, while holy basil is a mild adaptogen that can help us fight fatigue, and trusty lemon balm is a mood elevator.

Here's how to make this infusion that can be enjoyed hot or cold throughout the workday:

  1. Combine 2 parts gotu kola, 1 part rosemary, ½ part holy basil, and ½ part lemon balm in a large jar.
  2. Brew 3 tablespoons of your herbal blend in 2 cups of boiling water and let steep.
  3. Drink throughout the day with honey, warm or iced.
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Kitchen: facial steam with thyme

Giving yourself a facial steam is a lovely way to relax and open up the body's respiratory passageways—especially when you add in herbs like thyme or oregano, which can be helpful for clearing stuffy, runny nasal passageways. Here's how it's done:

  1. Set a big pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and place the pot somewhere safe. Add a handful of dried thyme or oregano.
  2. Grab a towel or light blanket, and drape it over the back of your head as you carefully place your face over the steaming pot of herbs. (My advice is to start farther away and assess the strength of the steam. You can always move closer once the steam calms down!) Breathe in the steaming herbal mix, slowly and deeply, for 5 minutes or as long as you feel comfortable.

Regularly using common healing plants can make a world of difference for our bodies and minds. So go ahead and bring a little taste of the wild into your home.

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