With the growing interest in natural health and wellness, herbal medicines are becoming increasingly popular. Not only can they be highly effective treatments for a wide variety of diseases, conditions, and concerns, they are also much cheaper than prescription medication – and can be grown in your own home!

If you decide to start your own herbal apothecary, take into consideration these tips to safely and knowledgeably get the most out of your herbs.

1. Prussic Acid

Prussic acid, which can cause cyanide poisoning, can be found in unripe elderberries. Elderberries should always be cooked before eating!

2. Safety First

When it comes to essential oils, it is extremely important to follow certain safety guidelines for use:

  • Do not take internally or put in ears, eyes, or other mucus membranes.
  • Do not apply to babies or children without consulting a professional first.
  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers should consult a professional before use.
  • If you suffer from a serious medical condition, do not use without medical supervision.
  • When making essential oils and remedies, always use a well-ventilated room, wear chemical-resistant gloves, and avoid extended exposure (which may result in headaches or nausea).
  • Always wash hands and surfaces after working with essential oils. Keep in mind that oils will deteriorate plastics and finishes on furniture.
  • Keep oils away from open flames.
  • Do not use undiluted on body.

3. Skin-Patch Test

Whether you have sensitive skin or not, perform a patch test before using a new essential oil. Mix 3 drops essential oil and ½ teaspoon carrier oil, apply to the pad of a Band-Aid, and place on your inner forearm. Leave on for 48 hours; if any irritation appears around or under the patch, do not use the oil.

4. Do Not Decoct

Some plants will lose their oils during the decoction process, such as mint, rosemary, senna, and slippery elm. If you want to use these herbs in conjunction with other herbs, it is best to add them to the solution after it has been removed from heat.

5. Use Caution

It is best to always seek the advice of a qualified health care professional before using herbs, especially those with impaired immune systems or allergies. Immune-stimulant herbs should not be used if you have an impaired immune system.

6. Essential Herbs

Having your own herbal apothecary at your disposable is extremely beneficial and convenient. Some of the best essential oils to keep on hand are eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, aloe vera, calendula, echinacea, garlic, ginger, lemon balm, and mint.