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The Five Botanicals You Need To Have

Stocking Your Medicine Chest

Every home and workplace should have a medicine chest - the place you head to when you need a little TLC. For most people the chest is stocked full of drugs and chemicals, both of which require you to be very careful and wary of side effects. Here is a brief list of some botanicals that are safe and effective substitutions to have ready when needed..



Our skin takes a beating every day from the abuse sustained while working (punctures, cuts, chemicals, etc) and playing (scrapes, cuts, abrasions,). It also endures the unforeseen accidents in the house (cuts from knives, hammering fingers and slivers) and unexpected sunburns and rashes.

Nature has provided a helpful healer to give our skin a break. Aloe vera (or just aloe) is a popular herb valued for the gel found in its long thick leaves. The gel contains a complex of beneficial compounds such as polysaccharides, mannans, anthraquinones, and lectins. The gel has undergone hundreds of clinical trials that have confirmed its effectiveness.

Aloe is a potent moisturizer. Women can use aloe gel on skin prior to applying make-up to prevent skin from drying up. Men can use aloe as a soothing aftershave to heal nicks and cuts.

Aloe's effectiveness is legendary in the area of sunburns, and other burns. It cools the area down and can reduce the pain and swelling of sunburns. It acts as a protective layer on top of skin and helps keep moisture in and help skin heal faster. While the skin is healing it also reduces the itchiness.


Our modern, fast-paced lives are filed with stress and anxiety. Some stress is actually a good thing. It can keep us sharp and keep us motivated. However if left unchecked, stress can get the better of us and cause health issues.

Chamomile, the wonderfully sweet aromatic flower, is an ideal stress buster. Taken as a tea (tea bags and loose flowers are both readily available) chamomile is soothing to tense stressed nerves and can gently help with relaxation and sleep.

For some people stress manifests by causing and complicating various digestive issues. Chamomile tea can also alleviate symptoms of ulcers, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome. It is not a cure but it can make things better.


When it comes to digestive complaints ginger is king. This single warm spice is wonderful for almost any minor stomach ailment. It is a strong antispasmodic (stomach calming) and gas reliever.  Ginger is a must have pack-along on your vacation and long trips. It can prevent motion sickness better than pharmaceuticals and without harsh side effects.

Personally when I begin to feel under the weather, I reach for 2 herbals - oregano & ginger. A soothing cup (or 5) of steeped lemon ginger tea made with fresh ginger root improves my circulation, warming me all over and lets me know I am on the road to recovery.


Our world is ripe with microbes. Some are good, some are bad. The good ones are called probiotics, and the bad ones are called pathogens. We are constantly under attack by pathogens. They cause numerous issues including colds, flu, candidiasis and many more.  It is here where oregano (particularly super strength oil of oregano) shines. Oregano has that magical balance of constituents that act as pathogen assassins. When taken properly Oil of Oregano (available in liquid drops and vegan Organicap capsules) combats bacteria, viruses and fungi, while at the same time allowing probiotics to survive. Add Oil of Oregano's ability to improve digestion and tone your immune system, as well as its versatility both internally and topically, and you have one hefty addition to your medicine cabinet (especially during cold and flu season).


“They” say that aches and pains are part of growing old. It is true that as we age our muscles, tendons, joints, etc. also age and in some cases wear out. Add to this the explosion in arthritis rates as baby boomers age along with day to day injuries among all other age categories. As well, most households now have at least one person trying to cope with degenerative muscular skeletal pain.

Far from requiring you to throw your hands in the air, nature has a colourful tasty answer. Turmeric, the golden yellow bitter spice that is the basis for curries, may be the botanical of your dreams. Turmeric (the root specifically) has a unique medicinal constituent called curcumin that has undergone extensive investigation.



It's a  bright yellow in colour and like most brightly coloured constituents found in nature is a potent antioxidant that helps to eradicate free radicals and reduce the damage they can cause. Additionally curcumin is a potent inflammation fighter. By reducing inflammation, curcumin reduces pain and allows your body to start the healing process. In and of itself it is not a cure, but it does enable you to move more easily and work towards healing.

I was so impressed with the results I received from curcumin that now my whole family (and most of my friends) take it daily as a preventative and antioxidant.


I hope you found this a helpful start to rethinking the chemicals and drugs that you currently store in your medicine cabinet. There are many natural replacements that can help you feel great and stay healthy without any side effects or dangerous chemicals. This list is just the tip of the iceberg.



Joel Thuna, MH, is a master herbalist with over 30 years of experience. Dr. Claude Gallant holds a PhD in Microbiology.