Traci holding a baby goat

I’m a massage therapist, sound healer, soap maker, and perpetual student of herbalism.

I like to think of myself as a homesteader, or at least as much of one as this city dweller can be. I don’t live on a farm. I don’t live off-grid. I don’t grow all my own food. I’m just a girl who likes to live as naturally as possible and try to lighten my impact on our beautiful planet. I get really excited by trying new things like making my own meade, canning my own pickles, and making my own cocktail bitters. 

If I can make it myself, you can bet I’m at least going to try. So, if you feel like you’d like to try living in a little more harmony with mother nature or you have already started on that journey and are just looking for more ideas, you’ve come to the right place. 

 

Filtering herbs

Herbal Bug Spray


There is much controversy over whether bug sprays are harmful or not. I’m not here to debate the issue or get into the specifics. I personally don’t use them because I don’t like putting weird chemicals on my skin and I don’t love the idea of “hey, this may or may not be safe”. I live in the United States in a fairly urban area and while mosquitoes may suck (literally) I thankfully don’t have to worry about getting malaria. So, for me, a natural, herbal bug spray is the way to go. I did use some pretty hardcore bug spray when I was in Africa, but this city girl wasn’t about to mess with scary, African mosquitoes. 

The following is my recipe for an herbal bug spray. It’s super easy to make with ingredients that are completely safe for all ages and pretty easy to come by. You will need to reapply the spray fairly often, but I think it’s worth it. I like knowing exactly what I’m putting on my body, cuz if it’s on my body, it’s getting absorbed into my system and I’m not ok with just ingesting any old thing. 

Herbal Bug Spray

This bug spray takes about 4 weeks to make so start it way before you're going to need it. Basically, you just put all the ingredients together and then leave it to do its thing so it's super easy.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 oz

Equipment

  • Fine Mesh Filter
  • Funnel optional
  • 4oz Spray Bottle
  • A canning jar or something with a tight-fitting lid

Ingredients
  

  • .25 oz dried basil
  • .25 oz dried lavender
  • .25 oz dried lemon balm
  • .25 oz dried peppermint
  • .25 oz dried rosemary
  • 8 oz witch hazel You can also use apple cider vinegar but expect to smell like a salad.

Instructions
 

  • Place the herbs in the jar.
  • Pour in the witch hazel.
  • Shake well.
  • Store the jar in a dark, cool room like a pantry or cabinet for about 4ish weeks. It's best to shake the jar every day at least once. Don't worry if you forget though. Just shake it whenever you think about it.
  • After your concoction has infused for about a month, pour the liquid through the fine mesh strainer. You can also use a coffee filter.
  • Using the funnel, pour the bug spray into your spray bottle and label carefully. None of the ingredients are poisonous, but witch hazel sure doesn't taste good.
Keyword Herbal Bug Spray

 

Botanical Name – Plantago major, rugelii, lanceolata

Family: Plantaginaceae

Energetics: cool, moist, tonifying

Taste: slightly bitter, earthy

Parts used: leaves, seeds

Affinities: digestive system; mucosal and integumentary tissues

Actions: vulnerary, demulcent, astringent, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, emollient, expectorant, hepatoprotective

Preparations: tea, honey infusion, tincture, oil infusion, vinegar, topical preparations, food

Cautions: The husked seeds are a bulking laxative, and should not be taken in the two hours before or after swallowing prescription drugs the pharmaceutical constituents can get bound up in the mucilage and render the drug less effective

Therapeutic Uses:

  • As a vulnerary, plantain can help speed up the healing of wounds. This works both externally and internally meaning that it can also help heal wounds in the digestive tract aiding in issues such as leaky gut syndrome. Plantain is also useful for external scrapes, cuts, bites, stings, etc. It is an excellent herb to have in your herbal first aid kit.
  • Plantain is very useful for breaking up biofilms which is what happens when bacteria join together. 
  • As an expectorant, plantain is useful for breaking up the mucous in dry, lung conditions.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.

Botanical Name – Angelica archangelica

Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)

Energetics: warm, dry, tonifying

Taste: bitter, pungent, aromatic

Parts used: root

Affinities: digestive, respiratory, and reproductive systems

Actions: Diffusive, circulatory stimulant, carminative, emmenagogue, diaphoretic, expectorant, nervine, anti-microbial

Preparations: tea/ decoction, honey infusion, tincture, oil infusion

Cautions: Best to avoid angelica the week before menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, and during lactation. Can cause photosensitivity. 

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Angelica is a warming bitter which helps with digestion and assimilation especially when digestion is cold and stagnant. It helps get things moving including blood circulation. 
  • Helps clear waste from the liver and the body in general. 
  • Increases blood flow to the reproductive organs which can help with menstrual cramping. 
  • Calming to both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.

Botanical Name – Withania somnifera

Family: Solanaceae

Energetics: warm, dry, relaxant

Taste: bitter, pungent, sweet

Parts used: root

Affinities: endocrine and immune systems

Actions: adaptogen, nervous trophorestorative, digestive, alterative, antispasmodic, immune modulator, cardioprotective

Preparations: tea/ decoction, honey infusion, tincture, capsule

Cautions: Avoid if you have sensitivities to nightshades. Avoid during pregnancy. 

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Ashwagandha helps the adrenals and other endocrine organs better deal with stress. 
  • Mildly bitter, it gently stimulates digestion.
  • When your circadian rhythm is out of whack, ashwagandha will help you reset. It’s extremely useful if you have been staying up late due to work, school, stress, etc. and you just need to get back on a good sleep schedule. 
  • Supportive for the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.

Family: Rosaceae

Energetics: cool, dry, tonifying

Taste: astringent, sour

Parts used: root, leaves, berries

Affinities: lower digestive and urinary systems

Actions: astringent, diuretic, antispasmodic, antioxidant, alterative, hypoglycemic

Preparations: tea/ decoction, tincture, wine infusion, 

Cautions: Typically a safe herb to use. It is a powerful astringent so large doses, especially of the root, can cause stomach cramping.

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Extremely useful for diarrhea. 
  • Helps to flush out excess fluids in the body such as edema and gout. 
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.

Botanical name: Calendula officinalis

Family: Asteraceae

Energetics: warm, dry, tonifying

Taste: bitter, pungent, salty, sweet

Parts used: flowers

Affinities: lymphatic system

Actions: draining, lymphatic, alterative, diaphoretic, vulnerary, antimicrobial

Preparations: tea, tincture, topical preparations

Cautions: Safe except for those with allergies to the asteraceae family.

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Useful for moving lymph fluid especially around the intestines. 
  • Useful for healing wounds of any kind including those in the digestive system such as leaky gut syndrome. 
  • Aids in depression when you just don’t feel like you can move forward. 
  • Excellent for use in any skincare preparation due to its vulnerary (wound healing) and antimicrobial nature.  
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.

Botanical name: Acorus calamus

Family: Araceae

Energetics: warm, dry, relaxant

Taste: bitter, pungent, aromatic

Parts used: rhyzome

Affinities: digestive and nervous systems

Actions: dispersive, diffusive, carminative, cholagogue, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, diaphoretic, expectorant, nervine

Preparations: tea/ decoction, tincture

Cautions: Typically a safe herb to use. 

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Aids in digestion and digestive issues including gas, stomach upset, digestive spasm, heartburn, and leaky gut.
  • As an expectorant, it helps break up and expel mucus from the lungs. 
  • Useful for uterine cramping.
  • Calamus is helpful when you are feeling cold and stuck emotionally including addictive behaviors. 
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.

Botanical Name – Nepeta cataria

Family: Lamiaceae

Energetics: cool, dry, relaxant

Taste: pungent, aromatic, acrid

Parts used: leaves

Affinities: digestive and nervous systems

Actions: Digestive, carminative, hepatic, nervine, diaphoretic, sedative, antispasmodic

Preparations: tincture, tea, bath, poultice

Cautions: Generally regarded as safe. Consult with a qualified herbalist before use during pregnancy. The sedative effects are more noticeable with children. Best not to use in high doses or for prolonged periods. 

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Helps in digestion as the aromatic constituents promote the production of gastric secretions.
  • This warming mint can help move gas out of the gut.
  • Catnip is a diaphoretic which aids the body in releasing the heat of fever.
  • This herb is very helpful when nervousness and anxiety are tied up with gut upset. It works in both directions, both helping with gut upset due to anxiety or high anxiety due to gut upset. These issues are often linked, and catnip is a powerful ally.
  • Catnip is a mild sedative and is helpful at bedtime when you are having trouble falling asleep.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.

Botanical Name – Matricaria recutita

Family: Compositae (Asteraceae)

Energetics: warm, neutral, relaxant

Taste: bitter, aromatic, sweet

Parts used: flowers

Affinities: digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems

Actions: stomachic, carminative, nervine, sedative, antispasmodic, vulnerary

Preparations: tea, honey infusion, tincture

Cautions: Very safe for all ages. 

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Helpful for upset stomachs due to tension or nervousness. Chamomile stimulates digestive fluid secretions which helps with assimilation.
  • Relaxes smooth muscles of the digestive tract for better digestion.
  • Helps calm individuals with nervous exhaustion to get better sleep. 
  • Soothes tense, tight muscles. 
  • Topically, chamomile helps with inflammatory skin conditions and can help with eye irritation such as conjunctivitis.
  • Chamomile is excellent for both physical and emotional tension.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For educational purposes only.