Treating common ailments with homemade herbal remedies can be both empowering and cost-effective.

Herbalist author Stephen Harrod Buhner has been medically treating himself with herbal remedies for 30 years, and finds the natural approach to be “life-enhancing, self-empowering, inexpensive, and safe.” In this article for Mother Earth News, he identifies various medical conditions, from skin rashes to irritable bowl syndrome, and provides the herbal recipe that’s worked for him.

Homemade Herbal Remedies

Burns, cuts, and scrapes may be the most common injuries of all — here’s what to do:


I usually just pace around while verbally — and loudly — exploring the world of expletives. But sometimes I also use the following homemade herbal remedies.
1. Honey: This is especially good for severe burns. It will stop infection, stimulate skin regeneration and keep the burned area moist. Honey is better for burns than nearly all medical interventions, even for third-degree burns.
2. Prickly pear cactus pads, filleted: Wear gloves to hold the pads while using a sharp knife to gently fillet the exterior skin off the pads. You will be left with slimy, oval pads of plant matter. Place the pads directly on the burn and bandage the wound. For a sunburn, rub the pads on the affected area.

Cuts and scrapes.

Every one of us encounters life’s sharp edges, often over and over again. Here’s how I handle the aftereffects.
1. Wound powder: My homemade wound powder stops the bleeding, dries out the wound, inhibits infection and stimulates healing. I generally use a bandage the first day and then leave the wound open afterward (unless it’s in a hard-to-protect area or is gaping).
A good wound powder recipe contains any berberine plant (such as barberry, goldenseal or Oregon grape root); comfrey root or leaf; juniper needles (the older the needles on the tree or bush, the better — old needles contain more tannins and will thus stop bleeding faster than young needles will); and maybe oregano, rosemary or thyme. The berberine plant and juniper needles will disinfect, and the juniper needles will also stop the bleeding. Comfrey will stimulate healing, and oregano, rosemary and thyme are also antibacterials. I usually make the following recipe and keep it in the freezer to retain freshness:
Measure out 1 ounce of the berberine plant root or bark, a half-ounce of the comfrey root, 1 ounce of the juniper needles, and a quarter-ounce of the oregano, rosemary or thyme leaves (optional). Combine the ingredients, mix them in a blender or food processor until well-ground, and then powder the mixture until fine in a clean coffee grinder. I often sieve it afterward to get as flour-like a powder as possible. Sprinkle it liberally on the wound.
2. Honey: Stop using the wound powder after a few days and switch to honey. It’s effective against all known drug-resistant bacteria and really speeds healing. Just cover the wound with honey, bandage, and change the dressing daily.
3. Wound salve: Use a combination of berberine plants, black walnut hulls, comfrey root, oregano leaves, rosemary leaves, Siberian elm bark (Ulmus pumila) and dried thyme. Add a quarter-cup each of the roughly ground herbs to a baking dish and mix. Cover the blend with about a quarter-inch olive oil, cover the dish, and bake overnight in an oven on its lowest heat setting. In the morning, let the mixture cool. Press out and then reheat the oil. Stir in finely chopped or grated beeswax — 2 ounces per cup of infused oil — and let melt. To check hardness, put a drop of salve on a plate and wait until the salve cools. It should remain solid but melt after a second of pressing on it with your finger.

Read the full article to learn how you can treat rashes, infections, colds, and more.

Stephen Harrod Buhner

These kinds of bios are troublesome. Over the past 40 years I have explored many biographical forms to describe myself and have never been satisfied, in part I think because I have a natural tendency against publicly applauding my accomplishments. And perhaps it is the root of that tendency that whenever I do list what I have accomplished, it always seems inadequate to what I could have done had I been clearer or more mature or possessed fewer limitations or started younger or contemplated more deeply. Or perhaps that is just the way all of us are deep down inside in the place no one else ever sees. The struggle is always psychological and I genuinely don’t know how to tell you what I have accomplished over the past half century of my life in any way that the part of me that likes ice cream finds enjoyable. Nevertheless . . . here is one way of looking at who I am — though of course it won’t tell you anything about why I find William Stafford’s poem “A Ritual to Read to Each Other” so deeply moving. I am an interdisciplinary, independent scholar, polymath, Fellow of Schumacher College UK and have been head researcher for the Foundation for Gaian Studies for the past thirty years (

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