If you’re really into exploring the benefits of herbs and alternative health, you may have wondered how you can create your own herbal apothecary at home.
I’m here to tell you that it is SUPER easy to get started, and it’s not like you have to set up your own mini store overnight- in fact, your apothecary can be just a handful of things to begin.
Trust me when I say that this image of having a mega shelf stocked with a variety of elixirs and potions is not something that can be done with a wave of the wand (although I bet there are some who have tried lol), and it’s that idea that holds people back from creating their own space. Don’t think you have to go from zero to expert in a day!
Functional herbal pharmacies take time and patience, so there’s no need to rush. The important thing is to START, and this blog post will hopefully help give you the confidence to do so.
When I went on a blogging break a few months ago, it was only then that I started to get serious about my own collection. I had a window of opportunity since I wasn’t working, which brought a flood of inspiration and creativity.
It became clear then, more than ever, that I truly, madly, and deeply love herbal practice. I love working with them, I love learning about them, and I love collecting them.
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And the best way to continue with this type of thing is GETTING ORGANIZED. You’ll save yourself loads of time and effort if you don’t have to search for herbs and items all over the kitchen. This realization hit me full force when I finally took the time to put together my own little corner (que 1960’s Cinderella music) of herbs. As I stacked jars on my shelves, each filled with its own healing magic, I came into full appreciation for this art.
Because yes, I have found that working with herbs is more of an art than a science.
For the home herbalist, you don’t have to know some of the things that you would need to know if you were treating patients daily at an office. While education is definitely valued, knowledge comes in time and lack thereof is no reason to put off starting a small apothecary. Many times, with herbal remedies, you are feeling your way through it. You’re seeing how you react to certain herbs, what you like and what you don’t, and above all, how you feel after taking them.
So what is an herbal apothecary?
In short, it is a space dedicated to medicine making, like your own personal natural pharmacy. It can be anything from a station where you mix up your own *potions*, to an entire room filled to the brim with herbal supplies, or even a small shelf with a few handy items.
It can be as small or as large as you want it to be!
For months, I had herbs, bottles, jars, and various projects strewn all over my kitchen. It felt good to finally pull them all together and clear a space with the intention of bringing many more remedies into my home.
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Getting Started on Your Herbal Apothecary
So what do you need to start your own apothecary?
1. Space. This, as I said before, can be large or small. It’s okay if you start small, because there’s ALWAYS room to grow. Your space can be in your garage, with a table for projects or just a shelf in your kitchen. Wherever it is, commit to the space. Decorate it, love it, and keep it clean.
When I devoted a shelf in my kitchen to my herbal apothecary, I placed everything I had gathered over the past few years in that space, including herbs, extra jars, bottles, funnels, cheesecloth, and my slow cooker I use just for medicine making. I also hung a few cute signs around it to make it stand out. It definitely lifts up the space energetically and gets you excited about adding more!
2. Herbs. People get tripped up on how many herbs to start with, and I’m here to tell you that numbers don’t matter. Sure, we all want a variety of herbs in our space, but if we don’t know how to use them, what’s the point? The same goes for herbs you don’t enjoy. If elderberry doesn’t work for you, don’t feel pressured to have it in your space. This is YOUR apothecary!
Even if you only have a handful of herbs to start with, that’s okay. After all, this is a work in progress.
My suggestion, if you want to start but don’t know what to buy first, is to pick a few recipes that center around using 2-4 of the same herbs. For example, buy some lavender and try it out in a few different recipes, such as homemade face wash, lotion, and herbal tea.
Related: Lavender Infused Chocolate Fondue!
No matter what you start with, just remember to store your herbs properly. I like to keep mine in glass jars, and my kids have made pretty little labels for each one.
3. Supplies. When it comes to supplies, it’s okay to start with the basics. I believe that essentially, all you need are some jars with lids, labels, cheesecloth, and measuring tools like cups and spoons. Oh, and a slow cooker committed to medicine comes in handy but is not required! These are all things you can place in your designated area, although measuring tools don’t necessarily have to go there if they have a nice home in your cupboard already.
The point of placing supplies in your herbal apothecary is just so it’s mostly altogether. As I said before, it’s super annoying when it takes you an extra fifteen minutes to get started because you’re having a hard time tracking down a particular item (that was totally there yesterday, UG!).
Pull what you can together, even if it’s only a couple things, and keep them organized. This saves time and effort.
4. Intention. Perhaps the most important part of your herbal apothecary? Vow to use your space and dedicate an amount of time each week to your herbs.
This shouldn’t be too hard- chances are if you’re a plant lover, your space will be like a magnet. I love walking into my kitchen and seeing my jars of herbs on the shelf. It feels really good and inspires me to do more.
However, life happens and things get in the way. EVERY herbalist has screwed up at one point or another and forgotten to label a jar or foraged more than they can handle or let a remedy spoil because they had other things going on. It’s totally normal and it doesn’t make you less of a home herbalist. If anything, it teaches you to take on only what you can handle and how to handle your practice more efficiently.
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The important thing to remember is to set an intention of bringing herbalism into your home. Even if it’s only a few remedies, it’s adding something wonderful to your life and that’s totally cause for celebration.
For the past year, I’ve referred to myself as an “aspiring herbalist”. After setting up my apothecary, I officially changed that to “home herbalist”. There’s no reason to aspire- I AM AN HERBALIST. I have a freaking apothecary for crying out loud! AND I practice herbal remedies and natural health in my home (and have been for years now) when I see fit.
Titles aren’t everything, and actions speak louder than words.
I truth, an herbalist is essentially someone who has been called to work with the plants. I’m so glad I accepted the plants invitation!
If you’ve been wanting to become an herbalist or incorporate herbal medicine into your home, what are you waiting for?