What to Stock In A Home Apothecary


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Home apothecaries are making a comeback as more people take an interest in herbal medicine. Learn what you need to get started stocking your home apothecary today!Having a home apothecary full of medicinal herbs, tinctures and infusions of all kinds is many a homesteader’s dream! In fact, as far as goals and dreams go, it’s up there with having a pantry brimming with jars of home-canned food!

But for most homesteaders, herbal medicine and building a home apothecary tend to come later in the game, and it can be a bit confusing knowing just what you need to get started (and what you should be adding and stocking up on as you go).

To help make building and stocking your home apothecary or natural medicine cabinet a little easier, I compiled a list of all the ingredients I like to keep on hand for making my own medicinal preparations, as well as a suggested list of herbs to start growing or stocking up on and some other fantastic resources to help you get started preparing and using your own herbal medicine at home.

 

What is a home apothecary?

Before we get started, let me quickly explain what a home apothecary actually is for anyone who doesn’t know…

The term “apothecary” traditionally means “pharmacy,” or rather “pharmacist.” You see, long ago before modern day drug stores and pharmacies existed, herbal apothecaries were the place to go to get medicines, teas, tinctures, lotions and potions of all kinds.

The apothecary (which is also the term for the person who ran the shop), would not just dispense medicine, but would actually blend the herbs, mix the tonics and prepare the medicine on site.

Similarly, just like most people have medicine cabinets full of name-brand pharmaceuticals, creams and cosmetics today, people used to store their own medicines and personal care products at home too, but instead of synthetic drugs, pills and pharmaceuticals, they stored jars of dried herbs, medicinal salves and bottles of herbal tonics, tinctures, elixirs and infusions, many (or most) of which they mixed at home themselves. 

But home apothecaries are seeing a comeback as more and more people become interested in herbal and natural medicine and look to lessen their dependence on pharmaceuticals.

A modern day home apothecary can be as simple or elaborate as you like; From storing a few bottles and Mason jars on a shelf or in your existing medicine cabinet, to purchasing or building a custom home apothecary cabinet. Have fun with it!

 

*** For a printable version of this list, click here to access my Free Resource Library and download my full apothecary checklist from the “Home Pharmacy Resources” section. ***

 

A quick disclaimer

Every time I share anything about herbal medicine I’m obliged to share the following disclaimer, which is that I am not a doctor, a certified herbalist or a medical professional of any kind, and for safety reasons I always recommend speaking with your family doctor or primary health care provider before using herbal medicine.

Remember that just because something is natural doesn’t automatically mean that it’s safe. 

Some herbs can interfere with other drugs or medical conditions or may not be recommended for use by people of all ages, by women who are pregnant or nursing, etc. So, as always, use common sense and speak to your doctor about any health concerns you have. 

Alright, let’s get into it…

 

What to stock in a home apothecary

Stocking a home apothecary is very similar to stocking a home pantry: since you’ll be making many of your own herbal remedies from scratch, I recommend stocking up on a variety of versatile staple items that can be used to create a wide variety of homemade medicines and cosmetics.

Here’s a list of items you might want to consider purchasing or gathering for your home apothecary:

 

Dried herbs, flowers, spices and teas

You can’t make your own herbal medicine without herbs! While the list of medicinal herbs to keep in your home apothecary could very well be endless, here are a few herbs and spices you might want to consider stocking (and possibly even growing) at home:

  • Astragalus
  • Basil
  • Calendula
  • Cannabis* (beware of the laws in your area)
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Comfrey
  • Dandelion (dried flowers and roots)
  • Dried chilli peppers/flakes
  • Dried citrus peels or slices (lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
  • Echinacea 
  • Elderberries
  • Ginger
  • Herbal teas/tea blends (store-bought or make your own with the dried herbs listed here) 
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Red raspberry leaves
  • Rosehips
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Stinging nettles
  • Tea (black & green)
  • Thyme
  • Tulsi (aka. Holy Basil)
  • Turmeric
  • Yarrow

While you may already be growing some of these herbs, spices and plants at home, you can also purchase dried medicinal herbs. I don’t recommend using dried herbs from your local grocery store for medicinal purposes, however. For starters, you don’t know how long those herbs have been sitting there, and often they’re ground up quite fine. Both of these factors lead to them losing their potency and making their medicinal properties a lot weaker. Not to mention, store-bought culinary herbs aren’t always guaranteed organic, and you definitely want to be using organically grown herbs for medicinal purposes.

One of my favourite places to source dried medicinal herbs is Starwest Botanicals. They’ve got just about every herb under the sun, including bulk herbs and spices, bulk herbal teas, herbal extracts and capsules and a bunch of other herbal products and accessories. 

Another great source for dried herbs, medicinal herb seeds and herbal teas is Farmhouse Teas. My friend CeAnne runs this incredible small business with her husband and children and makes her own herbal tea blends that are both delicious and full of medicinal properties.

She also sells a medicinal tea blending kit, which includes 10 packages of dried herbs so you can make your own herbal tea blends or medicinal preparations at home, seeds so you can start growing your medicinal herbs at home, and my personal favourite, her Dump & Go Mix Trio which includes 3 packages of pre-mixed herbs and spices to make your own Elderberry Syrup, Wild Cherry Bark Syrup and Fire Cider at home.

If you have a good, reasonably priced organic health food or bulk store in your area, this might also be a good place to source dried herbs and spices for your home apothecary.

Related: 4 Ways to Preserve Herbs At Home

 

Solvents

Aside from the herbs themselves, you’ll also want to store some basic ingredients for making medicinal preparations at home, including a variety of liquid solvents, which can be used to make herbal infusions like tinctures, liniments and elixirs. Here are a few to keep on hand. 

  • Alcohol (vodka and/or brandy)
  • Apple cider vinegar (store-bought or homemade)
  • Coconut oil
  • Distilled water
  • Glycerin
  • Honey (raw, local, unpasteurized is best)
  • Maple syrup
  • Olive oil/other liquid carrier oils
  • Rosewater
  • Witch Hazel

Tinctures are one of the most popular types of herbal medicinal preparations to make at home, and can make you feel like a real herbalist (or cottage witch!) To make a basic medicinal tincture, cover dried herbs with vodka or other 80 to 100 proof grain alcohol (or brandy) and let sit and infuse for several weeks. Then strain the herbs out and store the liquid extract (aka. tincture) for medicinal use. 

Tinctures are a great way to prepare and take medicinal herbs like yarrow, echinacea and holy basil, and they’ll last for years on your shelf due to the alcohol content. However if you’d prefer not to use alcohol, you can also make a glycerite, which is prepared the exact same way as a tincture except with vegetable glycerin as the solvent. This is a great option for kids.

Other types of medicinal preparations made with the above solvents include infused honey, infused oils, infused vinegars, oxymels (a mixture of infused herbal honey and vinegar), elixirs (herbs steeped in honey or maple syrup mixed with alcohol like brandy), topical astringents, liniments and compresses.

 

Essential oils

Essential oils are, well, an essential part of my own personal home medicine cabinet. Last I checked I had over 100, and I use them in one form or another pretty much every day. 

I not only diffuse oils daily, but I also use them to craft homemade cosmetics and cleaning products, candles and room sprays, salves, lotions and topical medications. 

While I’ve amassed my collection over the course of a few years, if you’re just starting your own collection, here are the essential oils I’d aim to stock up on first:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree (aka. Melaleuca)
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Pine or Spruce

I purchase all of my oils from Plant Therapy and find them incredibly affordable considering the high quality of their oils. They also offer some great sets, like the essentials gift set, which is a great way to start building your collection.  

Related: How to Get Started With Essential Oils

 

Fresh ingredients 

The following herbs and ingredients are best stored and used fresh rather than dried. These are great to keep on hand to use as medicine but you may want to keep them in your pantry: 

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish 

 

Other apothecary ingredients 

There are so many ingredients you could potentially add to your home apothecary, but here are a few more you might want to keep on hand for making your own all-natural medicine and personal care products: 

  • Beeswax (for making salves & balms)
  • Bee pollen
  • Sea salt
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Epsom salts
  • Sugar (for sugar scrubs & syrups)
  • Lye (for soap-making) 

 

Apothecary tools & equipment 

You’ll also want to stock up on a few basic tools and pieces of equipment. Here’s what I recommend keeping on hand:

  • Mortar & pestle 
  • Funnel
  • Measuring cup & spoons
  • Thermometer 
  • Kitchen scale
  • Scissors
  • Double boiler 
  • Assorted bottles, jars & containers
  • Labels and a pen

A good mortar & pestle is an essential tool for every home apothecary. It can be used to grind up spices, crush fresh and dried herbs and make poultices and pastes. I like this stoneware mortar & pestle from Roots & Harvest, but there are lots of different kinds, including marble ones and even molcajetes, which are Mexican mortars & pestles traditionally made of lava stone. I have one of each, and love and use them all.

A few basic kitchen tools and gadgets are also useful for a home apothecary, including a funnel, measuring cups and spoons, a meat or candy thermometer, a kitchen scale and some scissors (check out these 5-blade Herb Scissors that make quick work of cutting up fresh herbs!).

A double boiler is also handy for melting down salves and balms. I use this double boiler pouring pot for candle-making, as well as for making medicinal salves at home.

Finally, you’ll want to keep an assortment of glass jars, bottles and labels on hand for storing and labelling dried herbs and medicinal preparations. Mason jars are great for storing herbs, spices and teas. I also like to keep a variety of glass amber bottles for making sprays, tinctures, syrups, salves and rollerballs, among other things.

 

Books and journals

I also highly recommend keeping a few solid herbal reference books on hand, as well as a journal to record your own herbal mixes and recipes in. This type of journal is referred to as a “Materia Medica.”

While there are a number of great books on herbal and natural medicine, these are my favourite go-to reference books:

As for your Materia Medica, any type of journal or notebook will do, however I like and use this one.

 

How to organize your home apothecary 

How you choose to organize your home apothecary is completely up to you. You could simply use your medicine cabinet if you’ve got enough space. Otherwise you could use another larger cabinet, or you could splurge on an old-style apothecary cabinet or chest. There are some really beautiful ones out there if you’re willing to invest the money!

Of course you’ll want to keep everything tidy and organized so you know what you have and can easily access what you need, so try to keep like items together. You can use the different lists above to know how to organize and group things together.

The reality is that you might not have the space or set up to keep everything together. In our house, I store essential oils and some solvents, herbal preparations and cosmetics in our bathroom drawers and medicine cabinet, I store dried herbs, spices and tea, as well as most oils, vinegars, alcohols and honey in our pantry, and I keep my tools in my kitchen cupboards.

While it’s nice to fantasize about having a miniature version of an 18th century apothecary cabinet brimming with drawers full of dried herbs and curved bottles of potions lining the shelves, that’s not reality for most people, so make do with what you’ve got. 

 

Start building your home apothecary today! 

It’s really quite easy to start stocking your own natural home medicine cabinet, and you likely already have many of the above listed ingredients on hand! To help you take the next step, here are a few more helpful articles and recipes for herbal preparations and herbs you can gather to start building your home apothecary today:

If you’re interested in going deeper and learning even more about herbs and how to build your own apothecary at home, I highly recommend checking out the extensive collection of recipes, blog posts and online courses from The Herbal Academy; my affiliate partner and go-to source for information on all things herbal medicine.

* A version of this article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine: The Herbal Medicine Issue. To read the full issue, as well as gain access to our entire library of current and past issues and get new issues delivered to your inbox, visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com and subscribe for just $19.99/year!

 

 

 

 


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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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Yes, you read that right…

Modern Homesteading Magazine is coming to an end.

This decision has not come easily, but there’s a season for everything, and more and more I’m feeling called to transition out of this season and into the next in both life and business.

And so this final farewell issue is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s the first ever annual issue, with 100 pages packed with brand new content that celebrates the best of the past 32 issues!

And it’s the first issue I’ve ever offered in PRINT!

But on the other hand, it marks the end of an era, and of this publication that I’ve absolutely had the pleasure of creating and sharing with you.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you will not be charged a renewal fee going forward, and will continue to have access to the digital library until your subscription runs out. As part of your subscription, you’re able to download and/or print each issue of you like, so that you never lose access to the hundreds of articles and vast amount of information in each issue.

Rather than subscribing, you can now purchase an all-access pass for a one-time fee of just $20, which gives you access to our entire digital library of issues.

Plus, for a limited time, when you purchase an all-access pass you’ll also get a gift certificate for a second all-access pass to gift to someone else.

I’m also still taking preorders for the print version of this special edition issue, but only for a few more weeks!

When you preorder the print issue, you’ll also get a digital copy of the special edition issue (this issue only), and will receive a print copy in the mail later this year (hopefully by Christmas so long as there are no shipping delays!)

Click the link in my profile or visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to check out the latest issue, purchase an all-access pass to the digital library and/or preorder the print issue today!

Thanks to everyone who has read the magazine over the past 4 years. I’m humbled and grateful for your support, and can’t wait to share whatever comes next:)

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19 3

It’s easy to romanticize homesteading, but the truth is that those homegrown vegetables, those freshly laid eggs, that loaf of bread rising on the counter, and that pantry full of home-canned food takes time, effort and dedication. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight!

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That’s where I’m at now. Life today looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago, when our homesteading and self-reliance journey was just beginning.

Back then we still lived in our city condo and were just beginning to dabble in all of this stuff. But my husband Ryan and I felt a sense urgency to start pursuing a more self-reliant lifestyle, and we committed to taking small steps, one day at a time to make that vision a reality.

Over the years we’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other, adding new skills and tackling new projects along the way that have helped us get to where we are today.

While there’s always more we want to learn and do, as I look around me right now, I’m so grateful that we took those first steps, especially considering what’s happened in the world over the past few years!

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Link in profile to enroll before midnight tonight, or go to thehouseandhomestead.com/society

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There are so many reasons to grow your own food at home:

💰 Saves you money at the grocery store
🍴 Healthier than conventionally grown food
🔑 increases your overall food security
🫙 Gives you an abundance to preserve and share

But perhaps the number one reason is because it just tastes better!

Not only does food taste better when it’s freshly picked or allowed to ripen on the vine, there’s something about putting in the work to grow something from a tiny seed and then getting to see it on your dinner plate that just makes it so much more satisfying than anything you’ll ever buy from the store.

Plus, having to wait all year for fresh tomatoes or strawberries or zucchinis to be in season makes that short period when they’re available just that much more exciting!

With the world spinning out of control and food prices continuing to rise, it’s no wonder more people are taking an interest in learning to grow their own food at home. But that also means changing our relationship with food and learning to appreciate the work that goes into producing it and the natural seasonality of organically grown fruits and vegetables.

(It also means learning to preserve it so you can make the most of it and enjoy homegrown food all year long).

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If you’ve been watching events unfold over the past few years and you’re feeling called to start “cutting ties” with the system and begin reclaiming your independence, The Society of Self-Reliance was made for you!

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Got out for an early morning harvest today. Been up since 3am, contemplating life, the future and the past, the order of things…

There is a rumbling right now, not just in North America, but around the world. Many of us can feel it, and know we are on the precipice of something big.

I’d been hearing about this new song that’s become an overnight viral sensation, written by an (until now) unknown singer named Oliver Anthony. His new song Rich Men North of Richmond has had 14 million views on YouTube in the past week alone, so I decided to check it out.

I also saw a clip of him playing a Farmers Market last week, and anything that has to do with Farmers Markets always has my attention;)

I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve already cried listening to that song. If you’ve heard it already, you probably know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a listen. All I can say is it’s been a while since a song resonated so deeply with me, and in this strange new world, I know I’m not the only one.

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Trying to cling to better days; To a simpler time; To the old ways, all while doing our best to get by in the new world.

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(Continued in comments…)
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112 18

Another garlic harvest in the books!

Garlic is easily one of my favourite crops to grow. It’s pretty much a “set if and forget it” crop. We plant in the fall and leave it to overwinter, fertilize a couple times in the spring, start watering only once the ground starts to dry out, and then harvest in the summer. We can even plant a fall succession crop after our garlic if we want so it really makes great use of garden space all year round.

Over the years we’ve managed to become completely self-sufficient with garlic. We now grow enough to eat all year (and then some!), plus we save our own seed garlic and usually have extra to sell or give away. And around here fresh, organic garlic ain’t cheap, so it’s a good cash crop for anyone who’s serious about selling it.

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Going through photos and videos from our trip to the @modernhomesteadingconference and the vast majority are of our daughter having the time of her life!

Even if I personally got nothing else out of this gathering (which I most certainly did), watching her discover her own love of this lifestyle outside of what we do at home made my heart grow three sizes!

Homesteading is about so much more than homegrown food and self-reliance. It’s about passing on invaluable skills and an understanding of and respect for our connection to the land that provides for us to the next generation.

Being around so many other kids and families who are also pursuing a homesteading lifestyle helped show our little one that this is a movement that is so much bigger and greater than what our own family does on our little plot of land. This is a lifestyle worth pursuing, with a community unlike any other.

Glad to be back home and more excited than ever to involve my kids in everything we’re doing. But also, I think I speak for my whole family when I say we can’t wait to go back someday!
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46 7

If you’re simply looking for ways to save a little extra cash this summer and live well for less, here are 12 tried and tested frugal living tips for summer that you can use to save money this season without sacrificing a thing.
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22 3

A brand new issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine just dropped!

In this issue:

🌱 How to forage and use five common edible and medicinal weeds

🏠 A sustainable, affordable alternative to traditional homes, greenhouses and more

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Tips for managing a homestead while raising a family (big or small!)

🫙 What to focus on when preserving food for true food security

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💇How to make your own all-natural herbal hair care products at home

🧑‍🌾 Why “community sufficiency” is the new self-sufficiency

And more!

Visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com (or click the link in my bio) to subscribe or login to the library and read the latest issue.

Plus, be sure to check out all of our past issues as well! There’s a wealth of information in our library on everything from farming and gardening to cooking and canning to herbal medicine, natural living and so much more!

*** This will be the last quarterly issue! ***

This little magazine has grown so much over the past 4 years and 32 issues, and now it’s time for another exciting evolution.

I’m excited to announce that we will be moving to an even more robust annual publication with the intention of offering the first ever print edition this fall if there is enough demand.

I’m also excited to announce the brand new Modern Homesteading Magazine blog, which is currently under construction and will be launching soon. While we will still be maintaining digital subscriptions, the blog will be accessible to all, free of charge, so that more people might benefit from the empowering and increasingly important information that we cover in each issue.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this issue happen! @homesteadingfamily @oatsandhoneyhomestead @omnivore.culture @thetaylor.leigh @doeraydesign (and more who don’t have IG pages;)

And a HUGE thank you to everyone who has subscribed over the years. Modern Homesteading Magazine would never have become what it is today without each and every one of you.

#homesteading #modernhomesteading #selfsufficiency
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If you’ve ever grown your own garlic, you might have noticed the spiral-shaped shoots that suddenly pop up in the centre of the stem, usually about a month or so before the garlic bulbs themselves are ready to be harvested.
These are garlic scapes, and believe it or not- they make delicious pesto! Get the recipe through the link in my bio- https://thehouseandhomestead.com/garlic-scape-pesto/
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#houseandhomestead
#homesteadmom
#homesteadmoments
#homesteadingskills
#homesteady
#thehomestead
#thehomesteadlife
#summeronthehomestead
#suburbanhomesteading
#lovemyfarm
#modernhomesteader
#countrygal
#country_living
#urbanhomesteading
#selfsustainableliving
#homesteaderslife
#garlic
#garlicscapes
#garlicscapespesto
#granolamom
#urbanhomesteader
#homesteadlifestyle
#farmerslifeforme
#backyardhomesteading
#homesteadingfamily
#sustainablelifestyles
#happyhomesteading
#homesteadersofamerica
#homesteaders
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This honey and chive blossom vinaigrette is a frugal, easy and healthy homemade salad dressing that pairs beautifully with fresh garden salads all season long.
Get the recipe through the link in my bio.
https://thehouseandhomestead.com/chive-blossom-vinaigrette/
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#houseandhomestead
#herbalgarden
#gardenherbs
#herbsfromthegarden
#freshherbsfromthegarden
#gardenfreshherbs
#chiveblossoms
#homesteadmom
#homesteadmoments
#homesteadingskills
#homesteady
#thehomestead
#thehomesteadlife
#summeronthehomestead
#suburbanhomesteading
#lovemyfarm
#modernhomesteader
#countrygal
#country_living
#urbanhomesteading
#selfsustainableliving
#homesteaderslife
#seasonalrecipes
#eatinseason
#liveseasonally
#eattheseasons
#seasonaleats
#summersbounty
#eatseasonal
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