What’s an herbal mama to do when her youngest goes off to college? Why, make an herbal care package, of course!
It’s true, the kids who inspired us to create LearningHerbs are all grown up. Rowan has graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a BFA in Original Works and Hailey is off to study Environmental Science. We are so proud of these two amazing children, and now John and I are officially becoming empty nesters.
I wanted to send Hailey off to school with some nourishment from home, so I created this Herbal Care Package for her, and I thought it would be fun to share what I created with all of you.
How to Make an Herbal Care Package
Making an herbal care package is a beautiful way to express care for your loved ones. I created this care package for my college-bound daughter, and this would also be a great gift for new parents, friends who are traveling, and more.
Ingredients You’ll Need…
This will depend on what exactly you add to your care package. Some of my go-to herbal care package remedies include elderberry syrup and an all-purpose healing salve.
- Find the vessel for your care package. You may opt for a cute basket, tin, or even a cardboard box.
- Brainstorm a list of common ailments or body systems you want to fortify that may impact the care package recipient. My list included daily nourishment, immune boosting, cold remedies, first aid cuts/bruises, skincare, anxiety, insomnia, and homesickness.
- Compile your remedies for each ailment/category, and add them to your care package vessel.
- Include a note that lists out which remedies are for what ailments, so that the recipient can easily use the care package.
Now that I’ve outlined the basics of creating an herbal care package, let’s dive into what herbal remedies I added to my daughter’s care package…
Herbs for Daily Nourishment
First, I thought of daily nourishment. Hailey has been drinking a daily nourishing herbal infusion since she weaned from breast milk. Her current blend is a mix of equal parts oat straw and nettle and a little bit of kelp and red raspberry. These are all nourishing herbs that are packed with vitamins and minerals, so drinking this tea is like taking a multivitamin. To get the most nutrition out of the herbs she will steep a 1/2 ounce of the blend in a pint of water for at least four hours. At home, I put them on to steep while I’m making breakfast and strain them for our dinner drink, but Hailey is more of a night owl, so I imagine she may set hers to steep before she goes to bed at night and strain it to drink over the course of the day.
Herbs for Boosting the Immune System
Starting college and living in a dorm is bound to expose a person to all sorts of new germs, so I thought it would be good to include some herbal immune boosters. I’m sending her with a pint of homemade elderberry syrup. You can get the recipe here. Taking a spoonful of this each day will help fortify her body against illness and if she gets sick she can take extra doses of the syrup to help her body to heal.
I’m also sending some echinacea tincture. It is great to take a dropperful of this tincture if you’re going into a situation (like a college party) where you think you may be exposed to illnesses or if you feel a cold coming on. Echinacea is a wonderful herb for giving the immune system an extra boost so you don’t get sick. You can learn to make your own echinacea tincture here.
The Best Herbal Cold Remedies
Despite doing everything you can to avoid getting sick, you may still come down with a cold when adjusting to a whole new lifestyle and interacting with lots of new people on a daily basis, so I’m sending her with some of our favorite herbal remedies.
In addition to the elderberry syrup, I’m sending her with some dried chamomile flowers so she can make a chamomile steam if she gets a stuffy nose. We’ve found this remedy to be great for clearing our sinuses to allow us to get some sleep or get through our day. Chamomile can help modulate inflammation and is also very calming for our nervous systems, so this steam is helpful on multiple levels.
I’m sending her with some elecampane honey as well. This is our family’s go-to remedy for coughs and Hailey has been taking it since she was little. Elecampane is especially good for wet coughs since it acts as an expectorant to help clear mucus. It is also antimicrobial and helpful for soothing swollen lymph glands. You can learn how to make elecampane honey here. I love knowing that this little jar will be in Hailey’s dorm fridge, and she can take a spoonful whenever she needs it. Being far away when my children are sick can be quite challenging for me.
Herbal First Aid: Herbs for Cuts and Bumps and Bruises
Hailey is an outdoor enthusiast. She is studying environmental science, after all. She is hoping to spend lots of time out of the classroom doing research and in her free time hiking and backpacking, so I’m sending her with some arnica homeopathic and arnica gel to help with the inevitable bumps and bruises that will come along. I’m also including a calendula, plantain, and comfrey salve so that any cuts can heal quickly. You can find our recipe for this salve right here.
I’m also going to include a lavender pack for sore muscles. I got a lavender pack for this care package at my local co-op. You can warm it in the microwave and then just lay it over the area that is sore. I love the colorful fabric they use to make them. The warmth and beauty is extra soothing.
Gentle Herbal Skincare and Lipbalm
Well, this care package just would not be complete without a jar of Kimberly’s Love Your Body Lotion. I’ve been making 100 little jars of this lotion as a holiday give away for people in my community for the last several years, and John and Hailey are always my first recipients. This lotion is made with cottonwood, elderflower, and rose infused oils combined with chamomile and rose hydrosols, aloe vera gel, coconut oil, and beeswax. It is decadent and such a treat for the skin. You can read about making herbal lotions here, and you can get the recipe for my Love Your Body Lotion in my book, Aphrodisiac, The Herbal Path to Healthy Sexual Fulfillment and Vital Living.
The lotion will nourish her skin, and I want to include a lip balm for her lips as well. One of the first herbal products we made together as a family was lip balm. It was so wonderful to have our own homemade alternative to petroleum-based lip products. Our favorite one is made with cottonwood oil. This oil is also called Balm of Gilead and has a distinct and wonderful scent. The almond oil we infuse the cottonwood buds in is moisturizing. Cottonwood is pain relieving and supports skin health. It is also a wonderful preservative, so this lip balm will last through the year on her dorm shelf. You can find a recipe for cottonwood lip balm here.
Herbs for Stress and Restful Sleep
The oat straw in Hailey’s herbal infusion mix definitely helps with this, but let’s face it, sometimes college can get pretty stressful — think finals week. I’m including a skullcap tincture to help calm her nervous system in times like these. Skullcap is a gentle herb so she can take a dropperful a few times a day, and one just before bed. This herb is a relaxing nervine, and its soothing effects can be felt immediately. I find that skullcap really settles my busy mind and helps me drop off to sleep. Both of my kids have found it useful over the years, and I’m glad Hailey will have this tincture to reach for when she needs it.
Herbs for Homesickness
For the last several years, throughout the fall and winter, I’ve kept a press-pot of herbal chai on the counter. This warming tea has nourished our family throughout the colder months, and the gentle spicy taste is a family favorite. I’m putting in a couple pouches of chai herbs and one of her favorite tea cups for those moments when she’s feeling a little homesick or when she just wants to warm herself from the inside. I use dandelion and burdock roots instead of black tea as a base for this chai so it is filled with vitamins and minerals to help keep her healthy in the colder months. Spicy herbs like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon add delicious flavor and a warming quality to the tea. She can just put the herbs in a pot of water and simmer them for about 20 minutes, strain it, and add some milk and honey. You can find our chai recipe right here.
My Herbal Care Package for Hailey
Here’s a quick list of all the things I put in Hailey’s package. You can buy these items ready-made or make them yourself.
- Infusion Herbs – a mix of dried oat straw, nettle, red raspberry, and kelp
- Elderberry syrup
- Echinacea tincture
- Dried chamomile flowers
- Elecampane honey
- Arnica homeopathic
- Healing salve – calendula, plantain, and comfrey
- Lavender pack for sore muscles
- Kimberly’s Love Your Body Lotion
- Cottonwood lip balm
- Skullcap tincture
- Chai herb pouches
What Are The Benefits of Making an Herbal Care Package?
Putting this Herbal Care Package together has been such a sweet endeavor, and it feels like such a gift from my heart to my daughter. I love that all of these items are familiar to her from her herbal upbringing. Because of that, I know they will bring extra comfort as she spends this first year away from home. Making herbal care packages for loved ones is a beautiful way to help our loved ones feel nourished no matter where they are.
I have to tell you, as we looked at different colleges, Hailey would scan the landscape for her familiar plants. She would point them out and told me how comforting it was to find them in this new place away from home. The plants have woven their way into her life and into her heart, and when she finds them it is like meeting old friends. This care package, which includes many of her favorite herbs, is one of the ways I am wrapping her in my love and care as I send her off onto the next phase of her journey.