Self reliance is learning to take care of and being able to rely on yourself. Being able to heal yourself, to take your health into your own hands, is an extremely satisfying skill. Learning home remedies is super important!


Learning herbs and home remedies can be a lifelong study, but it is so very important to have a few go-to’s in your arsenal. For this week’s challenge, I want you to learn at least 3 herbal or home remedies to help you treat a common complaint. Do your own research and choose remedies that will be most helpful for you and your family.

This challenge may be an extension of Challenge #1, to learn to forage medicinal herbs; or you may rely on store-bought options. That is up to you and the home remedies you choose to learn and use. I personally like to use mostly remedies that I can source myself.

Since we don’t really have chronic conditions in my family, but do tend to get a lot of colds, these herbal/home remedies are my personal go-to’s:

Thyme tea:  Thyme is an excellent remedy for respiratory issues. Thyme is antioxidant, antibacterial, and antispasmodic. It is an amazing expectorant, and is very helpful against inflammation. These properties make thyme a very effective remedy for colds, coughs, bronchitis, and even pneumonia. It also helps with congestion and aids the immune system.

I have used thyme tea many times for a bad cough. It calms the cough quickly. The tea seems to have an invigorating nature to it as well, as I almost feel like I’ve had too much caffeine after drinking it. It doesn’t taste the best, as it a very potent herb, but it is so very effective. Very soon, I am going to make thyme cough syrup with lemon and honey.


Elderberry syrup:  Elderberry syrup is an awesome remedy and preventative for colds and flu. It is actually anti-viral and helps strengthen the immune system. Elderberry is also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and tastes great! It has even been shown to have cancer fighting properties and can help control blood sugar fluctuations. Stores around here couldn’t keep their elderberry syrup on the shelves in the cold and flu section this past winter. Elderberry syrup has been used for centuries, and apparently word has gotten out about the wonders of this natural medicine.


Garlic ear oil:  Garlic ear oil is a remedy that was passed down to me from my mom. Garlic oil is such an effective remedy for ear infections that it has saved me many a hospital visit with my kids when they were little. And it is so easy to make! Simply infuse a quality oil, like olive oil, with fresh garlic. Strain, then keep in the fridge. Of course, you want to warm it slightly before putting it in the ear, but this remedy is so comforting. My mom used it on all 7 of her kids whenever they had ear pain, and used it on her many grandchildren as well. You can even put a warm compress over the ear with the oil in it to increase the effectiveness. Adding mullein flowers to this garlic oil infusion adds another healing element to it.

First year mullein
First year mullein plant in rocky cliff

Mullein tea: This list wouldn’t be complete without mullein! Mullein is a wonderfully soothing herb that is easily found in many areas of the country. It thrives in poor, disturbed soil. I have even seen it growing in the side of a rocky cliff. It is sometimes called “lambs ear” due to the fuzziness of the leaves. Because of the mucilage content of the plant, mullein is better for dry coughs, unlike thyme, which is more for wet coughs. It is a very simple tea to make. It does have fuzzy “hairs” that can cause irritation, so I usually make a “tea bag” from a coffee filter to hold the plant material to steep it in the hot water. Native Americans even smoked mullein leaves for cold relief. I haven’t personally tried this yet, but I think I will at some point!

I have loved this plant for a few years since I discovered it on a camping trip. I had a bad cough and made a mullein tea to sip on. It provided so much relief that I slept like a baby that night!


I hope you will have fun and learn lots of good remedies that will help you and your family in times of need. Please share what you have learned!





  1. ShawnaLee, thanks for the article post.Really thank you! Great.

    1. Hi Carrie, you’re welcome, love to help fellow homesteaders! Thank you for stopping by!

  2. I’m learning more about wild medicinals too 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome, Lisa! Do you have some favorite go-to’s as well?

  3. ShawnaLee, thanks a lot for the post.Really thank you! Much obliged.

    1. You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it!

  4. My neighbor has discovered her woods are full of elderberry trees. She’s trying to figure out what she can make from all the fruit. I’m going to recommend the elderberry syrup to her and maybe make some myself.

    Thanks ShawnaLee!

    1. Hi Maria! That’s great, I hope she makes use of them! They are such a great natural resource. You can make nice stuff from the flowers too, like cordials and jellies. Just keep in mind, the flowers turn into the berries so don’t use too many of the flowers!

  5. Love the idea for Elderberries! I just found out I have tons of elderberries growing on my property by the lake and I can’t wait to harvest them and learn how to use them! Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re very welcome, AnnMarie! I was so happy myself when we moved to our new place and I found a big elderberry bush. I harvested a lot of the berries last fall, and now the flowers are almost ready too!

  6. I spent a great deal of time to find something like this

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you found it helpful!

    1. You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Thank you so much for the feedback! I am trying to work on graphics and such, it’s certainly a learning process. And videos are on my never-ending to-do list. Never enough time in the day!

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    1. You’re very welcome! Thank you for commenting!

    2. I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

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