Q&A: 30 Recommended Folk Remedies to Make in the Summer


With active kids running and play outdoors, many come across poison ivy (picture here) and end up with itchy red patches on their exposed legs, arms and bellies. Both Melissa Miller of Amherst and Jennifer Hartley of Florence suggest jewelweed as a folk remedy! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

We recently asked our readers to share a folk remedy they like to make in the summer months for their families using fresh herbs and plants.  Here are thirty remedies recommended by readers both far and near:

  1. “I like to make rhubarb and honey syrup and keep it in the back of the fridge for putting in hot water in January when I have a cold, or when I need to remember that spring will come.” – Dina Stander
  2. “My favorite folk remedy this year is lemon balm elixir. It’s so mellowing and calming!” – April Horton (Jacksonville, VT)
  3. “I am always making vinegars and honey’s and my favorite summertime recipe so far has been my Solstice Spice Honey which includes orange zest, lavender, cayenne, passion flower, fresh muddled strawberries & blueberries, lemon balm, English mint, and a spring of sage- mmm mmm good!” – Auron Aurelius
  4. “One of my favorite medicinals to make is a wild Atlantic seaweed apple cider vinegar. Of course harvesting seaweed is a lovely summer activity, but so is harvesting honey! Kava kava honey and ashwaganda honey are two of my most desired medicinal treats.” – Brianyn MacLeod (Leverett, MA)
  5. “I made violet syrup in the spring and will save my hot peppers and garlic to simmer in chicken broth come cold season.” – Sara Barry (Haydenville, MA)
  6. “I have a huge sage plant and have been meaning to make sage vinegar- good for your bones. Maybe sage honey too- good in tea for a sore throat.” – Judy Bennett (Greenfield, MA)
  7. “Arnica really helps with all the bumps and bruises of an enthusiastic child.” – Jessica Morris, Northampton MA
  8. “A jewelweed pulp on poison ivy blisters.” – Melissa Miller (Amherst, MA)
  9. “Vinegar infused with Holy Basil for mood party salads.” – Mauricio Abascal
  10. “One of my favorite summertime remedies to make is a tea from lemon balm, ginger (esp. the local ginger from Old Friends Farm) and local honey. It is best served cold and is a stimulating and refreshing digestive aid! My other favorite root remedy is raw onion for bruises and minor scrapes (though may sting). It works like a charm to prevent bruises from forming if used immediately after an injury. Just cut a fresh raw onion and put it on that bump and you will not get the bruise as it is a mild styptic.” – Heather Hall (Northampton, MA)
  11. “I make an elderberry syrup from the elderberry bushes in my yard. I simmer them down with honey and strain, then can the syrup and use it all winter to keep away illness. It really works! And it’s delicious (my husband is famous for elderberry cocktails!).” – Marissa Potter (Shelburne Falls, MA)
  12. “Plantain (any of the yard varieties) works wonders if someone gets a bite or sting from little winged creatures – it is even good for pets (neighbor had a dog that stepped on a bee).” – Katie Winston
  13. “Camomile tea for sunburn on your face.” – Marianne Beach
  14. “Rhubarb honey syrup with lemon balm and mint for upset tummy.” – Marianne Bullock (Greenfield, MA)
  15. “I love making rich and creamy little green pots of Malva cream from my old friend Common Mallow (Malva neglecta). She wants to be wanted and has amazing potential, healing capabilities and love to give.” – Jessica Morgan (Loveland, CO)
  16. “Our family collects elderberries to make into a winter time elixir.” – Heather Polson (Northampton, MA)
  17. “A favorite remedy to make in the summer is tincture of St John’s Wort flowers. These magic yellow flowers make a beautiful crimson remedy – antibacterial and antiviral.” – Anneliese Mordhorst (Chesterfield, MA)
  18. “My son loves to grow mint in our garden and uses it to make his special summer drink- 2 varieties of mint mixed with lemon, lime, and local honey. Mint aides one’s digestion so that is a nice added benefit. – As mom I have two favorite summer herbs: plantain leaf and parsley. I love the benefits of the plantain leaf- pick it, chew it, and place it on any insect bite to help take out the itch and speed up the healing process. In Western Massachusetts you can find plantain leaves in your backyard or growing in almost any patch of grass. Parsley is my other favorite summer herb and it is easy to grow in your garden, inside in a pot, or pick it up at your CSA or local farmers’ market. Parsley is very versatile and a powerhouse full of vitamins and iron . You can use parsley to make pesto, add finely chopped parsley in an omelete, mix it with salad greens, or serve a refreshing cup of parsley tea. So many tasty ways to serve parsley and a great way to increase everyone’s iron intake in your family.” – Paula Yolles (Florence, MA)
  19. “I float lavender in my birdbath to keep it from getting dirty and make sure the birds are well hydrated and have clean water during the hot summer months.” – Chris Curtis (South Hadley, MA)
  20. “In the summer, I’m a big fan of crushing up jewelweed and applying it to skin immediately after any exposure to poison ivy. I also gather jewelweed seeds to use in place of nuts in pesto (This takes a while.).” – Jennifer Hartley (Florence, MA)
  21. “Fresh mint and any sweetener made into tea for tummy aches. Nice iced too just to cool down. When you plant your mint remember it will happily roam and fill any available space!” – Helene Leue (Ashfield, MA)
  22. “Honey as an antibiotic and Colt’s Foot Tea in the spring for the nasty coughs that always go around.” – Dave Cahn (Cummington, MA)
  23. “One of my favorite summer herbal dishes to make is a wild greens pesto. I begin with fresh basil of course, then add bunches of whatever wild greens are growing abundantly around me.” – Frances O’Halloran (Carrboro, NC)
  24. “One of my current favorites is rosehip jam (from last year’s late fall rosehip harvest). Soak the dried, seedless hips in apple cider overnight. Blend until smooth in the morning. Voila! So easy. Make a lot, because it doesn’t last long.” – Renee A. Davis (Olympia, WA)
  25. “My favorite is Lemon Balm iced tea! I like to make herbal infusion-fruit popsicles as well. I also dry many herbs for later use and infuse honey with herbs (like thyme for colds). I’m hoping to make elderberry syrup and a herbal insect repellant this summer. I might also try my hand at making herbal cough drops!” – Jess Lamson (Amherst MA)
  26. “I second Jess’ lemon balm iced tea – I usually just put the fresh lemon balm in water and keep it in the fridge. Also, basil pesto with lots of fresh garlic. I have it whenever I’m going to be in a mosquito infested place. The fresh garlic works like a charm to keep them away.” – Sybil Killian (New York, NY)
  27. “This is a perfect mosquito bite remedy since 1) it works and 2) it only requires a weed and a band-aid. There is a very common weed (you likely have it in your own back among the grass) called plantain leaf. Pick a leaf, chew it up (it is bitter, but not gross), spit it onto the gauzy part of the band-aid and apply it to your mosquito bite. It takes the itch right away. Amazing and way too easy!” – Cheri Karbon (Deerfield, MA)
  28. “I use calendula, lavender, and comfrey in olive oil and beeswax to make a soothing salve. It is nourishing and healing for sunburn, cuts, and hard working hands.” – Glenda Datsko (Greenfield, MA)
  29. “I like to make many things depending on what I need and what’s growing. I have a rose bush so I make rose vinegar, rose water, rose syrup, and a lovely rose body scrub. I also like to make salves were I use dried lavender, roses, chamomile, and let it infuse in jojoba oil then use local beeswax. I use this to heal everything it even gets used on the doggie.” – Katrina Kruczko (Easton, PA)
  30. “I do not have a folk remedy using plants and herbs, but I know that a thick mixture of baking soda and water will help with bee stings.. hopefully that counts, right? I can’t wait to see what other write – I love to learn new things.” – Amanda Saklad (Belchertown, MA)

For more folk remedies made by Western MA folks, check out our column, “A Cure for What Ails,” compiled by local herbalist Tony(a) Lemos of Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA.  

Information provided on Hilltown Families (HF) is for informational and entertainment purposes only.Opinions expressed on HF are that of the writer and not necessarily that of HF. All health and wellness related information is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used to substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis.

2 Comments on “Q&A: 30 Recommended Folk Remedies to Make in the Summer

  1. HI there is my question: what herbal remedies do you suggest for poison ivy? I have heard and used sweetfern for my son, as well as dome boro,

  2. I love this, just reposted under why I love where I live. Thanks to everyone for all the great ideas.

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