Herbal medicine can truly be a medicine by the people and for the people. One way to demystify herbal medicine and to make it more accessible is through the establishment of self-care stations. A community can build their own or herbalists can build them in the communities they serve.
These mini-health stations empower their users by offering folks a chance to care for themselves with herbs and vitamins. It is both a chance to heal and to learn.
We place informational signs with each station or kit so folks can get some basic guidance as they choose their remedies.
Typically the remedies stocked in the kits fall under these headings – Digestive Support, Immune Support, and Stress Support (Relaxation). We would list several common herbs and remedies under each. While you won’t always find every remedy listed, we strive to have at least a few things from each section available at all times.
The items you choose to include in a Self-Care Station should reflect the community you serve and a materia medica that is recognizable and easily accessible (such as items you might easily find in a local grocery store) and safe with limited contraindications!
You also want the items to be easy to use (prebagged tea instead of loose for example) and packaged in a way that keeps remedies clean. We often use hand pumps on large bottles or package remedies in individually sized bottles and tubes.
Here are some shots of a few of the self-care stations (a.k.a. apothekini’s) we have created over the years:
Self Care Station Checklist:
STOCKING YOUR STATION
WHO IS IT FOR?
- Does your station serve a diverse group of folks? Or is there a more specific population this station is for, such as rough sleepers, activists at an occupation, a community with many small children, etc.
- How large is your group or community? How many people move through the space where the station is? This will dictate how much to keep stocked at any one time, or how often someone needs to refill. (every day, once a week, etc.)
- Your station should have rotating remedies, i.e. more cold + flu support in winter and allergy support in spring and fall.
- What daily activities are folks engaged in? This will help you choose more appropriate remedies.
- Where will this station (or kit) be placed? Is it indoors, is it in a tent, is it near a kitchen, is there electricity? Run through the scenario, thinking about exposure to weather and access to facilities. If there is not any access to hot water, you might choose to offer more extracts or capsules as opposed to teas. If the station is exposed to the elements, you may consider keeping it in a waterproof container that can be kept closed when not in use.
- Is this kit in a secure location? Will there be 24 hour access?
SANITATION + SAFETY
- Hand washing – is there a sink close by? Can you post a sign reminding folks to wash hands before handling remedies? If not, try and provide hand sanitizer.
- Waste Disposal – provide a bin to encourage folks to keep the station clean!
- Make sure everything is well labeled
- Who checks on the station, maintaining the stock and keeping it clean?
- Are the remedies donated? If so do you have standards (i.e. expiration dates, unopened, etc.)
- Can you hold community medicine making workshops to create the remedies to replenish your station?