This blog had been on my to-do list for a while but after being evacuated due to bushfire recently, I think it’s time to share!
When there’s a bushfire, lots of different scenarios play out and we might need herbs to support us in a variety of ways. So, what are the best herbs for bushfires? Here’s some broad categories – use whatever is relevant.
As always, the suggested herbs are just a starting place and mightn’t be right for you – experiment, and if in doubt, get personalised support from a herbalist.
Also, be guided by what’s growing in your bioregion and what’s already on your shelves!
Emotional shock/ First Response
Even if you’re expecting it, when you get the news a bushfire’s near you, it can come as quite a shock. Sometimes you need to leave quickly, and seeing fire or copious amounts of smoke can be pretty overwhelming. These herbs might help steady your nerves to help you think more clearly to get yourself/ family to safety. You can also use them to deal with emotional distress throughout.
Herbs: Rescue remedy pastilles, passionflower, lavender, Australian bush flower emergency essence, kava
Even if you’re not directly in the path of a bushfire, many people are exposed to bushfire smoke. The delicate mucous membranes of our respiratory tract, and eyes can be irritated by dry, smoky conditions and exposure to particulate matter.
Depending on your situation, you can use herbal teas, steam baths, neti pot, nasal sprays and eye washes.
If the exposure is prolonged or intense, or you have an existing condition/weakness in your lungs, it can be quite a stressful assault on the body and this can manifest as symptoms in other parts of the body as well. These herbs are best teamed with a holistic approach of avoiding exposure where possible, staying hydrated, increasing intake of anti-oxidant rich herbs and foods, supporting other symptoms as needed.
Herbs for bushfire smoke exposure – respiratory tract: mullein, plantain, licorice, marshmallow, elecampane (this herb is quite drying, so pair with licorice or marshmallow if need this extra lung support)
Iritation is more in the sinuses, also consider: goldenrod, elderflower, plantain, marshmallow
Herbs for eye wash: chamomile, calendula or eyebright
Burns can obviously be pretty serious, so always seek medical help when needed. You can support first and mild second degree burns at home – initially with room temperature running water. After the heat has left the burn, you can use a herbal compress, gel or salve with the following herbs.
Herbs: lavender, calendula, chickweed, yarrow, chamomile, comfrey, aloe vera
Acute Stress/ Anxiety
Bushfires can be really stressful and overwhelming! When thinking about acute stress/ anxiety, what are the best herbs for bushfires? These herbs below combine really well together and you can use them throughout the day or before bed. I personally think nervines can be pretty person-specific, so if you try the ones on this list and aren’t feeling supported, you can blend them differently, try other herbs or ask a professional herbalist to make you a personal blend.
These herbs are most effective with other stress-reducing lifestyle strategies.
Herbs: skullcap, passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm, lavender, linden, Austalian Bushfire solaris essence (a flower essence specific for fire)
Long –term stress
If you’re in a bushfire risk zone, a prolonged dry summer can result in ongoing low/high grade anxiety, especially if the bushfire rating is set to catastrophic. Also, if a bushfire has affected your property (so sorry if that’s you!), the aftermath can require months/ years of physical and emotional endurance from us. Herbs can be a great support in both these situations.
Again, there are a lot of herbs we can reach for, these are fabulous, but if these aren’t helping, I always encourage you to experiment or see a skilled herbalist to blend a beautiful mix of herbs perfectly suited to you.
Herbs: tulsi, ashwaganda, milky oats, schizandra, siberian ginseng and the nervines listed above for acute stress.
If you’ve lost some/ everything to a bushfire, grief is a natural response. But you might also find yourself grieving even without the loss of lives or property. You might grieve for the wildlife, your community, or your loss of sense of safety.
You can use herbs to help you be in your grief, and if needed over time, herbs that can help you move forward. Always pair herbs with other holistic practices and get support where needed.
Herbs: rose, hawthorn, motherwort, tulsi, lemon balm, mimosa
In my experience, I had many of these herbs on hand when we had to evaculate. However, I didn’t have them pre-blended and ready to go, so I couldn’t take them! Luckily, we could return quite quickly and had no damage to our property. However, lesson learnt – have your remedies pre-prepared and in a go-bag.
As we’ve seen in this article, there are lots of ways we can support ourselves with herbs for bushfires. I might write another article soon with more specific recipes if that would be supportive.
If you are worried, or experiencing smoke exposure or a bushfire, I send you much love and thoughts. I hope you’re safe and have community around to support you.