All About Thyme
  A Weekly Calendar of Times & Seasonings

  Celebrating the Mysteries, Magic, and Myths of Herbs
Susan Wittig Albert  
Special Feature, November 5, 2018  


When I was a girl, Vaporub was my mother's staple cold medicine. When my brother or I began to sniffle and sneeze, out came that little blue jar, and when bedtime rolled around, we were put to bed with Vicks on our chests. At the time, of course, we had no idea what was in the stuff, only that it smelled good and cleared our heads. It wasn't until much later that I learned that it was herbal medicine that did the trick: the magic of eucalyptus and peppermint.

eucalyptus Eucalyptus. In its native Australia, leaves from the eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus sp.) have long been an important herbal medicine. Vapor from boiling leaves was used as an inhalant for colds and asthma. The leaves were rolled cigar-style and smoked to treat bronchitis. The plant contains eucalyptol, a chemical that has a powerful decongestant action. Eucalyptol is also antibacterial and antiviral; after minor wounds have been washed, eucalyptus essential oil or clean crushed leaves can be applied to help prevent infection. (Never ingest the oil; it is highly toxic.)

Peppermint. Menthol, a constituent of peppermint (Mentha piperita) provides a cooling sensation in the nose, relieves nasal congestion, and relieves sore throat and cough. Its antimicrobial activity may also help to reduce infection. (Never ingest oil of peppermint; it is highly toxic, and there are reports of fatalities.)

Using these Healing Herbs:

  • Eucalyptus-Peppermint Tea
    To brew a pleasant-tasting medicinal tea, use one to two teaspoons of dried, crushed eucalyptus leaves and 1 teaspoon dried peppermint per cup of boiling water. Steep ten minutes. Drink up to two cups a day to relieve cough and sore throat, or use as a gargle.

  • Eucalyptus-Peppermint Inhalant
    Boil a handful of eucalyptus and peppermint leaves in water, put a towel over your head, and inhale the aromatic steam.

  • Energizing Eucalyptus Bath Soak
    1 cup Epsom salts
    8-10 drops essential oil of eucalyptus
    8-10 drops essential oil of peppermint
    5 drops essential oil of rosemary

    Mix together and store in a lidded jar. Use ⅓ to ½ cup per bath. Energizing and invigorating.

More Reading

Susan's Nonfiction Books

Click on a book cover to read more about that book.

Work of Her Own
Writing From Life

Story Circle Network Books

Click on a book cover to read more about that book.

What Wildness
With Courage & Common Sense

Who's Susan Albert?

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of two recent memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. Her fiction, which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, includes A Wilder Rose (a novel about Rose Wilder Lane's collaboration with Laura Ingalls Wilder in the writing of the Little House books); the China Bayles mysteries; the Darling Dahlias mysteries; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. She is founder and past president of the Story Circle Network, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and Honorary President (2012-2014) of the Herb Society of America. More

To find out what's going on in Susan Albert's life in the Texas Hill Country, read Susan's blog.

Follow Susan on Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest.

Who's China Bayles?

She's the beloved fictional herbalist in Susan Wittig Albert's popular mystery series, set in Pecan Springs TX. For more about her books, visit

For more about herbs and the passing seasons, read China Bayles' Book of Days.

To request permission to reprint all or any portion of one of Susan's e-letters, email, stating which e-letter you'd like to reprint, with full details.

Click on the book covers
for more information

Please forward this feature to anyone interested in mysteries, herbs, and gardening. If a friend has forwarded this to you, click below to get your own subscription.

Subscribe to China Bayles' Weekly Herbal e-letter: "All About Thyme"

To read Susan's most recent e-letter on her website, click here:

This feature is a publication of Susan Wittig Albert and it is provided free, via e-mail, to anyone, worldwide. ©2018 Susan Wittig Albert. Do not quote without specific permission.

You may forward this e-letter to one or more friends, but please send the whole e-letter, rather than excerpts. If you see any portion of our e-letter on another website, please let us know.

This feature is designed, written, and edited by Susan Wittig Albert & Peggy Fountain.