Using Herbs For Healing
Herbal preparations are excellent for self healing. They are gentle, easy to use, and you will have a more effective and healthier product. Oh, and did I mention it will "save you money"? Especially if you are into growing your own herbs.
There are many forms of herbal preparations for preserving herbs other than by drying them. There are alcoholic tinctures, extracts, syrups, vinegars and capsules. And this certainly is not a list of everything that can be done with herbs.
Herbal preparations work gradually over a period of time to change conditions that have taken along time to build up. So, give them a chance to work. You can not drink one cup of tea or take one pill and expect immediate return of health.
It is best to use dried herbs in the herbal preparations of infusions, decoctions or in pills, and they are most powerful when freshly made. It is wise to start with smaller and weaker versions of herbal preparations for an herbal remedy before you need them so if one disagrees with you, you can look for an alternative that suits you better, and that will be helpful when you need it.
Herbal preparations taken for the purpose of weight loss, cleansing or relief should be taken on an empty stomach. Herbal preparations taken for energy, stamina, vitality or natural vitamin consumption, work best when taken with meals.
Capsules Elixirs Herbal Wines Oils Poultices Syrups
Compresses Extracts Infusions Ointments Salves Teas Vinegars
Decoctions Herbal Baths Liniments Plasters Spirits Tinctures
Herbal preparations of wines. Cover 4 ounces of botanical with 3 cups of sweet red wine. Allow to steep for 3 weeks. Then strain. Take 3 to 4 teaspoons once or twice a day. Will keep for about one month.
Herbal infusions are prepared like teas, but are steeped longer so they become considerably stronger. Bring 20 ounces of distilled, mineral or tonic water (not tap water) to a boil in an enamel pot. Turn off the heat and pour over 1/2 to 1 ounce botanical. Allow to steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Strain and drink 4 to 6 ounces at a time about 3 to 4 times a day. Honey and lemon may be added for flavor and may enhance benefits. Herbal preparations of infusions should be freshly made and never kept for more than a day. They can also be used externally. (An herbal preparation of Shepherd's purse, externally, is beneficial to wounds and hemorrhoids.)
Herbal preparation of decoctions are similar to infusions, only it is made using the more woody plant parts, such as, barks and roots. These parts require the longest preparation time to remove the active ingredients.
Bring to a boil, 1 ounce of botanical (torn or cut in small pieces) in 20 ounces of distilled, mineral or tonic water. Simmer for 10 minutes in a closed enamel pot. Strain and drink 2 to 5 ounces at a time about 3 to 4 times a day. Most remedies are more effective while still hot. Herbal preparations of decoctions should be made fresh and never kept more than a day. (Fresh tops of meadowsweet will promote sweating and can be used externally to bathe wounds.)
Herbal tinctures also known as extracts, are made with alcohol (brandy, gin, rum or vodka) rather than water. Add 1 to 4 ounce of finely chopped or powdered botanical to 8 ounce of 75% alcohol. Then add 4 ounces of distilled, mineral or tonic water. Allow to steep for at least 2 to 6 weeks, shaking daily. Strain and use. Will keep almost indefinitely, but should be made and stored in sterile glass containers. These herbal preparations are the most effective form of herbs to use when severely ill. Add them to juices and take while fasting for their benefits. Herbal preparations of extracts generally average between 10-15 drops placed under the tongue where it is diffused directly into the blood stream very quickly. (Ginkgo biloba significantly increases blood flow to the brain and may be beneficial to recovery time of a stroke.)
Herbal preparations of elixirs. Add 1 to 4 ounce powdered botanical to 8 ounce of 40 to 60% alcohol, usually vodka. Then add 4 ounces of distilled, mineral or tonic water. Allow to steep for at least 2 weeks, shaking daily. Strain, add another 4 ounces of water, shake and use. These herbal preparations will keep almost indefinitely, but should be made and stored in sterile glass containers. (Gotu kola is excellent in nourishing the mind-body connection and a powerful brain food.)
Herbal preparations of spirits. Add 1 to 4 ounce powdered botanical to 8 ounces of 10% alcohol, usually vodka. Then add 4 ounces of distilled, mineral or tonic water. Allow to steep for at least 2 weeks, shaking daily. Strain, add another 4 ounces of water, shake and use. These herbal preparations will keep almost indefinitely, but should be made and stored in sterile glass containers. (Peppermint is beneficial as a digestive aid, colds, cough, flu, congestion, headache, heartburn, fever and insomnia.)
Herbal preparations of syrups. Boil 1 ounce of botanical in 20 ounces of distilled, mineral or tonic water for 20 minutes or more in a closed, enamel container. Add 1 ounce of glycerin, seal up the bottle as you would fruit. Store in sterile glass bottles. Make these herbal preparations in small amounts and keep in fridge, should keep for some months. (Mullein is beneficial for coughs, bronchitis, and asthma.)
Herbal preparations of capsules. The useful part of the herb is ground into a powder and packed inside a standard "00" size gelatin capsule. Capsules are a convenient way to carry healing herbs while you travel, or you just can not stand the taste. Many herbal supply catalogs offer capsules and capsule packing devices. Be sure to measure how much powdered herb fits into the capsules so you will not exceed the dosage. Herbal preparations of capsules can also be opened and the contents used to make infusions, decoctions or compresses. (Skullcap tones and relaxes the nervous system and a great herb for anxiety accompanied with worry.)
Herbal preparations of vinegars. Heat 8 ounces of white or red wine, or cider or white vinegar gently till hot, do not boil. Pour heated vinegar over 1 to 4 ounces of finely chopped or powdered botanical. Then add 4 ounces of distilled, mineral or tonic water. Allow to steep for at least 2 to 6 weeks, shaking daily. Strain and use. Will keep almost indefinitely, but should be made and stored in sterile glass containers with cork lid. If you must use a metal lid, cover the jar with wax paper before screwing on lid. Vinegar will deterioate a metal lid. For decorative purposes you may add back a sprig or berries, just be sure they are fully submerged in the vinegar. For herb vinegar salad dressing, put a sprig of fresh herb in a bottle. Fill it with pure apple cider vinegar. Cork and allow to steep for 2 weeks before using. Will keep for months in fridge.
Herbal preparations of compresses. Dip a cloth or heavy white towel in a warm infusion or decoction, wring it out and apply locally to the affected body part as hot as can be tolerated without injury. Cover the cloth with a dry towel and then a heating pad to help retain the heat. These herbal preparations are used to treat headaches, chest congestion, skin irritations, and swelling due to an injury. They can be used hot or cold. Use cold compresses where the skin is broken. Use hot compresses when the skin is not broken. (Angelica is beneficial for gout using a hot compress.)
Herbal preparations of liniments are made exactly like tinctures, except you use "rubbing" alcohol. Be sure to label these herbal preparations "FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY". (Camphor is beneficial for soothing muscle aches and pains, and rubbed on chest it relieves coughs.)
Herbal preparations of ointments and Salves. To 4 parts beeswax, add 1 part botanical powder. Also add 1 part of dry white wine while heating the fat. (This keeps the resultant ointment from smelling burned.) Stir and heat gently for 20 minutes. Cool slightly and strain. Salves are generally used on bruises, sores and inflammations. These herbal preparations should be stored in small wide mouthed glass jars and will keep almost indefinitely. An easier method is to add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tincture per ounce of commercial skin lotion and use. (Burdock used as a topical remedy is beneficial for acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.)
Herbal preparations of plasters. Bruise the leaf, root, or other part of botanical. Pour just enough boiling water over materials to slightly wet. Place materials between two pieces of cloth and apply to the area you wish to cover. These herbal preparations should be freshly made. (Rosemary is beneficial for joint pain and muscle tension.)
Herbal preparations of poultices. Bruise the leaf, root, or other part of botanical. Pour just enough boiling water over the materials to get it wet. Apply the botanical directly to the affected area and cover with a cloth that has been wrung out in hot water. Replace cloth with another when it gets cold. These herbal preparations should be freshly made. (One of the most common "boil" remedies is the poultice. It draws out the pus and helps the wound heal. For a natural poultice, cabbage makes an excellent cleansing choice.) (Coltsfoot is beneficial for headache.)
Herbal preparations of baths Combine 2-3 cups of your favorite aromatic botanical in an old white sock. Cover with water in an enamel pot, bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Steep for 15 minutes. Add to your bath water, use the sock full of botanical to wash with.
Herbal preparations of pure oils of flowers. These herbal preparations extracts the aroma of flowers. Lay the petals out in a thin layer in a flat enamel pan 3 to 5 inches deep. Cover with 1 or 2 inches of soft water. Set the pan in the sun. Leave it undisturbed for a few days. A film will float on the water. This is the oil and it should be collected whenever it appears by dipping it up with cotton tipped wooden swabs and squeezing it into a small amber colored bottle. Leave the bottle open until all the water evaporates. Herbal preparations of oils of flowers will keep indefinitely if stored in light proof sterile glass bottles in small quantities such as an ounce or two.
Keep all herbal preparations out of the reach of children.