Ten Ways of Preparing Medicinal Herbs
The most significant aspect regarding herbal remedies is how they are made. There are various techniques for preparing medicinal herbs, for example, teas, poultices, syrups, and balms.
There are no set standards calling for a certain method of preparation for a specific condition. That being said, stick to applying remedies that fall into the same group as the condition. This means that cuts, bruises, rashes, etc. should be treated with ointments and salves, or other topical remedies.
“Internal” conditions call for pain soothing medicines, extracts, purifying tonics and other remedies which are usually administered orally.
Preparing Medicinal Herbs for Drying
This is exactly as it seems – you’re going to dry the plants and use them in teas, balms or other remedies. Commonly you’ll need to dry your plants hung upside down by the roots, with the goal of draining the oils within the plant into the leaves.
Another alternative is to use a dehydrator, ideally one with a fan, to boost the airflow and dry the plants steadily. A third course is to spread the plants out on screens and dehydrate them with the help of the sun.
Preparing Medicinal Herb Extract
An extract is frequently produced using more solid materials, for example, bark or berries. It basically includes adding the herb to water, boiling for a specified time and afterward leaving the mixture to soak for some time, ideally for 12 hours or more. The fluid is then strained before use.
You need to be careful when preparing elixirs because some essential oils become worthless if they are heated too much. Some even change on a chemical level, so learn about the oils that are in the herbs you are preparing and what their temperature thresholds are.
A common oral portion is 1/2 cup a couple of times each day. But, take care to check the instructions for the specific elixir you are making.
Preparing Medicinal Herb Infusions
Infusions are one of the most well-known approaches to get medicinal properties from herbs. You essentially pour high temp water over them and enable them to soak for a set amount of time, usually until cool. At that point, you strain it and drink (think tea) Portions is ordinarily 1 cup.
Macerations of Medicinal Herbs
Remember that we wrote about how oils decompose when they are overheated? Well, the objective of macerations is to make tea without doing exactly that.
Instead of using hot water, crush the leaves (or bark, berries, and so forth) in cold water, at that point let it sit for a few hours, ideally longer than 12. The portion is usually 1 cup per day, just like infusions. 8 ounces up to a few times per day.
To make an oil infusion, you just dip the herbs in oil to draw out the medicinal attributes. Oil infusions are frequently used for cooking, skincare, making soap or as a massage oil. The best oils are almond, olive oil, coconut oil or sesame oil. Contingent on the herb and the oil, infusions might be made using room-temperature oil or you may have to warm it up.
Preparing Medicinal Herbs to Make Ointments and Salves
The most common uses for ointments are for treating skin issues such as rashes, cuts, bites, dry skin or even sore muscles or joints. Essentially, ointments are great if you want to use a waterproof base that isn’t going to run off of your skin.
The traditional base was petroleum jelly but we now know that petroleum is linked to cancer, including breast cancer because of the PAH’s in it. Petroleum is also hydrophobic, which means that it sucks moisture out of your skin; not exactly the end goal if you’re already treating irritated or dry skin.
Stick with “Un-Petroleum” jelly instead. You can either buy it and stash it, or make your own. We make our own by melting together 1 cup of olive or coconut oil and ¼ cup beeswax. Voila! And it’s a great moisturizer, too.
To make an ointment, just toss your herbs into the saucepan along with the beeswax and oil, bring it all to a simmer over VERY low heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain it out and place the ointment in a small glass jar or tin. It will get thicker as it cools.
Preparing medicinal herbs poultice
Since poultices are placed directly onto a wound or targeted treatment area, they’re used most commonly for drawing out infection, decreasing inflammation, soothing sore muscles, relieving chest congestion and drawing out foreign objects from your tissues.
Typical bases include corn meal, clay or flour added to water and either dried or fresh herbs. Soak them in the water to create an infusion then add the corn meal, clay or flour. Mix it together to form a paste and apply directly to the wound.
Most likely you’ll be wrapping the poultice wound in gauze, or even newspaper will do in a pinch. Just leave it on until it dries and remove it. You may need to reapply a fresh mixture depending upon your goal.
Some poultices should be hot, either to release the medicinal properties of the herbs or to work effectively on the targeted malady. The more practice you have in preparing medicinal herbs, the better you will be at getting the desired result each time.
Preparing medicinal herbs syrup
The old song says that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and it’s surely a fact. Syrups are just decoctions or infusions that have been sweetened with sugar or honey. Preparing medicinal herbs in syrup form is great for cough suppressants, mucus inhibitors or anything else that you want to taste good.
To make them, add 16 ounces of your decoction or infusion to a pan along with a pound of sugar or honey. Bring it to a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Store in a sealed, non-airtight container because you don’t want bugs getting in but the syrup may expand as it ferments so you don’t want the container to be airtight. Store in the refrigerator.
Teas are one of the easiest methods of preparing medicinal herbs. Teas are extremely similar to infusions except that you don’t have to wait as long for them to steep. Usually, you’ll pour boiling water over the herbs, let them steep for 10 minutes or so, strain, and drink it hot.
Tinctures are a great way to draw the medicinal value out of your herbs and store it for long periods of time. You do this by soaking them in alcohol or vinegar, and then just make tea, salves or whatever you need from them later. Vodka is a great option because it has a high enough alcohol content to draw out and preserve the medicinal properties but it doesn’t have any flavor.
To create a tincture, add 8 ounces of crushed herbs to 2 cups of alcohol or wine or 1 ounce of herbs to 5 ounces of vinegar. Place them in a quart jar, making sure that the herbs are completely covered. Store tightly covered in a cool dark place for at least two weeks and preferably at least a month.
Shake it up at least every couple of days. Strain the herbs out with cheesecloth or a coffee filter then store in a dark glass container in a cool, dark place. If you’re using vinegar, you need to refrigerate it. Tinctures are good for up to 2 years and 1 drop is equal to one teaspoon of herb juice.
Gather Recipes for Preparing Medicinal Herbs and Practice
Now that you know how to make each kind of herbal preparation, you need some advice on herbs. We’ve listed some good beginner herbs for you in our article, The 8 Best Medicinal Herbs You Should Grow in a Survival Garden.
It takes practice to get the same result each time and you need to determine the best method based on the herb itself, and the condition you are treating. Be especially careful when you’re cooking herbs. If you get above the degradation point of the essential oils within the herbs, then the oils may lose potency.
Preparing medicinal herbs is a skill that should be practiced on a regular basis. Add to your knowledge through research of herbal medicine guides and recipes, as well as experimentation.