You’ve got your herbs. Now it’s time to make herbal remedies. How do you prepare herbs in a way to get the maximum benefit from their properties? Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare herbs.
Teas are simply herbs prepared in hot water. They differ from infusions in that they use smaller quantities of herbs, making a less concentrated preparation. One tablespoon of herbs per one cup of hot water is the usual dosage. For children and infants, use a smaller amount, like one teaspoon. Or dilute regular tea with water.
I like to put my herbs in a brewing basket, and set that inside my tea mug. Then I boil hot water to pour over the herbs. I let them steep for at least 5 minutes before drinking.
Infusions are like a very strong tea. They are steeped in water for several hours in a tightly sealed jar. Using a quart-size canning jar is best because they can hold up well to boiling water.
Once prepared you can drink them iced or heated, add them to baths for soaking wounds or sore muscles or used to make compresses or poultices. Infusions are generally made using leaves or flowers.
Put an ounce of dried leaves in your canning jar. Fill the jar to the fill line with boiling water. Secure the lid tightly and let it steep until the water has completely cooled. Strain out the herbs and enjoy.
Put an ounce of dried roots or bark in your canning jar. Fill the jar to the fill line with boiling water. Secure the lid tightly and let it steep until the water has completely cooled. Strain out the herbs and enjoy.
A poultice is made by mashing your herbs with a small amount of warm water, creating a paste. The paste is then applied to the affected area and covered with a clean piece of cotton or muslin fabric, like a bandage.
Really strong herbs, like ginger or garlic, should not be applied directly to the skin, but with a cloth barrier between it and the skin. Cover with a bandage as you would if it were applied to the skin. Change every 3 hours, or when it dries out.
A compress is applied similarly to the poultice. However, a compress usually uses warm liquids instead of mashed herb – like an herbal infusion.
A tincture is a botanical extracted in either alcohol or glycerine. They are usually given under the tongue for fast absorption.
- 1 pint 90 proof alcohol, like vodka or gin
- 4 oz cut herbs
- Glass canning jar with lid
- Wooden spoon
- Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Bowl to strain into
- Dark bottle to store tincture
Put herbs and alcohol in your jar and cover with the lid. Let the jar sit, untouched, in the dark, for at least 4 weeks.
The advice I found in a tutorial said to “brew on a new moon and strain on a full moon.” When you strain, pour over the strainer into the bowl. Use your wooden spoon to press down on the herbs left in the strainer to get the liquid out. Pour the finished tincture in your dark bottle to store and seal the lid tightly.
- An oven-proof dish
- Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- 2 cups coconut oil, or your favorite carrier oil
- 1 cup herbs (one herb or a combination)
- 1 tbsp to 1 oz. beeswax or candelilla wax (weird measurements, I know, but if it’s not the consistency you want, you’ll need to add more wax.
- 10-30 drops essential oils
- Clean, dry jar(s) to store your balm in.
Turn your oven on to 200 degrees, then turn it off. Put the herbs and oil into the oven-proof dish and stick it in the oven, clean up your mess and go have fun for a few hours.
After 4 hours, take out the herbs and strain them into your saucepan, and put on the stove on medium heat. Add your wax and let it melt. After I add my initial wax, I like to dip a spoon in and let it cool to see if I like the consistency. I don’t like my balms very firm so I go with a little less wax. Add more if you don’t like how it feels.
Remove from heat and add your essential oils.
Pour the oil into your jar(s) and let it cool. If you check it then and don’t like the consistency, warm the jar in a pan of warm water so that it’s liquid again and add either a little more oil or wax.