HERBAL PREPARATIONS FROM YOUR GARDEN
In Herbal Medicine we generally refer to Infusions and Decoctions.
Infusions are prepared using leaves, stems, flowers and other soft tissues and are really simple to make – just like making normal tea. Place your herb in a teapot and cover it with boiling water, leave for about ten minutes then strain and drink. Always cover your infusion while it is steeping so that you don’t lose any of the volatile constituents.
When using dry herbs, try 2 teaspoons of dried herb to about half a pint of water. With fresh herbs, try 4 teaspoons to half a pint.
Decoctions are prepared from the woodier parts of plants ie: twigs, bark, berries and roots. The basic proportions are the same as for infusions, but this time you place your ingredients together in a glass or stainless steel pan (never aluminium), cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for about ten minutes then strain and drink.
Cold Infusions are used to extract the starchy mucilage from plants like Marshmallow. Using the same quantities as above, steep your herb overnight in cold water to extract the active principles.
Dosage and Storage:
Aim to drink three or four cups of herbal tea a day – add honey or lemon to taste. For children age 5-12 use half the adult dosage. Once prepared, store in your fridge and use within 24 hours. If you have an abundance of fresh herbs you could make very concentrated infusions and then freeze them, adding a couple of ice cubes to a mug of warm water to make an instant herbal tea or you could use a juicer and again freeze this in ice cube trays.
Commercial preparations are made with ethanol alcohol, but for home tinctures vodka is suitable for extraction.
When you buy a commercially prepared tincture it will have its strength written on the bottle ie: Calendula officinalis 1:5 25%. This means that there is one part dry herb to 5 parts liquid of which 25% is alcohol. When preparing tinctures at home you don’t need to get too technical, especially if we are using fresh plants as the vitality of fresh plant material will make up for any shortfall in concentration.
As a guideline I recommend the following quantities when making vodka tinctures:
Use 100g of fresh plant material to 100mls of vodka. This will give you an approx 1:5 25% tincture.
Use 50g of fresh plant material to 160mls of vodka and 90mls of water. Again this will give you an approx 1:5 25% tincture.
Making a Tincture
Place your cut or broken or crushed herbs into a sterile wide-mouthed glass jar.
Pour on the required amount of alcohol followed by the required amount of water.
Cover the jar tightly and leave it to macerate for 2-3 weeks, shaking it every day.
Strain off and store in an amber glass bottle in a cool, dark place.
Label with plant name, strength or tincture.
DOSAGE: The average dosage for a tincture is one teaspoonful 2 or 3 times daily in water.
Herbal oils are a really nice way to extract plant material and can be used either directly on the skin or as a base for making an herbal ointment. There are several methods to choose from:
1. Sterilize a jar with boiling water and after making sure it is completely dry, pack it loosely with fresh or dried plant material. Pour over your vegetable oil right to the top of the jar and seal it well. Stand it for 2 weeks in a warm place shaking daily. After this time the oil can be strained off into another sterilized jar and it will keep for some months.
2. Bain-Marie method. Place your plant material and oil in the top of a Bain Marie and cover up. Bring the water to boil, simmer the water gently, and leave the oil to slowly infuse over several hours. Then strain off and poor into sterile bottles
3. The oven method. Have your oven on very low. Place your herbal material and oil into a large casserole dish, cover and place in the oven. Leave to slowly infuse over several hours. Strain off and pour into sterile bottles.
|Garlic Oil||Earache||Chamomile Oil||Baby Massage|
|Daisy Oil||Bruises||Chickweed Oil||Itchy skin/Eczema|
|Rosehip Oil||Skin Tonic||Plantain Oil||Hot Skin/ Eczema|
|Marigold Oil||Healing||Comfrey Oil||Strains and Sprains|
|Rosemary Oil||Dandruff||Rose Oil||Perfume|
|St Johns Wort||Nerve damage (shingles) – prepare this oil by the first method and sit on a sunny windowsill. The flowers slowly turn the oil to a lovely deep red colour. Be cautious with it however because if you use the oil on your skin and then go out in bright sunlight you may change your skin colour too.|
CREAMS AND OITMENTS
A cream is an emulsion of either water in oil, or oil in water, with the medicinal actions being in either or both bases. Creams can be complicated to make and you need to get more specialized ingredients in many cases. I cheat a bit and buy in specially prepared base creams to which I add my own ingredients to make a specific formulae.
An ointment is a semi-solid preparation containing the medicinal properties in a non-aqueous base. They tend to act more on the surface of the body, aiding healing as well as protecting damaged tissues. Simple ointments can be made by melting Vaseline and “cooking in” herbs and herbal extracts. More complicated formulae contain beeswax, cocoa butter, coconut oil and hard paraffin waxes.
Aloe Vera After-Sun Cream
100g chickweed base cream 50mls Tincture of chamomile
100g marigold base cream 60 drops of Lavender essential oil
150g chamomile base cream
50mls Aloe Vera extract
Blend together and place in amber glass jars.
Comfrey and Marigold Healing Salve
200mls of infused comfrey oil 60g of beeswax
200mls of infused marigold oil 30 drops of Tea Tree essential oil
100g cocoa butter 30 drops of Lavender essential oil
Place the infused oil in a saucepan and warm slowly. Add the cocoa butter and grated beeswax and when melted add the essential oils. Pour into jars and allow to cool. Label and keep in a cool, dark place.
You can make different recipes for different complaints. Simply make the infused oil first and then add ingredients of your choice. Why not try the following:
Chickweed, plantain and chamomile for eczema
Comfrey, marigold and daisy for bruises.
Horse chestnut and Yarrow for varicose veins