It’s rewarding to make your own medicines. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure you achieve the best results.
How To Make Herbal Infusions
The word ‘infusion’ is used to describe a herbal tea or tisane that is made by pouring water over a quanity of fresh or dried herbal material. Every time you make a cup of tea with a tea bag, you are, in fact, making an infusion.
How To Make Cold & Hot Infused Oils
Oil-soluble components can be extracted by infusing a herb in oil over an extended period of hours or days. The pure infused oil is then used for topical applications or added to a cream or ointment.
How to Make Herbal Decoctions
A decoction is a herbal tea made by boiling a herb in water. This method is most suitable for the woodier parts of a plant – such as the bark, roots, twigs and seeds – and is used to extract as many of the water – soluble active constituents as possible.
- Place the herbs (typical formulas consist of 4 to 16 herbs) in a pot made of ceramic or glass. Do not use iron or aluminum pots because they may react chemically with the herbs.
- Add 3 cups of water to the herbs and bring the mixture to a boil using relatively high heat.
- Reduce to medium heat and continue to boil (for approximately 20 minutes) until 1 cup of strong, dark liquid remains.
- Strain the liquid into a large glass or ceramic container. This is the first dose (the strongest) of your herbal medicine.
- Add 2 cups of water to the previously cooked herbs. Continue to simmer under medium to low heat for approximately 20 minutes, until 1 cup of liquid remains.
- Strain the liquid and pour it into the same container holding the previous dose.
- Repeat the last two steps one more time to make a third dose of medicine, which you again combine with the previous two doses.
When finished you should have approximately 3 cups of herbal medicine, and can now discard the cooked herbs. You will generally take 1 cup of your decoction three times a day, but this depends on your individual condition. Decoctions should be drunk slightly warm (like tea). Some herbs may taste a bit bitter, and if so you can usually sweeten them with a small amount of honey. Your decoction should keep for about 2-3 days if sealed and refrigerated.
How To Make Herbal Tinctures
Many of the active constituents in herbal medicines are readily soluble in alcohol, which is also an effective preservative. For this reason, professional herbalists use alcohol-based liquid herbal medicines to prescribe and dispense individualized herbal medicines to their patients.
How To Make Herbal Syrups
Syrups are mostly used to ease coughs are sore throats, as the thick, sweet liquid has a very soothing effect. Commonly used herbs include Marsh mellow, licorice, thyme and white horehound. Althought syrups can also be made using an infusion or decoction, this recipe uses a tincture, so the result is a syrup with a stronger medicinal action.
- Make a strong, concentrated infusion or decoction of your desired herbs. Use 2 to 3 times the amount of plant matter to water you would normally use for tea.
- Strain out the herbs, and pour the liquid back into the pot
- For each cup of liquid add twice the amount of honey.
- Heat until the mixture is completely combined. Heat over a low flame, or use a double boiler as you do not want to boil the honey as it kills the healthful enzymes
- Pour into sterilized canning jars and store away from heat and light.
- Store opened jars in the refrigerator. You can extend the shelf life (between 6 months to a year), by adding a small amount of flavored brandy.
Caution: Raw honey and syrups made from them are not to be given to infants less than 1 year old. In rare cases raw honey can cause infant botulism.
How To Make Poultices
A poultics is a topical application of a fresh herb, which is most commonly used to encourage healing of injured muscles and bones ( for example, strains, sprains and fractures), or to draw matter out of the skin (for example, to help remove a splinter or bring a boil to a head).