Making your own herbal preparations is not only fun, but can be a
cost-effective way to use the healing power of herbs for both your
mind and body. Some of these herbal concoctions do require a
certain degree of time and skill, but there are lots of simple remedies
you can make yourself, including teas, syrups, and tinctures. You
may need to do a bit of research to know which are herbs are most
effective for your ailments, but soon you’ll be on your way to making
your own herbal preparations with the following recipes.
Herbal tinctures allow you to make a herbal remedy and store it for a
long period of time, making them available at short notice to be used
to make an instant herbal remedy. Tinctures are made by steeping
herbs in alcohol or vinegar. The liquid extracts the volatile oils and
active constituents from the herbs and preserves them indefinitely.
Vodka is the best alcohol to use due to its tastelessness. A standard
herbal tincture should have 1 fluid ounce of pure alcohol for every
ounce of water; essentially 50% alcohol or 100% proof vodka.
This ratio is up for some debate. Some people recommend 100%
alcohol; others say 3 to 1 alcohol/water. For those who cannot take
any alcohol (pregnant women, alcoholics, children) use glycerol or
natural cider vinegar.
• 8 ounces of herbs (be sure to cut the herbs into small pieces first)
• A large glass (not plastic) jar that can hold 4 cups of liquid
(adjust liquid amount to fit in jar if necessary)
• 2 cups of vodka
Put the dried herb into a large, glass jar and pour in equal amount
of liquid, making sure the herbs are completely covered (this is very
important). Store the jar in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks,
preferably four. Make sure to shake the mixture every day. When
ready to use, filter the mixture using a cheesecloth bag, coffee filter, or
fine cloth, capturing the tincture liquid below in another container.
Store the tincture in clean, dark glass containers, out of the sun. If
stored properly the tincture will be preserved for two or more years.
Vinegar tinctures should be refrigerated.
Note: A drop of tincture is equal to 1 tsp of herb juice.
Making herbal teas may be the easiest of all herbal remedies. Herbal
teas can be made by simply adding fresh or dried herbs to a pot, or
cup of boiled water. To begin, place 1 teaspoon of dried herbs per 1
cup of water into a teapot or teacup. Add boiling water, cover, and
steep for 10 minutes. You must then strain your tea by pouring it
through a strainer of some sort. You can also use a herb / tea strainer
ball, teaspoon strainer, muslin (re-usable) tea bags, or paper tea bags
that can be ironed closed. However it should be noted that not all the
healing ingredients in herbs are water soluble. The healing properties
in some herbs are in their essential oils which are released when the
herb is ground or crushed. Always use non metallic tea pots.
Like herbal tea, a glass of tonic wine is a delicious way to take
herbal remedies. Using root remedies of tonic herbs like Ginger or
Liquorice can be a refreshing remedy for ailments. Choose a tonic
herb to suit your needs and then begin preparation.
• A large glass pot, jar or vat
• 1 cups of dried herbs
• 2 cups of a good quality red wine (enough to cover the herbs,
add more if necessary)
Mix together the herbs and the wine, making sure there’s enough
wine to completely cover the herbs. Put a lid or cellophane wrap
over the mixture. Leave the mix for at least 2 weeks. Filter out the
liquid and drink the mixture in one sherry-sized glass (2-3 fluid
ounces) dose per day. As you pour out the liquid, keep adding more
red wine to cover the herb so it doesn’t get mouldy. This mixture
will last you for several months, as the wine continues to extract
the active components of the herbal roots, the herbs will need to be
replaced. Do not take if you have liver problems or are pregnant.
A decoction is similar to an infusion, and necessary when using
tougher plant material like herbal roots, barks, seeds, berries, and
stems. These parts need to have their active components extracted in
a more intense process.
• 1 ounce of dried herb
• 3 cups of water.
Bring water to a rolling boil, then add herbs and cover; reduce heat;
let mixture simmer for 10 to 15 min over low heat; leave to soak
another 10 min; keep covered throughout the process; strain, cool
and use. Internal dose is usually 1/2 cup, 3 times a day. Store in a
pitcher in a cool place or refrigerate. The decoction can be reheated
and flavoured with a little honey if desired.
Infused Oils are made by extracting the herbal constituents and
volatile oils from the herbs for a later use. Any vegetable oil will do,
yet olive, almond, canola, and sesame oils are the best. Herbal oils
can be added to cosmetics, cold process soap recipes, for culinary use,
or massaged into sore body parts. Herbal oils can be infused by two
methods; cold infusion and hot infusion.
These are used for woodier, denser plant parts. Popular examples are
for cayenne, black pepper, ginger.
• 1 cup of dried herbs
• 2 cups of oil
• A large glass bowl that can fit on top of a pot
• Pot holders to handle the glass bowl
Prepare a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Place the herbs
and oil in the glass bowl.
Heat the mixture slowly over a low heat for about 3 hours.
Strain into a bowl. Let the oil cool and then transfer into dark, glass
bottles sealed with a cap. Store in a cool, dark place and do not keep
if you see fermentation.
This is used for fragile or delicate plant parts such a flowers, petals
and leaves. Popular herbs include Calendula, Chamomile, St John’s
Wort, Lavender and Rosemary.
• A large jar like a mason jar with a tight sealing lid
• 3-4 cups of dried herbs
• 4 cups of oil (depending on the size of the jar)
Obtain a large jar with a tight sealing lid, and fill it compactly with
herb flowers or leaves.
Pour in the oil, covering the herbs, and screw on the lid.
Place jar on a sunny windowsill for about a month. Remember to
shake and turn the jar daily.
Strain the mixture, capturing the oil in another container.
Transfer the oil into a dark bottle, and store in a cool, dark place.
Note: Use dried herbs. Fresh herbs contain water and could cause
the oil to go rancid.
A poultice is a thick, moist warm herbal paste applied to the skin to
relieve pain, inflammation, swelling, or muscle spasm. They can be
made with dried or fresh herbs. They can also draw matter out of the
skin (such as a splinter).
Blend the fresh herb and a small amount of water with a stick
blender. Place the mixture on a piece of muslin sufficient to cover
the body part. Rub a little oil into the area and apply the poultice.
Cover the muslin with cling film. Change every couple of hours or
leave overnight. If you do this protect your bed linen with a towel.
These are used to ease a sore throat and for coughs as they are
Stir together 100g of sugar or honey or stevia with 50g of water.
When dissolved remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add 50g
of the tincture you have made previously (such as marsh mallow,
liquorice, thyme). Pour into dark glass jars and refrigerate. Take as
These help itchy skin, soothe burns, relax tense muscles, aid wound
healing and treat infection. Use an unscented non greasy cream base
such as vitamin E cream. Add some herbal tincture using the ratio of
1 part herbal tincture to 10 parts cream. Stir until fully mixed. These
can have a short life span so add Vitamin E capsules as a preservative
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