Those that grow their own herbs do so planning to use them to make their families healthier. There are several types of herbal preparations and here are some easy recipes for making them right out of your own garden. Always use glass, porcelain or enamel cooking utensils.
Types of Herbal Preparations:
Infusions: These are herbal teas made with the soft parts of the plant such as flowers, leaves, and soft stems. Pour boiling water over the flowers or leaves in a cup or other dish. Cover and let steep for 10-20 minutes to allow the medicinal qualities to transfer into the water. Infusions should never be boiled. Typically you will use ½ – 1 ounce of the herb per pint of boiling water, or about 1 teaspoon of herb to a cup of boiling water. Cool and strain. Add a bit of honey if desired and drink lukewarm. Infusions for colds, flu, coughs or to produce sweating should be taken hot. They should be taken in small doses, spaced regularly throughout the day. Typical daily dosage is 1-3 cups daily, depending on herbs used and condition being treated.
Decoction: These are teas made with the twigs, stems, or other large plant parts and require a longer steeping time. To make decoctions, cut the larger plant parts into smaller pieces (or crush them) and simmer in water, in a non-metal container, for three to thirty minutes. Length of time will depend on the density of the plant products. Keep decoction covered while simmering. Typical measurements for decoctions are 1 teaspoon of powdered herb or 1 tablespoon of cut herb to a cup of water. Strain before using. Dosing is the same as infusions.
Decoctions are used to remove active ingredients from heavier/denser plant parts, like roots, barks, and seeds. Roots need to be simmered for 30 minutes or longer to extract their medicinal value. When simmering 30 minutes or longer, start with about 50% more water to allow for evaporation. For example, if you normally use 1 ounce of herb to a pint of water, start with 1½ pints of water. Never boil your decoctions, only simmer.
When using herbs and barks in making teas, infusions and decoctions; if you find them too strong, add more water.
Tinctures: A very concentrated liquid herbal extract. They are useful when it is unpleasant to take herbs in another form due to a distasteful flavor or if it’s necessary to take them for a longer period of time. Tinctures are also good as liniments.
Basic Tincture Recipe:
- Vodka – 100 proof
- Mason jar
- Fresh or dried herbs
- Wooden spoon
- Bottles for storing
Put herbs into a blender. Add vodka to bring liquid level ¼ inch over herbs. Blend to a soupy consistency. Let this settle for a day to see how much liquid is on top. Proper quantities are three parts herbs to one part liquid.
Make tincture on the new moon and strain it on the full moon. Shake tincture at least once a week.
Extract: This is a highly concentrated herbal liquid, about ten times stronger than a tincture. This is a convenient method for taking and storing herbs, and it works faster than teas, powders, or capsules. The usual dose is 6-8 drops, which is equal to 1 teaspoon of tincture.
Basic Extract Recipe:
Chop herbs finely. Place in glass jar and cover with vodka. If using dried herbs, you will need to add more vodka in a day or two. The ratio of fresh herbs is one part herbs to three parts alcohol. The ratio of dried herbs is one part herbs to five parts alcohol. Shake well and place in a cool dark place to soak for four to six weeks, shaking once a week. Use a large sieve, strainer, press, or potato ricer lined with cheesecloth [a cheese press will work well] to strain out the herbs. Squeeze the cheesecloth out over a dish again to gather what is left in it. Pour the extract into small, amber bottles for storage. These extracts will keep three to five years stored in a cool, dark place.
Syrups: A simple syrup can be made of three pounds brown sugar dissolved in a pint of boiling water. Boil until thick. Add any medicinal substance to it. You can also use honey or Karo syrup for making your syrup.
Add herbs to syrup [fresh cut or dried herbs – sift dried herbs to remove dusty sediment]. Boil to a syrupy consistency, stirring constantly. Strain through cheesecloth and bottle it up.
- 1 pint lemon juice
- 3 pounds brown sugar
- Boil lemon juice 10 minutes, add brown sugar, and boil a few minutes longer.
Wild Cherry Syrup:
- 2 ounces wild cherry bark
- 2 ounces cubed cherries
- 2 ounces mullein
- 2 ounces skunk cabbage
- 2 ounces lobelia
- 4 pounds brown sugar
- Juice of four lemons
Put cherry bark, cherries, mullein, skunk cabbage, and lobelia in large kettle. Add four quarts of boiling water and simmer 10 minutes. Let stand until room temperature and then strain through cheesecloth. Put into porcelain kettle, add brown sugar; boil to a medium thick syrup – thick enough so it won’t sour. Add lemon juice and boil 2-3 more minutes. Strain again. When cool it is ready for bottling or use.
Herbal Salves: Make with fresh, dried, or powdered herbs. Fresh herbs should be cut very fine. Use one pound of herbs, 1½ pounds cocoa fat (or any pure vegetable oil), and four ounces of beeswax. In warm climates, more beeswax will be needed to keep salve firm.
Mix together herbs, fat/oil, and beeswax. Cover and place in hot sun or in a low (180 degree) oven for 3-4 hours. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. It will firm as it cools and can be used when cool enough to touch.
Poultices: Herb poultices work best with powdered or granulated herbs. Mix powdered herbs with enough water to make a paste. When using granulated herbs, mix with water, cornmeal, and flaxseed to make a thick paste. Apply paste in a ¼ inch layer on a sheet of muslin or linen large enough to cover area completely. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean trash bag. Plastic should be several inches larger than poultice. Leave poultice in place 1-8 hours. Once a poultice has been used, do not re-heat or re-use. Keep two or three ready for use.
Slippery Elm Poultice – inflamed sores
Lobelia and Slippery Elm Poultice (one part lobelia, two parts slippery elm) – blood
poisoning, boils, abscesses, rheumatism
Charcoal and Hops – gallstone pain
Bran Poultice – inflammation, sprains, strains or bruises.
Onion Poultice – slow healing boils. Grate raw onions, mix with a little olive oil, spread on linen or muslin, and cover with plastic wrap over the affected area.
- 2 ounces powdered myrrh
- 1 ounce powdered goldenseal
- ½ ounce cayenne pepper
- 1 quart rubbing alcohol
Mix together. Let stand seven days; shake daily. Pour into bottles slowly; don’t disturb sediment. Cap tightly. Can be made without goldenseal.
©2013 Off the Grid News
Back To Eden by Jethro Kloss, ã 1939 Back to Eden Publishing Co.