Making your own herbal concoctions for medicinal purposes is
really not that difficult. And since the best herbal
preparations are those made when the plants are fresh, the
better off you are to grow your own herbs and make your own
But even the best plants can be ruined if you use the wrong kind
of process in preparing your remedies. Your choice depends on
the parts of the plant to be used, the form in which the remedy
will be taken, and the desired result.
Remember that herbal remedies are not one-shot wonder cures.
Their effectiveness is based largely on a gradual cure.
The following ways of preparing your fresh herbs are those most
commonly used in herbal medicine. Always use an enamel or
Infusion - this is a beverage made like tea, combining boiled
water with the plants and steeping it to extract the active
ingredients. The normal amounts are about 1/2 to 1 ounce of the
plant to one pint of boiled water. You should let the mixture
steep for five to ten minutes, covered, and strain the infusion
into a cup.
Cold Extract - preparing herbs with cold water preserves the
most volatile ingredients, while extracting only minor amounts
of mineral salts and bitter principles. Add about double the
amount of plant material used for an infusion to cold water and
let sit for about 8 to 12 hours, strain and drink.
Decoction - this method or preparation allows you to extract
primarily the mineral salts and bitter principles rather than
vitamins and volatile ingredients. Boil about half an ounces of
plant parts per cup of water for up to 4 minutes. Steep the
mixture with the cover on the pot for a few minutes.
Juice - chop and press fresh plant parts to make juice, then add
a bit of water and press again. This is excellent for getting
vitamins and minerals from the plant. Drink the juice right
away for the best results.
Syrup - make a basic syrup to which you will add medicinal
ingredients by boiling 3 pounds of raw, brown sugar in a pint of
water until it reaches the right consistency.
Powder - grind your dried plant parts until you have a powder.
the powder can be taken with water, milk, soup, or swallowed in
Ointment - quick method: combine well one part of your powdered
remedy with four parts hot petroleum jelly or lard. For
purists: Add the decoction of the desired herb to olive oil and
simmer until the water has completely evaporated. Add beeswax
as needed to get a firm consistency. A little gum benzoin or a
drop of tincture of benzoin per ounce of fat will help preserve
Essence - dissolve 1 ounce of the herb's essential oil in a pint
of alcohol; this method preserves the volatile oils of many
plants which are not water-soluble.
Poultice - to make a poultice, you just crush the medicinal
parts of the plant to a pulpy mass and heat. Mix with a hot,
sticky substance such as moist flour or corn meal. Apply the
pasty mixture directly to the skin. Wrap a hot towel around and
moisten the towel periodically. A poultice will draw impurities
from the body.
Herb Bath - herbal baths include the use of various herbal
additives to enhance the natural healing power of the water.
They are baths to which plant decoctions or infusions have been
added. There are full and partial herbal baths. For a full
bath some of the medicinal plant parts should be sewn into a
cloth bag and then boiled in a quart of water; the strained
mixture is then added to the bath. Sometimes you can put the
bag right into the tub for a more thorough extraction of the