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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

non-metallic pot.

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

gelatin capsules.

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

the ointment.

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

herbal properties.


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