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Herbal Medicine Making

 

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Things to always remember when making herbal medicines:
Never use aluminum, plastic or iron in your preparation.
Always label and date your medicine and include where the herb came from.
Children’s doses should be determined as such:165 divided by the child's weight. A
ll of the doses listed are adult.
Avoid heat or direct sun when not necessary for preparation.
Infusions:
Simply refers to a medicinal strength tea that is steeped in water (just taken off of a boil) for approximately 10-20 minutes. This method is appropriate for the herb a, or top part of the plant including the leaves, flowers and buds. If the plant is rich in essential oils, make sure the infusion is covered. Infusions can be strained and drank warm or cold; add honey if desired. Infusions can be stored for up to three days in the refrigerator. Typical doses range from a tablespoon of dried herb to one cup of water taken 3-5 times daily or one ounce of dried herb (usually a combination of three to five herbs) to four cups of water taken throughout the day. It is wise to suggest pleasant tasting herbs for this application.

Decoction:
When your botanicals are tougher in nature, such as roots, barks, leathery leaves or seeds, you will want to simmer them on very low heat for 10-20 minutes in water. Always cover decoctions and start herbs in cold water and then bring to a simmer (don’t throw herbs into boiling water). Dosages are typically the same as for infusions.

Maceration:
Simply an infusion without using heat. In this method you would bruise or chop the leaves and flowers and let steep in tepid water over night. This is appropriate for plants high in essential oil that you want to preserve or plants high in tannins that you don’t want to draw out. If this is done in the sun it is called a sun infusion. It is also fun to do a moon infusion around the time of a full moon. Dosages are the same as with an infusion. Always store refrigerated after the initial infusion.
Herb Vinegars:
Botanical constituents can be extracted into vinegar if the active ingredients are not alkaloids or resins. Therefore, many of the nutritive herbs that are rich in minerals would be appropriate for this application. Simply cover fresh or dried herbs with apple cider vinegar. Shake daily for two weeks and strain. This vinegar can be used by itself or added to foods.

Tincture:
A preparation made with alcohol and water (called the menstrum) which is suitable for most botanicals. Herbs are finely cut and put into a glass jar for two weeks. This preparation should be shook for one minute daily. After two weeks, the herbs are strained and you end up with a very potent medicine. Tinctures retain their potency for many years and are a convenient way of storing medicine.
• The percentage of alcohol can be measured as half the proof Example: 80 Proof vodka contains 40% alcohol. A tincture made from dried herbs needs at least 25% alcohol to stay stable. A tincture made from fresh herbs needs at least 50% alcohol to stay stable because fresh herbs already have water in their cells. For more specific amounts, check the solvency range chart.
• Solvency rates refer to the percentage of alcohol needed to maximize the amount of medicine that is extracted from a plant. These rates refer to dry herbs and should be doubled for fresh herbs.
• 1:5 ratio of a tincture means: 1 part dry herb(in weight) to: 5 parts(in weight) menstrum. This is a typical ratio for medicinal herbs. Strong or toxic herbs are usually tinctured at a 1:10 ratio. Fresh herbs are typically tinctured at a 1:1 ratio. (It is difficult to achieve this ratio and you will have to chop the herb to fit it into the menstrum.)
• Alcoholics or those sensitive to alcohol should never take an alcohol tincture.
• The standard dose for a 160 lb. adult is usually 2 ml. three to five times daily. This can vary greatly depending on the strength of the herb and duration of use. Tincture should be diluted in water or juice.
• Pouring boiling water over tincture can reduce the amount of alcohol by around 70%. This will also reduce amounts of essential oils if they are present.

Glycerite:
Made with vegetable glycerin, the preparation is similar to making a tincture. Using a 1:5 ratio with dried herbs, your menstrum should be 60% glycerin and 40% purified water. For fresh herbs using a 1:1 ratio,your menstrum should be 90% glycerin and 10% water. An adult dosage should be around 2 teaspoons 3-5 times daily. This is very sweet and can be taken directly under the tongue. Although this is a stable mixture, it should only be stored for 6 months to one year. There is a higher risk of your glycerite molding than with an alcohol tincture, so take care to cover all herbs with the menstrum.

Capsules:
Some herbs are difficult to consume as a tea or tincture. Herbs such as cayenne may be more appealing in a gelatin capsule. Many health food stores carry empty gelatin capsules that can be filled with powdered herbs

Tablets:
Combine one cup of powdered herbs and 1/4 cup flour. Add water until the paste is the consistency of pie crust dough. Roll out balls of herb/flour mixture and place on a paper towel. Put tablets in a dry dark place to dry; store in a dark jar after drying completely.

Syrups:
These are sweet liquids that are easy to administer to children or adults who are having problems with tinctures or the taste of infusions. The honey or glycerin acts as a preservative to extend the life of the product.
• Juice Syrup: In your electric juicer, juice the leaves of medicinal herbs. Add an equal amount of honey to your juice. The typical dose is around 1 teaspoon three to five times daily. Store refrigerated 3-6 months.
• Cordial Syrup: Combine one part alcohol tincture with two parts of honey. Take approximately one tablespoon three times daily; stores for 6 months un-refrigerated.
• Fluid Extract Syrup: Extract is a confusing term that is used for many types of herb medicine. For our purposes, this means a concentrate made from an infusion or decoction. Use one ounce of dry herb for every cup of water. After making the infusion or decoction, reduce the liquid on very low heat for a number of hours to half of the original volume. Add an equal part of honey or a little more than half glycerin to the liquid reduction. Refrigerate this and it should keep 3-6 months. Take 1-2 tablespoons three times daily or as needed.

How to Make Healing Salves:
These are semi-solid herbal oils which are applied topically to the skin to promote healing and provide a barrier to the elements. Oils must be infused with herbs, either as a sun infusion or a heated infusion (see below).

Use one ounce of beeswax for every 6-8 ounces of oil. Use around 1000 iu. of natural Vitamin E per 8 oz. Typically grated beeswax is heated separately in some oil to dissolve (it needs a high heat) and then added to the infused oils that have been warmed. This way you will not get chunky salves. Store this away from sun or heat. You can make your oils in the summer when the herbs are growing and store the oils until you make the salves. Add 5 to 20 drops of essential oil at the end of salve recipe to add medicinal values desired. Use salves and oils within one year of making or store in the refrigerator.

• Sun Infused Therapeutic Oil: A high quality oil that is infused with herbs in the sun. Before beginning, make sure your glass jar is free of moisture. Place dry or semi-dried herbs in the glass jar. Pour olive oil over the herb to completely cover. Check to make sure your lid does not have a cardboard lid where moisture may be lurking. Set your jar in the sun for two weeks. Strain and use or make in to a salve. Store in the dark.
• Heat infused oils: Put your chopped herbs and oil in a crock pot with a low setting. Set on low on let infuse for 5-6 hours. Strain and use.
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Herbal Healing Salve
This all-natural, gentle, all purpose salve soothes a variety of skin irritations, cuts, abrasions, chapped lips, diaper rash, insect and flea bites. Ideal for medicine chests and emergency kits and taken along while traveling. Also makes a fine skin moisturizer for dry skin. Contains a perfect combination of nature's most powerful healing herbs and botanicals: calendula, comfrey, plantain, chaparral, lavender and tea tree.
Lavender Burn Salve
An exceptional preparation utilizing the healing properties of natural lavender. Excellent for healing kitchen burns, overexposure to the sun, wind and elements, and any painful sting or abrasion. This rich and soothing salve may prevent blistering entirely. A must for every first aid kit or medicine chest and on hand in the kitchen for emergencies.



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