Definitions & Making Herbal Preparations
Compress Soak a soft cloth in a hot infusion, decoction, or 5-20 ml tincture in 500 ml hot water. Squeeze out excess water and hold pad against affected area. Cream A mixture of fats and water that blends with the skin to strengthen and smooth it. Use 30 g lanolin, 15 oz beeswax, 100 g. vegetable or fruit oil, and 30 ml herb water. Melt the lanolin and beeswax in a double boiler, gently stirring in the oil. Remove from heat and whisk in the herb water. Keep stirring as it cools. Store in wide mouth jars. Decoction Made by simmering larger pieces of the herb, such as bark, roots, or twigs. Use 30 g. dried or 60 g. fresh herb to 750 ml water; simmer until the water is reduced to 500 ml. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day. Infused oils --Hot infusion: 250 g. dried or 500 g. fresh herb to 750 ml Olive or Vegetable Oil. Heat gently in a double boiler for 3 hours. Strain through cheesecloth into dark bottles. --Cold infusion: Pack a large jar with the herb. Cover it with cold-pressed oil and put the lid on. Let stand in a sunny window sill for 2-3 weeks. Squeeze the oil through a jelly bag and repeat the process. Store in dark glass bottles. Infusion A tea made by pouring boiled (not actively boiling) water over fresh or dried herbs. Use approximately 30 g. dried or 75 g. fresh herbs to 500 ml water. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day. Macerate To make, pour 500ml of cold water over 25g of herb and leave to stand overnight. Then strain and use as you would a decoction. Massage Oils Use 5 drops essential oil to 20 ml carrier oil. Sweet almond, jojoba, avocado or grapeseed make good carrier oils. You can also used infused oils. Ointment A mixture of oils and fats that forms a protective layer over the skin. Melt 500 g. petroleum jelly or soft paraffin wax in a double boiler. Add 60 g. dried herb and simmer gently for 2 hours. Strain through a jelly bag and pour into jars while still hot.
Plaster Wrap the chopped or boiled herbs, or a paste made from them, in cheesecloth or muslin before applying to the affected area. This is good for herbs that might irritate the skin, such as mustard. Poultice Boil herbs in a little water for a hot poultice, or bruise or chop slightly for a cold one. Smooth a little oil on the skin to keep the herbs from sticking, apply the herb, and wrap with muslin or gauze strips. Steam Inhalants Place a few tablespoons of the dried herb in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drape a towel over your head and breathe in the steam. Syrup An infusion or decoction preserved by adding sugar or honey. Use 500 ml infusion to 500 g sugar or honey; heat gently until the sweetener has dissolved. Store in dark glass bottles with cork tops; screw top bottles may explode if the mixture ferments. Tincture Steep the fresh or dried herb in a 25% mixture of alcohol and water. Do not use methyl, grain, or rubbing alcohol as they are toxic. Vodka is ideal; rum has the added benefit of covering unpleasant flavors. Use 200 g. dried or 600 g. fresh herb to 1 liter alcohol and water. Place in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and store in a dark glass bottle. Take 5 ml three times a day, diluted in a little fruit juice or water. Tonic Wine Pour 2 liters good quality wine, preferably red, over 500 g. dried herb, making sure all the herb is covered by the wine. Cover and leave for 2 weeks. Strain and take in 1/3 cup doses. Wash A tea or infusion meant only for external use. A mild form of a wash would be 1/4 ounce of herb to one pint of boiling water, steeped until lukewarm, then applied.
The Herbal First Aid Kit
Please remember that when dealing with potentially serious injuries, first aid is a stop gap measure until adequate medical attention can be found! Follow up on any serious injuries with a qualified physician! Aloe Break off an aloe leaf and scrape the gel to soothe minor burns, scalds, and sunburns. Aloe has tissue regenerative properties and will help heal all wounds. Arnica Arnica cream or oil can be used on bruises or sprains where the skin is not broken. Caution should be used with Arnica however since it can become toxic in high doses. Calendula Cream Homemade or storebought, this is antispetic and antifungal. If you make it, try adding comfrey to the cream; it will help speed the healing process. Clove Oil Clove oil is an excellent antispetic for cuts and is also useful for treating toothaches. It should be cut with a carrier oil when used on the skin since severe irritation can occur. Compresses Keep squares of gauze or cheesecloth on hand to make compresses. Use comfrey, witch hazel, or arnica for sprains; St. John's Wort for deep cuts; comfrey or witch hazel for burns. Crystallized Ginger Chew for motion sickness or morning sickness. Eucalyptus Oil This is a good inhalant for colds, coughs, and respiratory infections. Rescue Remedy This combination of 5 of the Bach Flower Remedies is effective for shocks and emotional upsets, especially in children. St. John's Wort Infused Oil Excellent for minor burns and sunburn. Slippery Elm Slippery elm powder is used to make poultices for drawing out splinters and bringing boils to a head.
Tea Tree Oil Antispetic and antifungal. Useful for cleansing wounds. Witch Hazel Extract Use it to treat minor burns, sunburn, and insect bites. Apply to nasal passages to stop nosebleeds. Wash cuts with it to help cleanse them.
5000 Years Of Herbal History
Over the centuries the healing properties of plants and herbs has not changed. What was a healing plant or herb five thousand years ago is still a healing plant or herb. Because great confidence was placed in them, Witches and physicians of the ancient world were expected to know their herbs. Plants gave healing powers to those who studied them, worked with them, and respected them. In many lands and in many times, healers spent a good part of their lives in the field and forest gathering green medicines. They remembered and scribed what they learned passing it on. Today we have the opportunity to benefit from the accumulated herbal wisdom of the ages. This advantage allows us to peer back through history, harvesting for our own benefit only those herbs that have stood the test of time. But even the herbal uses that didn't pan out are fascinating. While the story of healing herbs has it's comic episodes, it is also a dramatic story of human sacrifice, complete with medical hero's, men and women whose work deserves to be recognized. Much of this credit in my opinion should go the the Witches of the past because they are the ones who essentially began the work of learning and understanding herbs and their benefits. However when the male physician arrived on the scene, they essentially benefited from the inquisitions and burnings claiming the right to and credit for this knowledge. The topic of how modern drug companies have distorted this knowledge for profit is an area I probably shouldn't delve into, but what the heck, the truth generally only hurts if it ought to... Many of synthetic medicines on the market today owe their existence to natural occurring herbs, plants and trees. The original pain killer marketed just a little over 100 years ago is a derivative of White Willow Bark, what is it's name? Asprin. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion, that the only reason the major drug manufactures synthesize these drugs is because you cannot patent a naturally occurring substance, obviously there isn't as much profit in something that everyone has access to producing. Ultimately the drug manufacturers create a substance that copies the healing properties of these herbs, plants and trees, then market it to the world while down playing the benefits of the natural herb. Currently the drug industry is the single most profitable business in the United States spending over $5 BILLION per year on advertising and marketing alone! Much of this goes into seducing and providing perks for the doctors who prescribe their magic potions, many of which are completely useless at effectively treating the problem or cause serious side effects. But for the drug manufacturers there is an up side to the negative side effects because that provides them with the opportunity to create new drugs to counteract the side effects their product produced to begin with... While I do not want to get on a soap box and throw rocks at modern medicine and the drug industry since they have provided benefits and in many cases cured disease. The point is though, there are alternatives which are quite often a better choice if we would only take
the time to learn, and understand natures own cures, then take responsibility for our own health. A final word before you continue into the following pages. Many of the herbs and plants listed here offer a proven track record of alleviating symptoms and helping with different conditions, but there are risks involved in using many of them without adequate knowledge. Without a sound understanding of their properties and potential effects, one would be foolish to blindly use them. Therefore it is recommended that you carefully research those of interest, seek the guidance of a health care professional who is competent in herbal knowledge and use common sense as you proceed. It is also vitally important to remember that the use of herbals should not be used in lieu of sound medical council and advice, instead they should be used in combination with the care of your personal physician. It is not the intent of these writings to suggest otherwise... Gentle Breezes! Herne
Specialty vinegars are becoming ever more popular throughout the country. They are sought after for their culinary uses and as medicinal aids. For those lucky enough to have their own herbs available, here is a simple recipe and method for making your own herb vinegars. 1 gallon jug of white vinegar assorted fresh herbs 2 Glass Jugs .. 1 gallon size Plastic wrap Sunshine Patience
A good assortment of herbs for vinegar, are Oregano, Chives, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Tarragon, and Basil. Harvest your fresh herbs early in the morning before the sun warms them too much. Wash the herbs thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Do not remove the leaves from the stalks, but do use tender, not woody, stalks. While the herbs are drying .. Wash and sterilize the glass jugs Fill the jugs with the fresh herbs of your choice .. you might try combining Oregano, garlic and chives ... or Tarragon, with a few slices of lemon, ... Rosemary & Thyme make a nice vinegar, and Basil, all by itself is a treat. Fill the jug to the top with the white vinegar, and cover the jug opening with a piece of plastic wrap, before putting the lid on tightly. Invert the Jug and place it outside where it will get full sun ... then forget about it for the next 4 to 6 weeks ... you can leave the jugs out longer if you don't have time to decant them. When you are ready to decant the herbal vinegar .. wash and sterilize smaller containers... some people use canning jars, some use recycled liquor bottles, and some use attractive bottles found at flea markets or yard sales. Strain the herbal vinegar twice through cheesecloth .. if it still seems a bit cloudy, strain again .. it couldn't hurt (smile). Then simply pour the herbal vinegar into the prepared containers, cap and label them. That's all there is to it. They are ready to use, or give as gifts. Have fun experimenting with different flavors. I like this "Sun Tea" type of brewing the vinegars because the herbal oils slowly leech into the vinegar and do not separate. For those watching their diets, these vinegars can be used on salads with no need to add oil.
Any good gardening book will explain basic growing techniques, so I'll lightly touch on the basics: GROWING FROM SEED: First, start herb seeds 6-8 weeks before they are to go in the garden. Choose clean, small, 2-4 in. deep containers with drainage holes in the bottom. .. Here's a chance to use up all those old margarine tubs you've been saving ... just poke some holes in them. Empty Egg cartons work well also, but you'll have to transplant sooner if the roots get too crowded. Use a sterilized potting soil, or sterilize your own soil by sifting and placing a layer of dirt on a shallow baking pan. Heat your oven to about 350 degrees, then turn it off .. place the dirt filled tray in the oven .. and let it "steep" until the oven is cool. .. Use lots of tin foil to protect your oven from spillage. Next, fill your containers about 3/4 full of soil and poke a shallow hole in the dirt .. you can use a small beverage straw, then put a couple seeds in each hole. Cover lightly with additional soil and water thoroughly. Now, cover your container with plastic wrap .. again poking a few small holes to allow air circulation. Make sure the plastic does not touch the soil. Place the container in a warm sunny window ... at this point, it is the heat that matters most, not the sunlight. Watch for the moisture beads on the plastic .. and make sure that the soil is kept moist. When the seeds have sprouted, remove the plastic and place the containers in a spot with full sun. Be sure to water the seedlings frequently. At this point, if your containers are small, the plants should be transplanted to a four inch pot so that their roots can spread. After all threat of frost has passed, you can harden off the plants by placing them outside in a sunny, but protected area during the sunlight hours, bringing them back in at night for about a week. ... Then you can safely transplant them to the garden, or a larger container which can be left out overnight. The most common mistake when starting seeds, is controlling the moisture of the soil. An easy, and economical way of dealing with this is to take two plastic containers .. a large and small margarine tub works nicely. Cut a whole in the lid of the larger tub, big enough to hold the smaller tub suspended within the larger tub about an inch and a half. .. Poke a hole, the size of a large drinking straw in the bottom of the smaller tub. Cut an 8 in length of wick material (you can get this at
any garden supply store), placing it inside and around the bottom of the small tub with one end pushed thru the hole so that at least 2 inches extend into the larger tub. Put about an inch of water in the large tub, then insert the smaller tub into the opening. Make sure the wick is in the water ... then plant your seeds as instructed above. Herbs that are most likely to be successfully started from seed are:
Annuals: Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Chamomile, Chervil, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Mustard, Nasturtium, Summer Savory, Sweet Marjoram Biennials: Angelica, Caraway, Parsley, Wild Celery Perennials: Catnip, Chamomile, Chives, Fennel, Feverfew, Hyssop, Lovage, Marjoram, Marshmallow, Onion, Oregano, Rue, Sage, Salad Burnet, Sorrel, Thyme, Winter Savory, Wormwood.