This is a guest post by TG and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
Many of us look into herbal remedies for one reason or another. There is some great info on what herbs to use for what issues, but little or no information on how to use those herbs. Part of the problem is there is a fine line between telling a person how to use herbs and prescribing them.
Now that you have found your herb lets talk about the different ways to use that herb. In part 2, I will go over topical applications. Right now I am going to focus on the most common (but not all inclusive) ways of ingesting those herbs. Of course the easiest way is to eat it, but you rarely get theraputic amounts that way.
Teas/decoctions- most people know how to make a cup of tea, but rarely do they make it strong enough.
For teas (leaves, flowers and light material) add 1-2 tsp of plant material to your cup and cover with 8 oz of boiling water. You then want to cover your cup with a small plate or lid. This helps keep the volatile oils in the cup where you want them, rather then letting them evaporate off. Let is steep for 5 minutes to get a light tea. For a stronger medicinal effect, allow to steep up to 30 minutes.
You can make larger amounts and store it in the fridge for up to about 24 hours, either drinking cold or reheating as needed.
For a decoctions (roots, barks, seeds, and heavy material) add 1-3 tablespoons of cut plant material to about 24 ounces of water in a pan. Bring slowly to a boil (so in other words sit and watch it, lol), and then allow to simmer for 15-30 minutes. The longer it simmers the stronger the infusion.
This will last for about 72 hours in the fridge.
Generally for teas, as a preventative measure, drink 3 to 4 cups daily. For chronic issues, drink about 1/2 cup every half hour.
Teas are great for many ailments, and admittedly, there is something soothing about sipping a hot cup of tea when you feel cruddy.
Tinctures- a great way to pack a strong amount of the active components of the herbs into a small dose, as there are some herbs that are tough to swallow.
Fresh herb tinctures- wash your plant material thoroughly, making sure to remove any critters and debris. Pack jar with herbs and cover with solvent. This will give you about a 1:1 ratio of herbs to solvent
For dried herb tinctures- fill your jar about half full of dried herbs then fill it 3/4 full of solvent. You want to allow room for the dried herbs to expand and absorb some of the solvent. Keep an eye on it the first week topping off when needed. This will make around a 1:2 ratio tincture.
Keep tinctures in a cool dark place, shaking every day for a couple of weeks. Generally, after about 2 weeks they are ready to be strained. You can leave the herbs in longer, but after a while the solvent cant adsorb any more of the plants constituents. Strain your tincture into a clean glass jar or tincture bottle. Make sure you label what it is, when it was made and your ratio. Store in a cool dark place.
Solvents that can be used for making tinctures include alcohol, vegetable glycerine, and vinegar. Alcohol is the most common solvent, as it adsorbs more of the plants constituents, and has a longer shelf life. There is some debate over how long an alcohol based tincture will last, some saying not to use it past 5 years, others thinking it will last as long as the alcohol is good.
Brandy and vodka are the 2 most common types of alcohol used for making tinctures. The only note on that is your barks, roots, and nuts generally need a higher alcohol content.
Using tinctures is a little tricky. It is really going to depend on what herbs you are using and what you are using them for.
Syrups- a great way to get kids to take their medice. Also great to add to teas and coating a sore throat.
To make a herbal syrup simmer about 2 ounces of herbs in a quart of water, reducing it down to about a pint. Strain the herbs returning the infusion to the pan, add about a cup of sweetener (sugar, honey, or maple syrup). Bring it back to a slow simmer, stirring constantly, until the sweetener is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool before putting into a jar or bottle. Store in the fridge. Syrups will last a couple of weeks to about a month depending on herbs and the amount of sugar added.
You can add other things to your syrup such as concentrated fruit juices, extracts, and brandy.
Infused honey- the health benefits of honey have been talked about for centuries. An all around amazing substance. But there is a way to make it a bit better. Infusing it with herbs. And unbelievably easy to do.
Fill a glass jar about halfway with fresh or dried herbs, fill the jar the rest of the way with honey and store in a warm sunny location out of direct sunlight. Every day flip the jar upside down. After about 2 weeks you can strain the herbs. Store your infused honey in a glass jar in a cool dark place.
Make sure when you are using fresh herbs that they are clean and slightly wilted. The easiest way to do this is by putting them in the sun for a couple of hours.
So there you have it. A couple of easy ways to use those herbs. Again this is not an all inclusive list. I will be going over topical applications in part 2.
This is an entry in our nonfiction writing contest – This contest will end on June 29 2013 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive - A $250 dollar gift certificate courtesy of LPC Survival that is good for $250 off anything on their site, A WonderMill Electric Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads, and a $150 gift card for Winchester Ammo from LuckyGunner.
- Second Place winner will receive – Two Emergency Seed Banks (stored in military ammo cans) with over 33 varieties of non-hybrid garden seed courtesy of The Survivalist Blog.net from M.D. Creekmore’s personal seed stash. A $260 value.
- Third Place winner will receive - a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and a copy of my book 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness.