How are herbs taken?
There are a number of ways to traditionally take herbs. We use the ones below.
Herbal extracts are made with alcohol and water and are called tinctures. An example would be vanilla extract, although this is a culinary tincture. A few tinctures contain glycerine, usually to make the taste more pleasing to children.
The herbs are pressed at room temperature as heat denatures the delicate plant chemicals.
Tinctures are usually taken before meals with a little water. If you wish you may reuduce the tiny amount of alcohol in each serving by measuring the tincture into a cup and pouring hot water over it. Allow it to cool and most tof the remaining alcohol will have evaporated.
Teas are fresh or dry herbs infused in boiling water. Boil water in a kettle or saucepan (never a microwave), pour over 2tsp of dry herbs per cup. Cover and steep 10-15 minutes. You may sweeten with a little Stevia, and add lemon, ginger, cinnamon etc as you wish . You may brew a days’ supply (3cups) once in the morning, or overnight.
Syrups are made from decocted (boiled down) herbs and a sweet preservative added, such as glycerine or honey. They are used mostly for coughs – the Thyme and Licorice syrup is quite popular.
Dried herbs and herb blends can be made into capsules, but these are not as readily available to the body as tinctures and teas. I usually use capsules from reputable suppliers like Apex Energetics, Standard Process, Natura and Innate Response. Occasionally capsules will be made for special order.
Salves and Creams
Herbs in either oil form or tincture can be blended into a variety of bases, usually an infused oil with Vitamin E added and often also fresh aloe juice. The oil holds the herb against the skin for greater penetration and increases the amount of time it is available for use.
Powders are herbs that need to be blended with a little warm or cold water. Slippery elm is the one most commonly used for reflux, sore throats and any bowel disturbance. It is a good prebiotic. Usually 1/2-2tsp in warm water 2-3 times a day does the job.
Suppositories are made from a blend of dry herbs in chilled coconut oil thickened with a little beeswax. They are very useful when the digestive system is too disturbed to take the herbs orally. They are also good when the herbs need a localized effect. Mallow (pictured at the top) can be extremely soothing.
Sprays and lotions
A blend of tinctures, essential oils and water extracted herbs can be made and applied to the skin when needed. A cooling spray is really good for poison ivy – it reduces itching, helps prevent blistering and cools the inflammation. I like to keep mine in the fridge! Spray as often as needed.
A decoction is for making stronger solutions from denser herb material like roots.
For best results, soak the herbs over night in a steel pan, before boiling up in the morning.
Usually you use 2tsp of herbs to 1cup water, which translates to 1cup to 8 pints if you are making a large quantity, say for a whole family. (30-40g per liter/quart)
Boil the herb
s gently until the volume of water has reduced by a half. Pour this water off and put it in a lidded container. (I use one with cup measures on the side for easy dispensing). Cover the herbs again with the same quantity of water, boil again gently until it is reduced by half. Pour off this liquid into the container you have chosen. If you can strain the herbs through a cloth or strainer you will get a higher yield for your efforts.
Cover the container and store in the fridge. If you have made up more than you need for three days, pour off the extra and freeze it in suitable freezer safe containers, properly labelled.
The usual doseis 1cup 2x a day for adults, but the herbalist will advise you personally on the amount you need.