Uses for Herbs
Make A Glycerite
Make A Poultice
Make A Salve
Salves/ointments are generally antiseptic and bring healing to scrapes, cuts or burns by forming a protective layer over them.
1. Fill glass jar 1/3 full of herbs and cover with coconut oil or your oil of choice. Screw on lid and place jar on top of a dishtowel in a crock pot. Fill the crock pot with water (but not above the jar’s lid) and turn on warm for three days.
2. Check the water level everyday to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated, and fill as needed. NEVER pour cold water over a hot glass jar.
3. After three days, strain the herbs off of the oil (while warm).
4. Melt a 1/2 cup (approximately 2 oz. of grated beeswax for 8 to 9 oz. of infused oil) of beeswax in a saucepan on low heat and add oil. Remove from heat and stir until completely melted. Add a drop of vitamin E oil or Grapeseed oil for every ounce of oil. This is a natural preservative.
5. Pour into metal tins and let sit over night or carefully place in refrigerator to cool and harden.
~ If it is too soft for you, reheat it and add a bit more beeswax. If it is too hard reheat it and add a touch more oil.
~ Salve is a thick oil that is used for, cuts, bites, burns, rashes, boils, massage, and more. Salves can keep up to five years or more.
~ Keep out of light and extreme heat.
Make A Tea
Teas (infusions and/or decoctions) have the advantage of being well assimilated, which make them easier for a weakened body to digest. Hot water releases more of the herb's active elements. Best of all, most teas taste great.
Make A Tincture
Glycerites (tinctures/extracts made with glycerine) are syrupy liquids that provide an alcohol-free alternative to the more popular alcohol tincture. Glycerine has a sweet taste but doesn't affect sugar levels. It is preferred by children over an alcohol or vinegar tincture. You can mix your glycerites with alcohol tinctures to reduce the sweetness. Honey can also be used in place of glycerine.
As with all remedies, directions for making glycerites vary from one book to another. Fill a jar 1/3-1/2 full of herbs (1/2 full makes the brew stronger). Add just enough hot water to get the herbs wet and fill the jar to about 1/2 inch from the top with glycerine. After closing the jar tightly, place it in a crock-pot with a small towel underneath to keep the jar from breaking. Fill the crock-pot with water up to the top of the jar (not touching the lid), and leave it on the lowest setting for 3 days, keeping the glycerine hot but not boiling, and add water as necessary.
After about 3 days, carefully strain the hot and sticky herbal mixture through a cheesecloth into a glass container. Squeeze the herbs a bit, pour a small amount of boiling water over them, and then discard them. Close tightly and label the glycerite tincture. You can keep and use your tinctures for several years.
Poultices, also called plasters, can easily be made by pouring a small amount of boiling water over herbs and steeping them for a few minutes to release their healing properties. Strain the warm herbs, fold them in gauze or thin cloth and place them on the affected area. Powdered herbs do not need to be steeped. Simply make the powder into a paste with hot water and apply in a cloth.
Tinctures are concentrated, liquid forms of herbal medicine that are simple to make and easy to assimilate. They are so concentrated that sometimes we take our doses in tea or water. They are usually made with consumable alcohol, but can also be made with vinegar, vegetable glycerine, honey, etc.
Alcohol tinctures (also known as extracts) are the most popular because alcohol is the most effective at drawing out the important properties of the herbs. Tinctures made with it have a long shelf life (2 years or longer). Almost all store bought tinctures use alcohol as a base or include some amount of alcohol as a preservative. Vodka is what we use because it doesn't have a strong odor and is very affordable (rum will also do).
Make your tincture by filling a jar 1/3 - 1/2 full of herbs. Use 1/3 for hard herbs and roots (as they will absorb more liquid) and 1/2 for soft or fluffy herbs. Fill the jar to the top with alcohol (80-90 proof Vodka is best), close it, and store for 3-8 weeks in a cool, dry place. Shake the jar daily. After 3-8 weeks, strain and discard the herbs, bottle the liquid and label it.
Expecting mothers or children can easily evaporate the alcohol by placing their dose in a hot liquid like tea or water before taking it.
Tinctures can also be made by using vinegar in place of the alcohol, following the same directions. Vinegar does not draw out an herb's properties as well as alcohol. However, it is very inexpensive, can be used as a gargle, and can be used to fight fungal infections. You may want to rinse after each dose to avoid enamel damage from the vinegar.
Tinctures are best stored in a cool, dry place out of the sun. A cabinet works great!