Basic Herbal Preparations

Infusion – is like making tea. Pour boiling water over dry or fresh leaves and/or flower heads. Leave to steep (soak) for about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain out the plant matter and use or drink. Infusions should be used the same day but could be stored in the fridge overnight to use the next day. If you need a stronger infusion add more plant matter. In general, the dose is one teaspoon of herb per one cup/mug of hot water. You can use a single herb or mix several dried herbs together and keep them in an air-tight container, removing only what you need as and when you want to make an infusion. Generally, infusions are used as a herbal tea for pleasure or medicinal purposes. The infusion could be used in a bath or foot-bath.

Decoction – is for harder parts of the plants like seeds, roots, bark, berries and stems. Place the plant parts and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain. Decoctions should be used the same day but could be stored in the fridge overnight to use the next day. If you need a stronger decoction add more plant matter. In general, the dose is one teaspoon of herb per one cup/mug of water. You can use a single herb or mix several dried herbs together and keep them in an air-tight container, removing only what you need as and when you want to make a decoction. Generally, decoctions are used as a herbal tea for pleasure or medicinal purposes. The decoction could be used in a bath or foot-bath.

Macerated Oil – here oil is used as the medium instead of water like the above preparations. One herb is macerated at a time, the macerated oils can be blended later. Fresh or dried plant matter is placed in a large jar (with room to spare) and covered completely with an oil like extra virgin olive oil, then fit with a tight-fitting lid. The jar is placed in a warm place but not in direct sunlight. You will need to shake the jar every day so the plant matter moves around in the oil. In about three-weeks remove the oil by placing the plant matter into a cheesecloth or similar and squeeze out every last drop. Store in a glass jar or bottle and place in a cool dark place. These macerated oils are used in preparations for making creams, salves, lotion etc. If stored well will last for months. It is important not only to name the tincture but to also date it.

Tincture – one type of herb is preserved at a time, the various tinctures can be blended at a later stage. The medicinal properties of the herbs are extracted by soaking them in alcohol. Place the chopped up or crushed plant material in a large glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Herbalists use 100% alcohol but you could use a high-proof vodka. The plant material is left in a cool place out of direct sunlight for two to three weeks, during which time the jar will need a good shake on a regular basis. Strain through a muslin cloth, squeeze out any remaining tincture and store in a dark glass bottle in a cool dark place. It is important not only to name the tincture but to also date it. Stored correctly tinctures will last up to a year.

 

 

 

 

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