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What Are the Different Ways Herbs Can Be Prepared?

Aug 17, 2007
If you're a follower of natural medicine, then you've undoubtedly been confused at some point about the different ways herbs can be prepared for your use in treating certain ailments or disease. There are many ways herbs can be prepared for your use.

The terminology may be confusing, but the processes are simple and allow you to enhance your herbal experience in any way you see fit. Depending on which methods you use in herbal preparation, you may need a scale, blender, (or grinder), glassware you can heat, enamel pots and double boilers that don't contain aluminum or copper, cheesecloth, a strainer, wooden spoons, and jars with lids.

The first method is an herbal bath. Hydrotherapy is an important aspect of naturopathic medicine. Primarily used for topical diseases, such as skin disorders, herbal baths can be made by adding large amounts of an herb to a cloth bag and submerging it in the bath to mix with the water.

An infusion is another way to consume herbs. Similar to a tea, you pour a pint of boiling water over an ounce of the herb and steep for approximately ten minutes. A cold extract is prepared with cold water, when you add two ounces of herbs to the water and let it sit for up to twelve hours before drinking. A decoction is best used with bitter herbs, so that you can just boil the plant and strain it into a cup for consumption.

If you need to take the herb in powder form, you'll need to pulverize it using a blender or mortar and pestle. After breaking the herb up into smaller parts, you continue grinding it until it's in powder form and can be added to foods, drinks, and soups.

Once you have the powder, you can create a tincture by mixing four ounces of the herb to two and a half cups 60-proof alcohol. After the mixture sits in a warm environment for fourteen days, it can be strained and added to water as a tea mixture, or consumer straight.

Sometimes an herb needs to be used topically. Ointments and creams can be created by making adding one part herbal powder to four pars petroleum jelly. If you want to save it for continued use, be sure to add some gum benzoin to each ounce.

If you need a compress of the herb, then soak a cloth in the infusion and apply it to the distressed area. You can create both hot and cold herbal compresses, depending on what the recipe calls for. A poultice is similar to a compress, but instead of using a liquid infusion, you would use mashed up parts of the herb and apply it in a gauze bandage directly to the affected area.
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