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How to Make Herbal Preparation

Making Herbal Preparations

Making your own herbal infusions, decoctions, and
liquid extracts is quick and easy. Herbal infusions
and decoctions are basically teas prepared in a
specific way to maximize the healing properties of
the herb. They are similar to teas in that the fresh
or dried herb is steeped or simmered in hot water.
Herbal infusions and decoctions are best prepared
in glass, porcelain, earthenware, or enamel-coated
steel pots. Stainless-steel pots are also fine, but
avoid aluminum or nonstick cookware.

A typical dose of an herbal infusion or decoction is
three to four cups a day. You can make a couple of
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    quarts of infusion or decoction at a time and refrigerate it to use over two days. Gently warm the
    refrigerated tea before drinking. While most of the healing properties remain intact when made in this way, I
    prefer the flavor of freshly brewed herbs. Because it's often not convenient to brew one cup of infusion or
    decoction at a time, I find it easiest to prepare a quart of herbal infusion or decoction each morning and
    then to drink it throughout the day. If you are using the mixture within one day, it doesn't need to be
    refrigerated.

    Herbal liquid extracts are made by steeping dried or fresh herbs in alcohol or vegetable glycerin for several
    weeks. Liquid extracts are convenient to use and make it easy to take herbs that are bitter or unpleasant
    tasting. A typical dose of an herbal extract is one-half teaspoon three times daily. Dilute the dosage in
    approximately one-quarter cup of warm water before taking.

    How to Make an Herbal Salve.

    Herbal salves are also easy to make and provide the healing benefits of herbs in a concentrated form for using
    on the skin. Excellent herbs for making salves include calendula and comfrey, both of which have skin-healing
    properties.

    To make an herbal salve in the traditional method, you first need to make an infused oil with the herb.
    Coarsely chop one-half cup of dried herb in a blender. Combine with one cup of olive oil in a wide-mouth
    glass jar with a lid and place in direct sunlight. The warmth of the sun helps to extract the medicinal
    properties of the herb. After one week, filter the oil through several layers of cheesecloth, straining out all
    herb particles. If any herb particles remain, strain through a coffee filter.

    Combine one-half cup of herbal infused oil with two tablespoons of grated beeswax in a small, heavy
    saucepan. (Save the remaining oil for making more salve, or use as a massage oil.) Heat gently until the
    beeswax is melted. Pour the salve into a widemouth glass jar, let cool, and cover with a lid. When stored in a
    cool, dark place, an herbal-infused oil or salve will stay fresh for approximately one year.


    How to Make an Herbal Infusion

    If you've ever brewed a cup of herbal tea, you have made a simple herbal infusion. Infusions are made from
    the more delicate parts of the plant, such as the flowers, leaves, and seeds.

    For a medicinal-strength infusion that retains all of the healing properties of the plant, use one to two
    teaspoons of dried herb for each cup of water. If you are using fresh herbs, increase the amount to one to
    two tablespoons. When using seeds such as fennel or anise, it's helpful to gently bruise them first in a mortar
    and pestle to release the essential oils.

    Pour boiling water over the herb and immediately cover the container to keep the volatile essential oils from
    escaping in the steam. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes and strain. For a stronger infusion, allow the herb to steep
    until the liquid cools to room temperature before straining. If you are making an infusion to use in a bath or
    compress, increase the proportion to one tablespoon of dried herb to each cup of water.



    How to Make an Herbal Extract

    To make an herbal extract, you will need dried or fresh herbs and enough vodka to cover the herbs by three
    inches. Buy cut or shredded dried herbs and grind them in a coffee grinder or blender until they are a coarse
    powder. Some roots and barks will not grind easily-don't worry about it, the medicinal properties will still be
    extracted. If you are using fresh herbs, chop them finely.

    Pack the herbs loosely into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and add enough vodka to cover the herbs plus an
    additional three inches. Stir well, and cover. Keep in a warm, dark place for three weeks. Shake the jar daily
    to thoroughly mix the herbs and vodka. After three weeks, strain the liquid into a bowl through a colander or
    strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Wring the herbs in the cheesecloth, squeezing them to
    extract any remaining liquid. Pour the liquid extract into dark glass bottles for storage.

    Alcohol is the best liquid for extracting the medicinal properties of the herbs, but if you want to avoid
    alcohol, you can use vegetable glycerin. Follow the same steps as if you were making an alcohol extract, but
    replace the alcohol with a mixture of equal parts of vegetable glycerin and water. If you are using fresh
    herbs, use a mixture of three-quarters vegetable glycerin and one-quarter water to adjust for the water
    content of the fresh plant material.


    How to Make an Herbal Decoction

    A decoction extracts the medicinal properties from the tougher parts of the plant, typically the root and
    bark. To make a decoction, place the herb in cold water in a covered pot. Use one to two teaspoons of dried
    herb to each cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, lower the heat as soon as it reaches a boil, and
    simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let steep for 15 minutes, and strain. For a stronger
    decoction, allow the herb to steep until the liquid cools to room temperature before straining. As with an
    infusion, if you are making a decoction to use in a bath or compress, increase the amount of herb to one
    tablespoon for each cup of water.


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