Posts Tagged ‘aromatherapy’

Preparing and Using Herbs for Better Health and a Healthy Home

Friday, March 25, 2011 @ 10:03 AM
posted by Therese

Herbal remedies have been used for centuries by many cultures in different ways for different ailments and diseases. The strength and quality of herbal remedies is not always guaranteed since so many factors contribute to overall quality of the herbs themselves.  That is why making your own herbal formulations not only saves you money, but it also guarantees the quality of the herbal formulation since you make it yourself. There are many ways to take herbs for health – a tea to relax you after a hectic day, a capsule to help support your immune system or in a salve, poultice or bath to sooth the bumps and bruises of life. Not sure how to make teas, salves, tinctures, remedies, cosmetics, dyes or potpourri?  No worries, we’re here to help, read on….

How can I make my own tincture (liquid extract)?
You can make any herbal tincture with the following directions: Place the dried herb in a jar and cover with two to three times the amount of alcohol (vodka, brandy, or rum—not rubbing alcohol). Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in the dark, and shake it once a day for two to eight weeks. (The longer it sits, the stronger the tincture, of course.) Strain through cheesecloth. Pour into a sterile glass container, close, and store in a dark cupboard. While not always great tasting, they are excellent when quick absorption is desired.

What’s a poultice?
A poultice is an herbal mixture that’s applied directly to the skin, often with the purpose of drawing out impurities. To make a poultice, boil or steam the herb so that it releases its oils, then squeeze it into a shape that will fit the area you want to treat. If you like you can apply a bandage or a compress on top to hold it in place. Sometimes poultices are made using alcohol, vinegar, or witch hazel instead of water. A soothing way to apply the benefits of natural remedies externally.

How can I make a salve?
Place herbs in a double boiler or crock pot and cover with oil; the oil should sit about an inch over the herbs. Heat over low heat for about 3 hours (roots for about 5 or 6 hours). Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Strain through cheesecloth, and then pour back into the pan or pot. Add essential oils, if desired. Add beeswax to the oil until it has reached the desired consistency. You can use this recipe for making a eucalyptus rub for respiratory ease or an elder salve to soothe aches and pains.

How to make an herbal infusion for my bath?
An herbal fusion is basically a strong tea; using a handful of herbs and a quart of boiling water. Let it steep for half an hour to an hour, then strain and add to the drawn bath.  Another variation is an herbal Milk Bath – Soak a handful of herbs in a quart of warm milk for several hours. Strain and add the milk to the drawn bath.

How to make an aromatherapy spray?
To make your own spray, simply steep about a tablespoon of herbs in one cup of boiling water for 15 to 30 minutes, then strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth. Once cooled, place in a spray bottle and store in the refrigerator. Spritz your bedroom just before it’s time to turn in. To scent your linens, squirt your spray on your sheets and pillowcases before you put them in the dryer, or make your own dryer sheet with a small, clean cloth that’s been soaked in the spray and then tossed in the dryer with the linens.

How do I make my own Herbal Body Powder?
Start with a base like arrowrootcornstarch, or fuller’s earth. (You may even want to try sifted rice flour, which was used for body and face powder for centuries.) Add herbs that you’ve pulverized with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder— lavender or rose petals for example—and a bit of orris root to fix or hold the scent. (Use about equal parts base and herbs.) Store your powder where it won’t get damp, in a covered container.

As more and more people take responsibility for their own health, natural remedies are growing in popularity. We’re happy to help put nature’s solutions in your hands. Use them well.

Herbal Teas—There are several types of “teas,” or herbal beverages. An infusion is made by steeping hot stems, leaves, and flowers of herbs to extract their benefits. Hard materials, like roots, woods, barks and seeds, need to be boiled, then steeped, for best results; this drink is called a decoction. And a cold extract, which is recommended for the most delicate plants, is made by soaking the herbs in cold water. Ratios and steeping times depend on the plant and the strength desired.

Syrups—Using honey, vegetable glycerin, or maple syrup as a base, herbs are cooked into a sweet, thick medicine. Especially effective for coughs and sore throats.

Herbal Oils—Infused herbal oils are easy to make and inexpensive – infusing dried (or fresh) herbs in high-quality vegetable, seed, or nut oils. They are wonderful for massage oilsand insect repellents, and they form the basis of herbal salves and ointments.

Herbal Capsules and Pills—Powdered herbs can be encapsulated in gelatin caps, for easy-to-take remedies. You can make your own with powdered herbs and essential oils.

Herbal cosmetic or body care products won’t last as long as those you’ll find in the store, because they don’t contain ingredients to preserve them. Some products will last in the refrigerator for weeks, but if the recipe doesn’t specify, you’ll want to replace homemade items made with herbs (or any food products) after a few days or so. And don’t forget, when you’re making herbal products, to be sure to use perfectly clean, non-aluminum utensils and containers.  Consult a good herbal healing book for directions on making and administering each of these. Also consult your healthcare practitioner or an experienced herbalist if you have any questions about taking any herbs internally. And, finally, if you’re pregnant, never take any internal remedy (herbal or conventional) without first consulting your healthcare provider.