The goal of the herbalist is to release the volatile oils,
antibiotics, aromatics, and other healing chemicals contained by the herb. Herbs can be
prepared in a variety of forms depending on their purpose. Such techniques include:
|Juice squeezed from herbs.|
|Mashing herbs into a paste.|
|Decoction or extracting the active ingredients
down the herb in water.|
|Hot infusion (like hot tea)- Herb is steeped in hot water.|
|Cold infusion (like sun tea) - Herb is steeped in cold water.|
|Herbs ground into a powder and used as such or as compressed
into a pill.|
|Herbal wine made by adding the herb to water and sugar and
letting it ferment.|
|Tincture, made by combining ground herbs with alcohol,
glycerin or vinegar and used internally.|
|Liniment - Made like a tincture except it is used externally.|
|Salves and ointments made by adding herbs to a medium such
as petroleum jelly.|
|Syrups - Made by adding herb to a medium such as honey,
sugar or glycerin.|
|Poultice - Herb is applied directly to a wound or body part
and held in place with a cloth.|
|Herbal Oil - Usually made with common base oil, such as
olive, almond, grape seed, or sesame oils. The herb is allowed to sit in the oil for a
week. It is strained and bottled.|
In general, delicate leaves and flowers are best infused.
Boiling may cause them to lose the volatile essential oils. Roots, barks, and seeds are
best made into decoctions.
vs. Whole Herb
As the herbs are getting more and more popular, more and
more manufacturers are supplying standardized herb extracts. A standardized extract means
that the manufacturer has verified that the active ingredient believed to be present in
the herb is present in the preparation and that the potency and the amount of the active
ingredient is assured in the preparation. The problem is that, the action of the herb may
be from a number of constituents and not from just one or two ingredients. Thus, the
standardized preparation may omit some of the ingredients and we will lose out on the
effect from the complex combination of the constituents.
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