Part 2 in our Herbal Medicine Kit series. See the other posts in this series at the end of this article.
by Kat Yorba
Herbs: “Trees, shrubs, mushrooms lichens and fruits & vegetables that have medicinal properties…or ALL medicinal and cosmetic plants as herbs.”
There are countless different herbs and as many different combinations of herbs that are used for our good health and healing. Thankfully, there are only a few basic and different types of preparations that are used in treating illnesses and wounds.
These preparations take dried or fresh herbs and transform them into life giving medicine that can be taken internally in the form of teas, capsules and the like, or applied topically such as salves, oils, bath salts and compresses.
Sometimes you will use both methods of preparation for a single herb with differing expected outcomes such as using St. John’s wort to make capsules and also a salve. The nature of your ailment will ultimately determine your preparation.
Ingredients for your various preparations can be obtained from a variety of sources:
- Your own kitchen/back yard
- Harvesting from the wild
- Your whole foods market
- Your local Herb Store
- Online Herbal Supply Companies (links will be provided for who I use)
- Recycle & Re-use containers
For most of your preparations the supplies you will need on hand are quite basic and once you purchase or acquire them, you can get a lot of use for quite a long time out of them!
- Quart Mason Jars, Pint Jars, Recycle sauce & salsa jars**
- Amber or Blue 2 oz. bottles with droppers
- Strainer OR Cheesecloth
- Herbs (of course)
- Liquid of Choice (Alcohol, Glycerin)
- Beeswax, Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Almond oil, Apricot Oil, Oils of your preference, clays
- Cheesecloth or Muslin for compresses
- Capsules (capsule maker-inexpensive, will provide links)
- Honey, Vinegar
- Re-fillable tea bags OR Tea Spoon/ball
Now lets look at various basic Preparations for Internal Use…
Preparations for Internal Use
Glycerites provide an alcohol-free alternative to the popular tincture in which the herbs properties are extracted with alcohol. Glycerine is used to create a Glycerite…the Glycerine extracts the herbs medicinal properties instead of alcohol. Glycerin has a syrupy consistency and is sweet, but does not affect the blood sugar like honey/sugar can.
There are two types of Glycerin; one derived from animal fat, a by-product of soap making and the other is derived from vegetable oil. Animal fat Glycerin is sold in Pharmacies, vegetable oil Glycerin can be found at Natural Food Stores. Be careful, there is also a petroleum Glycerin becoming more and more available!
Average dosage for Glycerite: 30 drops or ¼ tsp. to ½ dropper-full.
Dosage should be diluted in water, tea or juice as irritation may develop. Glycerites are not as potent as tinctures and are more expensive than teas.
They are easy to prepare and make other preparations from such as syrups.
Capsules or pills release their herbal contents in the stomach as they dissolve. They provide an easy way to take herbs without the bitter aftertaste.
They are slower acting and generally less potent than tinctures. But armed with a variety of intake can be an excellent addition to your arsenal come cold/flu or allergy season. Hit illness with all fronts, I say!
Pills are more convenient when feeling really, really ill as they do not require preparation such as teas would. They are also easily portable to work or school so you would be able to keep up with your remedies on the go.
After purchasing empty capsules and a capsule maker, your Herbal Capsule selection is only limited by your creativity…not your herbal/whole food store of choice’s availability!
The typical capsule is comparable to half a cup of tea or 1/6th of an ounce of herbs.
A syrup is a tincture, liquid extract, glycerite or sometimes even a very strong tea. All are normally sweetened with sugar, honey or glycerin. I prefer honey for the added benefits honey brings to the table, however if you have issues with your blood sugar glycerin would be an excellent choice for you. Also any preparation made with honey should NOT be given to children under the age of 2)
Syrups make ideal cough syrups as it coats and soothes the throat.
Syrups herbal content can be lower due to dilution, the average dosage is 1 TBSP.
Teas are the simplest and least expensive way to prepare herbs. A cup of tea only costs a few pennies. The typical dosage is usually 1 tsp per Cup and 1 C. 3-4 times a day. That’s roughly 6-10 cents a day! Some tea remedies are fever reducing teas and work only when taken as a hot tea because of the heat promoting sweat. Tea does have certain advantages…forcing you to be still, quiet and relax for the few minutes your are partaking of it’s health benefits. But it can also be a hard cup to swallow when the herbs that will help you are strong, bitter and foul smelling!
Pouring hot water over herbs and allowing to steep for 5-10 minutes either in cup or kettle. Flower and leaves are the usual herbal ingredients.
Gently simmering herbs in a pot of water for 15-30 minutes. Roots and bark are the usual herbal ingredients here. Keep heat low and cover with lead to keep all of the essential oils in the tea.
Soaking herbs in cold water for 8 hours or more. Delicate fragrant herbs are used in this infusion. In this manner they do not lose their essential oils.
Tinctures are a concentrated liquid for of herbal medicine. A tincture is easy to carry with you, easily to take and needs no refrigeration. It will keep for years as well. With tinctures it is easier to take those strong tasting and smelling herbal preparations especially when you need large doses.
Average dosage: 30 drops, ¼ tsp or half a dropper-full.
The liquid medium of choice for tinctures is alcohol which draws out very important properties from the herbs. It also extracts compounds which are not water-soluble. Making a tincture requires no heat which means that precious essential oils are retained.
Tinctures are more costly than tea…about 35-40 cents a dose, or a couple bucks a day. But there is something to be said for convenience!
If alcohol is a concern for you then you can eliminate much of the alcohol by dropping a dose of the tincture into a cup of hot boiling water or tea. The alcohol will evaporate behind.
Herbal Vinegars are prepared like Tinctures, using vinegar to infuse the herbs instead of alcohol.
Most Herbal Vinegars are made for culinary use, however an herbal vinegar is easy to make and can be used as an additional weapon in your arsenal when combating illness such as sore throat…use as a gargle! It can also be used quite effectively externally as a hair rinse or skin wash for fungal infections or even perhaps as a douche for yeast and other infections.
Typical dosage: 1-2 tsp.
That concludes our look at Preparations for Internal Use. Next post we will cover Preparations for External Use and give you a shopping list for your first recipes!
Here are resource links that may help you in gathering ingredients for upcoming preparations…
Resources for Ingredients On-Line
Herbs, Essential Oils, Packaging, Equipment,
Bulk products such as clays.
Same as Mountain Rose
I suggest 00 size which is smaller, this is what I purchased…0 is a bigger capsule, okay if you are used to taking larger pills. You can find various capsule machines and empty capsules on Amazon when doing a search…this is just a suggestion.
Same as Mountain Rose and FNWL
Starwest Botanicals is your on-line supply source for bulk herbs and natural products. Dried herbs, organic herbs, bulk spices, loose leaf organic teas, organic essential oils and aromatherapy supplies are part of the nearly 3000 natural products to choose from at Starwest Botanicals.
About Kat Yorba: I am a “red-neck country wife” to one wonderfully amazing man, mother to many outrageous children, daughter of the ONE Glorious God. Learning to be more self-reliant & self-sufficient in a semi-homemade, homesteading way! Connect with Kat on her blog, Simply Living Simply, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
Go-to Herbal Medicine Kit series
Part 1: Go Herbal: Putting Together Your Go-To Herbal Medicine Kit
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Thanks for sharing the stuff!