Herbs have been used for food
and healing, by all cultures, for thousands of years. Many of the common culinary
herbs are rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements and are recognised as being
beneficial to good health. For example, garlic is a natural antibiotic, parsley is rich in
vitamin C and iron, mint aids digestion. The most natural way to benefit from these herbs
is to include them regularly in a balanced diet.
Many minor ailments can be safely
treated at home, using wild or cultivated herbs.
However, many herbs have extremely potent properties and it is vital that you correctly
identify and fully understand the properties of a plant before using it. Herbalism is a
vast topic. Refer to the medicinal section of the book list
for a selection of recommended books on the subject.
Always consult a qualified
herbalist for serious conditions. Herbal preparations must be used responsibly. Do not
take any herbal preparation if you are on other drugs, or if you are pregnant, without
consulting a professional.
A LIST OF QUALIFIED MEDICAL
HERBALISTS WILL BE AVAILABLE SHORTLY
How to make your own herbal
teas/infusions, tinctures, poultices & creams.
Put 1 tsp. fresh
herb or 1/2 tsp. dried herb into a cup. Fill with boiling water and cover to infuse for
10-15 minutes. Strain.
The usual dosage is one cup three times a day.
A decoction is used
to extract the properties of tougher plant parts, eg roots, bark or hard seeds. Use 1oz
dried (or 2 oz fresh) herb to 1 pint water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 15
minutes. Strain into sterilised bottles. A decoction will keep in the fridge for about one
A tincture is one of
the best ways of extracting the beneficial constituents of a plant. Because it is
alcohol-based, it will extract substances that cannot be extracted by water alone, such as
oils and resins. Tinctures also keep indefinitely.
Use fresh herbs that have been harvested on a dry, sunny day, before noon. Break the
leafy, flowering stems into short lengths with your fingers and press down into
wide-necked jars with screw-top lids.
Cover with a 50-50 mix of good quality vodka and bottled still spring water. Seal the jars
and shake well a couple of times a day for fourteen days. Strain the liquid off, but
dont filter it. Fill brown (amber), sterilised glass bottles with screw tops and
store in a cool, dry place. Shake the bottle well before each use. The dose is up to one
teaspoonful in hot water, three times a day.
Simmer the herb in a
small amount of water for about 2 minutes. Rub some oil on to the affected area, to
prevent the poultice from sticking. (3 to 5 drops of lavender or eucalyptus, diluted with
15ml of a carrier oil, such as sweet almond, sunflower or olive oil) Apply the herb
while it is still hot. Use gauze or cotton strips to bandage the herb in place. Leave on
for up to three hours. Apply a new poultice every 3 hours, or as required.
Fill a wide-necked,
sterilised jar with fresh herb, broken into pieces with your fingers. When the jar is as
full as possible, cover with good quality olive, sunflower, safflower or almond oil,
preferably organic. Put on a tight fitting lid. Stand the jar in a warm or sunny place,
covering it with brown paper if it's in a sunny position. Shake at least once a day for 14
days. Strain and store out of direct light.
16 parts herb oil (see above)
8 parts tincture, decoction or infusion
4 parts good beeswax
4 parts animal fat, or vegetable oil or petroleum jelly
1/4 part powdered borax
Use double saucepans or bowls suspended over pots of boiling water. Gently heat the
beeswax and fat (or vegetable oil, or petroleum jelly) in one, and the herb oil in
another. When the beeswax has melted, add the warm oil to it. Heat the tincture, decoction
or infusion and dissolve the borax powder in it. Very slowly and stirring continuously,
add the borax solution to the wax/oil mixture. When all is combined, remove from the heat
and continue stirring until cold to prevent the mixture from separating. Pour into wide
necked, sterilised glass jars.
When making herbal
preparations, use only earthenware, glass or enamel containers. Use a wooden spoon for
To sterilise bottles, first wash them well, rinse with hot water and allow to drain. Place
them in a cold oven and heat to 190C. When the temperature has reached this level,
maintain it for half an hour.
This information was taken from
Judith Hoads book, Healing with Herbs, published by Gill &
Macmillan. Thanks Judith.
Judith's books are available by
mail order, along with her range of dried herbs, tinctures and creams.
ROOM FOR HEALING
Inver, Co. Donegal.
Tel: 074 9736406
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