How To Use Herbs

This page will tell you how to use herbs in different ways and for a variety of purposes.
Whether you want to buy or make herbal remedies, they come in many different forms. Tinctures, teas, bulk herbs, medicinal herbal blends, oils, fluid extracts and tablets or capsules.
Below are some ways in which herbs can be used for different types of herbal medicine or in herbal remedies.
How To Use Herbs With Different Methods
Essential oils
These oils are highly concentrated extracts usually obtained by steaming or cold pressing the flowers, leaves, berries, seeds, roots stems, needles, gums, bark or resins of many plants. Known also as volatile oils because they evaporate easily in the air (used in aromatherapy for example) It is best to use essential oils externally in poultices, bath water, inhalants or on the skin (diluted with water). Essentail oils can help many types of ailments including but not limited too, insomnia, arthritisor impotence.
Herbal Extracts
An extract is a concentrate that is a result of a herb mixed with a solvent, such as alcohol and or water. Of all herbal forms, extracts are generally the most effective because their
active ingredients are the most highly concentrated. They can be standardized to a guaranteed potency. On top of this they usually have a longer shelf life then other herbal remedies
using herbs.
A fresh herbal extract retains most if not all of the entire plants herbal benefits.
There are alcohol free extracts that are also available.When taken under the tongue they are absorbed quickly by the body. If you have a problem with absorption then taking a herbal extract is the most effective way to get herbal benefits.
Fresh Juice
If you want to know how to use herbs to retain all their medicinal benefits then juicing is a good idea.
When cooking with herbs the vitamins and minerals are often killed off or lessened by the cooking process. By juicing fresh herbs you reap all the benefits the herb has to offer.
To make juice just steep the herb of choice in cold water (afer chopping the herbs up a little) and then strain the water and put the herbs through a juicer. Dandelion, stinging nettle,watercress, and sorrel are some examples of herbs to juice.
Plasters, Compresses, And Poultices
Plasters and compresses are cotton bandages soaked in decoctions or infusions and wrapped around the affected area. Often pressure is applied. Compresses are also warm.
A poultice is made by moistening herbs and placing them on the skin. They are held there with a bandage. You can also use a warm tea bag tin a similiar way to relieve itching,inflammation, insect bites or eczema.
You make powders by grinding dried herbs to a fine consistency. They can be stirred into soups or liquids or sprinkled on foods. They also come in capsule or tablet form.
Salves, Ointments, and Creams
These are for external use. They are prepared by combining a herb with an oily base. Creams are light and a little oily and they blend with the oils in your skin which allows the active
ingredients to penetrate the skin. Salves and ointments are heavier and are used to protect the surface of the skin.
A syrup is often used to help the bitter taste of some herbal mixtures. They are also used to soothe coughs and for throat medicine. Common herbal syrups are marshmallow root, licorice
and wild cherrry.
Herbal Teas, Decoctions, Extracts
We often get asked how to use herbs in teas. Herbal teas can be made from just about any plant and using any part of the plant. This includes the roots, seeds, berries, flowers or bark. However, there are some herbs whose active ingredients are not soluble in water so are not great used in tea form. And the concentration needed for medicinal potenecy is so high that it can really only be obtained from an extract in a capsule or pill form.
To make a tea simply pour boiling water over broken up leaves, flowers or roots. Make sure not to cut the herbs as it causes the essential oils to dissipate. Do not place the herbs in the boiling water and let them boil, always pour the water over the herbs that you have placed in a cup.
Infusions are the easiest way to take a herbal remedy. They are basically teas but you place leaves, stems, flowers or powdered herbs in boiling water then steep, strain and drink up as a tea.
A decoction is a tea made with bark, roots, seeds or berries. They contain a substance called lignin which is hard to dissolve in water. They require a more vigourous method of extraction than infusions.
Tinctures are made by steeping fresh or dried herbs in alcohol. Alcohol is a good solvent so the active ingredients in herbs are preserved in tinctures. They can be used externally for compresses or baths or internally as teas.
Many people want to know how to use herbs with food or cooking.
Herbal vinegars are used with food to flavor dishes and used to help digestion. To make them, put a few leaves and stems into a bottle. Allow the mixture to steep in a warm bright room for a couple of weeks. Then use as you would with any vingar, such as shaking over steamed vegetables or salads.
By steeping herbs in wines you can use them as medicine. Once you make them they should be put in the fridge.
Now that you know how to use herbs to make different types of herbal medicine and different types of home remedies all you need to do is figure out which remedies you want and either purchase them online or at your health food or grocery store. Or gather together the ingredients and tools needed and make your own.