Herbal Preparations

Herbal preparations come in many different forms and are much easier to make than you might think. When used properly they may have specific healing effects. Your homemade products will cost a fraction of the price of store bought products without the toxic preservatives, fragrances, stabilizers and other additives. Many herbs and most essential oils have their own natural preservatives. Beeswax is a wonderful natural preservative. When making herbal preparations, use glass and enameled pots to cook or mix your formulas.

Herbal medicines are not like prescription medicines and usually do not have immediate effects. The herbs will gradually restore the body's natural balance. Keep drinking the teas, infusions and decoctions until you feel better, which should not be longer than 3 or 4 days.


When you make your own creams you get a level of purity and freshness that is not possible with "store bought" products which contain chemicals, stabilizers and preservatives. Making your own creams is a challenge worth mastering.


A method of extraction by boiling of herbs or plant material, which may include stems, roots, bark and rhizomes. Some 'teas' are decoctions. Decoctions, however, differ from most teas, infusions, or tisanes, in that decoctions are usually boiled.

Ear Oil

Ear oils are used to relieve the pain of an earache while applying antibiotic or decongesting properties. The oil is administered by warming the bottle in hot water, then placing 5-10 drops in the ear. Place a piece of cotton ball in the ear to prevent the oil from draining out.


An electuary is a combination of powdered herbs mixed with honey or vegetable glycerin to form a paste. It is useful as a children's remedy.


Elixirs are aromatic, rejuvenating tonics. They are often sweetened with sugar, honey or dried dates. Can be made with brandy, vodka, or other spirits. You can make them in a jar and leaves the herbs in the jar. Take a teaspoonful as needed.

Essential Oil

Also called Volatile Oils. Separation of volatile oils is accomplished by steam distillation. These fragrant oils are responsible for the flavor and aroma of herbs such as mint, citrus, Cinnamon, Cloves, and Ginger. They are often medicinal.


Fomentations are either decoctions or infusions, depending on which part fo the plant is used, a cloth is soaked in the liquid and applied to the body.Fomentations aid in decongestion and can soothe, heal and regenerate tissue; stimulate circulation and organ function; warm and relax muscles; and draw out toxins or foreign particles. The strained tea is kept in a covered pot, a thick cloth is dipped into the tea, wrung out and fanned in the air until it has cooled enough to apply to the skin. It should be applied as hot as the patient can stand, then covered with two towels to retain the heat. After the cloth has cooled, remove it and soak again, then reapply.


A glycerite is a preparation that uses glycerin as a solvent. Glycerin is both a solvent and a preservative. It tastes sweet, so it works very well when preparing children's remedies. Glycerin can be chemically synthesized, so be sure to get pure vegetable glycerin for making preparations.


An infusion is very similar to a decoction but is used with herbs that are more volatile or dissolve readily in water, or release their active ingredients easily in oil. Boiling water (or water of the appropriate temperature) is poured over the herb and allow to steep for a time, usually 15 to 30 minutes or until the mix cools. The mix is then strained, bottled, and refrigerated for future use. Quantities of the herb/water or oil mix will vary according to the herb or how strong the infusion is required to be. A common proportion used is one ounce of herb to one pint of liquid. A typical dose is 3 to 4 cups per day. You can make a quart and drink it throughout the day.


Liniments are tinctures that are used externally only. They are the only preparations that use isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl is inexpensive but highly poisonous. Ethyl (food grade) alcohol, also known as grain alcohol, can be used instead. The alcohol is absorbed quickly and "carries" the medicine into the tissues. Sprains, strains and sore muscles respond quickly to liniment therapy. Preparation is the same as for a regular tincture.


Lotions have the same base formula as creams only without the beeswax. They can be made for a variety of therapeutic uses.


Ointments are fatty preparations with the consistency of cold lard. Lard is also often the base of the ointment because it is a highly absorbent carrier for medicinal properties. When an ointment is applied to the skin , it softens with body heat. Ointments can also be made with vegetable oil.


An oxymel is a combination of 5 parts honey and 1 part vinegar. It is used to disguise the taste of unpleasant herbs such as Garlic, Horehound, Osha' and other bitter or acrid herbs. The oxymel can be ingested in dosages of 2 tablespoons, used as a gargle or made into lozenges.


A pessary is an herb carrier that is used as a vaginal suppository.


A poultice is the application of fresh or dried herbs to soothe, heal and regenerate tissue; stimulate circulation and organ function; warm and relax muscles; and draw out toxins or foreign particles.


Salves are semi-solid medicinal preparations that are designed to be applied to the skin. They are comprised of the medicinal qualities of an herb or herb combination drawn out into an oil base and solidified with beeswax. Dried herbs work better than fresh herbs which contain moisture and can lead to spoilage of the salve.


Like a pessary, a suppository is an herb carrier used for rectal insertion.


An alcoholic extract (e.g. of leaves or other plant material). To qualify as a tincture, the alcoholic extract should have an ethanol percentage of at least 40-60%. One teaspoon of tincture has the same medicinal strength as one cup of infusion. Fill a jar 2/3 full with herbs, fill with vodka, place in a cool place for about 2 weeks. Shake every few days. Strain through cheesecloth and store in a dark glass jar/bottle. Keep in a cool, dark place and your tincture will last indefinitely.


An herbal infusion made from anything other than the leaves of the tea bush.


Tonics are herbal agents that permanently increase tone and give increased vigor, energy, and strength by stimulating nutrition. They are invigorating, refreshing and permanently strengthening to every body organ. They primarily give vitality and strength to the digestive system, yet all body organs acting in sympathy with the stomach are directly influenced and benefited. They produce normal tone or tension to the tissues of an organ, resulting in a healthy muscular condition and reaction. They can sharpen the appetite, promote better waste elimination, aid in digestion, soothe the stomach, and gradually exert an alternative influence in building up strength, energy, and health. As a rule, the tonic herbs are bitter, and they are always used in convalescence from disease or in any run-down condition. However, do not rush tonics, see that the patient is past the crisis or acute stage.


A medicinal vinegar is made by soaking or macerating herbs using vinegar instead of alcohol as the solvent. Vinegar tonics work well for children and others who should not have alcohol.

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