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So I realized that while I'm posting Herbs of the Week, I never explained HOW to use herbs. So here it is!
First things first. You have to store your herbs. Keep herbs sealed in a screw lidded container. The best ones are the colored glasses (check your local antique or goodwill store). Store herbs out of the sunlight as this sun will change the chemical properties of the herbs, much like the sun can bleach out clothes.
The best way to use herbs is to grind them up your own w/ a mortar and pestle. The best are the ones pharmacists use because they're very coarse on the inside. Don't buy "soft" or wooden because they don't grind well and the wood can keep scents/colors/constituents from previous herbs ground. OR you can just buy the herbs from your whole foods store
Don't boil the herbs in water, as this will cause the chemical mixture in them to change and evaporate. Pour boiling water over the herb and then cover the pan/cup etc. . Use a ceramic pan/pot etc.., NEVER use metal or aluminum as this can cause toxic chemical mixtures. Keep herb covered for about 10-15 minutes (until drinking temp).
You will now need to strain the herb. The best way to do this is using cheesecloth or a glass funnel.
This is a homemade "tea" - it's drinkable.
Same as infusion, except much stronger (concentrated). You may be using stems, roots, seeds and leafs. Start w/ the hardest first (roots) and if you have leafs add them after the water is taken off the heat and let it steep.
Applying herbs externally. Pour boiling water over the herbs, just enough to cover them and make them wet. Let soak in for a minute or two, now take the herbs out, put in layers of gauze and wrap the gauze on the afflicted body part. A bit messy, so get a towel as the liquid will drip from the gauze.
Ointments & Salves
Heat lanolin, vegetable fat, or petroleum jelly, add herbs. Cool, heat again. Cool, heat again. The heating and cooling process pulls all the constituents out of the herb. When you're done heating (it's up to you how many times) strain and store oil/fat etc in an airtight container.
Same as infusion, just used externally.
Used when long-term storage is needed. Uses alcohol (75% grade so it can be ingested). Place herbs into a jar (1-4oz) w/ 8oz of alcohol and 4cups water. Keep out of light for 2 weeks. Swirl once a day during those two weeks to break up the herbs.
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Last edited by Earthy.Mama; August 22nd, 2010 at 11:36 AM.
They have so many gizmos and gadgets out there, it really is cool I have a tea bag cheesecloth thingy, however I prefer (and it's recommended) that the best method for herbal preparations is to let the herbs float loosely in the water as it allows for the most constituents to be pulled out.