Techniques for Preparing Herbal Medicine

Herbs are a subset of botanicals, and a botanical is a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal or therapeutic properties, flavor, and/or scent. Products made from botanicals that are used to maintain or improve health may be called herbal products, botanical products, or phytomedicines. Below are some ways in which herbal products are prepared. While not all inclusive, the list provides a general idea of the techniques employed.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are often used as a home remedy and as an alternative to tea and coffee.

A tea, also known as an infusion, is made by adding boiling water to the lighter parts (leaves, flowers) of the  fresh or dried botanicals and allowing it to steep. Teas may be drunk either hot or cold.

The tougher parts of the plants, such as the roots, bark, and berries require more forceful treatment and are simmered in boiling water for longer periods than teas, making a decoction, which also may be drunk hot or cold.

As a general rule unless recommended by a herbalist, prepare 1 teaspoon of dried herb for every 1 cup of water. Let it steep in boiling water for about 10. Strain the herbs before consuming.

Herbal Tinctures

The process of making herbal tinctures involve submerging a medicinal plant in a medium such as alcohol or food grade glycerin or vinegar. Alcohol extracts the alcohol-soluble properties of the plant into a liquid form that can be stored for long periods. This is the process used for making Vanilla extract.

Herbalists with their knowledge of the various herbs and uses, may mix several herbal tinctures to form an individualized prescription different ailments. Plant tinctures are the basis for many homeopathic medicines. How to make Herbal Tinctures...

    - A drop of tincture is approximately equal to 1 tsp of the juice from the juice.
    - Herbal tinctures is a less concentrated version of Herbal Fluid Extracts with a liquid-to-herb ratio of 2:1 to 8:1 depending on the herb.

Fluid Extracts

Fluid extract, also referred to as liquid extract, is a more concentrated form of herbal medicine than a tincture. It is made with a 1:1 ratio; one part herb with one part fluid, for example, 250 grams of herb to 250 ml. of alcohol or glycerin.

The disadvantage of fluid extracts is that they lose more of the plantís essential oils, due to the method of preparation.

    - The dosage of fluid extracts is much smaller and is usually given in drops.
    - The dosage of tinctures is usually given in milliliters.

Herbal Poultices

Poultices are a solid, vegetable fat based mixture used externally. They have the shortest life span of any herbal remedy and must be made fresh for every use.

Powdered Herbs And Tablets

Herbs that are dried and (sometimes) certain parts are separated out then diced to powder fine consistency. Powered matter can then be compressed or put in an empty pill coating to form a tablet

Herbal Creams And Ointments

An ointment usually is mixed with beeswax (or something similar) to make it more applicable to outside the body, such as on a cut or scrape.

Essential Oils

Extraction of volatile liquid plant materials and other aromatic compounds from plants gives essential oils. Depending on the plant, these oils may be used for herbal medicine,  aromatherapy and for making fragrant perfumes. How to Extract Essential Oils...

Herbal Supplementsensure batch-to-batch consistency of the product

Herbal dietary supplements are a a billion dollar industry backed by very large marketing budgets. Large manufacturing of commercial herbal dietary supplements involve standardization; a process used to standardize the levels of active phytochemicals, i.e. the chemicals that are found naturally in plants. Standardization ensure helps ensure batch-to-batch consistency thereby providing a measure of quality control. The levels of the active ingredients are less controlled when made by a herbalist.

The following a rules set by congress, for a product to be deemed a dietary supplement.

  • is intended to supplement the diet;
  • contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins; minerals; herbs or other botanicals; amino acids; and other substances) or their constituents;
  • is intended to be taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid; and
  • is labeled on the front panel as being a dietary supplement.

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