Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Herbal Tutorial

I've gotten a lot of questions lately about how to use herbs. Here's a basic tutorial: the most common types of herbs that you will find are leaves or roots, powdered herbs, and bark.

Most of the herbs I use are leaves or roots, which I infuse to make tea. My kids drink Alfalfa Peppermint tea which I make in a large tea press (which is the same thing as a coffee press). Alfalfa is a super herb; it's a great blood purifier and is good for preventing or treating tooth decay. Peppermint gives it flavor, but is also great for indigestion. I use a teaspoon of leaves for each cup.

I've mentioned mixing powdered herbs with raw honey for my kids. I do this for black walnut hull powder and bee pollen. For myself, I would put it in a capsule (except for the bee pollen, because it tastes great!) You can buy a manual capsule filler for really cheap here. Of course, you can also buy capsules of any herb at your health food store.

Currently, Lydia is on a Bentonite cleanse. Her diapers were getting really toxic, which tells me she's got some junk inside her that will eventually make her sick. Prevention is always preferrable to treatment, so I wanted to nip it in the bud. I put a teaspoon of Bentonite Clay in a cup of diluted apple juice. She thinks it great! So there's another way to use powdered herbs. This is pretty easy so far, right?

For bark herbs, I make a decoction by simmering a palmful of bark in a 4 or 5 quart saucepan of water. I'll simmer it for about 20 minutes on low heat. Isaac and Lydia both have a cold and cough right now, so they are both drinking Wild Cherry Bark tea. I strain the bark out and sweeten the warm tea with a little raw honey. They both enjoy it.

Tinctures are another easy way to take herbs, but I'm going to save that post for later, as I haven't yet experimented with making tinctures myself. I've researched it though, so I'll do that soon. You can buy tinctures at the health food store, of course. (I don't buy what I can easily make, you may have picked up on that pattern!) Tinctures are stronger than infusions (teas) so they are more powerful (meaning: a little bit goes a long way), and also quite a bit more expensive.

I learn about and buy my herbs here:

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c


Nealy said...

Decoction? I didn't even know that was a word! It means "boiling, effervescing, bubbling, frothing, fermentation." You are SO smart! Can I just start dropping by your house on my way home and get my daily dose of whatever I need? :)

Julie said...

Can you tell me where you learned the basics for all of these things? I have a request in for ABC Herbal for Christmas.

Ginger said...

ABC Herbal is on my wish list too! I learned these basics from The How to Herb Book however.
Other greats: Practical Herbalism, and Herbal Antibiotics.