An Herbal tea is just so easy to make and refreshing

Certainly the history of teas, that is, putting a herb into water, goes a long, long way back, and I believe that it probably started with the Chinese. It is said that in about 2737 B.C. an Emperor by the name of Shen Nung (神農) was waiting while a servant boiled water, had some leaves fall into the water, and being a Herbalist himself, gave the new leaf/water combination a try, and so was the birth of tea, which was Camellia sinensis, which is a herb of course.

But what happened from there you may ask, well, frankly I don’t really know, and probably nobody else really knows either. But I will give you my ‘assumption’, and please, tell me what you think?

I believe that from about the time of Shen Nung and his story, the idea of putting plant matter into hot water probably grew. As they have found containers for tea in tombs from the Han dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD, and it was around the 618-906 AD during the Tang dynasty, that tea became the drink of China. And some say that herbal tea was found in the Pharaoh’s tombs about 1000 B.C.

Ultimately, over those thousands of years, many herbs other than Camellia sinensis would have been tried as a tea, and now Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has many herbal combinations for healing the sick. Of course, as trade via ship and the silk road continued, so did the idea of making a tea.

A herbal tea is actually called a “Tisane”, which is actually an archaic word which means “Peeled Barley”. This is probably a good thing, because it separates from making a herbal tea, a ‘Tisane’, and TEA, which is specifically one plant – Camellia sinensis.

When one comes to term “Infusion” it can apply to many different things because what it means is the ‘pouring or adding in of something’, and with herbal teas and tea, there’s a pouring or adding in of the essences of the plant into the water.

I have left the title of this post, just “How to do Herbal Infusions”, simply because I believe that Camellia sinensis, a herb, (especially Matcha) has wonderful health benefits along with all the other herbs you could make an infusion from, and why not combine tea with another herb?

Also, there are infusions and decoctions, and they are similar, but there are some real differences, one difference is that infusions are never boiled.

Reasons why to have Infusions

One the best reasons for having an infusion is due to the easiness of it, you can simply throw in 1 heaped teaspoon of your favourite herb, pour in some boiling hot water, wait 5 to 10 minutes and there you are, now enjoy.

One of my most favourite ways to take herbs both for enjoyment and therapeutically is via an infusion. Except for those yucky ones of course, then I take capsules, and the reason I normally don’t take tinctures is that they are expensive keep in store just in case. But there is a place for them at times.

Although there are rare issues with infusions, on the whole they are very safe, especially with common and well known herbs. Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard of someone dying from drinking tea?

Herbal teas are generally naturally free from caffeine, unless they have been mixed with something else, so those who want to be caffeine free have many choices of beverages, and are generally less in tannins.

You can take constant infusions of a herb your entire life, if you feel it benefits you, an example of this could be if you tend to indigestion and insomnia, you could take a ginger and peppermint infusion shortly after your dinner, and then later on that night 1/2 an hour before bed have an infusion of chamomile, lemon balm and a small squeeze of lemon juice to help with your liver.

It is only a consideration, if you are taking it ‘therapeutically’, on how much and how long you are taking it for.

Finally, I personally believe that the idea of just sitting down and relaxing over a fragrant, and delicious cuppa, has so many therapeutic benefits, to resist this stressed out world, don’t you think?

How to do Infusions

Even though infusions are an excellent way to obtain the herbs benefits, there are a few suggestions that are worth following for better results.

Never use plastic or aluminium containers to prepare an infusion in, but you can use an enamel, china, porcelain or glass containers. You can even go as far as only using one teapot for tea, and one for tisanes, as they will flavour each other.

I would suggest is that once you have poured your hot water in immediately cover the cup or mug with a plate, saucer or similar to keep the volatile oils in, these are actually those essential oils that are found in herbs. And when you lift up the plate, try to make sure that the liquid condensed underneath the plate drains into your cup.

Or you can place 1 heaped teaspoon (5ml) of your chosen herb into a suitable glass jar, pour in boiling hot water and screw down the lid and wait until it has infused, which in most cases is 5 to 10 minutes. When cool enough to drink, enjoy.

An extra point for fresh herbs, now I love both fresh and dried herbs, but when using fresh herbs in your infusions, it is best to crush, grind or at least finely chop them, just before making the infusion, this is to release the less water-loving constituents out of the herb’s ‘glands’.

Some good herbs to use fresh are: Calendula, Dandelion, Clover, Lemon Balm, Mint, Gentian, Catnip, Lovage, Thyme and Self-heal.

But what about those bits and pieces floating on top? Well, there are at least three ways to deal with this: 1) just skim the liquid off the top, and dodge the pieces, 2) strain through a non-metallic filter, or 3) make or buy natural chemical free single use or reusable teabags.

Don’t worry, the amount of essential oil will not cause any harm as it is very small.

I believe that infusing the constituents out of the herb via hot water is one of the best ways to extract them, as even though you are using water, some but not all, of the less water loving components, will still come out, just not as much as say an alcohol/water extraction. And most tinctures taste yucky!

Hot or Cold Infusions

Yes, there are such as drinks as iced teas, I know, but when talking ‘herbally’ a Cold infusion doesn’t exactly mean the same thing as an Iced tea, as I will go on to explain.

Hot Infusions

Most herbal infusions are prepared using hot water, and yes, there are a few exceptions to the rule, for example Matcha, most are prepared at or ‘just before’ a rolling boil.

Most herbal infusions are mixed at a rate of 1 heaped teaspoon to 250ml of water, and you can multiply from there for larger amounts, and this is fine for most people, when just making a ‘cuppa’. But if you trying to take things more therapeutically then you’ll want to make larger amounts.

If you are using dried herbs then you want about 30g / 1 oz to 500ml / 1 pint, and when using fresh herbs 75g / 2.5 oz to 500ml / 1 pint. This is now best to place this into a thermos flask, that way it keeps hot for longer, and holds in the precious volatile oils and their benefits.

Then take this at half to 1 cup 3 times per day.

Although most people take infusions hot, some are best allowed to cool right down, these are infusions that are intended to act as blood purifiers, bitters for appetite, diuretics, to expel worms, reduce bleeding and to stimulate metabolism.

Cold Infusions

Some constituents are ruined or potency lowered when affected by heat, so at times the best preparation is leaving them in cold water, and some don’t need heat to be extracted.

In this case, all you need to do is place the herbs into a glass jar, pour in the water and leave it for at least 8 hours or overnight. Marshmallow, Wormwood, Mistletoe, Blessed thistle, Valerian and Barberry are such herbs best taken this way.

What about Milk

My first suggestion is not to use milk, I am not anti-milk, but in most cases when using infusions, just a straight herb/water mix is best. But at times, milk can add not subtract.

Milk can also be used instead of water in Cold infusions, but this doesn’t apply to those who are dairy intolerant.

It is interesting to note that milk proteins combine with the tannins in both tea, and some herbal infusions. This can make things more ‘gentler’ on some stomachs. So if you find some infusions irritating to the stomach or causing constipation, maybe try milk.

Milk is best NOT to be used when you are dealing with respiratory conditions, as it can increase mucus levels, thereby making symptoms worse, and some herbal infusions should not be combined with milk, as it can ruin other important and beneficial constituents.

Variations of Infusions

One of the beautiful things about infusions is that you can either just have one herb, or any number of combinations, and generally you only need to go up to three different herbs. The way to understand this is if you were playing a chord on a musical instrument, you want a top, middle and base note, or you could say, melody, harmony and rhythm. Or you could simply say, ‘they work synergistically’.

An example of this – for Dyspepsia:

  • Top note or melody – Peppermint
  • Middle or harmony – Dandelion
  • Base note or rhythm – Meadowsweet

Other variations can be to combine with Tea, yes, Camellia sinensis, and you can easily buy tea in four different ways: black, white, green and matcha (always buy quality matcha).

Also, you can add fruit or fruit juice such as lemon, lime and orange, peach, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and watermelon.

For decoration, you can just simply add a few of the herb leaves or flowers on top, for example, rose petals or mint leaves, or a slice of fruit, such as a slice of lime.

Some sweeteners: can be raw honey, rapadura, agave nectar, or stevia, erythritol and monk fruit for those who are cutting out their sugar. I am not a fan of sugar.

Choice of Herbs for Infusions

This could be any of a thousand different herbs, but what I would suggest, especially if you are relatively new to infusions, is to try the more common ones first, then progress into trying new ones, and then venture out into combinations and even unusual ones.

Since every herb actually has some health benefit, even if it is quite small, I would also advise finding something that has some immediate help, an example of these could be:

  • Chamomile: anti-inflammatory, carminative, mild sedative, and vulnerary
  • Peppermint: spasmolytic, carminative, antiemetic, antitussive, emmenagogue, tonic, antimicrobial, mild sedative/stimulant, digestive and enzyme activator
  • Ginger: antibiotic, carminative, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, carminative, analgesic, digestive, expectorant
  • Lemon balm: carminative, spasmolytic, mild sedative, stomachic, antioxidant, antibacterial, nervine, febrifuge, antiseptic
  • Elderflower: common cold, influenza, sinusitis, bronchitis, hay fever, pharyngitis, laryngitis, and sinus headache


A few small things to consider when using infusions:

  • Don’t keep them for any longer than 24 to 36 hours, as things will break down
  • If you are using them therapeutically use them for 6 weeks, then break for 1 week, then resume
  • Most common herbs are fine to use in infusions, BUT, some should only be taken in low to very low doses, otherwise they can become toxic, so unless you KNOW the herb and know it is safe, always do your research first. (These are usually hard to find)
  • If you become pregnant, some herbs you should either reduced or removed from your diet, so check with your health care professional first

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“Add colour and aroma to your life, drink Tisane”

Herbal Panda

From time immemorial, women have been using some form of perfume or cosmetics, and creams can have used medicinally too, so to add creams to my posts is obvious. So I hope this post is very helpful to those who want try to make their own.

The specific purpose of a ‘Cream’ is to nourish, protect, soothe and heal. They are an ’emulsion’ for a better word, much lighter than a poultice, and much thinner than a ointment or salve.

Creams could be considered a type of ointment, but they really deserve their own category. Because like so many areas of herbalism, there are similarities, but also enough differences that they need to be categorised differently.

An interesting way to help with categorising a cream, is to say that a cream is either water added to oil or oil added to water, depending on what is being made.

Now most people would say, “but you cant mix oil with water”, but if you use some form of an emulsifier, you can, and depending on how you mix it, the water becomes suspended in the oil.

But why the oil and water mix? If you think about it, a cream is so special, what two things do you have on your skin all at the same time?

Oil and Water!

So by definition and design, a cream is especially designed, ’emulsifying oil and water together” for the skin like no other product.

Now creams do use other additives, which are very important, because then you can get ‘special’ in your design of each type of cream and literally use a different cream for different parts of the body for different occasions.

Some of the more common ingredients are: beeswax, vegetable oils, herbs in the form of essential oils, tinctures, herbal oils, and powders, lanolin and of course water or a water based product such as an infusion/tea or decoction.

At times another product is added such as borax, which acts as a preservative, preventing moulds from forming or directly adding vitamins, like vitamin E, which is very common, because its benefits to the skin, or even minerals/metals such as zinc.

Reasons why to make your own Cream

One of the simplest reasons I can think of for making your own creams is the personal empowerment of making something yourself. So, not only would there be the pleasure of putting on the cream, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that you made it.

One added form of satisfaction that can be gained from making your own is that you can tailor make your cream to your preferences of aromas, textures, flavours, thicknesses, colours, to cater for your mental and emotional sense and even your personal beliefs.

Several examples of these could be:

  • You wanted to match a colour to suit your skin colour: to darken or lighten
  • A colour to suit your favourite sports team whilst protecting your skin
  • You wanted to flavour the cream in case someone gave you a kiss
  • Your partner has a specific preference to a perfume, say musk
  • You wanted to remind someone of that pine forest you went to
  • You are using an aroma as a form of therapy
  • Certain textures of some cream bother you
  • You want a thicker cream that would stay for longer or give better protection
  • Maybe you don’t want a fragrance at all
  • Or you have a belief system that you are abiding with, e.g. no alcohol

Another reason is that due to creams being so close to your own skin’s anatomical make-up, any chemicals found in a bought cream, could easily cross your skin barrier and enter in. This is very serious for some people and could make them very ill.

So, if there is an unwanted chemical in that bought cream, it is most likely going to pass into your body. Thankfully, there are very excellent organic products on the market, but they are often very expensive, and practically most people just cannot afford it.

I have heard that in the USA, some women’s liver have to process up to 2 kg / 4.4 lbs of chemicals absorbed through the skin each year.

How to do Creams

How to do creams is really a tricky one, not because they are hard to make, but because there are so many types, uses and possible combinations that they are too numerous to describe.

But, I will describe a few, because we all need something to get us going and to gain the confidence to attempt more interesting ones, and one of the purposes of doing these posts is to empower my readers to give it a go, let alone the health benefits.

So first, here are some suggestions to get you going, I have provided some instructions for two types and a video to help get you started. But to add to this, I have some suggestions in the “Variations of Creams” too.

Cream Base Recipe

This recipe below, if you remove the herbs, can become a ‘Base’ for a cream, and then you can add what ever fragrances or essential oils you wish.

An example of herbs could be Calendula, Arnica, Elderflower or Comfrey, but the best way is to research either one of my posts from my Herbal Compendium or Herbs for Help, or find a suitable herbal book recommending a herb for the condition.

  • Choose 15g / 1/2oz of your chosen herb
  • Steep this herb in 250ml / 1/2 pint of boiling hot water for 20 minutes
  • Finely strain or filter this tea/infusion into a container
  • Place 30g / 1oz of olive oil in a double boiler or place a saucepan in a pot of very hot but not boiling water
  • Then add 15g / 1/2oz of beeswax
  • Also add 15g / 1/2oz of lanolin
  • And begin melting them together
  • As they are melting, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of borax into the infused tea above
  • Once the beeswax and lanolin are fully melted in, reduce the heat and slowly stir in the tea
  • Continue stirring the mix and when ‘just warm’ add a few drops of essential oil
  • Once it begins to thicken, place this into small sterile pots, clean the rims and label
  • Keep these in the fridge, and once opened, they should last about 2 -3 weeks

The borax is only to function to prevent mould.

My video of how to make a basic cream at home, there is no verbal instruction

Healing Cream


  • Fresh flowers – handful
  • 150ml of your chosen oil (maybe Calendula or a herbal oil will be more affective)
  • 50ml of pure water
  • 50 grams of beeswax
  • 10 drops of Vitamin E (you can use Vitamin E gel capsules)
  • Optional: 30 drops of the essential oil of your choice


  • Put the water in a saucepan and bring it into a boil
  • Turn it off and add the flowers
  • Allow to steep until the water is room temperature
  • Strain out the flowers and put them into the compost bin
  • Place the flowers into a cloth or bag and squeeze out the remaining juice
  • Put the ‘flower tea’ back into the saucepan with a lid
  • Take a double boiler and melt the beeswax
  • Add the oil to the melted beeswax and make sure it is completely combined
  • Add the Vitamin E and stir
  • Raise the temperature of the flower tea to the same as the oil/beeswax mix (70 C / 158 F)
  • Remove the oil/beeswax saucepan from the heat
  • Carefully and very slowly add the flower tea to the oil/beeswax mix, whilst stirring it constantly with a mixer (this can be done in a blender) approximately 1 tablespoon at a time
  • Once the mix has become white and stiff as a cream should be, start adding the essential oils, 2 drops at a time stirring them in
  • When finished, scoop the cream into small ‘sterile’ jars, clean the rim, place the lid down tight and label
  • Store in a cool dark place

The approximate shelf-life is 6 to 12 months

Variations of Creams

To 30g / 1 oz of cream base add one of the following:

  • 5 to 15 drops of an essential oil (see below for some suggestions)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of a Herbal oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of a strong decoction or tincture
  • 1 to 3 flat teaspoons of a powdered herb
  • 1/2 to 1 flat teaspoon of a powdered spice

Choice of Herbs for Creams

The point to made when choosing to add a herb to your cream, is what “Actions” does it do? The question you ask yourself is, what do I want this herb to do, do I want healing, pain relief, soothing or cooling, reduce inflammation, stimulate blood flow, or is there an infection? Once you know what you need, that is the ‘action’, then you can choose the right herb for your situation.

But for now, here are a few suggestions: Calendula, Arnica, Elderflower, Marshmallow, Borage, Cowslip, St John’s wort, Fig wort or Comfrey

Choice of Oils for Creams

Some suggested oils for creams could be:

Choice of Essential Oils for Creams

The list below is by no means comprehensive, but would be a place to start.

  • Dry or mature complexions: Rose, Jasmine, Frankincense or Neroli
  • Acne or Greasy skin: Geranium, Bergamot, Mint or Lemon
  • Rashes: Chamomile, True Lavender, Tea tree, or Peru balsam
  • Insect bites: Lemon balm, Bergamot, Clove bud, or Rosemary
  • Bruises: Arnica, Clove bud, Sweet marjoram or Niaouli
  • Boils and Abscesses: Eucalyptus blue, Lavender, Lemon, or Thyme
  • Cuts and Sores: Canadian balsam, Chamomile, Hyssop, or Calendula

Application of Creams

Frankly, all you need to do is gentle circular motions with two to three fingers to work in the benefits, dabbing doesn’t do much.


There really isn’t much to be concerned about with creams, but minor concerns could possibly be an allergic reaction to a herb, or an essential oil (usually because its too strong or with babies), or in some cases, homemade creams begin to ferment and can grow mould in them, even if stored in the fridge.

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“Don’t put your ideas on Ice cream, someone will lick it off, and then you’ll have none”

Herbal Panda

The term ‘Ointment’ comes by two other names, and they are: salve, and liniment, as the terms are interchangeable. So where ever you see either word used, you will know that they mean the same thing.

Ointments have been around for a very long time and indeed Nicholas Culpeper originally published in 1653 about them in his book “Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician”.

“Bruise those herbs, flowers, or roots, you will make an ointment of, and to two handfuls of your bruised herbs, add a pound of hog’s grease dried, or cleansed from the skins, beat them very well together in a stone mortar with a wooden pestle, then put it into a stone pot, cover it with paper, and set it either in the sun, or some other warm place, three, four, or five days, that it may melt, then, take it out and boil it a little; then, whilst it is hot, strain it out, pressing it very hard in a press; to this grease add as many more herbs bruised as before, let them stand in like manner as long, then boil them as you did before. If you think your ointment not strong enough, you may do it the third and fourth time; yet this I will tell you, the fuller of juice the herbs are, sooner will the ointment be strong: the last time you boil it, boil it so long till your herbs be crisp and the juice consumed, then strain it, pressing is hard in a press and to every pound of ointment add two ounces of turpentine, and as much wax, because grease is offensive to wounds, as well as oil. 2. Ointments are vulgarly (commonly) known to be kept in pots, and will last about a year some about two years.”

In fact, it appears that something like a firm ‘ointment’ could have been used by ancient Egyptians back as far as 1347 B.C. Where it looks like men and women wore cones on their heads, made of wax, most likely beeswax, which some believe was impregnated with a scent. Then under or in the heat of the Egyptian sun would slowly melt perfuming them and working its way into the hair. I suppose this is the first recorded form of scented hair gel?

But what specifically are ointments for?

There principle purpose is to protect and nourish and deliver a medication to the skin. In essence, it acts a lot like a poultice, this is due to their semisolid non-aqueous composition and they are designed to hold to the skin, herbs and essential oils etc., for maximum absorption and any other additives you want to add. Or you could suggest that they are a very thick cream, because they are frankly doing the same, but much stiffer.

Originally, ointments were made from animal fats such as lard, as mentioned by Mr Culpeper above. The reason for this would have been due to its easy availability and general firmness with daily heat. Although you could use the same today, most formulas use beeswax and vegetable oil, which is obviously more acceptable to most people. And these days we know that Lard is very similar to the fat found under our own skin; this is similar to the idea of ‘treating like with like’.

Reasons why to use Ointments and Salves

First, they are designed to ‘stay on longer’, and to increase the affects of the ingredients on the person. They do create a thicker barrier over the area of treatment, protecting it from outside influences and infection, for example. Just as a poultice can draw, clean and disinfect a wound, so can salves, but with ointments you don’t need to worry about applying hot or cold and are much more flexible.

An ointment/salve can be made soft or hard if need be by just changing the oil/beeswax ratios a little, this makes it more adaptable to different areas of the body. And unlike a poultice, can be ready to go at any time once made and you can travel with it too.

And you know what’s in it, very important!

How to make a base for an Ointment

Typical Ingredients:

  • Beeswax
  • Vegetable oil such as olive oil or a herbal oil
  • Powder herbs
  • Essential oils
  • Herbal tinctures
  • Ratio for an ointment is 1/4 cup of ‘melted’ beeswax to 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • Ratio for dried powdered herbs is 28 grams / 1 ounce to a 1 cup of beeswax/oil mix
  • Ratio for essential oil is 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of beeswax/oil mix (much less for infants and children)

Once cooled and firmed, store in a refrigerator and label the containers, so as to not mix it with food.

And finally, it all depends on what you are trying make and how you want to apply it, but if it is too hard, remelt it and add extra vegetable oil, or too soft, remelt it and add extra beeswax. If the ointment contains essential oils, don’t place it around heat, as the oils will evaporate and you will lose them.

Injury Salve

This salve is excellent for injuries such as, sprains and strains, muscle injuries, and bruising.


  • 500ml of Calendula oil
  • 250ml of St John’s wort oil
  • 250ml of Arnica oil
  • 170 grams of beeswax
  • Enough shallow jars or tins to hold the volume of salve your making
  • Place all the oils into a double boiler
  • Raise the temperature to 65 C / 150 F
  • Place the beeswax into a separate double boiler or saucepan on low temperature
  • Melt until completely liquid (don’t leave it unattended)
  • Slowly pour the wax into the oils, stirring constantly until fully blended and clear
  • Fill all your jars to near full
  • Allow them to sit still until firm

Always clean your pots and pans when the mixture is still quite warm, as it is much easier to clean. You can clean them paper towelling or cotton cloths.

This formula should last about two years, kept in a cool dry place out of the sun.

Healing Salve

This salve is good for small direct injuries to the skin such as cuts and scrapes, and sore, irritated, rashy and inflamed skin.


  • 50 grams of Plantain/Ribwort (dried)
  • 50 grams of Calendula flowers (dried)
  • 50 grams of Goldenseal leaf (dried)
  • 100 grams of Comfrey root (dried)
  • 1 1/4 litres of vegetable oil
  • 170 grams of beeswax

To make the Herbal Oil

  • This herbal oil can be used ‘as is’ or then combined to make a cream also
  • For best results it is best to keep the herb/oil mix in between 43 to 49 C / 110 to 120 F
  • You can modify slow cookers to do this, don’t use stove tops as they are too hot
  • Heat for a minimum of a week, but two weeks is much better
  • It should last about 2 years, due to using ‘dried’ herbs

Herbal Oil Method

  • Measure the required amount of dried herbs to oil
  • Finely grind or crush herbs until at least a course powder
  • Place these into a wide mouth glass jar
  • Pour in all the oil, mix thoroughly and place on a lid
  • Shake and stir it up
  • Place it in your preferred ‘heating device’ with water outside
  • (If you have nothing suitable then place it in a very warm spot, but not in the sun)
  • Shake or stir it several times each day, as it will settle
  • After 1 to 2 weeks place the herb/oil mix into a cloth bag and tie the end
  • Place this bag in some form of press or tincture press
  • Slowly add pressure until very firm and drain into a container
  • Allow to sit over night to allow very fine particles to settle
  • Finely strain again or decant, and try to leave any sludge at the bottom
  • Bottle, Label, and dark coloured bottles are best, kept cool and out of sunlight

Once this is done, follow the same procedure below, which is the same as the injury salve.

  • Place all the ingredients into a double boiler
  • Raise the temperature to 65 C / 150 F
  • Place the beeswax into a separate double boiler or saucepan on low temperature
  • Melt until completely liquid (don’t leave it unattended)
  • Slowly pour the wax into the oils, stirring constantly until fully blended and clear
  • Fill all your jars to near full
  • Allow them to sit still until firm

Do not make your ointments in aluminium or plastic containers unless you know there are no chemicals which could be drawn out of the plastic. If they contain essential oils the best thing to store them in is porcelain or glass containers and keep them in out of the light and in a cool place.

Choice of Oils for Ointments

The most commonly used oil for an ointment is olive oil, usually due to it being in most homes. But really you can use any vegetable oil, and I would suggest only using an organic oil, and if you can afford it, use certified organic oil. Definitely don’t use cotton seed oil or Canola.

Possible oils could be:

  • Your own pre-made Herbal Oil
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Almond oil
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Vaseline and paraffin wax (Of which I’m not a big fan)

Choice of Herbs for Ointments

Similar to most herbal oils and creams, really the choice is endless, because it is really a type of thick paste, with whatever you want add in. But a possible selection of herbs you could choose are: Calendula, Arnica, St John’s wort, Comfrey, Goldenseal, Plantain, Ribwort, Chickweed, Powdered Acacia gum, Marshmallow, and Slippery elm.

Variations of Ointments

A variation could be to make a chest rub/inhalant, which adds the essential oils of Eucalyptus oil (2ml), Pine oil (1ml), Peppermint oil (2ml) for each 30 grams of base.

A coconut oil version of ointment could be, 7 parts coconut oil, 5 parts of your chosen powdered herbs, and 6 parts beeswax. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, and when finished finely strain if there are any course bits, and then pour into suitable jars. Pure organic Coconut oil is a natural preservative.

An old Russian traditional ointment formula still practiced in the country, is where they simmered Marigold, St John’s wort and Arnica in butter. Normally a butter ointment doesn’t last any more than a few weeks, keep in the fridge.


There isn’t much to be concerned about ointments other than a possible allergic reaction to a specific herb, and being careful with essential oils, especially with babies and infants.

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“A true friend can be a fragrant balm to the aching soul”

Herbal Panda

When considering creams, salves, rubs and chest rubs, ointments, bath and massage oils, liniments and some sprays, for home use, one of the best places to start is herbal oils. The reason for this is that often a herbal oil is the primary component of them, or you can just use it straight.

The good news about herbal oils is that they are reasonably easy for the home maker to do at home and don’t need specialised equipment to make either, but I will admit that having some of the right gear does help, such as a press of some form. But this is mostly in the physical part of making things, if you want to squeeze out every little drop.

Herbal oils do come by other terms, such as, Infused or Impregnated oils. The simple reason for these are the way in which the constituents are naturally extracted out of the herbs. Infused: because it has a similarity to a tea making process, and Impregnated: as the constituents are transferred from the herb and impregnated into the oil.

As far as what herb or what part you can use, to extract out the benefits from, doesn’t really matter, as it’s just that some take longer or require more processing than others. You can use flowers, leaves, bark, stems, roots, plus spices and seeds. These can be from fresh or dried herbs as well.

Either way you look at it, it is an extraction process, sometimes called ‘digestion’, due to being somewhat similar to the slow process of human digestion with heat. Being slow, means that it can be very gentle and doesn’t destroy the ‘goodness’ that you are after, especially when extracting out of flowers, for example.

Although making herbal oils is an extraction process, it should not be confused with pure essential oils, as they are not the same, nor are as strong as essential oils. Pure essential oils are extracted from the plant via ‘steam distillation’ and are best diluted with a ‘carrier’ oil, such as what you would used in a massage oil.

Essential oils can be or are often mixed with herbal oils for added medicinal and therapeutic benefits, or just to smell great.

Reasons why to make and use Herbal Oils

One of the best reasons for using herbal oils is the fact that herbs just have so much to offer, such as, being antiseptic and antibacterial, let alone being stimulating at times, for example, using hot spices such as pepper and mustard. As well as helping to retain moisture in the skin, whilst being soothing and lubricating.

Because each and every herb has many different constituents or metabolites in them, some are better extracted than others using different means, and with herbal oils, constituents such as resins, oleoresins and gums are very soluble in oils. Other compounds that can be drawn out are, essentials oils found in plants, alkaloids and even mucilage.

Once these benefits are removed from the herb, they can be applied to the person via the herbal oil onto the skin and then absorbed into the person. I heard from an excellent professor once state that ‘the natural fats and oils just below our skin are very similar to olive oil in structure’, therefore, they would be lipophilic (Fat-loving), welcoming what comes in.

My personal belief is that it is the ‘oils’ that ‘hydrate’ our skin, and water partly helps to hydrate the skin, as water is needed elsewhere. Any change on the skin is mainly due to water improving the inside and this is reflected on the skin.

How to do Herbal Oils

For Fresh Herbs

  • This herbal oil can be used ‘as is’ or then combined to make a cream or salve
  • For fresh herbs you can use ratios from 1:3 up to 3:2, as in, 1 gram to 3 mls of oil
  • For best results it is best to keep the herb/oil mix in between 43 to 49 C / 110 to 120 F
  • You can modify slow cookers to do this, don’t use stove tops as they are too hot
  • Minimum of a week, but two weeks is better
  • It should last about year, as the heat should help to remove moisture


  • Measure the required amount of fresh herbs to oil
  • Finely chop or crush herbs
  • Place these into a wide mouth glass jar
  • Pour in all the oil, mix thoroughly and place on a lid
  • Shake it up
  • Place it in or on your preferred ‘heating device’
  • Shake it again each day
  • After 3 days strain out the herbs
  • Replenish with a new batch of fresh herbs
  • Shake it up and shake it again each day
  • After another 3 days strain out the herbs and repeat at least 3 to 4 times
  • Finely strain and allow to sit over night to allow very fine particles to settle
  • Finely strain again, but try to leave any sludge at the bottom
  • Bottle, Label, and dark coloured bottles are best, kept cool and out of sunlight

This method is very suitable for herbs such as, Elder flower, Rosemary, Figwort, Lavender, Rose flowers, Bergamot, Chamomile, St John’s wort and Mullein.

For Dried Herbs

  • This herbal oil can be used ‘as is’ or then combined to make a cream or salve also
  • For dried herbs you can use ratios from 1:5 up to 1:2, as in, 1 gram to 5 mls of oil
  • For best results it is best to keep the herb/oil mix in between 43 to 49 C / 110 to 120 F
  • You can modify slow cookers to do this, don’t use stove tops as they are too hot
  • Minimum of a week, but two weeks is much better
  • It should last about 2 years, due to using ‘dried’ herbs


  • Measure the required amount of dried herbs to oil
  • Finely grind or crush herbs until at least a course powder
  • Place these into a wide mouth glass jar
  • Pour in all the oil, mix thoroughly and place on a lid
  • Shake and stir it up
  • Place it in or on your preferred ‘heating device’
  • Shake or stir it several times each day, as it will settle
  • After 1 to 2 weeks place the herb/oil mix into a cloth bag and tie the end
  • Place this bag in some form of press or tincture press
  • Slowly add pressure until very firm and drain into a container
  • Allow to sit over night to allow very fine particles to settle
  • Finely strain again or decant, and try to leave any sludge at the bottom
  • Bottle, Label, and dark coloured bottles are best, kept cool and out of sunlight

This method is very suitable for herbs such as, Arnica, Calendula, Comfrey and Goldenseal.

Calendula Herbal Oil

Culinary Herbal Oils

Simple Basil Oil

Freshly pick the equivalent of 4 tablespoons of basil leaves (can be any type), and lightly crush in a mortar and pestle or similar, and as you are crushing add just a little sunflower oil as this will help with the process. Once the leaves are well bruised and mixed with a little oil, add this to the rest of the oil – 500ml / 1 pint.

Place this leaf and oil mix in a double boiler and simmer for about 15 minutes, once done, allow to cool and strain into a suitable sized bottle. This herbal oil should last about one month in the fridge.

This simple method can be used for other herbs such as, Sweet marjoram, Rosemary, Dill, Green fennel and Thyme, and goes great with garlic and here use 4 cloves.

Spice Oil

Here, simply mix 2 tablespoons of either Coriander or Dill or Fennel seeds with a little oil and crush in a mortar and pestle. Once this is done, add the crushed seeds to 500ml / 1 pint of either sunflower or olive oil, plus a few whole seeds, then label and store.

Variations of Herbal Oils

Honestly, just as there are many herbs and spices and possible combinations, so to the number of choices and possible recipes can be tried. But this is just one of its many benefits, why, because you can now adjust and fine tune each recipe to suit your needs and tastes.

Even though I am specifically aiming at herbal products, many people use herbal oils for other uses, one common one is of course cooking. And here, you can still pass on the excellent values of herbs where you can stimulate appetite, aid digestion, as well intensify flavour.

Choice of herbs for Herbal Oils

As I mentioned above, the choice of herbs and spices are near endless, but here I will suggest a few.

  • Arnica: good for injured tendons and ligaments, plus bruises, sprains and pains
  • Calendula: gravel rash, cuts, dry and chapped skin, nappy rash, wind burn and eczema
  • Figwort: burns, ulceration, gravel rash, wounds, even swollen lymph glands
  • Comfrey (root): excellent for broken bones and damaged tendons and ligaments, small open wounds and cuts, dry and chapped skin, nappy rash, wind burn and eczema
  • Goldenseal: a powerful anti-bacterial, use for infected wounds

Choice of oils for Herbal Oils

When choosing an oil for a herbal oil, you actually want a very light oil, meaning one that has very little if any fragrance and this can be sunflower or grapeseed oils. But olive oil is in most people’s cupboards, and works just fine, but you will have an olive oil scent, which is fine really.

Other oils which can be used are jojoba, sesame, almond and coconut oils, and traditionally lard and suet were used to make herbal oils.

But, I would strongly recommend always using oils that are organic, why, simply because just as the “compounds” found in the herb can be extracted out, and absorbed into your skin for health benefits, so can toxins that are in the oils be absorbed into your body. So, I would avoid cotton seed and canola oils, straight out, and where possible, use certified organically grown and produced oils.

Early when my wife and I were first married, we both worked on cotton farms, me on a cotton picker, and my wife operating a module builder, both of us saw just how much chemicals go into these crops.

You can really use just about any oil or fat, it really depends on your personal tastes and flavours, and what you want to use it for, for example a thin or thick oil and your preferred aromas and beliefs.


Generally, herbal oils are quite safe due to being used topically, but don’t use oils made from pepper and mustard around the eyes or on open wounds, and don’t use arnica on open wounds.

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“Everything runs well with the right oil”

Herbal Panda

The long awaited soaking bath

Sometimes, if you want to work a wonder, there is nothing like a long soaking bath, and that’s just from soaking in water! Just imagine, if you added the wonders of herbs, infused and essential oils and other natural minerals, now what good could it do, and that’s just the aromas, but what if you actually hopped into the bath, double wow.

But seriously, a herbal soak or bath can do a lot of good, and I believe not only a lot of good directly to the body, but also to the mind and emotions. So having a good soaking or bath, is a true ‘holistic’ treatment’, as it affects the person in several different ways, not just one.

But there really is a lot more to a ‘soak’ than just hopping into a bath and putting in a few smelly things and away you go.

Now there are those who cannot afford a ‘whole’ bath load of water, due to reasons of location, supply, cost, and that they just don’t have one, amongst other possibilities. But, there is a very easy way around this problem, and they are your hands and feet. Now nothing seems to beat a full body soak, but for therapeutic benefits, you only need to soak your hands or feet.

The reason for this, is that the hot water actually stimulates blood circulation, due to the body moving blood to that ‘hot region’ in and attempt to balance the body’s temperature. As the circulation is being stimulated, the pores of the skin are opening up as it does when you are sweating, and then the benefits of the herbs can also move through, being distributed throughout the body.

Reasons why to have a Soak

One of the unique things about performing a soak or bath is that, even though you are trying to ‘get it through your skin’, the skin acts like a border control, managing and monitoring what and how fast things go through and into your body, therefore, it does provide some protection against an adverse effect.

A typical soak is very easy to organise, and this is especially true with hand and feet soaks, as a basic hand and foot soak only requires a few pieces of gear, which most people already have, keeping the cost down, and quick to organise.

Another reason why to have a herbal soak, is that if you are using certain herbs or oils, the aromas have their own therapeutic benefits, just as walking through a forest or flower garden, the aromas stimulate your senses, often adjusting your mood, therefore altering your very physiology and hormones, such as endorphins etc.

There is a gland found in the limbic system, which is about the middle of your brain, called the amygdala, and back in 1989 they found out that this gland stored and released emotional trauma. And, it is said that the only way to stimulate this gland is via ‘fragrance’, so if carefully chosen pure essential oils or herbs, such as rosemary are chosen, maybe the ‘tough’ emotional trauma could be healed? Begs thinking doesn’t it.

How to do Soak

Soaks or baths can be very simple to make or complex, depends on how ‘fancy’ you want to get, but even a simple one with just your feet can do much good, so don’t worry about getting fancy, but if you do want to try new things, then maybe you should get fancy.

The “very” basic process is this:

  • Boil a pot or saucepan of water with some herbs in it
  • Pour it into a bath
  • Hop in

And that’s it! I suppose you could get fancy and strain out the herbs before pouring it in, but there you go. Okay, okay, you probably should take some clothes off to.

When using fresh herbs, it is best to crush them before use, this is simply done by crushing them either in a mortar and pestle, under a rolling pin, or a bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin. This is especially so for a sitz bath.

One point that you should always adhere to with ALL types of baths and soaks, and that is to never use any soaps or detergents, as this will completely destroy the whole process.

A more detailed basic procedure for soak and baths

  • Prepare 1 Litre / 1 quart of a strong infusion or decoction
  • Pour it into a bath or large container suitable for either hands or feet
  • Do not go over 41C /105F
  • Soak for 20 minutes
  • Hop out and dry off and have some bed rest
  • It is best to do this 3 times per week

Rosemary or Lavender Bath

  • Prepare 2 Litres / 2 quarts of a very strong infusion with Rosemary
  • Strain out the herb and empty it into a hot bath (Deep enough to immerse the body in)
  • Soak in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Hop out and wrap yourself in a bed sheet still wet
  • Put a plastic sheet on your bed
  • Hop on your bed and cover up (You will sweat)
  • After the sheets have soaked up the moisture
  • Change into dry bed sheets and rest for an hour
  • Do this three times a week
  • You can use 30 drops or a dropper full of the tincture, but the raw herb is better.
  • Add 4 cups of epsom salts, to boost the affects (See safety warning below before using)

Choice of herbs for a Soak

The herbs that I am about to suggest, can also be swapped for essential oils at a rate of 10 to 15 drops to 1 Litre / 1 quart, of the mixture, not the whole bath full.

For raw herbs, a general rule of thumb, is 30 grams / 1 ounce of dried herb to 1 Litre / 1 quart of boiling water or 60 grams / 2 ounces to 1 Litre / 1 quart of boiling water. Boil them for about 15 minutes to make a strong decoction.

This is by no means a complete list:

  • Thyme, Peppermint: General tonic
  • Hops, Lavender, Lime flowers and Lemon balm: Encourages sleep
  • Lavender, Rosemary and Bergamot: Removes body odour
  • Chamomile Lemon balm, Passionflower: Hyperactive children
  • Valerian, Californian poppy, Chamomile, Damiana: Nervous stress
  • Mustard: Rheumatism (only 2 teaspoons)
  • Rosemary: Low blood pressure
  • Yarrow: Feverish

Variations of Soaking

Using a Herb Bag

To use a Herb Bag, is a simplistic system, but I find not quite as strong, where you place into a loosely woven cloth bag, such as, a muslin or nylon stocking, the herbs you want to soak in. Tie the bag at the top with a string or cord that is long enough to tie up the bag as well as tie to the bath tub tap. This is so that as the hot water is coming out of the tap filling the bath, it also runs through the herbs extracting the contents of the herbs.

A simple Herbal Bath Bag

A Sitz Bath

What is a Sitz or Hip bath, its simply where you ‘Sits’ in a bath, but in this case, it is only a shallow bath or container, which is just enough to sit in and bathe you ‘nether’ regions. It is used basically to treat the persons genitalia, infections, bladder infections, inflammation, prostate and haemorrhoids.

A sitz bath can be as simple as very warm water, or a complicated blend of herbs and oils, but either way, you only need to make enough that once you sit into the container, the amount will fully cover the area to be treated. If the bath is a bit too much to bear, but not too hot, then apply a cool cloth to the forehead, or stop.

Yes, sitting in a big bowl will look ridiculous, but it can do wonders and you will get quick relief, and promote faster healing too, something we all want. Sitz baths can be done several times a day too, and are great for Postpartum conditions, stitches and haemorrhoids.

Sitz bath Baby Style

The basic sitz bath procedure is to take 30 grams / 1 ounce of recommended herb, add that to 2 Litres / 2 quarts of freshly boiled water and allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain and pour into a container and just make sure that the levels reach the areas that are to be treated. Sit in it for 15 to 20 minutes, hop out and dry yourself off and wear loose clothing. This procedure can be done 3 times per day. Add more hot water if the bath loses its temperature.

If you have any dressings over a wound, you will need to remove this and replace once finished gently dried off and replace the dressing.

Another alternative if you are want to increase circulation, reduce inflammation and disinfect, is to make a solution by dissolving 0.5 grams of Potassium Permanganate crystals to 4 Litres of warm water (never hot), and make sure it is thoroughly dissolved.

A word of caution, do not spill ‘pure’ Potassium Permanganate anywhere on your body as it may cause harm, so wear gloves, but once diluted, it is very safe, also do not ingest it. Plus, it does stain, your skin and the bathtub/container for a while. It will not stain your skin ‘permanently’ as in, eventually it clears up, but the bathtub make need some hard cleaning.

My own supply of Potassium Permanganate, KMnO₄ otherwise known as Condy’s Crystals

Potassium permanganate, is simply called “Condy’s Crystals”, developed by a London chemist called Henry Bollmann Condy, and has been used since 1857 as a disinfectant, and is found in some chemists, and even rural produce suppliers.

Witch Hazel Sitz Bath

Make a very strong decoction with 60 grams / 2 ounces to 1 Litre / 1 quart of water, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, strain and pour into 4 Litres / 1 gallon of lukewarm water. Sit in this mixture and soak for 20 minutes. This process will give great relief to swollen tissues, reducing pain and promotes healing. A tablespoon of either myrrh or calendula tincture or succus will help if there is any infection.

Seaweed Bath

A Seaweed bath is both nutritive and even sleep restorative, and can be used in both a bath or a shower.

Grab a handful of fresh seaweed, lightly wash out any salt and sand, place this into a stocking or muslin cloth bag, and use it as a sponge and rub yourself all over.

Skin Washes

Skin washes are made in exactly the same methods and strengths as those written above, but are usually in smaller quantities. Here, you may only want to bathe a small area of the body, say just a foot or elbow, for example. But most often a skin wash is applied with a soft wash cloth or cotton wool, to sore, infected and inflamed areas.

An example of this could be to use a skin wash for cystic acne, where you would make a lukewarm mixture and then gently rub a soaked, but not dripping soft cloth on the skin in circular motions stimulating circulation, this can be done several times a day and continue until healing has taken place.

Epsom Salts Soak

Okay, okay, Epsom Salts is not a herb, but frankly it is an excellent addition to soaks and can be simply used on its own. It is a natural mineral substance. It will assist in drawing out gunk in the skin or injury, and increase circulation at the same time.

It is said to help greatly with, infections that are slow healing, septicemia, wounds, open ulcerations, pustules, bed sores, as well as aches and pains. This is due to supplying magnesium, which most people are usually deficient, and the sulphur, which acts like a disinfectant. (It is best to see a health care professional or hospital with septicaemia.)

Epsom Salt Bath (Hand or Foot)

Sometimes a foot bath can do so much

Apart from assisting with improving blood circulation, and saving water if you cannot prepare a bath, a hand or foot bath is good for dealing with fungal and other types of infections in the skin, fingernails and toenails.

Mixing rate: 1 cup of Epsom salts to 2 Litres /2 quarts of hot water, maximum of 41C / 105 F

Alternating Hot and Cold

A way of greatly increasing the effects is to alternate from a hot bath to a cold bath. Here you make the hot bath as hot as reasonable, but not so hot as to cause harm, and a cold bath with some ice floating in it. First, you need to make up the mixture described above, for the hot part, the cold part only needs to be very cold water, as it works by encouraging the tissues and vessels to shrink. Over a period of 20 minutes, you need to alternate about 3 to 5 times from hot to cold, and ending up in the cold soak for a couple of minutes.

This system is excellent for those with athletic injuries, such as, sprains and strains, pulled muscles, tendonitis and back strain.

Full Epsom Salt Bath

A Full Epsom Salt bath is a great way to treat the whole body, and here you could swap Epsom salt with Magnesium chloride, but it is more expensive. It helps with aches and pains and soothes the nerves. Its an adjunct to those receiving cancer treatments, drawing out toxins. As well as improving circulation and increases the heart rate. (Magnesium Chloride is better for magnesium absorption and absorption through the skin is better than oral intake.)

Mixing rate: 4 cups of Epsom salts to a bath of hot water, maximum of 41C / 105 F, and 1/2 to 1 cup of Magnesium chloride.

Those who have hypertension and a low red blood cell count should not have a full Epsom salt bath, only a hand or foot bath.


  • The first and most obvious, is to not burn, yes, you want it quite hot, but not to cause harm or injury. Stop, if it’s hurting.
  • If you have hypertension and a low red blood cell count, you should not have a full Epsom salt bath,
  • Do not have very hot baths if you have congestive heart failure.

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“The dilemma with a hot bath is that it cures many things, except the bathtub ring”

Herbal Panda

Nurse preparing a compress

From the Herbalists’ understanding, a herbal compress or fomentation (which is another name for a compress) is where a person has taken a piece of cloth, flannel, cotton or similar material and infuses it with ‘herbal solution’, which can be either a tea infusion or decoction, diluted tincture, or an infused herbal oil, or a diluted essential/volatile oil, or just castor oil. Then, it is folded to the size of the area of concern, an externally applied to area of the body that requires some form of treatment.

Some people confuse a compress with a poultice or plaster, but they are different in many ways, but the principle difference is that you are not using any herbal paste or mixture. To give an example, the most basic compress is to dip a towel into cool water, wring it out and place it on your forehead to cool yourself down. A poultice is when you make a thick herbal mixture or paste, possibly adding flours or oils, wrap it in a cloth to protect the skin and place that on the affected area to draw and/or stimulate or soothe.

To add further understanding and depth to this subject, we need to understand that there are both Cold and Hot versions. A cold compress, which is actually called a ‘wrap’, is used on fevers, (remember those old movies of people putting cloths on someone’s forehead?) headaches, skin, muscle and joint inflammation and sore throats, and cold compresses can be left on for many hours or over night. Hot compresses, which are specifically called fomentations, can also be used on swelling/oedema, colds and flu, sore and tired eyes, and much more as we will see.

Compresses are not to be confused with compression bandages, sleeves or stockings, which certainly have there uses to help reduce the swelling of a specific area, keeping fluids from accumulating usually at an injured site. Sleeves are similar, but are considered more ‘long term’ and for blood circulation management, for example, Deep vein thrombosis.

Compression bandages are typically used on sprains such as, wrist and ankles, strain, oedema, varicose veins, bruises and contusions.

Reasons why to use a Compress

A compress has several functions, and they are: to soften tissue, alleviate inflammation, stimulate and to moderate or reduce pain. Compresses can draw, but for serious drawing use either a poultice or plaster.

This treatment can be used for many conditions, such as, angry rashes, acne, irritable and inflamed skin, sore muscles, spasms, sprains and strains affecting muscles, as well as ligaments, tendons, and joints. It can help to move stagnant fluids such as, those around old injured joints that should have healed.

Also assisting in the removal of congestion, phlegm, and mucus, and other respiratory issues such as, coughs, colds, flus, and sore throats, as well as easing asthma and bronchitis. For cramps and menstrual cramps and other pains in the abdomen, lower back pain and pains and even strong pains.

By stimulating the circulation it helps with the conditions mentioned above, plus helping with swelling/oedema. (You wouldn’t use a hot compress on an immediate swelling) And if you know what your doing it can help during labour.

How to do Compresses

There are frankly so many different ways to use and apply a compress due to the many and varied methods, equipment and additives that can be used. So I will suggest some simple solutions, and I hope that they will help you get started, and remember, there are really is no ‘fixed’ way of doing this.

Choice of Herbs for Compresses

There is quite a range of herbs that can be used in compresses, below I have listed some you may want to try. Where it starts to get confusing, is what to use where and when.

Herbal Tinctures, Infused oils, Infusions or Decoctions:

  • Camellia sinensis (black, green or white tea)
  • German Chamomile
  • Linseed
  • Fenugreek seed
  • Plantain
  • Ribwort
  • Chickweed
  • Arnica (don’t use arnica on open wounds)
  • Comfrey
  • Elderberry
  • Irish moss
  • Slippery elm
  • Marshmallow
  • Marigold
  • Mullein
  • Hound’s tongue (Do not ingest Hound’s tongue as it is poisonous)


Any fabric or material that is absorbent:

  • Linen
  • Cotton
  • Cotton wool
  • Flannel
  • Wash cloth
  • Small towel

Compress oils:

  • V-6 oil (A blend of 7 food grade oils, it has no colour, odour or stains.)
  • Castor oil
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Linseed/flaxseed oil

Essential oils:

This can be such a huge range of possibilities depending on what you may want to achieve, especially if you want to add the special attributes of pure essentials oils. As you can influence many different systems, such as the digestive, emotional, hormonal, immune, musculo-skeletal, nervous and respiratory systems as well as the skin.

A short list of musculo-skeletal essential oils could be:

  • Basil
  • Celery seed
  • Citronella
  • Cypress
  • Eucalyptus
  • Balsam, Douglas and White firs
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender sage
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
Range and affects of essential oils are great

How to make a basic Compress

Hot Compresses – Basics

Equipment you will need

  • A bowl, basin or suitable container
  • A towel or similar
  • Kettle or saucepan, if you are making infusions, decoctions or applying a hot compress
  • Herb, tincture or essential oil
  • A suitable sized cloth, cotton, flannel and similar, if you were in the bush, could you use bark?
  • Plastic cling wrap or oil cloth
  • Optional: something to hold the compress into place (this is not always needed)


  • Place the towel over the bowl
  • Place your cloth or flannel in the middle of the towel
  • Push the towel and cloth down to the bottom
  • Pour in the infusion, decoction or diluted tincture mix over the top
  • Make sure it is completely soaked, give it couple of minutes
  • Whilst waiting for it to soak, rub some olive oil over the area as this helps with penetration of the heat
  • Bring the ends of the towel together and twist the towel in opposite directions
  • Squeeze out all the liquid
  • Open up the towel and take the cloth out and shake loose the cloth
  • Fold up the cloth to a size to the area concerned
You can now go several different ways:
  • Place the compress onto the area and either you hold or get the person themselves to hold it in place
  • Cover the cloth with cotton wool or similar, then wrap the cloth and cotton to the body with cling wrap or an oily cloth to hold it into place, then place a hot water bottle on top to continue the heat
  • If the person is lying down, then you can just leave the compress on the area and put a towel over that, and then add a hot water bottle

Ginger Fomentation

This one can be used for many of the conditions mentioned above.

Equipment you will need

  • Ginger root, about 5cm / 2″ of grated ginger
  • Saucepan
  • Grater
  • A cloth two to four times bigger than the area or several pieces joined together
  • Hot water bottle or heating pad
  • 2 Towels


  • Make a ginger tea decoction from grated ginger and one litre of water in the saucepan and turn off the heat
  • While still hot, place the cloth into the decoction and allow to soak for 5 minutes
  • Carefully remove the cloth and squeeze out the liquid
  • Fold down to the size of the area
  • Quickly place the cloth onto the area being treated, but make sure its not too hot
  • Cover with cling wrap
  • Place the first towel over the plastic
  • Place the water bottle or heating pad on the area
  • Then cover again with another towel

This can be left on for 20 to 30 minutes, once it becomes cool it isn’t of use any more. Depending on the level of pain, you can ‘up-the-ante’, by making a larger batch, keeping the decoction on a very low heat, and having about four to five separate cloths, rotating these at a faster rate say every 5 to 10 minutes, or whatever the person needs. But try not to burn them!

Castor oil Compress

This can be used for extreme pain in most cases. I have personally applied it during the passing of gall stones. But it can be used on many other conditions, because the affect is deep, such as, cysts, warts, growths, detoxifying, helping liver and bladder disorders, but these will need to be repeated treatments over time.

Equipment you will need

  • Enough folded cloth or even towelling to make several 6mm / 1/4″ cloth pads
  • 500ml to half a quart of castor oil
  • Steamer or double boiler or something to apply heat to several pads in rotation
  • Towel


  • Soak the pads in the castor oil, they just need to be moist, not dripping wet
  • Begin heating up the pads
  • Once they are hot enough, start placing the pads on the area for treatment
  • Cover them with a towel
  • Rotate them as each one begins to cool down

With this process, you will need to make sure you don’t burn the person. If treating pain, keep going to until the pain settles down.

Please remember, severe pain anywhere, should be seen to by a health care professional or please visit the hospital for medical advice.

Cold Compress – Basics

Equipment you will need

  • Cloth at least 2 times the size of the area concerned
  • Balls of cotton wool or cotton gauze approximately the size of the area you want to treat
  • A bowl big enough to fit the Cotton wool/gauze in
  • Cold infusion, decoction or diluted tincture to soak the cotton in


  • Put the cotton wool/gauze in between the cloth and fold the cloth around the cotton, making a thick pad
  • Fully soak the cloth and cotton wool in the cold infusion, decoction or diluted tincture
  • Squeeze enough of the liquid out to prevent mess
  • Place the cloth and cotton pad over the area
  • Either hold the it on yourself or wrap a clean cloth around it to keep it in place
  • Do not wrap plastic around it as this will increase the temperature, when you want to lower it, meaning, you want to keep it cool to cold

Variations of Compresses

There are many, many variations with compresses, ranging from a cloth and cold water to a whole range of herbs, herbal combinations, to carrier and essential oils and application materials. Which means you can design one to suit you and the condition.

If you are using essential oils, there is a system called, ‘layering’, this is where you are attempting to input the affects of several different oils, one after another, ‘creating layers’. There would be no reason why you couldn’t rub on a diluted version to 15 to 30% onto the skin, place on the cloth, and once it has cooled, rub on a different mixture. Usually you would use three different essential oils.

Another variation to the herbal compress is the Thai herbal compress ball, this one is applied with massage. If you YouTube it, be warned, you’ll want one, … massage that is.

Thai Massage ball


Thankfully, Compresses are generally quite safe to use even on babies and young children, and cold compresses are even safer. But there are a few things you should consider:

  • With hot compresses, it must not burn, so always double check the temperature, especially with newborns and infants.
  • Always check for possible allergic reactions, most herbs are safe, but always use caution, particularly if using a new herb or oil. Two examples of this could be an allergy to ragweed, of which chamomile is part of, and peanut oil.

Essential Oils

Never apply pure essential oils directly to a newborn or infant’s skin, it must be well diluted.

  • 1 to 3 drops of oil to 1 tablespoon for infants
  • 1 to 3 drops of oil to 1 teaspoon for children two to five years old
  • Even with adults, essential oils should be used carefully, some can be used liberally, but if unsure, test first.

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“Don’t put your ideas on ice, but them under the heat of hard work and determination”

Herbal Panda

The “Poultice” has been around for a very long time, exactly how long, I’m not sure, but it does have documentation that goes a fair way back, at least in ancient history, anyway.

One of the earliest written mentions I can find at this stage, is that there are two mentions of what could be called a poultice, (but it is not a poultice), is in the Bible. These two mentions are in 2 Kings 20:7 and Isaiah 38:21, both of these are speaking about the same event where a King called Hezekiah, had such a serious ‘boil’, that it threatened his very life. In the Bible it says: “For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover.” KJV.

Just a quick note, ‘plaister’ is the older version of the word – ‘plaster’, so I will use the modern usage here.

Difference between a Plaster and a Poultice

A plaster is usually made from freshly ground herbs, that are stimulating, such as, cinnamon, cayenne and mustard, mixed with a binding agent, such as, flour and water, using the herbs own volatile oils or adding essential oils, then spread onto a cloth and placed directly over the affected region. Yes, I know, that does sound like a poultice, but no.

A poultice is a lot more bulkier, which is made up of a herbal mash and/or powder, bound up in a ‘protective cloth’ or combined with a thick base material that is mucilaginous, that is ‘protective’, such as, marshmallow, slippery elm or mullein, and/or a ‘filling’ oil, (similar to a carrier oil in effect) and then it is placed onto the body. A principle difference here, is that a poultice uses stronger and more irritable herbs and may burn and uses a system to protect against the burning or irritation.

Therefore, a poultice is thicker, uses more stronger, healing and/or vulnerary herbs, and herbs that are mostly of a ‘cooling nature’, and a plaster uses more stimulating herbs with the effect of volatile oils, that are of a ‘warming nature’ and soothe irritation.

I do believe that the use of poultices has been around for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine for boils, infections of the skin and other infections, such as, abscesses plus burns. And also, they can be used for both external and internal conditions. (No, you don’t eat the poultice.)

Nicholas Culpeper also mentions poultices in his book “Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician”, which if you look closely, he is stating what is a poultice more accurately, ” Poultices are those kind of things which, the Latins call Cataplasmata, and our learned fellows, that if they can read English, that’s all, call them Cataplasms … They are made of herbs and roots, fitted for the disease and members afflicted, being chopped small, and boiled in water almost to a jelly; then, adding a little barley meal or meal of lupins, and a little oil, or rough sweet suet, which I hold to be better, spread upon a cloth, and applied to the grieved place.”

It is also interesting to note that he also goes on to state, “use no poultices, (if you can help it) that are of an healing nature, before you have cleansed the body,”.

Why you should use a poultice?

The poultice is specifically used to help draw or pull out, and this applies to infections, wounds and cysts, or to stimulate, to increase circulation to help encourage elimination, such as an old injury that hasn’t gone down. Or to cool and soothe, such as, a recent injury that is inflamed, either way, it should be promoting healing.

Poultices are great for all sorts of conditions, which are not very serious, and you can treat yourself at home. They can be used for muscle pain, oedema, bruise and sprains, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, boils and abscesses, wounds, fevers, mucus congestion of the chest, coughs, pneumonia, bronchitis and inflammation.

If you are using them for a serious condition, always use a health care professional.

If you are strongly idealistic as I am towards things natural, using where possible, organic or at least ‘more’ natural products, you honestly don’t know what is in some of those blends sold in chemists or supplied in hospitals.

Although modern medicine has many amazing things, which can be used in times of injury, and frankly, I’m glad that they are there at times, I personally prefer to use natural methods, that have been tried and found true.

And Honestly, there is something marvellous about tending to yourself and being self-sufficient. And I’ll ask you a simple question, what if disaster strikes and the world’s economy collapses or there’s another world war and medications are restricted? And then you or a loved one has an injury, what do you do?

But I will say this, that if you do have suspect that you do have a serious injury, please don’t hesitate to go to the hospital and have things checked out, as sometimes the damage is more serious than you think.

How to make a Poultice?

One the important things to remember as Mr culpeper said, fitted for the disease and members afflicted, meaning that with each and every condition, the major ‘hack’ is to choose the right herb or herbs for the job. Plus, different fillers and oils etc., can also make quite a difference towards healing and its speed.

Another thing to think about when choosing to use a poultice, or a plaster for that matter, do you need to make a hot or cold poultice, and what do I mean about that? You see, sometimes a situation will require a hot poultice, for example, does the condition benefit for increasing circulation, or would it be better to reduce inflammation, but alas, sometimes it appears to need both at the same time, but one will be better than the other.

You will need to make enough to cover more than double the size of the area of concern. So you will need to adjust your formula to suit. Further below, I have supplied a few recipes for basic poultices and one plaster.

Choice of herbs for a Poultice

So what herbs would you choose for “that” condition? I have listed just some of the many herbs, fillers and oils that can be use in both plasters or poultices. Yes, you can use them individually or in combination.


  • Comfrey: fractures and ulcers
  • Linseed/flaxseed: infections of the chest, bronchitis and chronic cough, also, splinters, oedema, infection, pain and poisons
  • Bran: synovitis, sciatica and neuritis
  • Hops: boils, muscle pains, rheumatic panis, sciatica and neuralgia
  • Chamomile: muscle pains and neuralgia
  • Potato: sprains and bruises (used fresh and cold)
  • Slippery elm: ulcers
  • Onion: infection, inflammation, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and congestion
  • Mustard: aches, sprains spasms – cold areas that need circulation, colds and flu
  • Black walnut: inflammation
  • Catnip: hives, sore breasts from breastfeeding and oedema
  • Chickweed: burns, boils, skin rashes and diaper rash
  • Chicory root: inflammation
  • Lobelia: inflammation, rheumatism and boils
  • Marshmallow: draws poisons
  • Ribwort or Plantain: draws poisons, infection and other foreign material
  • Poke root: boils, abscesses, caked breasts, and difficult urination (place over bladder region)
  • Wintergreen: inflammation, wounds, rashes, oedema, and toothache
  • Witch hazel: sores and wounds, sore eyes, bed sores, and exudative skin diseases


Fillers are not just for filling sake, but assist in the drawing process, and keeping in the heat.

  • Barley meal
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Cornflour
  • Hayflower: this keeps it heat five times longer than a hot water bottle


  • Water
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Mineral water


  • Vegetable oils
  • Castor oil
  • Olive oil
  • Suet
  • Lard

Combination Poultices

Generally poultices can be made with equal quantities of each herb, when unsure.

  • Boils and abscesses: Slippery elm and Marshmallow (to draw pus)
  • Lobelia and Slippery elm: oedema, wounds and ulceration
  • Chickweed and Slippery elm: inflammation
  • Blood poisoning and gangrene: Marshmallow and cayenne

Variations and additions

  • If you suspect an infection you can add a few drops of myrrh tincture.
  • To assist with pain, you can add arnica, but not on open wounds (I would rub arnica on after you have removed the poultice.)
  • Cinnamon, ginger and cayenne, can be added for extra stimulation, but give extra protection to the skin
  • Acacia can help with soothing and relaxing


Advice before starting

Adding cling or glad wrap helps to hold in the moisture as once the poultice is dry, you need to replace it. More serious infections, wounds or ulcers, you need to have the poultice replace regularly, say 15 to 20 minutes, for “very serious”, even less, and keep changing through the night, but if it is not concerning, then you can leave it on for one to four hours, remember once its dry, its useless. Otherwise, put it on just before bedtime, and leave it on over night.

Linseed Poultice

  • Place 40 grams of linseed seeds in a blender or spice grinder and grind to powder
  • Place the powder into a bowl
  • Add 120ml of cold water and mix until it forms a paste (Usually a 1:3 mix.)
  • Spread the paste over the area to twice its size
  • Wrap cling wrap over the whole region
  • Wrap a bandage or similar to hold everything in place

Onion Poultice

  • Slice and dice 3 whole onions
  • Sauté until slightly soft
  • Place in a loosely woven cloth
  • Place over the region affected
  • Wrap in cling wrap
  • Wrap over with a towel
  • Place a heating pad or hot water bottle over the towel

Comfrey Poultice

  • Place 100 grams of comfrey root powder into a bowl
  • Carefully add hot water until the powder becomes a firm paste
  • Apply very thickly up to 2.5cm / 1″ to the area and further
  • Cover with cling wrap
  • And wrap a cloth or towel to hold in place

Mustard Plaster

  • Place 4 tablespoons of whole wheat flour into a suitable bowl
  • Add in 1 tablespoon of mustard powder
  • Slowly add water until it becomes a thick paste
  • Apply paste to area concerned
  • Wrap with cling wrap
  • Tie a cloth over the area to hold things in place

Added points

  • If the paste is somewhat irritating: add egg white instead of water
  • After removing the poultice, powder with some flour and wrap in dry cotton


Do not use comfrey on deep wounds or cuts as this speeds up the healing faster than the cleaning deeper in, possibly causing it to seal in infection.

Do not apply pure mustard powder or mustard oil directly to the skin.

If you are really desperate to make a poultice, for example, you are in the middle of ‘nowhere’ and cannot get medical help, almost any broad green leaf or herb will do, unless you’re allergic to it, the leaf is spiny, hairy, poisonous or very acrid.

If you suspect that you may have a serious injury or condition, please see your health care professional and seek medical advice. For example: one time I thought that my daughter had a bad bump falling off some playground equipment, so I rubbed some comfrey etc., on it, but she was still quite upset and wouldn’t settle down. So I thought, this seems more serious than a bad bump, so off to the hospital, and it even took them quite some time and several x-ray attempts to find the small green stick fracture.

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“Usually the biggest thing to come from lots of comfort is a big belly”

Herbal Panda

“Hello, can you help me?” asked the man at the markets. “I am looking for a lady who is full of colour, flavour and carries herself with style … do you know of anybody?” added the man. “Indeed I do,” replied the lady across the market stall, “you must be looking for Miss Turmeric I believe … she is the only one fitting that description,” the lady continued.

There are many spices that should be in everyone’s diet and one of the best is Turmeric. It appears that although it has been in use for thousands of years, especially in India, China and other Asian countries, turmeric is a relative new comer to the west. Yet by simply putting it in your food and drink, it can do so much good, both in prevention and healing of dozens of conditions. These benefits can happen either directly or indirectly from its use. So lets learn something about this wonderful herb, and start adding it to your daily routine.

The earliest mentions I can find with the use of turmeric started during the Vedic period, which began about 1500 B.C., where it was first used as a dye, and since then it has been used for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Nobody seems to know exactly where it originated from, but probably the best guess is western India, which is the Indo-Gangetic Plains of the Indian subcontinent.

Somewhere from there, it must have spread quickly across the trade routes into various Asian countries where it grows wild and especially into China, and also into Africa. We know this because it has been used in China medicinally also for thousands of years.

In China, as in many cultures, yellow was very important and only the emperor was allowed to wear yellow.

As turmeric travelled up into medieval Europe, it was used as an alternative to saffron, gaining its name Indian saffron, because saffron was then and is still now, very expensive.

There is a product called Curcuma paper, or Turmeric paper, which was developed around the 1870’s, where a paper was brushed in a tincture of turmeric and allowed to dry. When this paper came into contact with an alkaline substance it turned a reddish-brown. This was used for many years by chemists, but eventually, it was replaced with litmus paper.

The Eclectic/naturopaths of early America never really caught on to turmeric’s benefits, but now they are really starting to get in on the act. This is due to turmeric being a powerful anti-inflammatory and very high in antioxidants.

Weed File?

There are at least 133 species of turmeric, but medicinally, there are two types of turmeric and sadly both are called ‘turmeric’, just to add confusion, and they are Indian turmeric – Curcuma longa and Javanese turmeric – Curcuma zedoaria. Indian turmeric has a yellow/orange colour and Javanese turmeric has white flesh and the Chinese call it E Zhu.

The Chinese herbalist splits up the Indian turmeric into two groups, one is the Yu Jin, which is the primary central tuber, and Jiang Huang, which is the rhizomes or fingers.

In Chinese Traditional Medicine, qualities of the part can be considered warm and cool, amongst other things, and here the Yu Jin is cool, but the E Zhu and the Jiang Huang are warm, therefore they would be used in different ways. But all are good for neck, shoulder and upper back pain.

How To Use Turmeric

The uses of turmeric are really just growing in the West, even though it has been very well known in the East. Somehow, I just feel that many people are put off by this strange yellow to orange powder. I think partly the reason for being put off is due to its ‘pungency’ as putting in too much into your meal can be very strong, but honestly it can be added to many meals and drinks for that matter.

Turmeric has wonderful medicinal benefits worth using. A previous herbalist that I use to work with, use to by it by the barrel full for his clients, so much that he used it in his formulas. Some of the more evidence-based uses have been: Arthritis, eczema, endometriosis, pain, tendinitis, atherosclerosis, bursitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, cancer, cataracts, cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones (preventative), halitosis, periodontal disease, heart attacks, HIV/AIDS and indigestion.

Herbal Teas

Turmeric can make an excellent and health-o-licious tea, latte or what ever brew you design.

Simple Turmeric Tea

  • Finely chop 1/4 teaspoon of fresh turmeric rhizome and place it into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for five minutes
  • You can add some sweetener such as raw honey, stevia, or erythritol and a slice of lemon.

Customised Turmeric Teas

Turmeric can have quite a range of other teas and herbs added to it to create fascinating taste sensations, that are worth investigating, even just for the fun of it.

Some of the herbs and fruits that could be added or combined with turmeric could be: Hibiscus, Pomegranate, Orange, Lemon, Guava, Cardamom, Cranberry, Ginger, Mint, Saffron,  Lemongrass, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Moringa, Fennel and Tulsi.

Golden Milk


  • 2 cups coconut milk, creamier the better
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1cm / 3/8″ of grated ginger
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg powder
  • To sweeten use either raw honey, stevia, or erythritol


  • Place all the ingredients in a saucepan (except honey, but the dry sweeteners, yes) and stir well.
  • Heat over medium heat until it starts to bubble
  • Turn down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes so that the flavours combine
  • Strain out the grated ginger
  • Add honey now if using honey and stir
  • Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and nutmeg

Serves 2, because its good to share

Culinary Uses

It is one of the main ingredients of curries and curry powders, and even more so with commercially made powders. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, if you add turmeric to the oils at the beginning of the cooking process, you will get a more ‘pungent’ dish, but if you add during the cooking then you will have a more milder flavour.

I won’t add any recipes here, as really there would have to be thousands of them out there, but I would certainly invite you to hunt one down and enjoy it. Quite simply. it wouldn’t take much to tempt me, because I enjoy a little curry powder in my egg and lettuce sandwiches.

Although its the rhizomes that are usually dried and made into powder for cooking etc., some folks use the leaves to cook the food in or for flavouring, for example, fish and sweets, as the leaves promote a warm, rich and sweet aroma and others use the flower in their cooking, this is done in Thai cooking. The leaves are picked during the growing season.

A do-it-yourself Curry Powder

Stir and mix together, 10g of ginger, 5g of cayenne pepper, 30g of turmeric powder, 30g of cardamon powder and 30g of coriander seed powder. Place in a recycled herb shaker and use when needed.

Health Uses of Turmeric

Traditional Ayurvedic uses have been to treat inflammation, gastric disorders and coughs and colds. If you want to ‘up-the-ante’, as they say, add a little pepper into the mix as this increases the absorption rate of the constituents. This is caused by the ‘piperine’ in pepper, slightly irritating the stomach lining, allowing the constituents to pass through, ultimately creating better efficacy. Or another way to assist with absorption is to eat it with healthy fats, such as coconut or olive oils, this is because curcumin is ‘fat soluble’. When I personally use curcumin, and extract of turmeric, I often throw in a little turmeric to assist it, as whole herbs are generally better than extracts, due to the synergistic workings of herbs.

It can be used as or in a poultice, or directly placed on cuts or minor burns, infected wounds, bruises, acne, ringworm, sprains, and oedema, and it has been used to alleviate itching or hair removal. Remember that turmeric can stain.

Some suggest that you should not use turmeric when you are trying to conceive, that is, falling pregnant, as it may reduce fertility, or even not to use it during pregnancy, or that you shouldn’t use turmeric long term. If anyone is unsure, then don’t use therapeutic doses. I am personally not sure why this is so, and I will present my argument like this:

The Indian women have been using turmeric in their meals basically for thousands of years, they were breastfed from the moment they were born by mothers who ate turmeric and until the moment they died, they would have consumed turmeric every day of their lives, yet India’s population was 1.37 billion in 2019. Doesn’t sound like a problem to me, maybe some better studies are needed.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Turmeric

With TCM, you really need to divide the turmeric into two groups, one is the tuber, which is the primary central tuber or round, and the other is the rhizome or fingers that come off the tuber, as these have different energy and flavours and affect different organs, and therefore has different actions.

The tuber (Yu Jin)

  • Reduces associated pains and moves Blood and breaks Stasis
  • Regulates the Liver and relieves patterns of Stagnant Qi with pain
  • Clears the Heart and Cools the Blood
  • Relieves Stagnation and clears Heat in the Liver and Gallbladder

The Rhizome (Jiang Hunag)

  • Unblocks Stasis and moves Blood
  • Brings about the movement of Qi and reduces pain
  • Clears the meridians and expels Wind and moves Blood to relieve pain

Oil of Turmeric

‘doTERRA’, one of the leaders in essential oils suggest Turmeric oil internally for:

  • Supporting healthy glucose and lipid metabolism
  • May enhance cellular antioxidant enzymes (e.g. glutathione)
  • May help support healthy nervous and cellular function
  • Shown to increase curcumin potency and absorption
  • Could promote healthy immune function and response


  • Maintains clean and healthy-looking skin and reduces blemishes

For further info contact doTERRA

Gardening Uses of Turmeric

Although turmeric is grown mainly for its ‘tuber/rhizome crop’, it does have a beautiful floral spike with dainty yellow to cream flowers peeking out of pockets. You can get different varieties that produce different flowers too. The plant itself does have a worthy looking stalk and lance-shaped leaves, which can add interest to the garden, giving shape, variety and colour to the garden.

Turmeric can be a very productive crop and in one season if grown well, one plant should produce a bucketful of healthy brown rhizomes, which are a orange yellow on the inside.

Other Uses

Due to its powerful yellow colouring ability, turmeric is excellent as a natural dye, this not only includes cloths, silk and cotton, but it is used to colour medicines, paints and varnishes, and also foods, such as cheese and yogurts and confectionaries.

Warning, warning!

I must add, that turmeric really does have a wonderful ability to stain, and if you are using the extract curcumin, as I have done, the tiniest bit can spread like you wouldn’t believe. Just get a speck on your fingers and for some strange reason it ends up ‘everywhere’!

How to Grow Turmeric

Turmeric is a tropical and subtropical herbaceous perennial plant that is part of the Zingiberaceae family, typically, it is propagated during the spring from either its primary central tuber (sometimes called rounds) that are actually a ‘modified stem’, or from the side shoots called rhizomes, which are also called fingers. The plant can produce actual tuberous roots, which form at the distal ends of the normal roots, these are of no real value.

The reason these are classified as modified stems is due to the fact that they have ‘nodes and internodes. Therefore, it is not a root crop.

The plant can grow to a height of 1m /3′ or more and its leaves are of a lance shape. The spread of the rhizome is unknown, as in, depending on its conditions it could be large or small.

It has a pocket lined floral spike of about 20cm / 8″ long, that is yellow-green in colour and its actual flowers are yellow to creamy white popping out from those pockets, but it does have other variations of colours with pinks.

Turmeric prefers growing in well drained soils that are rich in humus and also prefers a slightly acid soil. It can be planted in either full sun (very hot regions should reduce to part sun) or shade, but give it plenty mulching to prevent weeds competing against it and to preserve moisture. Cuttings and division is normally done in spring and if you are growing in cool to cold climates, then usually the crop be will smaller.

From Seed

The seed from the turmeric flower is sterile, so you cannot propagate from its seed (although some varieties may be viable). I would personally believe that once it was, but due the man crossbreeding to develop more productive varieties etc., that now its sterile. And honestly it is quicker and easier to grow from the rhizomes.

From Cuttings

You can grow turmeric from both the rhizomes, which are the fingers of the sides and the primary central tubers; and when taking cuttings, it must have at least one ‘tooth bud’ or eye/horn. The easiest place to find your rhizomes is at the fruit and veggie shop, just make sure you find the healthiest and freshest piece you can find, or order online.

Place these into a shallow pot of potting mix that is about the same size or slightly larger as the rhizome itself. Only cover the rhizome until the toothed bud is just poking out of the mix. This will now need to be kept over and above 20C / 68F and keep the soil moist and out of the sun. All going well, you should see shoots coming up in about 3 to 4 weeks, once the plant is established, then you can either plant it into a slightly larger pot or out into the garden.

From Division

Division is similar to propagating with cuttings as you are simply dividing the same, but now you are separating the sections of the rhizome and the stalk combined. Simply dig up the whole clump out of the ground, split apart the mass of rhizomes, trying to keep sections with at least a couple of buds on each. Replant these pieces into the ground or pots; support them especially if their tall and water them in.


Normally the only pruning that you will need to do is when the stalks die down at the end of autumn or beginning of winter, just to make them look nicer. Otherwise keep the ground slightly moist during the hotter growing months and allow it to become a little dry during the colder and cooler months.

Pest and Diseases

Turmeric normally doesn’t have too many problems with pests and disease, but it does get a few issues. The two pests you should be looking out for are red spider mite and scale, these normally can be controlled by washing or spraying them off with water, horticultural soap or using some other natural controls, such as, lace wings, lady beetles, birds, hoverflies, small wasps and ‘predacious’ thrips and mites.

The diseases that it make get are rhizome rot and leaf spot, the rhizome rot can usually be controlled by using well-draining soils and the leaf spot can sometimes be prevented by plenty of ventilation or controlled by a natural anti-fungal spray or you could try spraying a mix of 1/2 a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 4 litres of water / 1/2 teaspoon to a gallon.

Soil and Fertiliser

As mentioned above, make sure your soil is well draining, slightly acidic with lots of rotted compost and manure, and mulch on top. During its growing season, from spring to late autumn, add some organic pelletised or liquid fertiliser once a month.

Climate and Region

Turmeric is a tropical to subtropical plant, so of course it will grow better if this is where you live. If you are in much cooler climates, then it would be a good idea to either keep it in a pot where you can move it to warmer spots, or keep it in a hot house/ heated glass house during the colder months, as it will need to be kept above 18C / 65F.


You will know when it is time to harvest and that is when you see the leaves start to go yellow and die down, which is usually around the end of autumn into early winter. Once you see this happen, use either a shovel or garden fork to dig up the clump of rhizomes with the stalks, shake out the dirt, and keep a few rhizomes for next season or replant them if you live in a warmer climate.

Typically it takes 8 to 10 months depending where you live to produce a mature crop, so if you live in tropical to subtropical climates then you can plant, harvest and replant every 6 months all year round.


  • Place the rhizomes into a saucepan and completely cover with just enough water
  • Boil the rhizomes for about 40 to 50 minutes
  • If there is any water left over just strain it off
  • At this stage you can either carefully remove the skin from the rhizomes or just leave them on
  • Now cut them up into thin slices, no more than 3mm / 1/8″ thick
  • Evenly spread over a dry paper towel or cloth towel not allowing any to touch each other
  • Dry them by exposing to direct sunlight.
  • Natural drying can take up to 2 weeks or more depending on where you are and how dry it is
  • You can dry these also in a dehydrator at 70C / 158F until completely dry
  • Oven drying is one of the quickest, drying at 77 to 94C / 170 to 200F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Making Turmeric Powder

Once you have thoroughly dried your turmeric slices, place them into a blender or coffee or spice grinder, and grind until you have powder. It doesn’t hurt to sieve the powder occasionally to remove the fines so that you can keep breaking down the larger particles.


Very dry powder should last for up to a year or two if stored in a air-tight container out of sunlight. For real freshness and aroma, always dry and grind turmeric freshly and only produce what you will use each time. And if you are making your own, you will know where it came from and that there are no adulterants added.


The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Indian turmeric, Indian saffron, Yellow ginger, Karmin, Haldii, Haridra, Gauri, Curcuma, Curcuma domestica, Curcuma rotunda and Yellow turmeric

Botanical Name:

Curcuma longa

Parts used:

Rhizome or tuber


Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 4.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Anti-inflammatory, aromatic, anti-platelet, antioxidant, hypolipidaemic, digestive, choleretic, blood purifier, stomachic, carminative, cholagogue, bile stimulant, detoxifier and regenerator of liver tissue, tonic, astringent, analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, alterative, anti-cancer, and anti-tumour


Peptic ulcer – includes helicobactor, dyspepsia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Enhances phase 1 & 2 liver detoxification, asthma, topical for chronic skin disorders, cholesterol, liver and gallbladder disease/insufficiency, salmonella, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer preventive, eczema, cardiovascular disease preventative, digestive weakness, psoriasis, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, diarrhoea, epilepsy, and pain. Plus, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, hypercholesterolaemia


Borneol, eugenol, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, azulene, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, caryophyllene, cineole, diarylheptanoids – yellow pigments, essential oil, curcuminoids, curcumin, methyloxylated curcumins, sabinene, sesquiterpene ketones, ar-turmerone, guaiacol, limonene, linalool, 1,8-cineole, p-coumaric acid, p-cymene, vanillic acid, zingiberene, vitamins, minerals, protein and bitters

Safety concerns:

Caution with high doses in anti platelet and anticoagulant drugs, also with gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic and toxic liver disease


Adulterated with similar species or colourants

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“Is your aroma to the sweetest therapy”

Herbal Panda


“O Miss Ginger, what ales thee, I have found you to be so helpful to so many, what has happened” asked her good friend. “I am sadly becoming aware, … sniffle, sniffle, … that some folks are forgetting, sniffle, just how useful I am.” replied Miss Ginger. “Strange, very strange indeed” puzzled her friend,”I will see what I can do about this” her friend added.

Out of the many truly delicious herbs one can add to their diet, Ginger is one of my personal favourites, I even add it to my coffees, … shock, and ‘oh the horror’. So what do you add it to, and if not, why haven’t you tried? I have had literally hundreds of ginger teas as well, so versatile is this herb, especially in drinks and beverages, but don’t let me stop you there!

Ginger – Zingiber officinale, is one of those ancient herbs that has been used as much medicinally as culinarily for a very long time.

Shen Nung 神農, the legendary emperor, is believed to have been the author of the Chinese pharmacopoeia, “Shen-nung pen ts’ao ching or (Divine Husbandman’s Materia Medica). Revered for being the Father of Chinese Medicine and was believed to have ushered in the technique of acupuncture. He advised ginger for colds, fever, chills, leprosy and tetanus, plus, eliminating body odour.

Later on, the women of China also used it for menstrual discomfort, and when they suffered morning sickness, the Chinese sailors added it by chewing on it to prevent seasickness. Since then, Chinese Physicians used it for conditions such as, ulcers, kidney complaints and arthritis.

It is believed that one of the reasons why ginger was used in Chinese cooking, is because it is said to be the anti-dote to shellfish poisoning, as it does assist in killing Anisakis larvae and other parasites. It is also said that Confucius (551 to 479 B.C.) ate ginger with his meals to assist with digestion and as a carminative.

In 1500 B.C., which was the beginning of the Vedic age of India, the Sanskrit texts were beginning to be written, and within these texts ginger is mentioned, called ‘Maha- aushadhi’ which means – the Great Medicine.

Ancient traders from Greece discovered the use of ginger and brought it over to their country and they also used it as a digestive aid to ward off nausea after big meals. At first they would wrap a piece of bread around it, then adapted it into a sweet bread and ultimately became what we now call ‘ginger bread’.

Shortly after the Greeks had ginger, the Romans soon got in on the act, but by this stage, ginger was beginning to get rare. Thankfully, over period of time, trade pick up again, and this time, ginger began to travel throughout Europe. It is also interesting to note that the surgeon to both the emperors Claudius and Nero used ginger for the stomach.

Later on during the 1200s and 1300s ginger and pepper were one of the most traded of spices and the Arabian people sailed across to places such as, Zanzibar and East Africa to plant it in their coastal settlements.

The Europeans not to be out-done, took ginger bread into one of its most delectable forms, the gingerbread man, gaining further notoriety through the book written by the Brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel. It was also eaten by Queen Elizabeth the 1st, at royal dinners shaped like dignitaries, and it is mentioned in William Shakespeare’s comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost , “An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy ginger-bread,” Costard the Clown jests.

The English are believed to have turned ginger into that wonderful drink called ginger beer, which was also carried over to the early American colonies. Ginger beer was the predecessor to ginger ale, (not the modern soft drink version) which can be used for nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The first peoples of America, the American Indians, used a native variety called Wild ginger or Canadian ginger – Asarum canadense, to treat digestive issues, to preserve food and flavour. The American early settlers used it as a spice and a candy, and the liquids were boiled down into a syrup, and medicinally it was use as a poultice amongst other things.

John Gerard in his book ‘The History of Plants‘, said “Ginger groweth in Spaine, Barbary, in the Canarie Islands and the Azores. Our men who sacked Domingo in the Indies, digged it up there in sundry places wilde” … “Ginger, Dioscorides reporteth, is right good with meat and sauces, or otherwise in conditures; for it is of an heating and digesting qualitie, and is profitable for the stomacke, and effectually opposeth it selfe against all darkness of the sight; answering the qualities and effects of Pepper.

How To Use Ginger

Believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent and from there it gained the truism that, “Every good quality is contained in ginger”, and this is just correct today, as it is just so versatile.

So versatile that you can use it in sweet and savoury meals, such as, meat dishes, sweet and sours, and soups, dozens of desserts such as cheese cakes, ice cream, puddings, cakes, fruit pies, drinks and beverages, like ginger beer and ginger ales, kombucha, condiments such as sauces, pickles and chutneys, and the beauty of this is that you are getting its health benefits whilst enjoying its deliciousness.

Not to mention, that it has a range of medicinal benefits with so many of the issues we humans face on regular basis, it can help so easily by added it to a meal or drink.

Ginger has a range such interesting flowers and if the stalks are kept fresh, it can be used wonderfully in the garden as an ornamental.

Ginger flower

Herbal Teas

The thing about ginger tea, is that it is very easy to make, and at the same time you are getting many of its medicinal benefits just by drinking it. Then you can jazz things up a bit and add further herbs or fruits to the mix and increase flavour, aromas and health benefits all at the same time.

Simple Ginger Tea

The easiest way to make a ginger tea is to obtain a fresh knob or rhizome of ginger from the market, cut off about a tablespoon’s worth of thinly sliced ginger, place them into a cup, pour in boiling hot water and wait about five minutes, and enjoy.

You can if you want add a little sweetener like raw honey, stevia, agave nectar or erythritol.

Customised Ginger Teas

Ginger can go with so many other herbs, teas and fruits, and this allows you to customise your very own flavours and combinations, and not only that, they can be drunk hot or iced. They can even used in second ferments in making Kombucha, or just put in a few slices of ginger to the second ferment of kombucha or water kefir. To see how I make kombucha click here.

A quick list of possible herbs could be: chamomile, turmeric, lemon grass, lemon verbena, many of the mints, such as chocolate or apple mint, liquorice, sarsaparilla, and cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, or any of your normal teas such as black, green and white teas. Fruits and their juices could be lemon and lime, peach, pear, mango, grapefruit and orange.

Culinary Uses

Many of its culinary use are: curries of which it is a very important part, plus, various meat dishes and stews, soups, e.g. pumpkin soup, and grated in salads and vegetable meals and sides, such as, carrots, peas and beans or try in mashed sweet potatoes, dried crystallised sweets such as, crystallised ginger or try making your own and replace the sugar, and then there is the endless powdered uses for making ginger beer and ginger ale, for cakes, cup cakes, breads, buns and pastries, plus, biscuits, cookies and of course gingerbread men. But don’t forget putting it in your breakfast oatmeal or muesli or your morning smoothie or beverage such as a bullet proof coffee, but what about hot chocolate or carob?

Then there is the obvious Asian, African and Caribbean fantastically gorgeous meals to be had of which there are literally hundreds to choose from.

So, have I made you hungry yet? I hope so, so what are you waiting for, go and make one.

Beetroot, Carrot and Ginger Salad

Mix up in a bowl, one grated small (peeled) beetroot, one grated small (peeled) carrot, plus, 1/2cm to 1cm / 1/4″ to 3/8″ of peeled and grated ginger rhizome, one teaspoon of chopped basil, four sprigs of finely chopped parsley, the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and some salt to taste, and serve cool and fresh.

Making Ginger Beer

Making ginger beer is relatively simple to do and you can make rather large batches in readiness for hot summer days and parties. Since this method uses fermentation, it will have some health benefits just from that alone, as with all fermented foods and drinks, but I personally don’t go as far as making things alcoholic.

  • Put 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger into a cup
  • Add 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of dried yeast
  • Stir in 1/2 a cup of lukewarm water
  • Cover with a cloth and leave aside for about 1/2 an hour or until frothy
  • Then…
  • In a large clean plastic container dissolve 2 to 3 cups of sugar into 5 cups of boiling water
  • Add 1/2 the juice of a lemon (more if you want to)
  • Plus 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • When the first cup of frothiness is about double its size, add it to the bucket and mix
  • Allow it to stand for about 2 to 3 hours
  • Then bottle and seal for 3 days to brew, you will need about 12 large bottles
  • After 3 days put the bottles into the fridge
  • As they become cold drink and enjoy

If you don’t put them into the fridge, they will continue to ferment and may blow up, what a waste?! Some adventurous folks add other things to add flavour etc,. but these can make them blow up as well. You have been warned!

Health Uses of Ginger

The first consideration for ginger is the key term ‘diffusive stimulant’ when considering how ginger may be of a help to the body, meaning, its a substance that is intermingling and temporarily stimulates a physiological activity. Therefore, this herb can also help in the absorption of other herbs through the stomach.

Its most popular health benefits, are found in how it affects the digestive system, which are nausea and vomiting, with travel and morning sickness, flatulent colic, irritable bowel, and diarrhoea, plus, loss of appetite and low acid by stimulating digestive juices and even hiccups.

Most people actually mistaken their acid reflux or gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD) for high acid, but this is often wrong. Its your “low acid”, poor digestion, causing your stomach’s Lower oesophageal sphincter and Pyloric sphincter to malfunction causing acidic gases etc., to come up the oesophagus. How can you test this, easy, when you feel the acid rising, just take a small sip of apple cider vinegar, (watch out, as it does have a “KICK”), wow, it just went away didn’t it, how did adding acid, reduce the acid in your stomach if high acid was supposed to be your problem????

It should be noted that as far as some of the claims of ginger go, such as, helping and preventing travel sickness, plus, nausea and vomiting, that it doesn’t always work with everybody.

Its fresh fruit juice can be placed directly onto burns to reduce its pain. Plus, for those who are taking chemotherapy or have just had surgery, it is said to help with post-operative nausea. It can be incorporated into a liniments for external use.

It has been well used for reproductive issues such as poor menstruation during cold menstrual cramps and is said to improve your libido.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ginger

  • Ginger expels Cold and warms the Spleen
  • It expels Interior Cold and restores collapse of Yang
  • Warms the Lungs and helps in the expectoration of Cold Phlegm
  • Stops chronic bleeding caused by Cold

Oil of Ginger

One of the principle uses of ginger essential oil is its use in aromatherapy, which can affect us in so many ways, such as, possibly reducing post-operative nausea, but it does have many other practical and medicinal uses. From a medicinal point of view, ginger oil seem to demonstrate some anti-inflammatory properties, on the skin and with arthritis.

Essential oils are concentrated and therefore can be irritating to the skin etc., so always do a small test to see if there is any possible chance of a reaction. If it is only slightly reactive, try a carrier oil to dilute its strength, such as, jojoba, avocado, rosehip seed, argan, tamanu and evening primrose oils, all are fantastic for the skin.

Gardening Uses of Ginger

There are over 400 varieties of ginger, which can give reasonable versatility in the garden. Some are used for their most excellent blossoms, which are truly fascinating in their own right, and others are grown for the wonderful fragrances. But the plant stalks and leaves themselves can play a role in the garden with their shape and style as an ornamental, and because it prefers shade and moist ground, it can be placed in wet and shaded areas.

Siam Ginger, simply beautiful isn’t it!

Other uses for ginger in the garden is a screen due to its height to keep nosey neighbours out, a wind break, a back drop for other flowering plants or to hide an ugly view. Let alone the obvious uses for making your own spice, culinary dishes, desserts, besides drinks and beverages.

How to Grow Ginger

Ginger is a deciduous perennial that is clump forming, it grows to 1.5 m / 5′ tall with long (20cm / 10″) lanceolate mid-green leaves. The more common flower is yellow/green that then gets a deep purple and cream lip during summer, that produces a fleshy red fruit, which has 3 chambers with small black seeds inside.

It also prefers broken or dappled sun light, as it is a plant native to tropical jungle forests, but can handle some full sunlight. The soil should be rich in organic matter, such as compost and/or some rotted manure, loose, well-draining and friable and just on the alkaline side, you may need some lime before planting.

On average, from planting to harvest it usually takes five to nine months, and typically it requires 150cm / 5′ of watering per year in either rainfall or irrigation, with average temperatures of around 30C / 86F.

If you are intending to grow it in pots, you won’t get a large abundance of rhizome, so unless you have a very large container to put it in, then only grow it for more ornamental purposes, and if you do get the amount of rhizome you wanted, then thanks just great.

From Seed

I believe that the commercial ginger plant is sterile, but you can still grow ginger from seed. Just follow the seed companies directions. But simply, it is somewhat rare to grow from seed, as it easier and quicker to grow from the rhizome.

From Cuttings

Root cuttings of the rhizome are the most quickest and easiest to use to propagate ginger, because you can simply purchase your ‘root stock’ from your local fruit and veggie supplier. Just make sure that the rhizome is fresh and light coloured, not dark and wrinkly, and that it has some of the growth buds on it.

Try to obtain about an 8cm / 3″ segments with the growth buds, and allow them to dry out for a few days. Then plant them in well prepared soil about 8cm to 10cm / 3″ to 4″ below the soil. If you are in tropical regions, then plant in autumn, otherwise plant in mid-spring. Well water it in, and make sure that you have mulched it with compost or rotted manure or good hay such as lucerne. Keep your rhizomes well apart and don’t cram them in as they are a spreading plant.

From Division

Growing from division is similar to using cuttings, but in this case you are splitting off a piece of the whole plant. Simply dig up a section of the clump of ginger with either a garden fork or shovel, prise off a smaller section/s of the clump, stalk and rhizome and plant that piece back into the ground or large pot and make sure it is well watered in and composted.


Prune your ginger plant low to the ground in autumn, as this make way and room for fresh new growth.

Pest and Diseases

Generally ginger has very few pest and disease problems, but I do know that it can get red spider mite, which can normally be controlled either by a strong hosing, or an horticultural soap or neem oil/water mix. Also, encourage natural predators such as, lace wings, lady beetles, birds, hoverflies, small wasps and ‘predacious’ thrips and mites.

Water and Fertiliser

Water in very well at the time of planting, and water once each week in tropical regions, but if you are in more temperate areas then just keep the soil moist. Either way, as temperatures rise water more, and less, if the temperatures drop. After flowering, you can reduce watering somewhat, and it doesn’t mind being a little dry over winter.

Ginger is a heavy feeder, so make sure that you have it well prepared at the time of planting and fertilise regularly, that is, at least once a month with a good organic fertiliser from spring to mid summer, and replace any mulch as the ground becomes bare.

Climate and Region

Ginger really is a tropical plant that originates from wet and lush jungles, but sometimes it will grow in different climates, except for cool to cold regions, such as areas that frost. Or unless you have it in a pot, which you can move indoors or create a suitable microclimate, such as a sunroom or hot house/heated green house or similar.


If you have an established plant that is at least a year old, then you can harvest at any time, depending at what stage you want the rhizome, but if you have just recently planted a new plant, say in early spring, then typically late Autumn is the time to harvest, unless very young. Younger rhizomes are generally lighter in colour, with less heat, pungency and fibre. Older rhizomes will be larger and more heat, fibre and pungency. Keep a few rhizomes with their growth buds for next planting.


  • Clean the ginger root in cold water and peel it with a spoon, yep, a spoon
  • Slice your root into thin slices about the same thickness, about 3mm / 1/8″
  • Place the ginger on a drying rack in a sunny dry spot away from ants and other creatures, keeping a gap between the pieces for 3 to 4 days
  • Once the ginger becomes brittle, that is, totally dry, then they are ready for storage
  • They should last 5 to 6 months this way


Fresh rhizomes will easily store in the fridge for a few weeks, (I have stored some for a few months, and still made it into tea) but if you want longer, you can do several different things. You can grate ginger for storage in the freezer or dry freeze them, or you can pickle or crystallise your ginger for much longer storage. Throughly dry ginger powder can keep up to one to two years if stored well.

Making Powder

So long as the ginger is thoroughly dry and brittle, you can make your own ginger powder. Simply place the dry ginger into a spice or coffee grinder (some machines are better than others of course) and grind away until it is simply powder. It may help to sieve out the fines and put the larger particles back in for further grinding. Sometimes the powder can get a little warm, so allow it to cool down just for a bit. And once cool, put it in air-tight glass containers and keep it out of sunlight, or you can store it in the freezer.


The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Sweet Ginger, Green Ginger, Ginger Root, Shunthi, Adrak, Jamaican, African, and Cochin Ginger

Botanical name:

Zingiber officinale

Parts used:



Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 0.9 – 3.0 grams

Main actions:

Antiemetic, antibiotic, carminative, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, peripheral circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, diaphoretic, carminative, analgesic, pungent, aromatic digestive, demulcent, aromatic, antispasmodic, expectorant, vasodilator, anticholesterol, circulatory and metabolic stimulant, anthelmintic, antihistamine, and tonic


Nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, travel/motion sickness, digestive weakness, dyspepsia, intestinal colic, abdominal bloating, flatulent colic/wind, acute infections, bowel infections, fever, common cold, acute bronchitis, bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatism, fever, arthritis, spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, impaired peripheral circulation, Raynaud’s syndrome, effects from chemotherapy and surgery, rheumatic and muscular disorders. Plus, Irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies and sensitivities, cold hands and feet, hypothermia, appetite loss, hiccups, achlorhydria, coronary artery disease, low libido, jet lag general weakness, suppressed menstruation due to cold, increases gastric juices, toothache, and migraine 


Phenolic compounds – gingerols, shogaols, galanolactones, fixed oils, essential oil, asparagine, oleoresin containing sesquiterpenes – zingiberene, gum, acetic acid, linoleic and oleic acid, palmitic stearic and lauric acids, starch, sugar, and mucilage

Safety concerns:

Caution with peptic ulcers, gall stones, avoid high doses in pregnancy, kidney disease and warfarin and anti-platelet drugs, quit 1 week before surgery and pro-thrombin time and international normalised ratio values may increase


Can be adulterated by: Turmeric, ferric oxide, cayenne, usually in powders

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“No spice in your life, I guess you have no colour either”

Herbal Panda

Peppermint in all its simple glory

Gentlewomen and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce to you, His Royal Highness, Prince of Mint. And without further ado, I have the pleasure of handing over the stage to Prince Peppermint: Dauphin of Digestion, Raj of the Respiratory, Archduke of Analgesic and Maharani of Menses.

Well, after writing all that, I’m not sure whether or not, I should be bowing or something. Have I stepped into royalty without knowing it? Well, in a strange way, Mint or more technically, Mentha, as a species of the Lamiaceae family, really is an amazing ‘genre’ of plants that many people have only glanced at, a bit like royalty rolling by in a Rolls Royce, but only seeing a hand waving at the crowd.

A special accolade in the world of herbs is if you are mentioned in the ‘Ebers Papyrus’, and what is that you say, it is one of the world’s oldest medical text still surviving. Here in this ancient of books written by the Priests in 1500 B.C, said it helps with soothing of flatulence, aiding digestion, stops vomiting, and a breath freshener.

It seems that all of the mints were just called, ‘Mint’, and along came a Botanist called John Ray from Great Britain, and he began to distinguish between them, of which I am very glad, because there really is a huge variety of them with so many different smells and tastes, as well as flowers and styles. This should have been taken on by cooks and chefs alike around the world, to explore them and to admire them. Maybe they just missed the ‘hand wave’.

Historically, after the Ebers Papyrus, the next mention of mint comes from the Holy Bible, and in Matthew 23:23, it states, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone”.

After this, it appears to have travelled up into Greece, where it entered Greek mythology and ultimately, the word Minthe became Mentha the name of that genus.

The households of the Greeks and Romans put mint into their milk to prevent spoilage and they would consume mint after their meals to aid digestion. So maybe here is where the term ‘after dinner mint’ came from, or did they get that from the Egyptians?

Pliny the Elder, suggested that mint should be used for reanimating the spirit, and to hang it up around the sick to help with convalescence and “found by experience to cure leprosy, applying some of them to the face”. Pedanius Dioscorides the Greek physician, thought that it promoted lust because he felt that it has a heating, plus a binding and drying quality. (Actually its qualities are dry, cooling and then into warm.) Other Greek physicians prescribed it for dozens of different conditions including Leprosy.

Further around the world, we have the Ayurvedic and Chinese physicians using it also as a digestive aid, and for respiratory issues such as, coughs, colds and fever, as well as a tonic.

Hildegarde von Bingen, 1098-1179 AD, a Benedictine abbess, who attained skills as a polymath, and in herbology, medicine, biology, and natural history, suggested it also for digestion and gout.

Nicholas Culpeper wrote much of mint, giving it many virtues, and I shall try give a quick brief for you.

“It dissolveth imposthumes (Abscess/pus), being laid to with barley-meal … repress the milk in women’s breasts … with salt, it helpeth the biting of a mad dog … it is very profitable to the stomach … a very powerful medicine to stay women’s courses (menses) … to the forehead and temples, it easeth the pains in the head … it is good against the gravel and stone in the kidneys, and the stranguary … cureth the gums and mouth that is sore and mendeth and ill-savoured breath”. (Stranguary – painful and slow urination with feelings of urgency.)

When the early American pioneers came over to settle in North America, they found that the First Nation Peoples were already using the marvellous herb – Mentha canadensis. Using it for conditions like coughs, colds, congestion and pneumonia.

The early Eclectics, now Naturopaths regularly prescribed peppermint for ailments, such as: coughs, colds, headaches, bronchitis and stomach issues.

It was during the 1880’s that chemists distilled menthol out of peppermint, and found that it has good germicidal and anaesthetic properties. From here, it became widely used in many medical preparations such as, insect bites and stings, wounds, scalds and burns, eczema, hives and even toothache. As a chest rub it can ‘draw’ and also it was used for hay fever, asthma and morning sickness.

The Weed Files

Mint has at least 25 different species and 600 hundred varieties from there, and what I would like to share here is that there are some real interesting varieties among them.

A Mentha list of interest

Apple mint – Mentha sauveolens

This mint has a mild and sweeter flavour and really does has an ‘appleness’ to its taste and aroma. Great for cooking. Soft hairy oval shaped grey/green leaves 4cm / 1 3/4″ long.

Basil mint – Mentha piperita var. citrata “Basil”

A fussy mint that likes everything to be perfect. As the name suggests, it can be used instead of the herb basil. Its flowers can also be used well in certain potpourris once dried.

Calamint – Calamintha nepeta

This is one of those plants you put in your garden for one main reason, it flowers beautifully for quite some time, and attracts butterflies and bees and can be used in potpourri. Can be used medicinally, but avoid if your pregnant.

Chocolate mint – Mentha X piperita f. citrata ‘Chocolate’

Yes, this mint really does have a chocolate mint flavour and aroma, what a find if you want to impress your guests.

Common mint – Mentha spicata syn. M. viridis

When you find a mint just anywhere, it usually is a common mint or sometimes called garden mint. This mint is often used in culinary dishes and sauces.

Corsican mint – Mentha requienii

This mint is also known as rock mint, and is the smallest of the mints with 6mm to 12mm / 1/4″ to 1/2″ heart shaped leaves, and can be used decoratively along paths and pavers, cascading and amongst rocks etc., but make sure it gets plenty of shade. It has the taste and flavour of peppermint.

Eau-de-cologne – Mentha piperata var. citrata

An actual mint that really does have an ‘eau-de-cologne’ fragrance. This one is great in the bath.

Egyptian mint – Mentha sylvestris

With bright green wavy lanceolate leaves that are 4cm / 1 3/4″ long.

Ginger mint – Mentha gentilis syn. M sativa

Sometimes called Scotch mint. It has purple to red stem that comes with a ginger/fruity/peppermint fragrance.

Grapefruit mint – Mentha x piperitaGrapefruit

This is an unusually-flavoured mint that has a tasty tangy flavour. This mint goes interestingly with fish and chicken dishes.

Japanese mint – Mentha arvensis var. piperascens

A mint with lavender like flowers, that has one powerful aroma, if you want to help clear the sinuses, the rub this one together and inhale its fragrance. In Japan they actually call it English mint

Lavender mint – Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’

This mint is used in teas and potpourris, as well as personal care products. Add it to a cool glass of homemade lemonade.

Liquorice mint – Agastache foeniculum.

Liquorice mint has a strong liquorice fragrance when you crush the leaves, and the beautiful flowers are attractive to bees and edible. It is also known as Giant Hyssop and Anise Hyssop, is said to be non-invasive and grows great to fill up a corner of the garden.

Mountain mint – Pycanthemum pilosum

This mint is not a true mint. Clumping and does not spread, with a refreshing peppermint aroma, this one goes great in drinks that have either oranges or lemons.

Orange mint – Mentha peperita citrata

It has crinkly green leaves with a good fruity aroma

Pennyroyal – Mentha pulegium

This mint is a low growing herb, which has intense aroma. This mint is a great plant for pathways and to use in-between pavers etc., but it doesn’t like drying out. To encourage it to spread, yet enjoy its beauty, mow it after it flowers and you can spread it easily via seed. Do not use this one if your pregnant.

Peppermint – Mentha piperita

Peppermint is sterile F1 hybrid of Mentha aquatica and Mentha spicata, and must be propagated via cuttings, and is famous for its flavour – peppermint.

Pineapple mint – Mentha suaveolens variegata

Its sweet and fruity aroma reminds one of pineapples and is in appearance to apple mint. Less rampant than most, and grows nicely in hanging baskets.

Spearmint – Mentha spicata

I’m sorry, but spearmint is my favourite flavour, generally you could nearly tempt me with its taste and aromas, rich in oil of spearmint. Great for mint-sauce, jelly and julep.

Stone mint – Cunila origanonides

It also comes by the names Sweet Horsemint or American Dittany. Similar in aroma to pennyroyal, it has a real cool mint fragrance.

Rust free spearmint – Mentha rubra raripila

As its name sake says, it is ‘rust free’, and it has amazingly intriguing sweet spearmint fragrance.

Water mint – Mentha aquatica

Sometimes comes by the name Druid’s Mint. Has a intense peppermint fragrance, with beautiful lavender pom pom like flowers, and grows well in water and damp areas.

White peppermint – Mentha piperita officinalis

Has hairy small grey leaves.

How To Use Peppermint

Mint has many uses from the culinary to medicinal to gardening, and really peppermint covers most of them quite well. It can be used to help with many ailments of the body, from acne on the face to haemorrhoids below, you can use it as a hair rinse, for you or your dog, a gentle steam bath for cleansing the face, protecting against insect bites or soothing them after you were bitten, to help heal wounds, burns and abscesses, rub it on areas that are in pain or where your headache is hurting.

It does wonders for many digestive issues such as, colic, nausea and vomiting, gastric spasms, flatulence, a mouth wash and halitosis. Russian women use it to help with scanty or painful periods. Its noted in Russia for increasing your appetite, and treating anxiety, insomnia and hysteria.

Most of these are greatly influenced by peppermint oil, but simply having two to three cups a day of peppermint tea can help too, because you are still consuming the same ingredients.

Herbal Teas

Simple Peppermint Tea

  • Place 1 teaspoon into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Take up to two to three cups per day

A stronger version can be made simply by adding more peppermint, this then starts to become much more therapeutic.

Customised Peppermint Teas

You can make your own customise peppermint tea, simply by adding other herbs, such as, chamomile, lemon balm, lemon verbena, a squeeze of lemon or lime combined and ginger, or make a green, black or white tea blend.

Not only can you try these, but why not have a go at making an ‘iced tea version’ especially for those hot summer days.

Culinary Uses

There are literally dozens and dozens of recipes for mint, that include main courses and sauces to go with them, heaps of desserts such as the famous choc-mint ice cream, yogurt and jellies, cool drinks and hot beverages and teas, so I won’t go too much into how it can be used in a culinary fashion. But I’ll just offer a few different types of ideas.

Mint Julep

  • Steep 2 handfuls of chopped orange mint in one litre of boiling hot water
  • Strain out the leaves and chill the water
  • Add 1 litre of pineapple juice
  • Add 1 finely sliced orange or lemon
  • Add the pulp of two passionfruit
  • Add 1 litre of crushed ice
  • Ginger ale can be added if you wish but not necessary
  • And serve

Chocolate Mint Mousse

Serves 2

  • 100g of dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs that are separated
  • 1 teaspoon of coffee (instant)
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped mint
  • 4 whole mint leaves
  • Whipped cream
How to
  • Place the chocolate in a double boiler
  • Melt the chocolate until smooth and runny
  • Remove from the heat
  • In another small bowl beat the egg yolks
  • Add the yolks to the chocolate and stir in
  • Add the coffee and chopped mint and stir
  • Allow the mixture to cool for 1/4 of an hour
  • Beat the whites, but not real stiff
  • Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture
  • Spoon into two containers
  • Decorate with whipped cream and garnish with a few mint leaves
  • Eat and enjoy

Mint Dip

  • Place in a bowl: 1/2 cup of sour cream, a squeeze of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of tomato relish, 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped mint and salt to taste.
  • Mix until even
  • Store in the fridge until ready to serve
  • Serve with vegetable sticks or use on freshly cooked seafood

Health Uses of Peppermint

Out of the two most well known mints, Peppermint and Spearmint, most believe that Peppermint is the most efficacious of the two. Most mints function and work the same to some degree, but if you want to use it therapeutically then stay with peppermint.

Traditionally Peppermint has been recognised for many things, and even in these “Science-is-God” times, peppermint is also proven to have useful benefits, such as: Digestive upsets, tension headaches and migraines, helps to open up sinuses and reduce bacterial infections, eases menstrual cramps, reduce fatigue and raise energy levels, improves concentration, and sleep, reduce the affects of allergies, and finally, help some with weight loss and freshens your breath.

A word of warning, some mints varieties must be completely avoided during pregnancy, and the rest avoided during the first trimester.

Peppermint oil

Any essential oil should be used with caution, as they are very concentrated and mint oils are quite strong. If you have sensitive skin or are allergic to certain plants, it is wise to do a small skin test first. But generally, peppermint oil is usually quite safe to use topically, our family uses it regularly on just about any pain (rubbing it on where it hurts), from tummy and muscle aches to menstrual cramps and especially headaches and migraines, and it works best just as they are beginning, once the migraine is in full swing, it only helps a little. But don’t get it into your eyes.

Peppermint oil in a diluted form can be placed on haemorrhoids.

Peppermint oil is extensively used in aromatherapy for fainting, headaches, colds and flus, difficult breathing, and it is mixed with carrier oils and used in massage, and added to sunflower oil to be used in capsules.

An oil made from pennyroyal mint is very good for ridding yourself, your home or your dog of fleas and mites, even the crushed leaves act as a deterrent to them. Rub the crushed leaves on your skin to deter mosquitos, fleas and mites and other biting insects. This works with most mints, but pennyroyal is best.

Pennyroyal mint oil is very powerful and can be toxic, and should only be used under strict guidance from a professional, and never used during pregnancy.


Dried flowers and leaves are easily used in potpourris, especially due to their aromatic flowers and leaves. A nice potpourri for the bath can be made up of equal parts of lavender, rose petals, peppermint, bee balm, chamomile, comfrey, and lemon verbena.

Gardening Uses of Peppermint

Mint on the whole will always have a wonderful aroma, so planting along and in pathways, garden borders, and just under steps, anywhere where you may walk along and brush up against it can regularly perfume the air. Also, it can make a great ground cover, particularly due to its ‘invasiveness’ meaning that once it has got a hold of the area, it can hang on under hard conditions, preventing erosion. Plus, it can be mowed and used as a ‘chop and drop’, to help with mulching, as well as it attracts bees and butterflies

Companion Planting Mint

Mint goes well with many plants that you may want to grow in your garden, plants such as: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, kale and radish, onions, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, eggplant and brussels sprouts, capsicum, chillies and lettuce, kohlrabi, squash and peas.

Plus, you can use it with your favourite roses.

But remember that mint is invasive, therefore keep this plant well tamed in a pot near its companion, not in the soil, where it can take over.

How to Grow Peppermint

For most mints it grows to an average of 60 cm / 2′ but depending on the variety can grow from 15cm / 6″ to 100cm 3′ 4″. The plants love rich, moist and loose/well drained soils with a soil pH of 6.5. They can grow in full sun, but I seem to find that they prefer only part sun with some full sun. Most mints are well known to be very invasive, except for a few, so unless you want the mint to take over, it is best to keep it in a decent sized pot, say 25cm / 1′, and keep it near your kitchen back door for easy access. If you really want it in you garden, then you can plant it in a deep pot into the ground, but with at least 2.5cm / 1″ out of the ground. (This method I personally do not trust, just for the record, as runners will jump and make their escape.)

Except peppermint, all of the mints can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. If you wish to grow a range of different mints, be very careful as they can very easily cross-pollinate, so you will need to create means to prevent this or grow from cuttings.

From Seed

Most choose not to grow from seed, simply because it is quicker and easier to grow from cuttings and division. All mints will grow from seed except for peppermint, and just simply follow the direction of the seed supplier. Make sure you have the exact variety that you want and it is from a reputable brand. Be careful of the seed in your garden, as it may have cross-pollinated with something close by ruining the next generation, otherwise you should be safe.

From Cuttings

The cuttings come from the roots, look for a piece of root that has a little node along it. Cut a section of this out and place it in a pot prepared with good potting mix, cover over and water in. Depending on the season seeing new shoots can take different times but in spring, they should take about 2 weeks.

From Division

The plant grows into a mass of roots and new shoots, as this is happening, take the plant out of the pot, literally get a big knife, or machete (if its really big) or similar and hack it up into smaller pieces. Place these into pots, with good potting mix and water in, care for these until shoots begin to appear and water as needed.

A machete may seem a little too much, but at times I have used hand saws, axes, shovels, mattocks, hoes and large knives to perform such intricate divisions and to cut away root bound plants and trees, seriously! The plant will thank you.


To create and keep thick and lush mints, regularly cut them back about the time the flowers appear, as some species do become a bit scraggly and the branches become woody, unless you are growing a species for the flowers as some are excellent for.

Pest and Diseases

Some pests that may attack mint are spider mites, aphids, loopers, mint flea beetles, mint root borers, cutworms, scale, and root weevils.

Possible diseases are verticillium wilt, leaf spot, mint rust, powdery mildew, stem, root and stolon rot and mint anthracnose.


Personally I find that regular fertilising with good organic pelletised or liquid fertiliser really helps to keep your mints growing great.

Climate and Region

As far as I can tell mints can just about grow anywhere, but in some regions you may need to alter how it lives depending on where you are. Such as creating microclimates that naturally cool, if you are in very hot climates, or keep your mint indoors during extreme cold, although it usually grows back.


If you are in more temperate to tropical regions you can grow and harvest mint all year round, but if you are in very cold climates, then as soon as it comes up, you can begin harvesting. For best flavour, the young and tender leaves and soft stems are the nicest.

Typically, if you are after the leaves and not the flowers, then collect them before it goes into flower, but if you want the flower you only have to wait a bit.

Collect the leaves once the sun has just dried off any moisture from the leaves. If you’re collecting for medicinal value, then make sure the leaves are free of damage, such as brown edges, and disease such as scale and aphids or fungal diseases, plus no insects or their eggs, or any foreign matter.


When drying mint you simply follow the basic rules of drying leaves and these are: spread the leaves over dry paper or cloth towelling, in an open and airy room or at least under cover from the sun. Don’t just heap it up on the towelling, but allow it to breath as it dries, and if you do put it on a ‘little’ thick, make sure that you turn it over fairly regularly to remove moisture, prevent mould and dry evenly.


Affective drying should leave the leaves very dry, yet with the same taste, colour and aroma of the original leaf. Store the leaves in air-tight glass jars, and label them with the product and date. If at any time they become mouldy then throw them out.


The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:


Parts used:

Leaf and oil


Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 6.0 – 9.0 grams

Main actions:

Spasmolytic, carminative, cholagogue, antiemetic, antitussive, emmenagogue, tonic, antimicrobial, mild sedative/stimulant, anti-emetic, diaphoretic, pectoral, digestive and enzyme activator. Topically – analgesic, antipruritic, antiseptic, and insect repellent


Dyspepsia, intestinal colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, infantile, irritable bowel syndrome – particularly the oil; gall bladder dysfunction, gallstones, gastritis, nausea, morning sickness, sickness, common cold, influenza, cough, nasopharyngeal catarrh, and sinus headache, Plus, tension headache, pruritus, osteoarthritis, neuralgia – essential oil, and inhibits lactation.


Essential and volatile oils – menthol, menthone, cineole, acetaldehyde, limonene; tannins, flavonoids, azulines, and carotenes

Safety concerns:

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder, do not take in the first trimester, do not take with supplements, thiamine, and alkaloids, do not ingest pure ‘menthol’, it can be fatal.


Adulterated with similar species

Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda


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“The weightier the rock, the more squashed the finger”

Herbal Panda