Now what is a ‘Succi’, (pronounced either suc-eye or suc-sigh), I here you say, well Succi is plural for Succus, which is Latin for Juice, with reference to expressing a juice and using it medicinally. Now there, you learnt something new today.

Ahh, but you say, you mean a juice drink, I have them all the time, no, no, although I will grant that it is similar. But here we are thinking ‘herbally’ or ‘medicinally’, therefore there are some differences.

One of the main differences is that we add alcohol into the juice as a preservative, and this needs to be at least 20% up to 25%. The alcohol is not used in extraction, but only as a preservative. Also, we are choosing herbs, not just some fruit and vegetables to juice from.

Raw fruit and vegetable juices I think are wonderful and refreshing and highly nutritious, but when we think of a Succus, we are intending to treat a specific ‘condition’, of which the herbs we have in mind have a therapeutic purpose.

My wife had her Gallbladder removed some years ago, but the surgeon wouldn’t remove the ‘few stones’ stuck in her pancreatic duct, due to possibly causing more complications. After a series of special juice drinks, my wife suddenly had what appeared to be another gallbladder attack, and went to the doctor to investigate. When she had an ultrasound and x-ray, it was found that her ‘few stones’ were gone.

For a bit of history, they are not very common, but are documented in the ‘British Pharmacopoeia’, and were developed by Squire in 1830. The reason they are now not so well known is that most herbal companies don’t prepare them and have gone over to or prefer using alcohol tinctures instead. But I will say that a few companies do sell a few.

Reasons why to do a Succus

A specific reason to choose to make a succus is because we want a lot of that juice for the purpose intended, and normally we are looking for juices that are largely ‘water soluble’ as in some cases, if we try to extract with an alcohol base, we just cannot get all that we want.

A succus can be made at home and apart from a suitable press can be easily made.

A succus can really be made from nearly any part of the herb, so long as it is not dry and hard, and can be crushed to express its liquid. So, for example, you could make a succus out of roots like ginger root or even dandelion root, if it is soft and juicy enough, plus fresh, soft and succulent leaves, stems, rhizomes, tubers, and berries and fruits.

Succi can be used both internally and externally, this makes a succus more versatile.

Medicinally they can be used with poultices, compresses and syrups, or added to other tincture, but honestly can be used in drinks, such as smoothies and other beverages, and flavourings in meal recipes.

A couple of interesting points I found in one scientific paper was that a succus is high in enzymatic activity and can be used in escharotic treatment and cervical dysplasia in conjunction with standard treatments.

How to do a Succus

The process for making a Succus is very similar to making a freshly squeezed juice drink out of leafy greens etc., but in this case it is a chosen herb, for a specific indication. The process requires expressing the juice out of the herb or part thereof via some force, such as a ‘Cold Press’, which has one of those screw/augers that crush and squeeze out the liquid.

To draw the ‘extra’ bit you can re-squeeze it through the cold press, but add just a ‘little’ of pure water, but not too much.

You can use other presses, such as a tincture press or similar so long as it gets ‘enough’ pressure, as some items will be harder than others.

I would not advise one of those fast and spinning juicers as when the juice is extracted it gets somewhat heated (not a lot) and as it sprays through the air it becomes oxidised, therefore, it has the tendency to break down faster.

Basic Method

  • Gather sufficient leaf, flower or root etc., to make the quantity you need, this could depend on a lot of factors, such as, time of day, season, rainfall even, and the part you intended to ‘squeeze’
  • This isn’t so bad because often you don’t want much anyway
  • In some cases, it would be a good idea to first grind, mash or finely chop up the herbs, but try not to lose any juice in the process
  • Then put it through a quality cold press or tincture press
  • Filter or strain out the fibres and any other particles
  • The basic ratio for a succus is 3:1, that is, 3 parts juice to 1 part alcohol such as Vodka or a grain or similar type of alcohol
  • Divide the amount of juice by 3, and this is the volume of alcohol thereby making 4 equal parts
  • Mix this together well and allow to settle for at least three days
  • After three days, filter out the sediment and squeeze the sediment without getting the sediment back into the liquid
  • Pour this into clean dark coloured jars or bottle and label and date
  • This Succus should last up to 2 years

Variations of a Succus

Although not really a variation, succi can be used both externally and internally, which can make them more adaptable, and you can design them to suit your immediate needs. And you can mix and match, so to speak, by added some from one succus to another in another container and using them in combination like other extracts.

Or when you make your succus, you can start with a combination of herbs that have the therapeutic actions required, or you can mix the principle herb with herbs the reduce bitterness, an example of this could be dandelion leaves with Romaine, Lemon balm, Fennel bulb and Cucumber.

Choice of Herbs for a Succus

The choice of herbs is really based on two main points:

One is that when making a succus, you want thick and juicy parts of the herb, ‘succulent-like’, which can be just about anything so long as it is not dry and hard. In some cases, you can use several parts of the herb, for example, the flower and leaf of Calendula.

Two, you choose the herb that is suitable for the action you want to achieve, for example, vulnerary, anti-inflammation, expectorant, or antiseptic.

But, several herbs that could be used in making a succus could be:

Mother of herbs, Nettle, Chickweed, Dandelion, Plantain, Calendula, Lemon balm, Gotu kola, Jewelweed, Turmeric, Ginger, Skullcap, Violet, Cleavers and Purslane, even citrus fruit juice of a lemon or lemon skin

Safety

When using a succus you would be aware of any possible allergic reaction, and with the alcohol, you would watch against any stinging. If there is any sting, then slightly dilute with water.



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

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Good old Cough Syrup where would we be without it

Syrups have been around for quite some time, and I believe that they have been ‘around’ since ‘ever’, but I do know that Mr Nicholas Culpeper wrote of them back in 1653 in his book, “Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician”. In fact, I think he says more than some, (not all) more modern writers do, in his short section on them.

And so, I also hope to give you my reader, lots of good and useful information too. Just remember I am very happy to take any enquires or questions.


Most of us remember in our childhood receiving cough medicine, and nearly every time it was a syrup of some form, but sadly most of us don’t remember it tasting so good, in fact, I can remember wanting to vomit at times. But if there is one way of getting that ‘it’s-good-for-you’ medicine down your child, it is a syrup.

So I know from Culpeper’s time till now, they have made syrups from both sugar and honey.

Most would prefer honey over sugar and so do I, but for some people, the amount of honey is very expensive. So I do understand why so many still choose sugar. As it seems that most people who often get sick, are often the poorer folks.

But there is a way around some of the costs, when you have a sore throat and it doesn’t take too long to get your ‘meds’ for a sore throat either, its a simply recipe that I have included in the Variations section of this post below.

Honey, there just isn’t anything else like it

Reasons why to make a Herbal Syrup

The first and foremost reason for making a syrup is honestly the taste, yes I know medicine is good for you, but it tastes disgusting. And if there’s one group it is hard to get medicine down, its children. But here, there is one solution that works, and many of us have heard the line from that song, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”.

Infusions and decoctions are very good for you and are simple and quick to make and I advise them to those who ask me for simple yet very beneficial helps. But they come with a very short ‘shelf life’, as teas should be used within the same day, and decoctions you will get sometimes 48hours. But syrups get around this problem.

With alcohol based tinctures, which can often last up to two years, the need for preservation is not necessary, but frankly most of them taste just awful, although some are used to improve flavour. So here Captain Sweetness come to the rescue, and down the throat it goes, and another poor child is saved from the evil Mr Yucky.

Glycerine extracts are an alternative to alcohol extracts, but don’t last as long, but here you can still add them to syrups getting around the shelf life problem, saving you money and time remaking them. Glycerine extracts are for very young children due to better taste and are not as potent as the alcohol, as for babies and infants the potency must be greatly reduced, as with all forms of medicine.

A syrup made from glycerine should be kept in the fridge and last about six months, say for the cold and flu season.

Glycerine extracts are also good for those who are needing to abstain from alcohol for medical reasons, such as allergic or have a liver disease, needing an abstinence due to reforming or religious reasons.

How to do a Herbal Syrup

I have given recipes in both sugar and honey, because as I said before, not everybody can afford large amounts of honey, and honestly they are usually interchangeable, in both weight and volume. And I want to help everyone, not just those who can afford the ‘better’ stuff.

As a general rule, most syrups are made in a ratio of 1:2, as in, 1 part herbal and 2 parts honey or sugar.

Ingredients and Method for a Basic Syrup

  • Infusion, decoction or tincture/extract 300mls / 1 1/2 cups
  • 450g / 2 cups / 1 lb of sugar or your preferred sweetener

Once you have made your infusion, decoction or tincture, place it in a saucepan and heat it up, but do not boil or burn. Add the sugar and continue stirring until either the sugar is fully melted or until all ingredients are fully blended and smooth. Add to clean/sterile jars or bottles, label with the date and contents and store out of the light and away from heat. It should last several months, but longer in the fridge. But if you see any mould, then do not use it and throw it away.

Syrup via Infusion

  • Take 85g / 3oz of your chosen herbs
  • Crush, bruise, grind or finely chop your herbs
  • Pour 290ml / 1/2 pint of boiling hot water over the herbs
  • Cover and allow to steep until cold
  • Strain out the herbs
  • Reheat the infusion till warm
  • Add 113g / 4oz of sugar
  • Continue heating and stirring until fully dissolved
  • And continue until it becomes a syrupy consistency
  • Allow to cool slightly
  • Pour into clean sterile glass jars, label and store in a cool place

Purple Marshmallow Cough Syrup

(Marshmallow is great in syrups due to its natural demulcent abilities) And this one doesn’t require any cooking.

Ingredients:

  • Three handfuls of purple Marshmallow flowers (Purpler the better)
  • 5cm / 2″ of a stick of cinnamon (optional)
  • Enough honey to completely cover the flowers
  • Place the flowers and cinnamon in a glass jar or bottle
  • Cover the flowers and cinnamon completely with the honey
  • Put the lid on and allow to stand for approximately two weeks
  • After standing, strain and store in a glass jar (You may need to warm it just a little)
  • Label and store out of sunlight in a cool place

Dosage is simply 1 to 2 teaspoons for a dry, sore or irritation cough

Elderberry Syrup

  • Place 1 cup / 100g / 0.22lb of dried berries into a suitable bowl
  • Cover with 2 cups of boiling hot water
  • Cover with a lid and allow to soak for 8 hours / overnight
  • Place the berry mix into a blender and finely mash
  • Sieve or filter out ‘all’ the particles. Pressing in a good press will push out more
  • Put this into a saucepan and simmer and stir until reduced down to 1 cup
  • Add 1 cup of raw honey and stir in
  • Pour into clean sterile jars and label and date and store in the fridge
  • Should last for 1 year

Should work both as a preventative and treatment for colds and flus. Dosage is simply 1 to 2 teaspoons for a dry, sore or irritation cough

Variations of a Herbal Syrup

There are several different types of sweeteners you can use, the most common are white sugar and raw honey, but you could try brown or raw sugar, or rapadura, or Jaggery, if your in India or Sri Lanka for example. But what about others, there is Coconut sugar, Maple syrup, and I have heard of Stevia being used, but I haven’t tried that one.

As I suggested above in my introduction, this is such a simple recipe for sore throats and mouth infections, but the ‘essences’ do travel throughout the rest of the body too.

  • Finely dice a small onion
  • Finely dice two cloves of garlic
  • Put them into a small jar of Manuka honey
  • Allow the onion and garlic to steep in the honey
  • At first it won’t change much, but as time goes by the honey will become more runny
  • Try to mix and shake up the mix at least once an hour
  • Optional: After 5 to 6 hours, strain out the onion and garlic and reuse the same jar
  • This will last easily two or more years, as the jar is full of things that kill the baddies, therefore it lasts and lasts and true or raw honey never decays

This was made over a year ago and is still safe and potent and I stored it in the cupboard and made it in the same container the honey came in. I didn’t choose to strain it as I thought it would be stronger as time went on. It has no mould and still has that oniony/garlicky flavour and still sweet.

Yep, this is just so easy and affordable, Manuka honey is not cheap, but occasionally it goes up for sale and buy it then, I do. But you may find different brands and alternatives in your own country.

Another idea for variations can be to add juices, this can be from citrus fruits, such as, oranges, lemons and limes, and also from berries such as Elderberries, Blue berries and Hawthorn berries, but also from ‘Succi’, that is, ‘plant juices, from fleshly and juicy herbs.

Choice of Herbs for a Herbal Syrup

Any herb or combination could be used in a herbal syrup, but when it comes to syrups, it is usually chosen for respiratory issues, such as colds and flus and sore throats and is obviously used internally. But in saying this, I do not see why you could not use it for other issues, such as tummy bugs, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, travel sickness, some pains, worms and Urinary tract infections.

I do believe that a syrup can be made to treat infections and ulcers for example on the skin. This would be made out of Manuka honey with added herbal healing properties such as, Ribwort and Comfrey, so instead of using a cream, you use a syrup.

Safety

On the whole, syrups are very safe, but if there were a few possible cautions that should be taken they would be:

  • The amount of sugar content, (honey and table sugars) could affect those with diabetes
  • Not matter what medicine you use, there is always a chance of an allergic reaction
  • Due to its wonderful sweetness, keep it out of reach of children, as they may want to consume the whole jar


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

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

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This reason I chose a pot for the post, is because many combine or confuse infusions with decoctions and use the word interchangeably. I believe that herbal infusions are just wonderful and drink them often, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to you, but there is a real difference between the two.

An infusion is when you pour boiling hot water onto herbs in a cup and allow it to steep for about 5 to 10 minutes, but a decoction is either boiled or simmered for a minimum of 15 minutes or much, much longer, say 2 to 3 hours.

One of my sons had a viral infection that just kept hanging on and on, so when he came to visit me, I simmered Echinacea root for 45 minutes and found it just fine and very therapeutic too, as I drank it with him.

Herbalist never get sick, they just get immune challenged.

Chinese herbal combinations are mostly made as a decoction, (they do have a huge range of pills too) and there is a rule in preparing Chinese herbal teas and that is, ” Start fast and end slow”. What this simply means is that you quickly bring it to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

Usually, the length of time simmering is approximately 20 to 30 minutes, but this depends on the practitioner of course. Also, if you are not told how much water to simmer in, usually you cover the herbs by about 2.5 to 3cm / 1″ to 1 1/4″.

Always follow the prescribed number of dosages they give.

Reasons why to make Herbal Decoctions

Many fantastic constituents are bound up in herbs, and are difficult to get the goodness out of, so a period of simmering is required to break open the tough cellulose shell surrounding the benefits.

Decoctions are used in other herbal preparations, such as poultices and compresses, soaks and baths, ointments and creams. How about culinary uses, of which there would be many. But what about cleaning products, such as, soaps and shampoos, hair rinses, and skin cleansers, and don’t forget about your pets, and their ailments. So they can be a final product and then drunk or added to many other products.

If done well, a decoction can become a interesting and very tasty beverage, in others words, you can use it as a replacement for coffee, which is still a herb of course.

I do not believe that ‘coffee = evil’ and that it must be avoided as some would have it, as studies are now coming out that show that it has health benefits too.

You can make decoctions for the sheer pleasure of drinking a rich beverage, it does not need to be medicinal. As you could add it to various recipes for flavouring, into smoothies or develop your own special ‘latte’.

How to do Herbal Decoctions

The basic idea with decoctions is that you ‘boil the life out of the herb and into the water’, but even more so, you use this process on very stubborn parts of herbs. These parts can be seeds, bark, stems, rhizomes, tubers and roots, especially if they are very dry. For example, fresh Ginger root = short time, or Astragalus root = long time.

When simmering a decoction, it is best not to keep lifting the lid to stir or checking on the process, as the therapeutic essential/volatile oils will escape.

If the herbs have become “burnt” not just a little crispy, as crispy is good, meaning the you have drawn out everything, throw out the herbs as they are now no good and have ruined the decoction. Now in saying this, I do mean burnt, because your decoction can become very dark and the herbs can get well ‘cooked’, and be just fine.

Now sometimes, you will be given, a selection of herbs by a herbalist, especially by a Chinese Medicine practitioner, and you’ll find hard tough pieces of root, bark or other dried products, from mushrooms, to fruit, nuts and seeds, to what you might think is a piece of wood. (Well, it sort of is really.)

Now unless you want to chew on these and possibly break your teeth, you can quickly understand why you need to boil it. But now here’s the issue, sometimes you will have very soft and easy products too, in the mix, so what do you do?

You only add each product as they vary in hardness to softness and ease of extraction of the constituents. An example of this would be where tough woody roots or bark will go in first, then thinner or softer items, then dried leaves and flowers, which may only be 5 minutes or less, as you’ll ruin the benefits of the soft light products, by putting them in at the same time.

Ginseng is often simmered separately, because it can be simmer for up to 2 to 3 hours.

A Basic Decoction

Unless given specific directions by your Herbalist, and you want make your own, this what to do:

  • Place the dried herbs in a suitable pot
  • Cover with water and bring to boil
  • Reduce to a simmer and continue until the liquid is reduced down to a quarter
  • Allow to cool down some
  • Strain and store in a bottle or thermos flask
  • Drink throughout the day

Usually, a well prepared decoction will only last a maximum of 24 to 36 hours, 48 hours max, so if it looks or smells different then throw it out.

The typical dosage for a decoction is half to 1 cup 3 times per day

When making a decoction, only use either: stainless steel, glass, earthenware, or ceramic saucepans, pots or utensils, never use aluminium or plastics.

Variations of Herbal Decoctions

Variations really come from what ever combination of herbs you want to try, and how hard or soft the product is.

But one thing that would be worth trying is to use additional herbs in the decoction that alter or improve the flavour, such as Sarsaparilla, Liquorice or Dandelion root, or herbs added right at the end such as Peppermint.

Choice of Herbs for Herbal Decoctions

As mentioned above, normally you would only use tough woody-like products in a decoction, so that would be what you would choose. But you can add other softer herbs, but these can be put in later in the process, or even added once you have turned off the heat, for example, fresh flowers or leaves. These can be added sometimes just for their taste or aromas, as sometimes a decoction can be tough to drink down.

Safety

Most decoctions are generally safe, but things you may need to be aware of are allergic reactions, and how long you store it.

Also, beware of low dosage herbs, which can become quite strong in the process, meaning some herbs should only be taken in very small amounts.

Some low dosage herbs are: Lobelia, Blue flag, Arnica, Bloodroot, Celandine, Wild indigo, Poke root and Juniper berries. So always check things out before trying anything ‘new’.



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

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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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

Safety

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

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  • 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.

Safety

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

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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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.

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Safety

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

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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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

Method

  • 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

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 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.

Safety

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

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

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