Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years. There is evidence to suggest that during caveman times, we were already using herbs to treat all manner of ailments.
In our modern times, we can still find herbal remedies, and we can easily make them at home because it is much easier for us to find the raw materials to do so.
What are herbal remedies?
Herbal remedies in the simplest way that I can explain it are oils, liquids, or solids that are infused with the herbal properties of various plants.
Each plant has specific properties which make it ideal to treat different ailments.
Getting to know which plant is safe and learning to identify different species from one another will take time, so be patient with yourself.
Often the best thing to do, is start off with 5 or 6 good all-round healing plants that are easy to identify and can be used for a wide variety of ailments. (We’ll get to that later or in another post).
What are the different types of herbal remedies?
Below you’ll find the most common remedies traditionally used in homes. They are really easy to make and once you learn the basics, you will easily be able to make your own medicine at home.
A tea is simply herbs that are left to steep in hot water for a certain amount of time. Taking a herbal tea happens to be one of the simplest ways to give someone medicine.
A tincture simply means taking a herb and placing it into a, alcohol. Typically, the higher percentage alcohol, the easier it will be for the essential oils in plant material to be released. An alcohol proof of 40% or higher is best.
A compress is made by first making a tea. Let the tea cool down so that it can be applied warm, but not burn the skin of your patient.
Put the tea in a bowl, then using a clean, absorbent cloth, soak up the tea, wring out any excess, and use the cloth to gently apply pressure on the patient’s affected area, tying in place if necessary.
An extraction is the process of immersing your plant material in an oil, or alcohol. Let it stay in the liquid for an adequate period of time, then remove the plant material and strain off the clean liquid.
Another method could be to boil plant material in a liquid and reduce the volume right down, then filter out any solids before storage.
A balm is simply the creation of a herb infused oil, which is then added to 2 parts wax, melted, mixed well and allowed to cool in a small container. The balm can be applied when necessary.
A bolus is a suppository and is made by combining different herbs with cocoa butter. The herbs and cocoa butter are mixed, cooled, cut to the right size and applied at night.
A decoction simply means that you take hardier parts of the plant like the roots or tough stems and boil them to release the natural flavours, oils and tannins.
Some herbs are extremely bitter and if you have to give this to a child or someone who has a sweet tooth, this is a great way to do it. You simply take the herb, mix it with a teaspoon of peanut butter and then add some honey, sugar or stevia to sweeten it.
Because of the sweetness, do not give more than 8 doses a day
A herbal oil is simple enough to make. Find the herbs you want, try find a fresh variety, then in a clean jar, place your herbs and gently bruise them. Top the jar with a very mild, non-flavoured oil and leave in the sun for up to 1 month, or until the colour of the oil changes.
Every second day, gently shake the bottle, then place back in the sun. The gentle shaking will help to release any oils in the herbs.
Be sure to submerse the herb under the oil, leaving any exposed may invite mold to grow, if this happens, you may need to start over.
Remove the solids and filter the oil before storing in airtight sterilized bottles.
An infusion simply means that you use small quantities of a herb, to gently flavour a liquid or oil.
A liniment is a rubbing oil that is diluted with a little alcohol. You will use a herbal oil, mixed with high proof alcohol. The alcohol helps the oil to spread over the skin and be soaked into the pores of the skin because of the dilution.
A mellita is a combination of sugar or honey boiled with the desired herb, in order to give it to someone who does not like the taste of the medicine you want to give them. Make in advance, store in clean, sterilized bottles and refrigerate for a few months.
A poultice is simply the external application of moist herbs to a scratch, cut, bite, abrasion, bruise or other type of sore. You can apply the herbs directly to the area, or make a combination, put in some muslin cloth, wet and applied, or herbs can be crushed into a paste and applied.
As the name suggests, herbs are crushed fine enough to make a powder, which can be added to a gum, oil or dry fed into capsules, which can be taken as necessary.
A salve is a firm beeswax and herbal oil combination that should only be used externally. The oil is infused with various herbs.
It is easy to infuse soaps with herbs, in order to treat skin conditions while bathing. We all know that regular industrially made soap is harsh on our skin. Home-made soap on the other hand can be infused with cocoa butter, healing herbs and other ingredient to lather and treat the skin.
Essential oils are made by extracting the most fragrant and most beneficial oils from flowers, leaves, bark and roots of plants in order to be used in a variety of ways. Typically the oils are extracted then distilled into alcohol or carrier oils, in a concentrated form.
You will often need to dilute a few drops of essential oil into a carrier oil in order to safely apply them as a medicine. There are many essential oils and various application method which we’ll cover in upcoming posts.
I hope you’ve got a better idea of what the different types of herbal remedies are now. Read our upcoming posts as we start informing you how to make each of these at home.
You’ll find a few recipes for each one. Then, once we’re done telling you how to make them, we’ll start telling you what symptoms certain herbs are good for.
Once we’ve finished telling you what each herb is good for, we’re going to write about different ailments and the best herb combinations you can use to relieve symptoms.
Let us know what you think, if you have others to add, please let us know. We love hearing what our readers have to say.