Holistic health focuses on using the natural healing power of herbs for illnesses and maintaining well-being of both the mind and body. You can incorporate the benefits of natural health into your everyday life by making your own herbal remedies. Preparing some herbal concoctions requires a certain degree of time and skill, but there are plenty of simple herbal remedies you can make yourself, including herbal teas, syrups, and creams. Whether you have your own herb garden or purchase herbs from the supermarket, research which ones are most effective for what ailments. Once you have selected your herbs, you're on your way to making your own remedies following the simple recipes below.
Herbal infusions are essentially herbal teas, also known as tisanes. You can make herbal tea yourself by infusing the aerial parts of herb, including the flowers, stems, and leaves in water. Such teas include lavender, ginger, lemongrass, and more. You can make the concoction in cup-sized doses or larger teapot doses.
Step 1 – Prepare Herbs and Water
If using dried herbs, use 1-2 teaspoons of herbs per each 8 ounces of water. When using fresh herbs, use 3 teaspoons of the fresh plant parts per each pint of water, or approximately 16 oz.
Step 2 – Steep
Steep the herbs for 10 minutes in water that has just been boiled.
Step 3 – Strain
Strain the infusion. Then, you're ready to consume it. If using for medicinal value, the infusion should be consumed in 8-ounce doses, three times a day.
Step 4 – Store
For storage, cover the mixture, store in a cool place, and use within 24 hours.
A maceration, generally, is an infusion that is made by soaking the herbs in cold instead of boiling water. Some herbs are most effectively infused in cold water, including valerian root, which is good for sleep, and marshmallow root. Be sure to research your herbs before you begin the process.
Step 1 – Steep
Use the same proportions of herbs to water as for an infusion, and then steep the herbs in the cold water. Then, leave the mixture overnight in a cool place.
Step 2 – Strain
Strain the mixture in the morning and consume the same way you would an infusion.
A decoction is also similar to an infusion, and necessary when using tougher plant material like herbal roots, barks, seeds, berries, and stems. These parts need to have their active components extracted through a more intense process.
Step 1 – Chop Plant Material
Chop up the plant material thinly. Use 1-2 teaspoons of the dried or fresh herbs for approximately 1 1/2 pints, or about 24 ounces, of water.
Step 1 – Boil Deoction
Place the herbs in a saucepan with the water and boil the decoction. Simmer the mixture until the volume of the liquid has been reduced by about 1/3. This will take about 15 minutes.
Step 3 – Strain
Finally, you should strain the mixture.
The decoction should be used in three wine-glass-sized doses throughout the day. It should be stored in a pitcher in a cool place. You can reheat the decoction and flavor it with a little honey if you desire.
A tincture is a liquid herbal preparation in which the active ingredient of an herb is extracted with alcohol. Tinctures can be prepared in large volumes and stored for a long time, available on hand to be used in quick preparations of infusions, creams, and other herbal recipes.
Step 1 – Choose the Alcohol
Vodka is a good choice of alcohol to use because it is more tasteless than most other alcohol. A standard herbal tincture should have 1 fluid ounce of pure alcohol for every 3 ounces of water — essentially 25 percent alcohol.
Step 2 – Choose, Cut, and Prepare Herbs
You can prepare a tincture using either dried or fresh herbs, but be sure to cut the herbs into small pieces first.
If using dried herbs, put 8 ounces of the dried herb into a large glass jar, and pour in 1 1/2 pints of the liquid mixture.
If using fresh herbs, you will need three times as much of the herbs. Use 1 1/2 pounds of the herb for every 1 1/2 pints of the liquid mixture. Put the herbs and mixture in a large, glass jar.
Step 3 – Store and Shake
Store the jar in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks. Make sure to shake the mixture every day.
Step 4 – Filter
Then, filter the mixture through a wine press, cheesecloth bag, coffee filter, or fine cloth, capturing the tincture liquid below in another container.
Step 5 – Store in Glass
Store the tincture in clean, dark glass containers, out of the sun. If stored properly, the tincture will be preserved for two or more years.
You can make an herbal infusion, decoction, or tincture into a syrup by using sugar or honey as a preservative. Herbal syrups are soothing for coughs, sore throats, and other common respiratory ailments.
Step 1 – Make an Infusion, Decoction, or Tincture
First make an infusion, decoction, or tincture according to the above directions, and strain.
Step 2 – Add Sweetener
For each pint, or approximately 16 ounces, of liquid add one pound of unrefined sugar or honey.
Stir the mixture together in a saucepan and boil until the sugar or honey has dissolved completely. At this point, the mixture should be a syrup.
Step 3 – Let Syrup Cool and Store
Let the syrup cool. Then, Store it in dark, glass bottles capped with a cork or other non-sealing lid. It is important that the syrup is not kept in a tightly sealed container because as the syrup begins to ferment, it could cause the bottle to explode. Store in the refrigerator.
Like herbal tea, a glass of tonic wine is a delicious way to intake herbal remedies. Using root remedies of tonic herbs like ginger, licorice, or Dang Gui can be a refreshing remedy for ailments. Choose a tonic herb to suit your needs and then begin preparation.
Step 1 – Choose Your Herbs
First, fill a large glass pot, jar, or vat with your chosen tonic herb.
Step 2 – Add Red Wine
Next, pour in a quality red wine, covering the herbs. Leave the mixture to sit for at least 2 weeks.
Step 3 – Filter the Liquid
Filtering out the liquid, drink the mixture in a sherry-sized glass, about 2-3 fluid ounces, dose per day. As you pour out the liquid, keep adding more red wine to cover the herbs so they don't get moldy.
This mixture will last you for several months, as the wine continues to extract the active components of the herbal roots, before the herbs will need to be replaced.
You can make multi-purpose herbal oils that can be used for cooking or massaging into sore body parts. Herbal oils can be prepared through either cold or hot infusion. You can select any kind of vegetable oil to extract the active constituents from the herbs, the best being olive, canola, sesame, and almond oils.
For cold infusion, first obtain a large jar with a tightly sealing lid and fill it compactly with herb flowers or leaves. Then pour in the oil, covering the herbs, and screw on the lid. Place the jar on a sunny windowsill for about a month. Remember to shake the mixture daily.
After a month, strain the mixture, capturing the oil in another container. Finally, transfer the oil into a dark bottle and store in a cool, dark place.
For hot infusions with dried herbs, use 1 cup of herbs per 2 cups of oil. For fresh herbs, use 2 cups of herbs per 2 cups of oil. Then, prepare a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Place the herbs and oil in the glass bowl, and heat the mixture slowly over low heat for about 3 hours.
To finish, strain it into a bowl. Let the oil cool, then transfer into dark, glass bottles sealed with a cap. Store in a cool, dark place.
You can make herbal skin cream with a simple recipe, combining herbs of your choice with an emulsifying cream.
Step 1 – Melt Cream
Melt about 2 tablespoons of emulsifying cream in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water.
Step 2 – Add Dried Herbs and Heat
Add 1 large tablespoon of dried herbs to the mixture. Stir slowly until you see the cream taking on the color of the herbs.
Step 3 – Strain
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain. Squeeze out the remaining liquid from the clump.
Step 4 –Let Cool
Finally, allow the cream to cool in a glass bowl. Spoon the cream into small, dark bottles, and store in a cool, dark place. Cream will be preserved for use for up to one year.
Salves and Ointments
Choose herbs with healing, soothing properties to prepare your own salves and ointments to apply to sore skin and wounds. Simply combine an infused oil with chosen herbs and beeswax.
Step 1 – Heat Infused Oil
First, pour 3-4 fluid ounces of infused oil into a glass bowl, and place it over a pot of boiling water.
Step 2 – Add Beeswax
Add a small, square piece of beeswax to the infused oil, stirring constantly until the wax has completely melted. The beeswax will thicken the mixture, giving it just the right consistency.
Step 3 – Pour into Jars
Pour the warm liquid into small, dark ointment jars. Store in a cool, dark place.