[Joyful Living Services' Blog] How to Use Herbs

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Brenda R. Generali, CNC

Dec 18, 2006, 12:51:19 AM12/18/06
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How to Use Herbs

The following information has been taken from our “Certified Herbal Counselor” course.
The many ways in which herbs can be used include:
  1. Compresses. A compress is a cloth soaked in a warm or cool herbal solution and applied directly on the injured area.
  2. Decoctions. A tea is made from the bark, root, seed, or berry of a plant. Decoctions should not be boiled; they should only be simmered for approximately twenty to thirty minutes, unless the product label states otherwise.
  3. Essential Oils. Essential oils are derived from herbs or other plants through steam distillation or cold pressing. They are usually mixed with a vegetable oil or water, and used either as a mouth, ear, or eyewash, or as an inhalant, douche, or tea. These oils can also be used externally in massage or on burns and abrasions. Essential oils readily combine with the natural fats present in the skin. With a few exceptions, such as the use of camphor, eucalyptus, or tea tree oil for certain skin conditions, essential oils should always be diluted in either water or oil before being applied to the body, and they should not be taken internally except under the direction of a physician trained in their use.
  4. Extracts. Extracts are made by pressing herbs with a heavy hydraulic press and soaking them in alcohol or water. Excess alcohol or water is allowed to evaporate, yielding a concentrated extract. Extracts are the most effective form of herbs, especially for people with severe illnesses or malabsorption problems. Alcohol-free extracts, if available, are usually best. Herbal extracts should generally be diluted in a small amount of water before being ingested. The following are some herbal extracts that are very beneficial in healing. They can be found in health food stores. Add these extracts to juices, and take them while fasting for greatest benefits:

    Burdock Ginkgo biloba Red clover
    Cat’s claw Goldenseal Parsley
    Celery Hawthorn Pau d’arco
    Echinacea Horsetail Pumpkin
    Fig Licorice Red beet
    Garlic Milk thistle Suma
    Ginger Nettle Valerian root
  1. Herbal Vinegar’s. Herbs are put into raw apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or malt vinegar and left to stand for two or more weeks.
  2. Infusions. Leaves, flowers, or other delicate parts of the plant are steeped, not boiled, for five to ten minutes in hot water, so that the benefits of the herbs are not destroyed. (See Herbal Teas and Their Effects, below.)
  3. Ointments. An extract, tea, pressed juice, or powdered form of an herb is added to a salve that is applied to the affected area.
  4. Poultices. A poultice is a hot, soft, moist mass of herbs, flour, mustard, or other substance spread on muslin or other loosely woven cloth and applied for up to twenty-four hours on a sore or inflamed area of the body to relieve pain and inflammation. Ground or granulated herbs are best. The cloth should be changed when it cools.
  5. Powder. The useful part of the herb is ground into a powder, which may then be made into capsules or tablets.
  6. Syrup. Herbs are added to a form of sugar and then boiled.
  7. Salves. Salves, creams, oils, and lotions are generally used on bruises, sores, and inflammations, and for poultices.
  8. Tinctures. Tinctures are a well-preserved form of previously fresh herbs. Most tinctures contain varying amounts of alcohol; however, there are now some on the market that contain less alcohol, and some that are alcohol-free.

If there are several herbs recommended for a certain disorder, it is best to alternate among the different herbs, so that you obtain the benefits of each. This may also help you to determine which herb agrees best with your body’s chemistry and particular needs. Also, do not preserve herbs in clear glass jars; use colored glass or ceramic jars instead. The potency of herbs can be destroyed by exposure to light.

Posted By Brenda R. Generali, CNC to Joyful Living Services' Blog at 12/17/2006 09:46:00 PM
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