Saturday, January 21, 2006

Today, I want to talk a little about different ways to use herbal remedies. (I'll go into more detail once I begin talking about individual herbs...and that is coming.)

Herbs are available in several different forms, from the whole, fresh herb, through varieties of dried herbs, in capsules, pills, tinctures, concentrates and oils,to name a few of the available options. You can also purchase herbs packaged as individual herbs, meaning you could buy a product made up of a single, individual herb, such as Echinacea or Dandelion; or you can purchase herbs already combined in specific formulae, either from a traditional herbal recipe which has been around for centuries, or recently combined, based on current research or experience.

With all these available options, it can be difficult to make a decision about what, if any, herbal remedy may be beneficial to you. And if you find a remedy that you feel is good for you, how do you decide what the best form to take it might be?

Some of the possible ways to use herbs are:

Water based extractions, such as infusions, which most people refer to as teas, such as Chamomile tea or Peppermint tea or decoctions, which involves long simmering of the herb or herbs and is usually reserved for the harder parts of plants such as roots, barks, twigs, and hard seeds. Dosages vary depending on the herb and the desired result.

Alcohol based extractions (sometimes vinegar is used instead of alcohol) these are called tinctures, and are available at most health food stores. (There are also some glycerin based tinctures for those who choose not to use alcoholic tinctures) It is fairly easy to make your own tinctures, a subject I will discuss at a later time.

Syrups, which generally involve reducing a decoction until it loses half or more of its volume and blending it with honey or sugar.

Tinctures can be blended with base creams to produce herbal creams.

Oils can be infused with herbs and used as herbal oils or blended with beeswax to produce ointments or salves.

Herbs can be dried and powdered and either placed in capsules or blended with honey or a flower paste to produce pills.

You can purchase herbs in most of these varieties, or you can produce them yourself, starting either with fresh or dried herbs. Tomorrow, I will begin talking about using herbs as "Simples", which is a good way to begin if you are new to using herbs.

The material presented in this blog is for informational use only and should in no way be used as a substitute for needed medical treatment. I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose or treat disease. If you need medical care, please consult the appropriate medical professional. And please discuss with your doctor if you are taking or planning to take any herbal preparations.

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