Herbal Preparations

Notes: Always keep a record of the work you do. If using herbs for healing, remember you are not a doctor, use them only for adjuncts not replacements for medical treatment. The traditional Herbal Craftsperson will meditate as the work is done and after it is completed, in this way learning is continued

The Water in the following preparations is brought to boiling then poured over the herb, the herbs are not boiled in the water, for that would cause a breakdown of the vitamins and minerals in the herbs that are so vital to the healing process.

Making an Infusion

This process draws the properties you want out of the herb for healing. An infusion is basically a strong tea. The normal mixture is one pint of water to ½ ounce of herb. It takes experience to learn how long each herb needs to steep, some take longer than others, the average length of time is ½ hour but with practice you'll learn which take longer and which take less time.

This is the easiest method.

Making a Decoction

This is much the same as an infusion (tea) except you are working with a much more solid herb such as thick pieces of root or bark which can't be ground up or the remedy calls for a much stronger dose.

This is the one case where you should boil the herb. In fact that's the whole process. Make sure that no steam escapes or the vital oils will go away with it. Also (of course) never use any metal when doing any herbal remedies.

If you will have more than one ingredient in the decoction begin by boiling the toughest then work down. Start with cold water and after boiling for what you consider long enough allow it to steep usually for at least thirty minutes.

Making a Poultice

This is used when you need to apply the herbs externally such as for a burn or for acne. Yes it's messy but often essential for healing

Pour boiling water over the herbs using just enough to dampen them or evenly cover the plant matter, you're not trying to extract anything from the herb only to moisten it. When it is all evenly wet remove it with a strainer and place between two pieces of gauze (cheesecloth also works well if folded several times). You then apply the gauze with the herbs inside to the affected part and allow the moisture with the herb essence to pass within the person.

Making an Ointment

This method involves mixing the herb(s) with a fixative such as petroleum jelly or vegetable fat. This is done by heating the fixative until it is quite warm and adding the ground herbs to it. Once mixed up the mixture can be heated more than once and allowed to cool, Once you are satisfied that all the goody has been removed from the herb the whole mixture should be strained and put into a storage container then allowed to cool. This is the same procedure used to make salves.

Making a Wash

Same as an infusion (tea) except you use it externally.


These are used when long term storage is required. It requires alcohol of at least a 75% grade which can be safely ingested. Place the following in a jar which can be tightly sealed:

  • 1-4 ounces of the herb
  • 8 ounces of alcohol (drinkable!)
  • 4 ounces of water

Seal the jar and keep it safely out of the light for two weeks. Each day at least once, check it and make sure that you loosed the mass of herb inside the jar by swirling it about. Continue this process until at the end of the two weeks the alcohol has extracted all the constituents without need of heat. This process is best begun on the new moon and completed on the full moon.

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