Herbal Healing

This blog is dedicated to herbal healing and other natural health remedies. In an attempt to deepen my own knowledge, I will share information on a variety of herbs, focusing largely on easy to find Western plants, as well as methods for preparing herbal medicines and natural beauty treatments. I am not a certified herbalist, licensed cosmetologist, or physician, so please use the information on this blog at your own risk! I've been an aspiring herbalist for several years, and I hope to finally get my certification sometime this year.

Cold and Flu Tea
When you’re huddled at home nursing a cold  or flu, a warm cup of herb tea is comfort in itself. An advantage to  drinking tea is that the liquid thins congestion and flushes out toxins.  Drinking two to three cups of the following tea, nice and hot, will  make you sweat and lower a fever. If possible, tuck yourself into a warm  bed afterward!

1/2 teaspoon yarrow flowers (Achillea millefolium)
1/2 teaspoon elder flowers (Sambucus canadensis)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint leaves
1/2 teaspoon echinacea root
1/2 teaspoon schisandra berries
3 cups boiling water 
Combine the herbs in a teapot and pour the  boiling water over them. Steep for at least 20 minutes.  Strain and  drink throughout the day. You can make a double batch and keep it in the  refrigerator, just be sure to warm it before drinking.

Cold and Flu Tea

When you’re huddled at home nursing a cold or flu, a warm cup of herb tea is comfort in itself. An advantage to drinking tea is that the liquid thins congestion and flushes out toxins. Drinking two to three cups of the following tea, nice and hot, will make you sweat and lower a fever. If possible, tuck yourself into a warm bed afterward!

  • 1/2 teaspoon yarrow flowers (Achillea millefolium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon elder flowers (Sambucus canadensis)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon echinacea root
  • 1/2 teaspoon schisandra berries
  • 3 cups boiling water 

Combine the herbs in a teapot and pour the boiling water over them. Steep for at least 20 minutes.  Strain and drink throughout the day. You can make a double batch and keep it in the refrigerator, just be sure to warm it before drinking.

A few people have asked me about making infused oils, so I thought I would repost this! 

herbalhealing:

Making herbal-infused oils is SO EASY and one of the first things any herbalist concocts! They can be used on their own or as a base for salves and ointments, and by using different combinations of herbs and oils, you can make either strong medicinal oils or sweet-scented massage oils. Though any…

hey, i was just curious as to whether or not it's cool to mix herbs in an oil infusion? for example if i want a calenula an comfrey salve?

Oh absolutely!  The list of herbs for infusions I posted are just the basics, so feel free to mix and match to your heart’s desire!  For example, I have an infused oil that I use for wounds/rashes/cuts that includes calendula, comfrey and St. John’s Wort.  Often, oils and salves work better when there is synergy among different herbs.  :) 

Best herbs for oil infusions

Arnica flowers (Arnica montana) - indispensible for the external treatment for physical trauma, sprains, bruising and other injuries. Use immediately after strenuous exertion or injury to prevent, relieve and reduce swelling, bruises and pain.

Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis) - one of my favorite oils with a myriad of uses. Oil infused with Calendula flowers is wonderfully healing and is suitable for sensitive skin and for babies. It helps clear complexions, heal cuts, scrapes, insect bites, diaper rash, and inflammations.

Cayenne peppers (Capsicum annuum) – Used for pain, muscle aches, and arthritis.

Cedar Tips (various species)– For treating fungal infections and skin irritations.

Chickweed (Stellaria media) – Skin disorders, psoriasis, eczema, minor burns, rashes, and other skin irritations.

Comfrey root and leaf (Symphytum officinale) – Deeply healing, used for wounds, bruises, and skin cell proliferation.

Goldensealor Oregon Grape root (Hydrastis canadensis or Mahonia aquifolium)– Antibacterial, used for treating wounds and skin conditions.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)– Soothing for the skin, and good for cold sores.

Mullein flowers (Verbascum densiflorum) – A classic oil used to soothe, relieve pain, and fend off ear infections.

Myrrh gum (Commiphora myrrha) – Antiseptic, used for scrapes and cuts.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – Great for massaging into sore muscles.

Plantain (various species) – Soothes and helps speed the recovery process of damaged skin, blisters, insect bites, and rashes.

Poke root (Phytolacca americana) - A powerful woman’s ally traditionally used for mastitis and breast lumps.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) - a stimulating oil for hair treatments, sore muscles, or even for culinary use.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - craft this red-colored oil made from freshly gathered St. John’s Wort. The oil is anti-inflammatory and can help speed the healing of wounds, bruises, varicose veins, swellings, sunburns, bee stings, nerve damage, scrapes, diaper rash, pain, and mild burns.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) - A strong antiseptic used externally for cuts and scrapes, and it is great for sore muscles.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – Used for cuts, scraps, rashes, and for minor cases of eczema.

Skin! And.. it's cure for dryness and redness and all of that.. suggestions?

Calendula is my go-to herb for all skin-related issues! For more information on calendula, see this postElderflower and chickweed are also wonderful for soothing dry, irritated skin.  Try infusing calendula, elderflower and chickweed in a small amount of organic cold-pressed olive oil (for how to make oil infusions, go here.)  Combine the infused olive oil with jojoba oil, which acts like a second skin, providing protection and emolliency while still protecting the skin.  It is one of the best oils for dry & damaged skin, but herbs don’t infuse well in it.  Smoothing this on daily after a shower will work wonders on yr skin! 

I will be posting some information on making creams & lotions in the future, so you could definitely make a nice thick cream from the oil if you wished.  If you wanted to experiment, try adding coconut oil to emulsify the oils and add rosewater for the ultimate soothing sensation. 

Herbal infused honey

I just finished straining my first herbal-infused honey!  Of course I used my two favorite flowers, chamomile and lavender.  They add an even sweeter, floral taste to the honey that is pure decadence.  I have been putting it on everything - toast, ice cream, fruit, oatmeal, even just dipping my finger in the jar!  Not only is herbal honey a simple and delicious way to enjoy the medicinal goodness of herbs, but honey has anti-bacterial and soothing properties on its own.

You will need:

  • Dried herbs such as: lavender, chamomile, rose petals, lemon balm, peppermint, basil, ginger, sage, cinnamon, vanilla, star anise, rosemary… the options are endless!
  • Local honey (preferably raw)

Fill a clean mason jar halfway with fresh herbs or a quarter full with dried herbs. Top with honey, stir, and cap with a tight-fitting lid. Place in a cool, dark place and turn the jar over once a day.  Add more honey if the herbs swell and rise above the honey. Allow to infuse for about two weeks, then strain.  Straining can be a bit slow because the honey is so thick, but heating the honey a bit can help the process.  To get the most out of your ingredients, don’t throw away the flowers - use them to make tea!  Once you’ve strained the honey, put into a clean, labeled jar.

Herbal infusions and decoctions (a.k.a. teas)!

Making herbal tea is absolutely the simplest form of medicine!  Honestly, who among us has never made a cup of tea before?  All you need to make an herbal tea is your desired herb, boiling water and a cup or jar.  For medicinal herbal tea to be effective, it should be administered in small amounts several times a day.  You can easily make a whole quart-full and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Infusions
Infusions are made from the more delicate parts of the plant - leaves, flowers, etc.  These fragile plant parts must be steeped rather than simmered.  Simply boil 1 cup or water to 1 tbsp herb, pour, and let steep for anywhere between 10-30 minutes.  Time will vary depending on the herb, and some herbs might even need to be steeped up to a full hour.  Let your taste buds and senses guide you!

Decoctions
Decoctions are made from the more tenacious parts of the plant, such as the roots, bark and seeds.  It’s a little harder to extract the constituents from these parts, so a slow simmer or overnight infusions is often required.  To make a decoction, place the herbs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water.  Heat slowly and simmer, covered, for 20-45 minutes.

Infused oils

Making herbal-infused oils is SO EASY and one of the first things any herbalist concocts!  They can be used on their own or as a base for salves and ointments, and by using different combinations of herbs and oils, you can make either strong medicinal oils or sweet-scented massage oils.  Though any good-quality vegetable oil will do, the oil of choice for medicine is olive!  Stored in a cool, dark place, herbal oils will last for several months, if not years.  I usually use dried herbs for making oils because high water content from certain plants could cause molding.  And I cannot stress enough how important it is to LABEL everything!  I can’t tell you how many times I have made an oil and figured I’d just remember what it was, then completely forgot about it.  Make a label with the name of the plant, Latin name and date.  In this case, also put the type of oil you used.

Solar-infused oils: Place desired amount of herb in a glass jar and completely cover with oil.  (I usually fill the jar about halfway with the herb, then fill the rest with the oil.)  Make sure every bit of herb is submerged!  Place the jar in a sunny spot for 3-4 weeks, making sure to shake it a bit every day.  Strain the oil through cheesecloth or muslin.  When the oil has been poured off, put the herbs in the cheesecloth or muslin and wring thoroughly, squeezing every last drop of the precious oil from the plant!  If you’d like, add a fresh bath of herbs to the oil and let it infuse for another 2 weeks - this will give you a very potent medicinal oil!

Double boiler method: Although it doesn’t provide the magick of sunlight, this is a quick and simple method that makes beautiful oil.  Place the herbs and oil in a double boiler and bring to a low simmer.  Slowly heat for 30-60 minutes, checking frequently to be sure the oil isn’t overheating.  The lower the heat and the longer the infusion, the better the oil!  Strain and squeeze like you would with solar-infused oils.

(This is a picture of the very first herbal infused oil I made over 3 years ago!  Calendula flowers in olive oil.)

lotus