Make Your Own Herbal Medicines

Learn how to make herbal medicines such as poultices, tinctures, infused oils, salves, balms and teas.

  • Herbal Medicines
    One of the advantages of herbal medicine for gardeners is that many herbs are easy to grow. In fact, a number of medicinal plants commonly are grown as ornamentals.
    Photo courtesy Fotolia/Gorilla

  • Herbal Medicines

One of the advantages of herbal medicine for gardeners is that many herbs are easy to grow. In fact, a number of medicinal plants commonly are grown as ornamentals. And why go to the store to buy echinacea when you can grow this lovely flu-fighting herb in your own yard?

Even if you don't choose to grow herbs yourself, the basic ingredients for many herbal remedies can be purchased in health food stores and prepared in your own kitchen. When I first started working with medicinal plants, I discovered the trick was not in finding the herbs I needed but in knowing how to use them. Then I found Making Plant Medicine, a book by Richo Cech, the owner of Horizon Herbs in Williams, Ore. That book changed my life because it taught me how to make first aid, health and beauty products right at home.

Below are directions from the book for making the basic applications often used in herbal medicine — capsules, poultices, tinctures, infused oils, salves, balms and teas — along with examples of easy-to-grow herbs to use for each kind of preparation. (For more information on herbs and holistic medicine, see "Holistic Health Care".)

Encapsulating Herbs

One simple way to consume medicinal herbs is to swallow them in capsules. To prepare capsules, simply grind the dried roots, leaves or blooms of the plant and fill capsules with the resulting powder. You can grind dried plants with an old-fashioned mortar and pestle, or try using an electric blender or coffee mill. Capsules are inexpensive and available in many health food stores; one 00-sized capsule can hold about 500 milligrams of a dried herb, but weigh your own to get an exact measurement.

Echinacea, for example, is a general immune-system enhancer often taken this way. Several species have medicinal value, but E. purpurea is one of the easiest to grow. For use in capsules, harvest and dry the above-ground portions of the plant. Taken at the first sign of a cold or flu, echinacea can be effective in boosting your immunity and relieving symptoms. The recommended dose for treating a cold is 900 milligrams a day, according to the German government's Commission E guidelines, which often are used as a standard for herbal dosages.

4/9/2014 6:13:32 AM

Herbal products provide a safe way of living life and this blog clearly brings out various aspects of herbal products and some products can really help us to look young and have glowing skin like

10/27/2008 6:49:44 PM

I know this doesn't count as an herbal medicine, but I discovered a use for lemon balm this summer. I hate using store purchased insect repellents, but need something to keep mosquitoes away. For some reason they really love me. I can be outside with a group of people who are enjoying the evening and I am covered in mosquitoes. The bites for me are almost like an allergic reaction as I swell and break out in hives. Anyway, I planted some lemon balm this spring in my herb garden. When I would go outside I would pick several leaves and crush them in my hands and rub over my legs and arms. It works! After starting using the lemon balm in this manner I got very few bites and the fragrance is nice too. Much better than spraying my body with chemicals.

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