How to Release Herbs for Home Remedies
The world contains hundreds of thousands of growing plants. While some are poisonous to eat or irritating to the touch (poison ivy, for instance), a surprising number of herbaceous plants, or other plant substances commonly called herbs, contain volatile oils, antibiotics, and aromatic or other healing chemicals. Some cultures, such as the Chinese, have thousands of plants in their materia medica. Other tribes, communities, or families know hundreds of such healing plants. But if we combine all groups, there are several thousand "good" plants that have been discovered over eons of time, through trial and error.
While occasionally a whole plant with stem, twig, flower, leaf, and bud is used for special preventive or remedial effect, usually only one part of a plant is used at a time. The whole plant or its various parts such as berries, root, bark, resin, rhizome, stems, twigs, seeds, leaves, or flowers can be considered a locked box of chemicals. If you want to use the chemicals within a plant, you must provide a specific key to unlock the box. This is true of both fresh and dried plant material. Incidentally, dried material is usually two to three times as strong as the fresh.
Releasing the Chemicals
The chemicals in plants may be released in a wide variety of ways. The method you use will depend on whether you are using fresh or dried material and whether you intend to use the material immediately or not. Other factors are the part of the body you wish to work on, whether the material is to be used externally or internally, as well as the remedial effect you wish to produce.
Plants react to stimuli. Some plants are soluble in water. Most leaves and flowers, some berries, and most pulverized or powdered materials are soluble in hot or standing cold water,
Most plant material will dissolve and can be extracted in a distilled alcohol medium. This is why I suggest the use of certain long lasting wines and high proof spirits. While rectified alcohol preserves the strained "extraction," you can also add a few drops of vegetable or animal glycerine, or drops of tincture of benzoin to further preserve any preparation.
Use glass, ceramic, stainless steel, or smoothly glazed cast iron. Do not use Teflon or aluminum. Metals are sometimes corroded by the plant ingredients, so glass, glazed ceramic, or earthenware products are best choices. Do not use iron pots when astringent vegetables are being prepared for herbal remedies, but clean cast iron I is preferred over any copper or brass pots, which must never be used in preparing herbs.
Herbs can be powdered or bruised and added to such solvents as boiling or cold water, milk, vinegar, rectified alcohol (gin, vodka, or brandy will do), wine, fat, or oil. Herbs can be roasted (for example, dandelion roots or chick peas) or used bruised or wet in the form of external poultices. Many herbs can be added to a variety of water baths foot, arm, full
body, and so on to detoxify the body, relieve pain, release tension, relieve itching (oatmeal), soften the skin, or bring blood to the surface of the skin (mustard powder paste).
Herbs can be absorbed into fats or oils to produce softening, healing creams, ointments, or massage aids. They can be added to alcohol, vinegar, or water for body rubs; to water or sherry for delicious mouthwashes; or combined in dry form for tooth and mouth aids. Herbs can be added to various materials to produce excellent healing douches, colonic irrigations, insect repellents, healing syrups, lozenges, pills, deodorants, suppositories, and other specific health aids.