Some First Steps to Make in Herbal Medicine
Use only the best of substances. Buy only from reliable
Have all cooking, storage, and labeling materials laid out in advance. This will prevent many last minute crises. It is terribly disappointing to prepare an excellent but perishable syrup, and only then discover you don't have sterilized jars or paraffin sealer.
Decide in advance the preparation you intend to make, and make only one preparation at a time during a day or evening. Often an enthusiastic newcomer will attempt simultaneous preparation of ointments, syrups, and the like. By doing only one preparation at a time, you will remember precise procedures, and you won't feel anxious about timing and overlapping of various steps.
If you collect your own garden plants or plants from the wild, gather together only the quantities you will be able to either dry or safely make ready as specific preparations. At times we have excitedly, almost greedily, collected large amounts of hawthorn haws or juniper berries, only to discover that we didn't have enough pots to make syrups or ointments or that we didn't have enough time to make the preparations after a long day in the wild.
So quantity depends on your facilities for cooking, your energy, your time, and proper storage materials.
Collect, wash, and sterilize jars of all sizes and shapes. Almost all of them will be useful at one time or another. ,
Ointments You will need small jars with fairly wide openings for ointments. They will keep better. If you intend to keep the ointments for a long time, you will also need some sealing wax. Use either paraffin or beeswax.
You can often purchase small half and one ounce ointment jars from a friendly neighborhood pharmacist. They are a perfect size for gifts.
Tincture, Liniment, Gargles, Washes, Tonic Wines All these preparations can be placed in any size jar. I find it most convenient to purchase small, inexpensive "flask" sizes of vodka, gin, brandy, or sherry. These are available in most urban centers but may have to be special ordered by your liquor dealer. Since distilled spirits are the most effective liquid for long time "storage" and since you may want to prepare only small batches of any one herb, the flask size is almost perfect. For instance, I just purchased several one hundredproof Smirnoff vodkas in the 200 milliliter, 6.8 fluid ounce size for slightly over two dollars. Lower proof brandies are slightly
less expensive. Sometimes, it is convenient to also use the oneounce bottles that are sold on airline flights. However, the lids are not always sturdy enough.
The directions for tonic wines, medicated wines, gargles, mouthwashes, washes, liniments, and tinctures will be found in this section.