Herbal medicine has been around for centuries and it helped mankind survive through harsh time. Although the modern folks are encouraged to buy top-brand medicine, this ancient healing knowledge is still widely practiced in many communities around the world. In fact, medicinal herbs will still be here, long after the collapse of modern society. We should all learn how to take advantage of these healing herbs.
In many parts of the world, medicinal herbs are widely used because people cannot afford the wonder drugs available on the market. The knowledge of using healing herbs is passed on from one generation to another. Even your grandparents used to rely on medicinal herbs when medical aid was not available. History showed us how the pioneers managed to survive by using all sorts of wild herbs as medicine substitute.
Preppers and off-gridders should learn everything about medicinal herbs because someday, this could be all that is left. You never know when you will be cut off from modern medical care and you should at least have an idea of what your options are. I’m a big supporter of foraging and I encourage people to learn about this ancient survival skill and to build an herbal library.
Before you start going into the woods picking up medicinal herbs, you should first learn the most common methods to prepare the medicinal herbs you gather. Although most people use herbs and plant matter in an infusion, also known as tea, that’s not the only way to use healing herbs.
There is a big difference between tea and infusion. The tea is almost always used for drinking while an infusion can be used in some other application. When we talk about medicinal herb preparation, there is a simple method, which requires a single-herb preparation and there is a more complex method, which requires the combination of two or more medicinal herbs.
Methods to prepare medicinal herbs
This is a process in which the leaves and/or flowers of medicinal herbs are stepped for a period of time in the water at a particular temperature. As the water cools, the herbal matter steeps. This gentle method of herbal preparation allows the water to extract the benefits and energies even from the most fragile herbal matter. However, an infusion is also known to create the weakest extraction.
This preparation process requires denser herbal matter to be boiled in water for a specific period of time. In general, this method is mostly used for roots, twigs and bark. A decoction creates a slightly stronger extract.
This method of medicinal herbs preparation requires the soaking of herbs or herbal matter in oil or fat. The soaking can be done either heated or at room temperature. When doing it at room temperature, the result is an essential oil and a pomade if the result is a solid. The strength of the oil will vary in strength depending on how long you saturate the medicinal herbs and how frequently you change the depleted herbal matter for fresh.
Related reading: Top 10 Medicinal Herbs For Your Garden
Without professional equipment, you may not be able to make perfume-grade essential oil with a strong scent at home. However, the scent may not be important and it all depends on what you use the essential oils for. As a reminder, essential oils are used externally and you should not use them internally unless you acquired them from a reputable company.
This process requires the herbal matter to be steeped in a solvent such as vinegar, alcohol or glycerin. The result of this medicinal herbs preparation is called a tincture. These tinctures are commonly used for medicinal purposes, by adding a few drops to a glass of water or spoonful of honey and consuming it.
The tinctures can also be used externally and they will last for many more years than dried herbs. Dried herbs can lose its flavor and properties after one to three years, especially if not packed properly. However, the tincture can preserve the herbal extract for ten years or more.
Other methods used for medicinal herbs preparations
Besides the above medicinal herbs preparations, there are a variety of ways to apply herbal properties. While the above methods result in liquids of varying viscosity, you can combine medicinal herbs with another base to offer a more flexible application. When mixing the liquids with another base, you have the following options:
These are created by melting beeswax and adding a liquid extract (oil most commonly)to it, then allowing it to cool. You should know that infusions and decoctions are almost useless in preparing a salve because they aren’t strong enough to carry the required properties or extract.
As applications, salves are usually rubbed into the baddy or an object. Drawing Salve, which is the most popular one, has been traditionally used to treat minor skin problems such as sebaceous cysts, boils, ingrown toenails and splinters. The main ingredients are often ichthammol, phenyl alcohol, or arnica montana, and may contain herbs such as echinacea or calendula.
These are liquids that are most commonly alcohol based. This product is a medicated topical preparation for application to the skin. Sometimes called balms or heat rubs, liniments are of a similar or lesser viscosity than lotions and are rubbed in to create friction, unlike lotions, ointments or creams. They have been around since antiquity.
They were also used on horses during the civil war, following intense exercise. In fact, Earl Sloan was a US entrepreneur who made his initial fortune selling his father’s horse liniment formula beginning in the period following the Civil War. Sloan’s liniment, with capsicum as a key ingredient, was also marketed for human use. He later sold his company to the predecessor of Warner-Lambert, which was purchased in 2000 by Pfizer.
If you take the liquid extracts of medicinal herbs, you can combine them with a base of fats designed. This will help you raise dirt from a surface, enabling it to be washed away. Soap and soap plants have been used since antiquity and the Native Americans are the ones who taught the first pioneers about soap plants and their uses.
If you want to learn how to create soap from fat and ash, you can read this article. It’s a simple method that can be used in conjunction with the medicinal herbs extract you produce.
A last word
When you harvest medicinal herbs, always make sure that you know what part of the plant to harvest, whether you use leaves, stems, flowers, or the root. Never collect an entire plant. Never pull it up by the roots and take the whole thing home. Take only what you need, and make sure that it’s less than a quarter of what’s available. In harvesting, less is more. If you’re not using the plant matter fresh, then it must be dried before you store it. When you package the plant matter for storage, be sure to write the herb, the date, and where it was harvested on the bag.