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3 Ways to prepare medicinal trees and plants
Hidden in our gardens, roadsides, meadows, riverbanks and woodlands are hundreds of trees and wildflowers that have been used and continue to be used for their medicinal properties. So I thought it might be nice to talk about some of the ways in which we prepare these medicinal trees and plants.
Some of these herbs, such as willow and St. John’s wort are well known. But there are many others, such as dandelion, self-heal, daisy and stinging nettle, which we pass everyday but never even notice or think about.
The three most common herbal preparations
In every culture and tradition around the world, there are many different herbs and many different ways in which to prepare them. And sometimes, the qualities of the plant used and even the part of the plant that is used dictate how that herbs should be prepared.
However, the same methods are often used, over and again with regional or personal variations. Among these, the three most most common ways to prepare medicinal herbs in the Western herbalist tradition, are:
- Dried herbs, such as tablets and powders
- Wet herbs, such as tinctures and teas
- Externally used oil or wax-bound herbs such as salves and ointments
Dried herbal preparations
Wet herbal preparations
Wet-type herbal preparations are among the forms mostly commonly used in the Western herbal tradition and can be made with water, alcohol, oil, honey or vinegar. If you see a herbalist, you will often be prescribed one of these forms as they are easy to dose and take.
These wet preparations can be made with either fresh herbs or with previously dried herbs. However, depending upon the preparation and the parts of the plant used, they can sometimes be left to gently infuse and distill their medicinal qualities into the fluid, or they may need pre-treatment by soaking or boiling.
Some examples of wet herbal preparations include:
- Infused oils
Preparations for external use
Which method should you use?
When using herbs on the skin, lotions and creams are considered to be more cooling than salves and ointments, so one of the other may be preferred for example, warming a strained muscle or cooling a sunburn.