3 Ways To Prepare Medicinal Trees and Plants

3 ways to prepare medicinal trees and plants

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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
Let’s learn a little more about them…

Dried herbal preparations

Drying is one of the simplest and oldest methods of preserving medicinal – and edible trees and plants and can be achieved with no equipment needed except a gentle breeze and a dose of nice warm sun.
However, where we live (usually cold and wet), the process is often helped along by hanging the plants up to dry indoors or by using a dehydrator or an oven set to a low-grade temperature.
Some examples of dried herbal preparations, are:
  • Capsules
  • Pastilles
  • Tablets
  • Powders

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:

  • Teas
  • Decoctions
  • Syrups
  • Cordials
  • Tinctures
  • Vinegars
  • Infused oils

Preparations for external use

While the different formats of wet herb – and indeed fresh herbs, can be used externally, there are also a selection of methods for preparing herbs especially to be used outside of the body.
Much like with wet herbs, these herbs can also be mixed with water, vinegar, honey and oil. But they can also be mixed together to form emulsions. Some examples of external herbal preparations made in this way, include:


  • Creams
  • Salves
  • Ointments
  • Lotions
  • Compresses
  •  Plasters
  • Liniments
  • Suppositories

Which method should you use?

So, with all of these different methods of preparation available, which ones should you use? Well, the answer depends upon personal choice as well as the reason why herbs are being used, the qualities of the herbs, the parts of the plant used and the qualities of the particular preparation to be used.
For instance, when using herbs with children, it is easier to administer a syrup or cordial than a spoonful of tincture. Or, people who cannot use alcohol, may prefer to use teas or vinegars. And in some parts of the world, suppositories are seen as more effective and are preferred to taking oral medication.

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.
Ultimately, the choice of preparation is between you and your herbal provider.

Would you love to learn more about herbalism?

There are many ways to turn your interest in plants into reality and create your own herbal preparations.
Books are a great way to start learning more about our most common medicinal plants and how you can use them to manage some of our most common physical or emotional ailments. Another great way is to find a course or herbalist to guide and mentor you.
If you are looking for online courses with experienced, friendly mentors, The Herbal Academy is a fantastic place to check out. In fact, they have some fabulous courses at all levels from beginner to intermediate to advanced and even onto setting up your very own herbal practice!
Curious? You can check out some lessons from their Introductory Herbal Course below – and don’t forget to subscribe if you enjoyed this post and would love to recieve updates about future posts and tutorials x
Begin your Herbal Journey in the Introductory Herbal Course

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