How To Use Bulk Herbs
Using cut and sifted herbs
A tea is made from soaking herbs in water with the intent to drink it. This is one way to use bulk herbs in the cut and sifted form. You can use a single herb or a combination of herbs. There are a few things to take into account when making tea. Leaves and flowers are treated differently than roots and bark. A hot infusion is the standard way of making tea. It is a quick way to use any herb or herb combination by pouring water over them and letting them steep for 10-20 minutes. Continuously boiling an herb, unless it’s a root or bark, will destroy much of the flavor and healing qualities. Aromatic herbs have volatile oils (i.e. Peppermint, Lavender, and Chamomile) and are best put to use by making a cold infusion so as to retain their medicinal properties. If heat is used, herbs should be covered while they steep. Otherwise those flavors and healing properties will quickly evaporate. Herbs where the roots and bark are best used by soaking them for a few hours and then simmering them for 10-20 minutes after the water boils to extract all of the medicinal properties out of them.
Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that often have alcohol as the solvent. Making tinctures can be a complicated subject. The simplest way to make a basic tincture is to combine your herbs (either powdered or cut and sifted) and place it in a large jar that can be closed tightly. add enough 80 proof alcohol (vodka) to cover the herbs. Close the jar and mix well. Add a bit more alcohol if needed. The level of liquid should be ½ inch above herbs. Label the jar. Keep the jar closed tightly. Shake the jar frequently for 14 days. Press the liquid from the herbs using a muslin cloth. Save and bottle the liquid. Always remember to label and date your tinctures.
Fomentations are a preparation that allows herbs to be absorbed through the skin. It is prepared by first making a strong tea from. A clean cloth is then dipped into the warm tea and applied to the skin. When it cools, the cloth must be wrung out and dipped again to keep it warm. The fomentation should be applied for several hours at a time. Redness of the skin is normal and indicates increased circulation, so do not discontinue unless skin feels painful.
Using powdered herbs
Encapsulating is a main reason to buy powdered bulk herbs. One pound of powder makes about 1000 to 1200 capsules in the 00 size. There are many encapsulators on the market. We sell The Capsule Machine because we feel like it is the easiest and most efficient way to start encapsulating your own herbs. Directions on how to encapsulate the herbs depend on the machine you buy. Instructions are usually included with the encapsulating machines.
A bolus is a suppository. A bolus can be made by combining powdered herbs with melted or soft cocoa butter or coconut oil. Use a low heat, don’t allow it to burn or bubble when melting it. Mix the herbs a little at a time into the melted cocoa butter or coconut oil until they are firm and refrigerate for two hours. I have found that a 2:1 ratio is best. Use 8oz of cocoa butter or coconut oil to 4 ounces of powdered herbs. If the mixture is too thin, add more powder. If it is too thick, add some more oil. Allow the mixture to cool enough that it can be handled without causing a burn. Roll out into a long narrow strips and cut one-inch-long pieces. Wrap each bolus individually (in wax paper) and put in the refrigerator to harden. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature before use. Boluses are inserted into the rectum for treating ailments such as hemorrhoids and into the vagina for treating vaginal infections and irritations. Use boluses at night. It will melt with body heat, so take care to protect clothing and bedding. Many herbalists believe that the bolus should be washed away the following morning by douching the herbs out. From my experience I don’t think that it is necessary. They will come out naturally. You will need a sanitary napkin or something to catch the herbs as they drain.
A poultice is similar to a fomentation, except that plant parts are used rather than liquid extraction. They are used to for circulation, appease aches and pains or draw impurities out through the skin, or to assist in breathing depending on the herb chosen. Mix herbal powder with a small amount of boiling water. Apply the pulp directly to the skin, as hot as can be tolerated, holding it in place with a gauze bandage. If the paste is likely to irritate the skin, apply it between two layers of cloth. Poultices need to remain in place for long hours. They are generally more active than fomentations. Once it cools change the poultice. Apply as hot as tolerable. Please make sure you don’t burn yourself.