Anyone who has done some reading on herbal medicine will have noticed that the treatments are prepared in a variety of ways.  For example, teas are most often than not prepared as an infusion, barks and stems as a decoction,for  bruises and aches generally a compress is used, wounds generally take a poultice etc.  But what does all that entail?

Below are the most common preparatory methods:


Compress: Uses the liquid rather than the actual plant material. Useful for treating headaches, painful joints and skin rashes. Soak small clean towel in a hot infusion of the desired herbs. Wring cloth out and place against affected area. Replace with fresh , warm compress when the original cools off if necessary.

Decoction: Used for barks, woody roots and stems. Place measured amount of herb in a non-metal sauce pan. Start with Cold water, pour measure amount of waster over the mixture. Bring to boil and simmer gently for around 20-40 minutes. The liquid should be reduced to about 1/3 of its previous amount. Strain mixture and store in the refrigerator.

Infusion: In a small non metallic teapot or cup, place the measurement of herbs into a strainer or tie in cheese cloth bag. Pour measure amount of freshly boiled water over the herbs and cover. Let stand for about 10 minutes.

Cold Infusion: Herbal material is soaked in water from 2-12 hours and used when desired potency is reached.

 Poultice: Boil herb in fresh water, just enough to cover the herbal material and squeeze out any remaining liquid. Before applying to the skin, smooth a little oil on the area to prevent the herb from sticking. Secure the poultice in place using gauze strips. Generally replace packet every 2-4 hours.

 Tincture: Pour herbs into a large jar and cover with a good brand of clear alcohol and water mixture. (about 25% alcohol to 75% water). Store in cool place for about two weeks and shake the contents occasionally. After time is up, press the mixture through a cheese cloth or muslin bag to strain. Pour the liquid into a dark, sterilized jar or bottle.

Note: A tincture can last up two two years when properly stored. Upon treatment, if there arises a situation in which the alcohol content is inappropriate, a small amount of almost boiling water (about 25-50ml) can be added to the dosage (then allowed to cool) to evaporate most of the alcohol content.

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