There are many different methods to formulating plants and roots, getting the most from these healing herbs, and how they can be administered for health benefits. Depending on the type of herb depends on the method used to gain the best benefits from it. For example, if you have a herb like a marshmallow root and you administered the herb using a hot water infusion, unfortunately, you would not be getting the maximum benefits from the plant. The reason for this being is that roots are very hardy, steeping them in hot water for 15 minutes is not long enough to extract all the active constituents so a decoction would be the best method.
Selecting which method needs research and practice, otherwise, you could be missing all those therapeutic benefits. Some of the most common methods to administer herbs are:
- Herbal Teas
- Herbal capsules or pills
- Herbal Gycerites
- Herbal Syrup or honey
- Herbal Vinegar
- External preparations
So, let’s briefly look at each method and how it is used in the world of herbal medicine.
Tinctures This method sees the herbs being macerated in alcohol to extract the active constituents, which provides a very good shelf life due to the alcohol content. These are best used to treat long term and acute conditions such as an infection. This method is not always preferred due to the alcohol content and you may use another method purely for that reason. Each plant will have its own alcohol concentration ratios and this must be followed accurately to ensure the tincture is safe to use.
Herbal Teas This includes either infusion or decoction and can either be used hot or cooled. Water is a good solvent for most active constituents and it’s a great method for administering bitter herbs to stimulate the digestive tract, although the experience itself may not be pleasant tasting. Bitter herbs are able to treat the body as a whole, so sometimes it worth the tingle of those bitter taste buds. Herbal teas are also extremely beneficial for treating many skin conditions.
Capsules or Pills Sometimes the taste of the desired herb could just be too unbearable, so this would be when capsules and pills can be beneficial. This method allows for precise dosing of a herb and is a perfect choice for people who wish to avoid products containing alcohol.
Glycerites This preparation involves steeping the herbs in food-grade glycerine, which produces slightly thick and sweet remedies. Glycerine is not as good as extracting beneficial qualities as water and alcohol but it does extract sugars, tannins, bitters, and glucosides. Due to the sweet taste, it’s perfect for children or people struggling with other preparations.
Herbal Vinegar Vinegar makes a great solvent for extracting fruit-based active constituents. Another good solution for alcohol-free products, a formula can be made of warming spices and herbs to help with colds and flu. The vinegar can be swallowed with a small amount of water or even further diluted if the taste is still too powerful.
External Preparations Not all methods need to be taken internally. External preparations are also very useful in treating musculoskeletal conditions, skin issues, and respiratory problems. This is done in the form of oils, balms, and ointments and can also involve various treatments including massages.
So as you can see many factors will determine which is the best method of preparation to use your herbs for therapeutic purposes and to gain the best benefits. Herbs are used by thousands and thousands of people across the world daily but that doesn’t always mean they are using them to the best of their ability.
Cautions Before taking any herbs in the form of a herbal preparation make sure that the herbs will not interact with any allergies or medication you are currently taking. Always consult your GP if you are unsure about any medical interactions. Mixing or taking the wrong dose of a herb can also have a negative and harmful effect on your health, so herbs should always be shown the respect they deserve before taking them.