With so many herbal preparations to choose between, from teas and tinctures to capsules and oils, the terminology can be confusing. Today we’re going to unravel some of the mysterious language of herbology.

Herbal InfusionMost Common Preparations

A few of the most popular ways to consume herbal remedies are:

  • Tinctures – herbal solutions that have been extracted from fresh herbs using glycerin or alcohol. It takes several weeks for the liquid to absorb the nutrients and beneficial constituents from the herbs, after which the plant materials are strained out to leave behind the liquid tincture.
  • Teas – Also known as tisanes, herbal teas provide us with the constituents of herbs that can be extracted by water. There are two ways to make teas. Infusions are beverages prepared by steeping one or more dried herbs in hot or cold water. Decoctions are prepared from harder herbal materials, such as cut up roots or stems. The herbs are often first soaked in water for several hours or overnight. Then water and herbs together are brought to a boil and finally gently simmered to make the tea.
  • Capsules or tablets – herbs that have been dried, powdered, and then pressed into tablets or capsules for fast, convenient ingestion.

Other Herbal Applications

  • Poultice – a topical application of fresh, moist, warm, crushed herbs, either wrapped in a cloth  or placed directly onto the skin and tied in place with a cloth. Poultices are often kept warm to better draw out impurities.
  • Compress – a topical application of a cloth that has been dipped in a warm herbal tea and applied directly to the skin.
  • Essential Oils – volatile oils that have been extracted from plant leaves, flowers, stems, or roots by means of a slow distillation process. These aromatic oils are highly concentrated and often used in soaps, lotions, and other topical products.
  • Salves and Ointments – topical mixtures created by first decocting or infusing herbs in oil, then straining out solid plant materials, and finally mixing in beeswax and sometimes essential oils or other botanical oils. The resulting ointments are applied directly to the skin for soothing and healing effects.
  • Cordials and Herbal Wines – alcoholic beverages that have been infused with herbs so they can be enjoyed for their sweet flavor along with their herbal benefits.
  • More: There are also baths, pills, granules, suppositories, lozenges, candies, powders, syrups, and whole herbs simply eaten as food. The list is as long as the human imagination!

Which Preparation is Best?

Although there is no “best” way to consume your herbs, sometimes certain preparations apply more suitably in specific situations. For example, one would drink an herbal tea to savor its flavor while enjoying a mild onset of restorative benefits. When a quicker, more potent result is needed, a tincture might do the trick – such as a fennel tincture for an upset stomach. Here are a few examples of herbal remedies and how you could use them:

  • Herbal teas and chai – Herbal teas with adaptogens are wonderful energy enhancers and provide a variety of health benefits depending on which herbs they contain.
  • Peppermint tincture – This popular remedy for coughs and colds can also help to relieve tension headaches and upset stomachs.
  • Fennel tincture – Fennel is a quick and effective treatment for upset stomach, heartburn, and colic in infants.
  • Birch bark tea – Birch bark is legendary among Native Americans for its natural pain relieving properties. Drinking birch bark tea may help treat headaches and chronic rheumatism.
  • Oregano essential oil – Good for pain relief and as an antiseptic. It is anti-microbial.
  • Goldenseal tincture – A tincture for colds and flus, goldenseal soothes inflammation and mucous buildup in the eyes, throat, and skin.
  • Herb Capsules – Powdered herbs in capsules, to make them easy to swallow.
  • Lozenges for sore throats
  • Herbal sprays  for sore throats or simple refreshment

You can find a wide variety of teas, tinctures, and herbal supplements in the Living Clean Store, or learn more about herbal remedies:

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