Guidelines on Herb Administration (Unit 20)

By 9th April 2022 May 11th, 2022 Master Herbalist Course

Master Herbalist Diploma: Unit 20: Guidelines on Herb Administration

Learning outcome:

Understand the different ways herbs may be ingested or used

  • Variables which determine the type of herbal medication to be given, in order of importance: Herb selection, duration, preparation, dosage, herb combining

Preparations for Internal Use:

  • Decoction – extract of herbs produced by boiling the herb in water. Used for hard seeds, roots and barks.
  • Infusion – short exposure to warm water. Dried leaves, stems, flowers and other light plant parts. Heat water in a pan until just after it begins to boil, and then pour over plants, cover immediately and steep for 15-20mins. Strain and drink.
  • Water infusions/Teas – cold infusions can be prepared for roots and seeds that could be lost throuhg decoction. Finely chopped or ground herb is set to steep for at least 12 hours (overnight). Before straining, cold infusion is stirred and brought to boil. Can also do a sun tea preperation – place herbs in a jar of cold water and set in the sun for 2-8hours
  • Essential Oil Distillation – can make own steam inhalations using them. NEver use oil internally
  • Tincture – extract of herbs preserved in alcohol, can be kept indefinately. Can be made with fresh or dried ingredients, root, seed, fruit or herb. Place alcohol into a jar, and pour fine herb material into it and stir to a smooth consistancy. Label and keep in a cool, dark spot. Leave for 3-6 weeks, shake the jar briefly but thoroughly every few days. When ready, strain contents.
  • Fluid Extract or Concentrate – one part dried herb to two parts water/alcohol. These are 2-3 times stronger than tinctures, but not suitable for all botanicals. Method 1: percolation – pour alcohol over crushed/powdered herbal material about four times. Method 2: when using a tincture, heat alchohol until its completely evaporated. Method 3: Decoction – continue to summer until only a little liquid is left.
  • Medicated Ghee – Ayurvedic preparation of clarified butter with added herbs. Heat unsalted butter on low flame for 10-15mins, as it begins to boil, turn down low until a drop of water produces a crackling sound. Allow to cool somewhat, strain into a container. Prepare double-strength herbal decoction for a 1tsp dosage. Add to half the amount of ghee, pour and mix slowly and thoroughly.
  • Vinegar – weaker than spirits but cheaper, better tolerated and more in keeping with skin pH. Great for skin and hair preperations/washes.
  • Syrup – soothing and healing. thick, sweet liquid for irritated conditions of throat, lungs, stomach and intestines that need constant soothing effects. Base recipe: 500g of sugar/mollasses or honey to 500ml of hot water, and add 500ml double strength infusion/decoction. Heat, skim off skum, leave to cool. Drink immediately or store in fridge in a cork topped bottle.
  • Capsule – powered herbal material inside a gelatine capsule. No point with this one, as you can’t easily adjust dosage.
  • Mouthwash/Gargle – double-strength herbal tea.
  • Inhalation – good for respiratory issues. Essential oils or infusions used here.
  • Vaginal steam – medicated steam transfered through the vagina to the cervix. Fuck off with this one. Sounds like a surefire way to burn sensitive genitals!
  • Vaginal sponge – soaking up diluted essential oils with a sterile sponge and inserting into the vagina, and leaving it for two hours. Doesn’t sound like the best idea either.
  • Pessary (Vaginal Suppository) – as above, but making a pessary out of cocoa butter and/or glycerogelatin. Any chemicals up ones vagina seems reckless to me.
  • Douching – a vaginal wash, where vodka or milk diluted essential oils are poured into the vagina using a cardboard tampon cartridge, and left for 10-20 minutes. Hmmm no.
  • Enema – injection of medicated water by way of the rectum, and retained for 15-30 mins to achieve effects.

Preparation for External USe

  • Plaster – oil or wax based medication applied topically. Melt wax (e.g. beeswax, castor oil, soft paraffin) in the top of a double boiler. Remove hear and stir constantly until cool.. to the cool mixture, add either powdered herbs of essential oils in a 1:4 ratio.
  • Poultice – water, tincture or fresh herb-based external medication applied topically. If fresh herbs are used, crushed grated or chewed first, apply onto skin, wrap in course muslin/cheesecloth/wool. If dried herbs are used, mix with a binder such as comfrey leaf/clay/plain flour, egg white), moisten with warm water and wrapped in a course cloth, apply to the affected area. Sprinkle with water if it becomes too dry
  • Compress – simple compress uses hot or cold water only. Medicated compress involves herbal tea, essential oils or tinctures.
  • Wash – applied medicated water onto the skin with cotton wool or a soft cloth. Medicated water is prepared making a double strength infusion/decoction, or adding a few drops of essential oil to warm water (10 drops per 30ml)
  • Ointment – contains only oily ingredients, to stay on the skin for a long time to form a soothing, healing and protective layer. Good for keeping body heat in and water out.
  • Cream/Lotion – contain water, or water-based herbal extracts, as well as oils, and an emulsifying agent such as egg yolks, lanolin and beeswax (the best). A cream is a light oil preperation emulsified with a medicated liquid – penetrates faster and promotes healing, doesn’t clog the pores. A lotion is a thinner, more liquid cream, watered down with herb tea, tincture or vinegar.
  • Liniment – oil-based medication used by rubbing into the skin and muscles.
  • Hand and foot bath – immersion of ankles or wrists in hot or cold water, enhanced with herbs or essential oils.
  • Sitzbath – bath with enough water to cover up to the waist only, with 250ml of herbal preperation, or 5-10 drops of essential oil. Cold sitzbaths should only last 30secs-3 minutes. Hot sitzbaths should be for 15mins.
  • Full bath – cold, 1-2 mins max. For medicated baths… bring 1l to the boil, turn off the heat and add up to 100g crushed/chopped herbs, cover and steep for 4-5hours. Use 500ml max per bath, thus can use this for several baths. Or, add 5-10 drops of essential oil into a full bath.

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