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Like what you see? Visit http://www.herbalrootszine.com/ for more information on full issues and freebie issues!
I’ve been a busy gal of late getting my medicines for winter ready. For those of you who do not make your own or have no idea what I am talking about I have my tinctures started. What is a tincture? A tincture is an alcoholic extract (e.g. of leaves or other plant material) or solution of a non-volatile substance (e.g. of iodine, mercurochrome). To qualify as a tincture, the alcoholic extract is to have an ethanol percentage of at least 40-60% (80-120 proof) (sometimes a 90% (180 proof) pure liquid is even achieved). In herbal medicine, alcoholic tinctures are often made with various concentrations of ethanol, 25% being the most common.(wikipedia.com).
Tinctures take roughly 6 weeks to make using the folk method of 1/2 jar of dried herb fill the rest with vodka. So what do I have brewing you may ask… and why more importantly:
Valarian: One of the most useful relaxing nervines, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia. Valerian root tincture is an effective remedy for insomnia, reducing tension and nervousness, and for menstrual cramps.
An ancient, effective, and well recognized medicinal herb, Valerian has been used in medicine since at least the time of ancient Greece. Valerian has also been used for gastrointestinal spasms and distress, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.(http://www.localharvest.org/valerian-tincture-valeriana-officinalis-C3268)
Yarrow: Yarrow tincture in an indispensable part of our herbal medicine cabinet. It has been used traditionally as a wound healer, and antimicrobrial and anti-inflammatory herb. (http://www.localharvest.org/yarrow-tincture-C15288)
Calendula: The most notable use of calendula, however, is for its use externally on wounds, burns and abrasions – and especially for rejuvenating skin and helping the body to prevent and/or overcome abnormal skin growths. Scientific studies have shown that ointments made with calendula extract are particularly effective for healing wounds, including leg ulcers and other wounds that heal with difficulty. A recent study has shown efficacy for helping to heal surgical wounds after caesarian section. Another recent study showed that a naturopathic preparation containing calendula extract was effective in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media.
The flowers contain high concentrations of colorful orange xanthophylls, carotenoids and other flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants and the flavonoid extract has been shown scientifically to be effective against inflammation, fever and to stimulate bile flow for aiding digestion and cleansing the liver. The aqueous extract has also been shown to have an uterotonic effect. Studies done of the flowers of Egyptian Calendula officinalis L. conducted at the Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Japan, found hypoglycemic and stomach protective properties for calendula flowers. The principal saponins inhibited an increase in serum glucose levels in glucose-loaded rats and prevented gastric lesions in rats. (http://www.localharvest.org/calendula-tincture-calendula-officinalis-C2682)
St. John’s Wort: We are all aware of SJW effective use in treating anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue and insomnia. But it can do so much more!
It is a commonly used pain killer, and is useful as a topical treatment in treating wounds, bruises, herpes sores, varicous veins and burns, including sunburn. Also effective in easing pain of arthritus, sciatica, nerve pain, menstral cramps, hemorroids, and gout. In addition, has been known to help regulate menstrual cycle. (http://www.localharvest.org/st-johns-wort-alcohol-tincture-2-oz-C17543)
Chamomile: The beautiful fragrant Chamomile plant is a great sleep aid and mild sedative for children. It helps calm and cool a person down, and may help with occasional sleep issues. Use this tincture to ease a stomach ache due to over eating or flatulence. (http://www.localharvest.org/zzzs-please-sleep-aid-chamomile-tincture-C9903)
Beyond my tinctures I am also making homemade vanilla extract. Who knew it was so easy! I am currently extracting using vodka but may try other alcohols in the future. I think I am going to try more extracts in the future too! I took 3 whole vanilla beans and split them mostly in half keeping one end together. Add 1 cup of alcohol (i used vodka but I have heard others using rum or brandy). Put in a dark place and shake everyday for about 8 weeks. Strain you and now you have homemade chemical free pure vanilla extract. Total it cost me about $7.00 to make about 8 oz of extract which equals to about 87 cents an oz!
This morning I was browsing herbmentor.com reading though the forum when a quick and easy recipe for Rose Hip “Jam”. I thought to myself well I do love rose hips and I do love jam so what can go wrong with this? Absolutely nothing, it’s amazing, yummy and a new favorite in our house! So what’s the recipe?
Dried Rose hips
Fruit Juice (I used what was left from my Archer Farms blueberry pomagranite smoothie).
Place your rose hips in a sealable jar such as a canning jar. Cover them with your juice and place in the refrigerator. I checked in after a half an hour, stirred it and added a bit more juice. After an hour I couldn’t wait anymore to try it out. It’s amazing and good for you too!
Here’s a link regarding rosehips click to download this little booklet by Rosalee de la Foret Rose Hips Booklet it has some great info on it’s benefits and some great recipes as well!
I have a cold. I hate it when you can taste the sickness in the back of your throat. It started off as a sore throat. I managed that with either hot water, lemon, and honey or at times ginger tea. Both work great. Now I wake up today and it’s settled in my chest. Great. Now I have a hoarse voice and a cough. Now it’s time for the cough medicine. What’s the favorite in our house? Honey, lemon, ginger and garlic. I got the recipe from Learning Herbs and it’s one of our favorites here. So why each ingredient?
Honey: Antibacterial, antiviral, humicant. The humicant properties in honey help hold moisture in which can help suppress a cough. The antibacterial and antiviral properties help treat what is causing the cough. Honey does so much more but let’s keep the focus on just coughs. Many studies have been done finding that a tsp of honey at bedtime helps supress coughs and help people sleep when sick. They have also found that it is as effective if not more than over the counter medication. (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/honey/AN01799)
Lemon: Just 1/4 of a cup of the juice is almost half of our daily recommended amount for vitamin C! Vitamin C is a great antioxidant which helps boost our cells rejuvenating abilities to fight free radicals. Free radicals can hurt and damage cell membranes leading to inflammation in the body.
Ginger: possesses strong antibacterial activity against several food bourse pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella, it is the choice herb for treating colds and flus, it reduces and eliminates diarrhea, relieves pain, stimulates immune activity, reduces inflammation, has clinical uses for burns, and has been found effective in the treatment of cataracts, heart disease, migraines, stroke, bursitis, fatigue, coughs, fever, kidney stones, sciatica, tendonitis, viral infections, indigestion, and dizziness
Garlic: Known for it’s medicinal action and uses as an diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, antibacterial, antifungal, alterative, antispasmodic, cholagogue, vulnerary, and vermifuge. The expectorant helps clear the lungs of mucus and stimulate what I call purposful coughing. The antifungal and antibacterial properties help get rid of any bacteria. Antispasmatic properties help call the cough when it is not needed. Remember you are coughing for a reason but you want it to be purposeful and not just coughing for coughing sake.
So how do you make this remedy? Watch the video and get healing.
Oh the dandelion. We were taught when we were very young that this beautifully bright and sunny flower was a weed and should be destroyed. Little did we know how beneficial this little weed really is. Let’s just look at the dandelion’s stats:
The name of the genus, Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy), on account of the curative action of the plant. A possible alternative derivation of Taraxacum is suggested in The Treasury of Botany: ‘The generic name is possibly derived from the Greek taraxo (“I have excited” or “caused”) and achos (pain), in allusion to the medicinal effects of the plant.’
Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Native Americans also used dandelion decoctions (liquid made by boiling down the herb in water) to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach upset. Chinese medicinal practitioners traditionally used dandelion to treat digestive disorders, appendicitis, and breast problems (such as inflammation or lack of milk flow). In Europe, herbalists incorporated it into remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.
Who knew that this little weed was so amazing!?! What do I do with them? Well I make an infused oil with the flowers. The infused oil is good for tight muscles, sinuses, and headaches. I let them sit in extra virgin olive oil for about 6 weeks. I then strain out the flower material and store the oil in a cool dark place. I am planning on using this oil to make a salve that will also be accompanied with comfrey, lavender, and chamomile oils to make a healing salve. These other oils have healing properties, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties. I am planning on also using tea tree essential oil and myrrh since these have healing properties as well. I promise to post all about it when I am done with it.
Last night I made some throat lozenges. I found this recipe from Learning Herbs and decided to try it out. Lozenges are easy to make and I like how I can control what is in them. Here are the ingredients:
Slippery Elm Powder
Rose Hips (I added this it’s not in the original recipe)
So let’s start with Why these ingredients?
Slippery Elm Powder: (Demulcent, emollient, expectorant, diuretic, nutritive) Slippery elm poultices are a mainstay of herbal medicine for treating itchy, inflamed, or irritated skin as well as cuts, scrapes, scratches, and minor burns. The mucilage in slipper elm bark also relieves inflammation and irritation in the throat and urinary tract when the herb is taken as a tea or infusion. Slippery elm also helps neutralize excess stomach acid. Scientists believe that the mucilages activate a reflex that causes the stomach to secrete more of its own protective mucus. Slippery elm is used in natural medicine to treat chronic diarrhea, esophagitis, gastritis, peptic and duodenal ulcers, and ulcerative colitis. (mountainroseherbs.com)
Honey: Honey contains several anti-oxidants, which makes it important to humans. In addition, it has an anti-infective component and has been used to heal coughs, intestinal ailments and skin wounds (naturalnews.com).
Licorice Root: (Glycyrrhizin, complex immune-stimulant sugars) The most common use of licorice world-wide is to treat coughs and colds. Licorice is especially useful for treating coughs with sticky phlegm, or for treating colds that accompany stomach upset. There is a German E Commission Monograph for licorice that lists it use as helpful for catarrh of the upper respiratory, and for gastric ulcers. Chinese medicine also uses licorice to treat various forms of chronic fatigue. Gastric and duodenal ulcers and canker sores. (mountainroseherbs.com)
Rose Hips: (Vitamins A, C, D, E, flavonoids, lycopene, iron) Rose hips have a long history of use in traditional medicine. The iron in rose hips make them an excellent supplement for menstruating women, and rose hip tea is a rich source of vitamin C, carrying all the benefits of that vitamin. In addition, the various flavonoids in rose hips have potent antioxidant action, helping to protect the body from the effects of stress, aging and the environment. (mountainroseherbs.com)
How do you make the lozenges? First make a tea with 1 tsp licorice root and 1 tsp rose hips by simmering them in 1/2 cup of water for about 10 min. (liquid will reduce to about 1/4 cup). Measure out roughly 1/2 cup of Slippery Elm Powder and place in bowl with a well made in the center. Put 2 tbsp of honey in a measuring cup and add the warm strained tea. Let sit for about a minute then add to the Slippery Elm Powder. Mix with spoon or hands until a dough is formed. Dust your surface with some more powder and roll out to about 1/4″ thickness. Use a circle cutter (or a cap from a bottle) to cut out your lozenges. Continue to roll out and cut until you have used up all your dough. Allow to dry for 24-48 hours then store in a container. You want them to be completely dry before storage.
These will last a very long time and this recipe made quite a bit so I feel it was worth the effort. I was able to find all the ingredients at my local health food store but you can also order them at Mountain Rose Herbs if you cannot find them in your area.
Wikipedia defines a tincture as: A tincture is an alcoholic extract (e.g. of leaves or other plant material) or solution of a non-volatile substance (e.g. of iodine, mercurochrome). So what does that mean? In my own words its drunk herbs. I am kidding but not really. A tincture often uses alcohol (80-100 proof), though sometime vinegar is used, to extract the benefits from the plant material. In that lovely little jar above you can see a tincture hard at work. It is in its first week of being a tincture and has 5 long more weeks to go.
I used Echinacea for this tincture. Here’s a bit of information about this plant:
Latin Names: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida
Common Names: Purple Coneflower, American Coneflower, Black Sampson, Comb Flower, Hedgehog, Indian Head, Rudbeckia, Sampson Head, Scurvy Root, Snakeroot
Properties: Antiseptic, Stimulates Immune System, mild anti-biotic, bacteriostatic, anti-viral, anti-fungal.
What are the benefits of this herb? “Echinacea stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. Unlike antibiotics, which directly attack bacteria, echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells. It increases the number and activity of immune system cells including anti-tumor cells, promotes T-cell activation, stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing and reduces inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions.” Wow right? I plan on using it when I need a boost in my immune system. Living in the Midwest, winter can be an immune system nightmare as well as working with children and my husband and I do both!
So how do I make a tincture? I went to my local health food store and got some dried and sifted Echinacea (not the powder) and filled a quart jar about 1/2 full. Then I filled to the beginning of the rings with cheap 80 proof vodka. Don’t get the good stuff go cheap and nasty on this one. Stir well and top off with more vodka then cover. I used wax paper since that is what I had on hand. For the first week every time you walk by it shake it and add more vodka if needed. After that first week put away for 5 more. Then strain (you will get about 1/2 a jar of liquid), make sure you squeeze the herbs to get everything out. Then it’s ready to use. Tinctures last for a very long time. Dosage rates depend on the herb and since I am not here to diagnose, treat or cure anything I can’t give you specifics. Generally though it’s a dropper full (~40 drops) in a glass of water three times a day. I have read in various places that it is good to take a break from your tincture every few weeks and then begin your regiment again.
My next tincture I am going to make is St. John’s Wort (very good for winter/cloudy times).
Happy Tincture making!