Recipes for Common Herbal Preparations

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There is nothing more satisfying than being in charge of your own health and being able to prepare effective herbal remedies! 


The infusion is the simplest way to prepare more delicate herbs such as leaves and flowers.

The medicinal value of many herbs is in their , which will disperse into the air if a lid is not used. Use a teapot or place a lid or or saucer over a cup if making a small quantity. Use water that has just boiled.

Standard Quantity:

CUP - 1tsp (2-3g) dried or 2tsp (4-6g) fresh herbs to a cup of freshly boiled water (this makes 1 dose).

POT - 20g of dried herbs or 30g of fresh herbs to 2 cups (500ml) of water.

Cup Infusion:

1. Place  the herb in the strainer of the teacup. Fill with freshly boiled water.

2. Cover the cup with a lid or a saucer and infuse for 5-10 to 20 minutes, depending on the cut of the herb.

Pot infusion:

1.Warm the pot, then add the herb.

2.Pour in freshly boiled water. Replace the lid and infuse for 10 minutes. Strain into a cup .




Roots, bark, twigs and berries require more forceful brewing than leaves and flowers. In order to extract the medicinal constituents these herbal parts require to be simmered in boiling water.

Standard Quantity: 

20g dried or 40g fresh herbs to 3 cups (750ml) of cold water, reduced to about 2 cups (500ml) after simmering. This typically makes 3-4 doses. in a covered container and refrigerate.

Storage - in a covered container in a refrigerator or cool place for up to 48 hours.

1. Place the herbs in a saucepan, add the cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by a third.

2. Strain through a sieve. Pour the amount you need for immediate use in a cup. Put the rest of the liquid in a covered container and refrigerate.




Tinctures are made by soaking a herb into alcohol. This encourages the active plant constituents to dissolve, giving tinctures a stronger action than infusions or decoction. They also last for up to 2 year without the need of refrigeration.

 Standard Quantity: 

200g of dried or 300g of fresh herbs, chopped into small pieces to 1 liter alcohol - vodka of 35-40% alcohol is most suitable. Rum is also acceptable because it hides the taste of bitter and unpalatable herbs.

Storage - in a dark, glass bottle in a cool, dark place for up to 2 years.

1.Place the herb into large, clean glass jar and pour on the alcohol, ensuring that the herb is covered.. Close and label the jar. 

2. Shake well for 1-2 min and store in a cool, dark place for 10-14 days, shaking the jar every 1-2 days.

 3. strain the liquid through a muslin cloth. Press the muslin cloth extracting all the available liquid. Wine press can be used for this step.

4. Pour the tincture into dark, glass bottles. Close tightly, label and store in a dark, cool place.


Tonic Wines

Tonic wines are an acceptable way to take strengthening and tonic herbs to increase vitality and digestion. They are easy to prepare and are especially suitable for sleeping tonic herbs and bitter herbs. 

Standard Quantity: 

100g dried or 200g fresh tonic herbs or 25g dried, bitter herbs and 1 liter of red or red wine.

Storage - use a ceramic vat with a tap at its base, or a sterilized glass jar. Store for 3-4 months, ensuring wine covers the herbs. if the herbs become moldy, discard the remedy.

1. Place the herbs in a large clean jar or vat. Put enough wine to cover the herbs. Close the jar securely, shake carefully, and leave to stand.

2. Allow the wine to mature for 2-6 weeks, then it would be ready for use. Regularly top the mixture with wine.



Preserving with honey and unrefined sugar is effective and convenient and can be combined with infusions or decoctions to make syrups and cordials. the have the additional benefit of being soothing and make excellent vehicles for cough and sore throat mixtures.

 Standard Quantity: 

2 cups (500ml) infusionor decoction. 500g honey or unrefined sugar.

Storage - in a dark, glass bottle with cork top in a cool place for up to 6 months.

1. Pour the infusion or decoction into a pan. Add the honey or sugar.

2. Gently heat, stirring constantly until the honey or sugar are dissolved and the mixture has a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and cool.

3. Pour the cooled syrup into sterilized bottles and store in a cool, dark place. Make sure that the bottle are sealed with cork stoppers, because syrups are prone to fermenting  and may explore if kept in a screw-topped bottles.

Infused Oils

Infusing a herb in oil allows its active, fat-soluble ingredients to be extracted. Oil can be hot or heated naturally by the sun. Both types of infusions are used as massage oils or added to creams and ointments. 


Infused oils should not be confused with essential oil, which is an active constituent, naturally present in a part of a plant and has specific medicinal properties. Essential oils can be added to infused oils to increase effectiveness.


 Standard Quantity: 

250g dried or 500g fresh herb to 3 cups (750ml) olive, sunflower or other good quality, vegetable oil.

Storage - in sterilized, air tight, dark, glass bottle for up to 1 year. best if used within 6 months.

Hot infusion:

1. Stir the chopped herbs and oil together in a glass bowl over a saucepan with boiling water. Cover and simmer gently for 2-3 hours.

2.Remove from heat and cool, then strain through muslin and press (wine press is suitable). 

3. Pour the infused oil into dark, glass bottles, label and store.

Cold infusion:

1. Put the herb into e clear glass jar. Pour in oil until it completely covers the herb. Close the jar and shake well.

2.Place the jar in a sunny spot and leave for 2-6 weeks. 

3. Strain through muslin and press (wine press is suitable).

3. Pour the infused oil into dark, glass bottles, label and store.



Ointments contain oils or fats heated with herbs and, unlike creams, contain no water. As a result the ointment forms a separate layer on the surface of the skin. Ointments protect against injury and inflammation of damaged skin and carry active medicinal ingredients.


Different bases can be chosen for the preparation of an ointment - such as clean, cosmetics grade beeswax.

 Standard Quantity: 

60g dried or 150g fresh herb to 500g of base, such as softened beeswax.

Storage - store in a dark, glass jar with lid for up to 3 months.

1. Melt the base (wax) in a glass bowl set in a pan of boiling water, or use a double boiler. Add the finely cut herb and simmer for 15 min, stirring constantly.

2. Pour the herb mixture into jelly bag and allow the liquid to drain into a glass container.

3. Wearing rubber gloves, squeeze a much of the hot herb mixture as you can into the same glass container.

4. Quickly pour the molten ointment into jars, before it sets. Secure the lid, label and store.



Poultice is a mixture of fresh dried or powdered herbs which is applied to an affected area. it is used to ease muscle pains, sprains and broken bones, and to draw out pus from infected wounds, boils and ulcers.

Standard Quantity: 

Sufficient herbs to cover the affected area.

1. Simmer the herb for 2 minutes. Squeeze out all excess liquid.

1. Rub some oil on the affected area to prevent sticking and apply the herb while hot.

3. Bandage the herb securely in place. leave for up to 3 hours or as required.


Creams consist of combination of oils or fat and water in an emulsion. Unlike ointments creams blend with the skin and have cooling and soothing properties, while allowing the skin to breathe naturally. 


 Standard Quantity: 

30g dried or 75g fresh herb, 150g emulsifying wax, 70g glycerine and 1/3 cup (80ml) water.

Storage -  in an airtight, dark, glass jar with lid in a refrigerator for up to 3 months.

1. Add the emulsifying wax in a glass bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Add glycerine, water and herb, while stirring. Simmer for 3 hours.

2. Strain the mixture. Str slowly, but continuously while the mixture is cooling and begins to set.

3/ With a spoon or spatula place the set cream into dark jars. Label and store as soon as possible.


Steam Inhalation


Steam inhalation is an effective way to clear congestion and relieve the sinuses

Pour 1 liter of freshly boiled water in a large bowl, add 5-10drops of essential oil and stir well.

Alternatively make an infusion of 25g of herb to 1 liter of water. brew for 15 min and pour into a bowl.

Cover the head and bowl with a towel , close your eyes and inhale the steam for about 10 min or until the preparation cools.

After a steam inhalation it is advisable to stay in a war

m room for 15 min to allow the airways to adjust and the congestion to clear.


Gargles and Mouthwashes

Gargles and mouthwashes usually contain astringent herbs, which tighten the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. They are made from infusions, decoctions or diluted tinctures. 

Make an infusion, but allow it to stand for 15-20 min in order to increase its astringency. Strain, then gargle  or rinse the mouth with a cupful.

Alternatively, use a decoction or dilute about 1 tsp (5ml) of tincture in 1/4 cup (100ml) of hot water and rinse the same way.


Herbal Bath and Skin Wash

Herbal baths and washes can relieve aching limbs and stuffy sinuses. they are made from diluted essential oils or infusions. Eyebaths soothe sore, inflamed or irritated eyes.



Herbal bath - Add 2 cups (500ml) of strained infusion or 5-10 drops of essential oil to a running bath.

Skin wash  - make an infusion. strain it, and bathe the affected area. 

Eyewash - Make a small quantity of an infusion or use a tea bag. Strain the liquid into a sterilized eyebath. Alternatively - add2-3 drops of tincture to an eyebath filled with water that has just cooled.

Encyclopedia of herbal medicines - A. Chevallier, FNIMH
Essential guide to herbs - L. Bremness

1 comment

  • Darlene Valderrama

    I really enjoy your milk Thistle. And your web site.

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