Medicine Making + Medicine Taking:: 5 Ways to Take Your Herb
One thing that I love most about herbalism is how dynamic it is. As we all know, when it comes to almost anything in life, one size does not fit all. That's why we have methods. If I had it my way, I would have people drinking herbal tea all day every day, but it's just not realistic. We are busy humans with things to do and places to be. So when you are sick or struggling with your health, what are your options? Here are my top 5 favorite ways to heal with herbs::
Tea:: My number 1 sidekick. There are so many different kinds of teas and reasons why we drink them. I love herbal teas mainly because you can steep them up to 10 hours and all you will be doing is making stronger medicine. There is no downfall to a long steep. Except maybe if you have a super floral herb like lavender or chamomile and have an issue with taste. I have seen teas heal so many people with completely different issues, just by committing to 4-6 cups a day. Tea is important because steeping the herb in hot water allows for all of the healing plant constituents to be absorbed directly into the water and directly into your body. No alcohols or glycerins, just pure herb. If you have the time and energy to commit to a tea as your source of healing I highly recommend it. Standard dosage is 1-2 TBSP per cup.
Tincture:: Tincture is second on my list, running close to teas as my main go-to's for healing. I've used tincture to get rid of infections and skin related issues (dermatitis) and the results have confirmed my already firm beliefs around herbal medicine. A tincture is any plant, dry or fresh, that has been sitting (macerating) in either a grain alcohol or glyceride for an extended period of time (4-6 weeks), then strained into a dropper bottle for consumption. The plant properties and compounds are absorbed into the alcohol over that period of time. It's a really amazing thing that we can get the healing plant life properties from this method. But it's one of the most popular ways to take herbs. Dosage depends on the situation and plant being consumed. Typically between 30-60 drops 2-4x daily.
Syrup:: They say it's great for kids, but hey, adults like tasty medicine too! Elderberry syrup, blackberry syrup, echinacea syrup, respiratory, cough, etc. Syrups don't last as long as tincture and typically need refrigeration, but are simple and easy to consume because they are cooked down in sugar or honey. It's a given that honey makes everything taste better, and with it's antibacterial properties, it makes your syrups an even stronger medicine to fight off coughs, colds, and flus.
Suppository:: Don't be scared... it's not that bad. In fact, it's one of the most effective methods of treatment. Inserted rectally or vaginally, suppositories are one of the quickest ways to get herb constituents into your bloodstream. The base of a suppository is crucial. Typically cocoa butter is used because it is solid in room temperature but melts in warm temperature and is a non-irritant to the body. It's also a great way to deliver essential oils into your body safely. I once took a suppository to help me sleep, made with cocoa butter, slipper elm powder, mandarin essential oil, and blue chamomile essential oil... I passed out in 10 minutes. It was one incredible sleep.
Electuary:: I do have to say, this is at the bottom of my top 5 because although electuaries are extremely effective and if made right, taste pretty good for kids and adults, it's just really herbal. They are plain, simple and quick; a medicinal compound mixed with a sweetener. Although usually sweetened with honey, they are really strong in taste because it is straight, raw, plant powder, rolled in honey and made into a small ball resembling a lozenge. Even though they can be hard to eat, there are times when this is a great way to consume medicine. I have plans to make an electuary with a medicinal syrup and a jam to make it tastier.
I hope this is a helpful breakdown of herbal medicine. I know that when I first started studying herbalism I didn't understand the terminology and what it really meant, and these are just five ways of taking medicine, the list is much longer. I highly recommend seeking out a local apothecary, or if you can't find one, to order from Apothecary Tinctura in Denver, CO or even Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon; and the next time you are in a health foods store, see if you recognize any of these things!