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Preparing Herbs  

Making your own herbal preparations is not only fun, but can be a cost-effective way to incorporate the healing power of herbs for both your mind and body.  Some of these herbal concoctions do require a certain degree of time and skill, but there are lots of simple remedies you can make yourself, including teas, syrups, and creams.  You may need to do a bit of research to know which are herbs are most effective for your ailments, but soon you'll be on your way to making your own herbal preparations with the following recipes:  [scroll down to see each description.)


CREAM (simple);    DECOCTION;   






PREGNANCY NOTE (all herbs and their essential oils should be avoided unless under the supervision of a medical professional): the list is not all inclusive, but some specific herbs to avoid are: aloe vera powder, regular use of anise, black cohosh, blue cohosh, burdock, catnip, regular use of chamomile, cinnamon in large doses, cloves in large doses, comfrey, ginseng, goldenseal, jasmine, juniper berries, licorice, lobelia, mandrake, mugwort, large doses of nutmeg, pennyroyal, regular use of peppermint, large doses of sage, tansy, large doses of turmeric, wormwood, yarrow.


Cream (simple)
Creams are an emulsion of oil and a water soluble liquid, allowing the final product to be readily absorbed by the skin. The easiest way to make creams is to buy an emulsifying cream from the natural products store or the drugstore, and heat the desired herb plant material in it.

You'll need:

  • 2 Tablespoons of emulsifying cream
  • 1 tablespoon of dried herbs
  • a fine mesh strainer

Suggested herbs: Lavender, Chamomile, Oat Straw, Hibiscus, Green Tea, Rooibos Red Tea, and Slippery Elm.

Melt the emulsifying cream in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water.
Add one large tablespoon of dried herbs to the mixture. Stir slowly until you see the cream taking on the color of the herbs.
Remove the mixture from heat and strain. Squeeze out the remaining liquid from the clump.
Allow the cream to cool in a glass bowl.
Spoon the cream into small, dark bottles, and store in a cool, dark place. Cream will be preserved for use for up to one year.


A decoction is similar to an infusion, and necessary when using tougher plant material like herbal roots, barks, seeds, berries, and stems. These parts need to have their active components extracted in a more intense process.

You'll need:

  • 1 ounce of dried herb
  • 3 cups of water

Bring water to a rolling boil, then add herbs and cover; reduce heat; let mixture simmer for 10 to 15 min over low heat; leave to soak another 10 min; keep covered throughout the process; strain, cool and use. Internal dose is usually 1/2 cup, 3 times a day.  Store in a pitcher in a cool place or refrigerate.  The decoction can be reheated and flavored with a little honey if desired.

Extracts  - click here: 


Similar to tea, but steeped longer.

You'll need:

  • 2 teaspoons of dried herbs (more if fluffy)
  • 1 cup of water

Boil the water without herbs in it.  Turn off heat, add herbs, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.  Strain & drink.  You can make the concoction in the cup-sized doses or larger teapot doses. If using for medicinal value, the infusion should be consumed in 8-ounce doses, three times a day.
For storage: cover mixture, store in a cool place, and use within 24 hours.

Macerations (simple process)
A maceration is essentially an infusion that is made by soaking the herbs in cold instead of boiling water. Some herbs are most effectively infused in cold water, including Valerian and Wild Cherry Bark (great for coughs).

You'll need:

  • 2 teaspoons of dried herbs (more if fluffy)
  • 1 cup of cold water

Place the herbs in the cold water and leave the mixture overnight or up 18 hours in a cool place.  Strain the mixture, and consume the same way you would an infusion.  If using for medicinal value, the maceration should be consumed in 8-ounce doses, three times a day. 

Oil Infusions (hot)  [see below for cold]

Infused Oils are made by extracting the herbal constituents and volatile oils from the herbs for a later use. Any vegetable oil will do, yet olive, almond, canola, and sesame oils are the best.  Herbal oils can be added to cosmetics, cold process soap recipes, for culinary use, or massaged into sore body parts. Herbal oils can be infused by two methods; cold infusion and hot infusion.

Oil Infusion (hot)

You'll need:

  • 1 cup of dried herbs
  • 2 cups of oil
  • a large glass bowl that can fit on top of a pot
  • pot holders to handle the glass bowl

Prepare a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Place the herbs and oil in the glass bowl.
Heat mixture slowly over low heat for about 3 hours.
Strain into a bowl. Let the oil cool, then transfer into dark, glass bottles sealed with a cap. Store in a cool, dark place.


Oil Infusion (cold)

You'll need:

  • a large jar like a mason jar with a tight sealing lid
  • 3-4 cups of dried herbs
  • 4 cups of oil (depending on the size of the jar)

Obtain a large jar with a tightly sealing lid, and fill it compactly with herb flowers or leaves.
Pour in the oil, covering the herbs, and screw on the lid.
Place jar on a sunny windowsill for about a month. Remember to shake and turn the jar daily.
Strain the mixture, capturing the oil in another container.
Transfer the oil into a dark bottle, and store in a cool, dark place.

Note: Use dried herbs.  Fresh herbs contain water and could cause the oil to go rancid.

Hot & Cold Oil Infusion Recommendations:

For culinary use, try crushed Cayenne Pepper, cut Ginger Root, Lemon Grass, Rosemary, and Sage.

For topical/skin care use, try Lavender, Calendula Petals, Chamomile, Oat Straw, Hibiscus, Green Tea, Rooibos Red Tea, and Slippery Elm.

For ear infections, use Mullein.  Put 1-2 drops of this directly into the ear canal for earaches and ear infections.

Excellent for appying herbs topically to rashes, eczema, sore muscles and joints.

You'll need:

  • 4 ounces of Un-Petroleum Jelly
  • 1/4 cup herbs
  • double boiler

Melt the Melt & Pour Un-Petroleum Jelly in the top of a double boiler. Add the herbs and let it simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes.  Then strain and pour into a container.  The mix will thicken into an ointment. 

Suggestions: Mix with Ginger Root and spread on the chest for bronchitis to draw out mucus.  Mix with Green Tea for an anti-wrinkle treatment. 

Pills are used in the same way as gelatin capsules, but they have the advantage that they can be prepared entirely with herbs and the herbs don't need be powdered so finely.  Coarse powders can be made from the dried or cut herb using a coffee mill/grinder. 

You'll need:

Mix the ground herbs with the Slippery Elm, slowly add water and mix it in with the herbs until a doughy consistency is reached.   Roll the dough into little balls about the size of a pea.  The pills may be taken immediately, but to preserve them for later use, dry them in the warm air or in an oven on low heat. 

The pea-sized pills contain about half the dose of a gelatin capsule, therefore when following a dosage schedule for capsules, use twice the number indicated when using pills as a substitute.


Poultices made with Comfrey leaf - see below the 'steamed' poultice recipe


Poultice (basic paste/plaster)  [Poultice 'Steamed' see below]
Poultices act by increasing blood flow, relaxing tense muscles, soothing inflamed tissues, or drawing toxins from an infected area. Thus, they can be used to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with abscesses; boils; bruises; carbuncles; fibrocystic disease; fractures; enlarged glands in the neck, breast or prostate; leg ulcers; sprains; sunburn; tumors; and ulcerated eyelids. They are also used to break up congestion, draw out pus, and remove embedded particles from the skin.

You'll need:

  • 1 - 2 cups dried herbs
  • 1 - 2 cups of just boiled water
  • French Clay, Bentonite Clay, Flour or Corn Meal
  • Soft cloth or flannel

Mix the herbs with the water, then add enough of the clay, flour, or corn meal to make a thick paste that can be easily applied. Spread the paste onto the center of a soft cloth which measures about 6 to 8 inches square and has about 4 layers of thickness. Apply directly to the area with the paste side against the skin and press it down a bit so it sticks to the skin. Cover with a dry cloth and leave in place until the paste pulls away on its own.

Suggested herbs: Slippery Elm, Mullein


Poultice (steamed)

You'll need:

  • 1 cup dried herbs
  • a pot with water in it
  • a colander
  • Soft cloth or flannel

Place a colander over a pot of rapidly boiling water. Make sure that the water will not touch the herb material in the colander. Steam the herbs until they are drenched and softened. Remove and wait about 10 minutes, then take the steamed herbal mass to the affected area. Cover with a cloth to hold in the heat and wrap with a dry cloth. When the poultice cools, reapply as needed.

Recommended herbs: Slippery Elm, Mullein


Here are some links to suggestions for making a Poultice with Comfrey for sprains:

How to Make a Salve or Poultice With Comfrey  - click on link

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Herbs can be powdered in a coffee mill.  If you'll be be doing much work with herbs, you should have one just for powdering herbs. A standard size 00 capsule will hold about 500-600 mg of powder when being done by hand, with the standard dose being 2 to 3 capsules taken 2 or 3 times a day. To fill the capsule with the powdered herb, place the powder in a saucer and separate the two halves of the capsule. Slide the 2 halves together through the powder. Fit the halves together and store in a dark glass jar in a dark place out of direct heat.

For larger quantities and for more concentrated capsules, I recommend our Cap-M-Quik capsule maker.  It can make 50 at a time and our kit comes with a tamper that allows you to compact the herbs so that the 00 capsules will hold about 800-1000 mg of powder.

Salves are made by combining heated oil with a particular herb until the oil absorbs the plants healing properties. Adding beeswax will thicken the mixture to the desired consistency.

Most common recipe:
You'll need:

  • 5 ounces of herb infused oil (recipe above)
  • 2 ounces of beeswax
  • Optional: 1 drop Tincture of Benzoin or Grapefruit Seed Extract per ounce of salve (as a preservative)
  • a large glass bowl that can fit on top of a pot
  • pot holders to handle the glass bowl

Pour the infused oil into the glass bowl, and place over a pot of boiling water. Add the beeswax to the infused oil, stirring constantly until the wax has completely melted. The beeswax will thicken the mixture, giving it just the right consistency.  You can now add one drop of preservative per each ounce of mixture at this point (optional).  Pour the warm liquid into small, dark ointment jars.  Store in a cool, dark place.


Alternate recipe when you don't already have an herb infused oil:
You'll need:

  • a few tablespoons of dried herbs
  • 1 cup of water
  • 5 ounces of oil
  • 2 ounces of beeswax

Boil herbs in water until sufficiently extracted; strain and put wet herbs back into the pot.  Add oil to the herbs and continue to simmer till all the water evaporates; add the beeswax, stirring constantly until the wax has completely melted. The beeswax will thicken the mixture, giving it just the right consistency.  You can now add one drop of preservative per each ounce of mixture at this point (optional).  Pour the warm liquid into small, dark ointment jars.  Store in a cool, dark place.

Recommended herbs: Peppermint or Echinacea.  For pain try a combination of Cayenne, Willow Bark, or St. John’s Wort.   For insect bites try Cloves & Lavender.

This is a preparation of herbs mixed with a suppository base and molded into special shapes for insertion into the rectum, vagina, or urethra. The suppository bases are solid at room temperature but melt at the temperature of the body. Suppositories should be stored in a refrigerator, especially during the summer.  The best shape for these is a torpedo-shaped cylinder about 2" in length and with the center bulging and the ends tapered.  Aluminum foil can be used to shape a mold or you can purchase molds.

You'll need:

  • 3 ounces of cocoa butter
  • 1 oz finely powdered herbs

Simmer the herbs and cocoa butter in the top of a double boiler until well combined and liquid in form.  Pour out into a foil mold, allow to harden, then store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

You can make an herbal infusion, decoction, or tincture into a syrup, using sugar or honey as a preservative. Herbal syrups are soothing for coughs, sore throats, and other common respiratory ailments.

You'll need:

  • One pint of either the herb infusion (not the oil infused) or an herb decoction
  • One pound of unrefined sugar or honey

Stir mixture together in a saucepan and boil until the sugar or honey has dissolved completely.  The mixture has become a syrup at this point.
Let the syrup cool.  Store the syrup in dark, glass bottles capped with a cork or another non-sealing lid.  It is important that the syrup is not kept in a tightly sealed container because as the syrup begins to ferment it may cause the bottle to explode.  Store in the refrigerator.

Recommended herbs for sore throats (combine as many as you can): Ginger Root, Licorice Root, Rosemary, Mullein, Slippery Elm Bark, Echinacea, and Sage.


Making herbal teas may be the easiest of all herbal remedies. Herbal teas can be made by simply adding fresh or dried herbs to a pot, or cup of boiled water. To begin, place 1 teaspoon of dried herbs per I cup of water into a teapot or teacup. Add boiling water, cover, and steep for 10 minutes. You must then strain your tea by pouring it through a strainer of some sort.  You can also use an Herb/Tea Strainer Ball, the Teaspoon Strainer, Muslin (re-usable) tea bags, or paper tea bags that can be ironed closed


Herbal tinctures allow you to make an herbal remedy and store it for a long period of time, making them available at short notice to be used with teas, salves, creams, etc. to make an instant herbal remedy. Tinctures are made by steeping dried herbs in alcohol or vinegar. The liquid extracts the volatile oils and active constituents from the herbs, and preserves them for ultimately forever. Vodka is the best alcohol to use due to its tastelessness.  A standard herbal tincture should have 1 fluid ounce of pure alcohol for every ounce of water; essentially 50% alcohol or 100 proof vodka.  This ratio is up for some debate.  Some people recommend 100% alcohol, others say 3 to 1 alcohol/water.

You'll need:

  • 8 ounces of dried herbs, be sure to cut the herbs into small pieces first.
  • a large glass jar that can hold 4 cups of liquid (adjust liquid amount to fit in jar if necessary)
  • 2 cups of vodka

Put the dried herb into a large, glass jar and pour in equal amount of liquid, making sure the herbs are completely covered (this is very important).  Store the jar in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks, preferably 4. Make sure to shake the mixture every day.  When ready to use, filter the mixture using a cheesecloth bag, coffee filter, or fine cloth, capturing the tincture liquid below in another container.  Store the tincture in clean, dark glass containers, out of the sun. If stored properly the tincture will be preserved for two or more years. Vinegar tinctures should be refrigerated.

Note: A drop of tincture is equal to 1 tsp of herb juice.

For Vinegar Tinctures, use 1 ounce of herb per 5 ounces of vinegar. 

For the most potent tincture and the best blends, please see our Herbaltini Tincture Kits 

Tonic Wines
Like herbal tea, a glass of tonic wine is a delicious way to intake herbal remedies. Using root remedies of tonic herbs like Ginger or Licorice can be a refreshing remedy for ailments. Choose a tonic herb to suit your needs and then begin preparation.

You'll need:

  • a large glass pot, jar or vat
  • 1 cups of dried herbs
  • 2 cups of a good quality red wine (enough to cover the herbs, add more if necessary)

Mix together the herbs and the wine making sure there's enough wine to completely cover the herbs.  Put a lid on the mixture or cellophane wrap.  Leave the mix for at least 2 weeks. Filtering out the liquid, drink the mixture in one sherry-sized glass (2-3 fluid ounces) dose per day.
As you pour out the liquid, keep adding more red wine to cover the herb so it doesn't get moldy. This mixture will last you for several months, as the wine continues to extract the active components of the herbal roots, before the herbs will need to be replaced.











Disclaimer: This content is provided here for informational purposes only.  We make no medical claims that the herbs, herbal products or 'commonly suggested uses' of herbs on this website are intended to diagnose, prevent, cure or treat any health problem or disease.  Do not attempt to self-diagnose or treat. If you have, or suspect you have, an illness or medical condition, check with a qualified Health Practitioner, your physician, Naturopath, or other qualified health professional for diagnosis, guidance and supervision prior to using herbs for self-treatment, and before using any herbal treatment.

   Use of these reference pages signifies acceptance of this notice.

Exercise caution, do the research to separate the legitimate from the suspect information about herbal remedies.  If in doubt about using a particular herbal product, don’t try it.  Any reliance you place on any information on this website is strictly by your own discretion and at your own risk.   The owners of this site and the ISP carrier that they use are not liable for any outcome that might occur thru the use of information on this site.  You are responsible for yourself and in reading this you release the owners of this site and the ISP carrier that they use from any liability.