Alternative Therapies – Aromatherapy and Herbs

I’d like to thank the women who chose to attend the break out session I led at Cecil College Saturday. Here is the information we discussed and I apologize for the technical difficulties resulting in your not receiving this then.

Calendula

Properties: anti-inflammatory & antimicrobial

Internal Uses:

  • treat bladder infections (tea)
  • stomach ulcers (tea)
  • mouthwash (rinse)
  • mouth ulcers (rinse)
  • sore throats (gargle)

External Uses:

  • lacerations
  • abrasions
  • skin infections
  • chapped lips
  • diaper rash

Precautions:

  • Calendula is considered safe and nontoxic, however, it can stimulate menstruation so pregnant women should not take calendula internally.

 

Cinnamon (Root and Oil)

Properties: antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic

Internal Uses: (Cinnamon Powder)

  • gall bladder
  • coronary artery disease
  • high blood pressure
  • staph infections
  • arthritis

Aromatherapy Uses:

  • boost brain activity
  • headaches that are caused by colds
  • mosquito repellent
  • Using 1% cinnamon oil in water as a spray can repel insects like spiders, roaches, rats, black ants as well as killing mosquito larvae in standing water.

Precautions:

  • cinnamon oil should be avoided for internal consumption
  • Always dilute cinnamon oil
  • Hot Oil so use no more than 10 drops per 1oz of carrier oil.

 

Boswellia (Frankincense Resin)

Properties: anti-inflammatory, antihyperlipidemic (controls blood lipids), antiartherosclerotic (anticoronary plaque), analgesic, hepatoprotective (protects the liver), antipyretic

Internal Uses:

  • joint pain
  • allergies
  • respiratory conditions
  • cardiovascular problems
  • arthritis
  • diarrhea
  • dysentery
  • fevers (antipyretic)
  • skin and blood diseases
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • mouth sores
  • sore throat
  • bronchitis
  • asthma
  • cough
  • vaginal discharges
  • hair loss
  • jaundice
  • hemorrhoids
  • syphilitic diseases
  • irregular menses
  • liver stimulation

External Uses:

  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • hemorrhoids

Precautions:

  • Side effects include GI disturbances when taken internally if you have an allergy you may experience chest pain, wheezing or shortness of breath. When used topically it may cause redness, rash or sensitivity of skin.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Properties: antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and decongestant

External Uses:

  • Rubs
  • Inhalers
  • Liniments
  • rash creams
  • mouthwashes
  • wounds
  • ulcers
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Abrasions
  • Sores
  • Cold
  • Cough
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • asthma
  • nasal congestion
  • bronchitis
  • sinusitis

Precautions: dilute it with a carrier oil, therapeutic application is 15-18 drops per 1 oz of carrier.

 

Ginger

Properties: carminative (relieves flatulence), expectorant, antiseptic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, stimulating and aphrodisiac

Internal Uses:

  • bone health
  • strengthen the immune system
  • increase your appetite
  • antioxidant (helps to prevents various types of cancer)
  • improve respiratory conditions
  • aid digestion
  • arthritis symptoms
  • reduce excess gas
  • enhance sexual activity
  • relieve pains related to menstrual disorders
  • nausea

External & Aromatherapy Uses:

  • depression
  • mental stress
  • exhaustion
  • dizziness
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • dandruff
  • hair loss

Precautions: When taken orally incites the release of bile from the gallbladder so that would be a side effect to bear in mind if you are suffering from gallstones. May be phototoxic.

Lavender Essential Oil

Properties: antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, analgesic, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, anti-rheumatic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, carminative, decongestant, deodorant, diuretic, hypotensive, sedative

External & Aromatherapy Uses:

  • insomnia
  • stress
  • calm fussy children
  • insect repellent
  • increased cognitive function
  • acne
  • loosens phlegm
  • relieves congestion
  • hair loss
  • alopecia
  • lowers blood pressure
  • boosts immune system
  • wrinkles
  • psoriasis
  • wounds
  • cuts, burns
  • sunburns
  • scar tissues

Precautions: Lavender oil should never be taken internally. Ingestion can cause serious health complications, characterized by blurred vision, difficult breathing, burning eyes, vomiting, and diarrhea.

 

Marshmallow Root

Properties: demulcent (forms soothing film), emollient, expectorant, diuretic

Internal Uses:

  • mouth ulcers
  • canker sores
  • cuts on the inside of the cheeks
  • inflamed gums
  • sore throats
  • heartburn
  • peptic ulcers
  • inflamed intestines
  • colitis
  • coughs
  • cystitis
  • kidney stones
  • bladder infections
  • control blood sugar spikes

External Uses:

  • wounds
  • burns
  • burns
  • scalds
  • gangrene

Precautions: Marshmallow may cause low blood sugar in some people, inhibits absorption of medication so take marshmallow root at least 3-4 hours after taking prescription medications.

 

Mullein Leaf

Internal Uses:

  • Asthma
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • coughs
  • phlegm
  • muscle pains
  • headaches
  • muscle tension
  • sound sleep
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • urinary tract infection
  • gout
  • tuberculosis
  • whooping cough
  • hoarseness
  • swine flu
  • earaches
  • tonsillitis
  • flu
  • colds
  • chills
  • herpes virus
  • croup
  • migraines

External Uses:

  • burns
  • bruises
  • hemorrhoids
  • insect bites
  • frostbite
  • cellulitis
  • herpes virus

Precautions: mullein seeds are poisonous so use the leaves only.

Olive Leaf

Properties: astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, febrifugal, immune boosting, tranquilizer

Internal Uses:

  • increased energy
  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular system
  • immune system
  • psoriasis
  • normalization of heart beat irregularities
  • diminished cravings
  • hemorrhoids
  • toothaches
  • chronically achy joints

External Uses:

  • hemorrhoids
  • joint pain
  • psoriasis

Precautions: Olive leaf should not to be used by diabetics due to its potential blood-sugar lowering properties. Do not steep in water above 180 (212 is boiling) to avoid burning the leaves.

Red Clover

Properties: estrogenic, sedative, tonic, antidepressant, appetite suppressant, antibiotic

Internal Benefits:

  • coughs
  • slows blood clotting
  • breast pain
  • PMS
  • hot flashes
  • menopausal symptoms
  • benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH
  • helpful in quitting smoking
  • lower the levels of 'bad' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL)
  • raise the levels of 'good' high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

External Benefits:

  • wound healing
  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • dermatitis

Precautions: Women with hormone-dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus should not take red clover due to its possible estrogenic effects unless under the care of a physician.

Tea Tree

Properties: antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, balsamic, cicatrisant, expectorant, fungicide, insecticide, stimulant

External Uses:

  • diminish acne scars
  • common cold
  • influenza
  • mumps
  • measles
  • pox
  • cough
  • cold
  • bronchitis
  • congestion
  • dandruff
  • hair loss
  • insect repellent
  • wounds
  • boils
  • sores
  • cuts
  • insect bites
  • stings
  • dermatitis
  • Athlete’s Foot
  • acne

Precautions: Internally tea tree is toxic and should be strictly avoided. The side effects of consuming tea tree essential oil can be quite serious, and they include confusion, hallucinations, drowsiness, coma, unsteadiness, severe rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, general weakness, stomach upset, and blood cell abnormalities.

Turmeric (root and oil)

Properties: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant

(always use in conjunction black pepper because piperine increases absorption by 2000%)

Internal Uses:

  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • arthritis

External Uses: (oil)

  • muscle pain
  • hair loss
  • male pattern baldness

Precautions: It makes your skin more sensitive to UV light, and is highly concentrated so be sure to dilute it. Use only 1% or less in creams and oils and be sure to do a patch test. Internally use only 5 drops per ounce of oil and ingest no more than 5 drops daily.

How to make Tinctures, Infusions & Decoctions

Let's face it, it's easy to grow herbs but then what do you do with them? Here is where you take your new knowledge and transform your medicine cabinet into an herbal wonderland!

Tinctures

We'll start with tinctures because they are the most concentrated and the easiest to make. They use alcohol as the solvent. If you prefer to avoid alcohol skip down to infusions or decoctions.

 Fresh Herb

Chop the herbs to release juices

Fill jar about ½ to ¾ with herbs or ¼ to ½ of roots.

Pour alcohol over the herbs.

Jar should look full of the herbs but they should move freely when shaken.

Dried Herb

Use finely chopped herbs

Fill jar same as Fresh Herbs.

Allow plenty of space if using roots (they’ll expand!)

With both fresh and dry be careful to completely cover the herbs with alcohol.

Type of Alcohol to use.

40% – 50% (80-90 proof vodka) • “Standard” percentage range for tinctures (I use this for Red Clover). • Good for most dried herbs and fresh herbs that are not juicy. • Good for extraction of water soluble properties.

67.5% – 70% (½ 80 proof vodka + ½ 190 proof grain alcohol) • Extracts most volatile aromatic properties. • Good for fresh high-moisture herbs like lemon balm, berries, and aromatic roots. • The higher alcohol percentage will draw out more of the plant juices.

85% – 95% (190 proof grain alcohol) • Good for gums and resins (It's what I use to make Propolis Tincture). • Extracts aromatics and essential oils that are bound in the plant and do not dissipate easily. • The alcohol strength can produce a tincture that is very strong in taste and difficult to palate. • Often used for drop dosage medicines. • Will totally dehydrate herbs.

Extraction Time and Bottling

Store jar in a cool, dry, dark cabinet. Shake several times a week and check your alcohol levels. If the alcohol has evaporated a bit and the herb is not totally submerged, be sure to top off the jar with more alcohol. Herbs exposed to air can introduce mold and bacteria into your tincture. Allow the mixture to extract for 6-8 weeks.

Strain into amber glass bottle using cheesecloth and funnel. Be sure to squeeze until it can no longer express any more liquid.

Don't forget to make notes and label your bottle. Take note of the name of herb, if it was dried or fresh, what part of plant you used, alcohol percentage, date you made it and any other pertinent information (especially if you wildcrafted your own herbs). Store in a cool, dark place. Lasts for several years.

Infusions & Decoctions

Hot Infusions (Tea is a hot infusion)

Hot infusions draw out vitamins, enzymes, and aromatic volatile oils.

Scoop several TBSP of dried herbs into a strainer or cheesecloth, heat 1 cup of water until it boils, place strainer into cup, pour hot water into cup, steep 15 minutes to an hour, strain.

Cold Infusions

Cold Infusions are ideal for slimy herbs and herbs with delicate essential oils. (great for marshmallow root)

Fill quart jar with cold water, bundle about an ounce of herbs in cheesecloth, submerge bundle below the water, screw lid on, allow to infuse overnight. (If you don’t have cheesecloth you can just put the herbs into the water and then strain).

Decoctions

This is the method used for Chaga.

Place herbs into sauce pan, cover with cold water, heat water slowly to a simmer and cover. Allow to gently simmer for 25-45 minutes (for chaga 45-1.5hrs), strain and reserve tea.

Store Infusions and Decoctions in the refrigerator and consume within a week. If they begin to smell funny, develop bubbles, or tastes different don't consume it. You can still use it as a hair rinse or water your plants with it though. (They don't have the preservative of either alcohol or honey.)

Herbal Syrups

Great for making cough syrups, stomach remedies, or other medicines depending on the herbs you use. 

Decoct roots, barks or berries for 20 minutes. Add leafy herbs and steep for 10 minutes. Strain the herbs and then measure your liquid. Add equal parts of raw local honey. Gently simmer (below 110° so you don’t destroy the properties of the honey).

Pour into dry, sterilized amber bottles. You can also add tincture to your syrup for increased medicinal benefits. It will also extend shelf life. Don’t forget to label! Store in fridge for up to 6mo.

 And last but not least the recipe for Ginger Candy.

Recipe for Ginger Candy

  • ½ pound Ginger (Organic)
  • 2 cup water
  • 1.25 cup Local Raw Honey

Peel ginger and slice as thinly as possible, bring ginger and 2 cups water to a boil in a pot over high heat. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, then uncover and continue to simmer another 10-15 minutes, until tender (longer if your slices are thick). Drain all but about ¼ cup of water from the pot. Add honey to pot. Simmer uncovered over low heat (below 110° so you don’t destroy the properties of the honey) for another 30 minutes until ginger has turned darker in color and slightly translucent. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat. Can be strained or stored in syrup. If you strain the ginger save the syrup to use in tea!

If you stumble upon this and would like more information please feel free to contact me. If you are interested in learning more let me know and we can schedule a longer session.



Comments on this post (1 comment)

  • Margaret says...

    Thanks for posting the information from the workshop. It was very informative. Looking forward to putting some of this into practice. Also looking forward to using the products I purchased at your table. Thank you

    On February 03, 2015

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