The following types and methods of herbal preparation(s) are commonly used in herbal medicine and green magick. Before you do anything ensure that your storage jars/bottles/containers are sterile. Also note that aside from tinctures, all herbal preparations should be made fresh as they spoil quickly and then become unsafe.
Note: the preparations here are for dried herbs. If you are to use fresh herbs, double the amount stated.
Infusion: infusions are used when your aim is to extract the oils from a plant and they are made just like one might make a cup of tea. Lots of recipes require you to pour boiling water over herbs but you can add herbs to a pot of boiling water if you please. It works the same. Usually, it is around a teaspoon of herbs per 1 teacup of boiling water but like any recipe of any kind, this is subject to change depending on the herbs you’re using. You can adjust the amounts to taste with most herbs but, if you are using potential dangerous herbs stick to the recipe.
The herbs should be steeped in the boiling water for around 10 minutes. Whilst they are steeping, place a cover over your teacup or pot to prevent the loss of some of the oils you are extracting. Once the steeping process is complete, strain them out using a sieve or strainer.
Sometimes, the herbs within your infusion will be… bitter or simply taste bad. You may sweeten your infusions with sugar or honey to taste and they should be consumed lukewarm or cool unless the goal of the preparation is to induce sweating or break a fever.
Decoction: this form of preparation is used to extract the mineral salts and bitter properties of plants, or to draw out the oils from roots, like Angelica and woody plants.
Using 2 teaspoons of your chosen herb, place them in a pan and cover with 1 cup of water. Now bring your mixture to the boil. Stir it gently and cover the pan with a tight lid. Allow it to boil for a further 3 to 5 minutes then pull it from the heat and allow the herb-water mixture to steep for a further 7 to 10 minutes, still covered.
When using roots or woody material, use the same proportions and follow the aforementioned steps but, when boiling the mixture, allow it to boil for 10 minutes with the lid/cover on instead of 3 to 5 minutes.
The plant material should then be strained out before consumption and like an infusion, the decoction can be sweetened to taste. If the decocotion is being used to break a cold or fever, it should be taken hot. For any other purpose it can be taken lukewarm.
Cold Extract: this preparation should be used when you wish to minimalise the loss of oils but do not want to extract mineral salts.
Take 2 teaspoons of dried herbs and one cup of water and place them both in a non-metal container. Let it stand overnight. Take as you would an infusion and refrigerate any leftover mixture. Consume within 24 hours.
Juice: this method retains the oils, minerals and salts best.
Chop up whatever fresh herb you’re using and then apply pressure to extract the juices. Add a little water and apply pressure once more.
*Doing this by hand can lead to lots of waste, so it is perfectly acceptable and often better to use a mechanised juicer if you have one.*
Drink it immediately for optimum results.
Powder: herbs made into a powder can be speinkled onto food or added to drinks for easy consumption. They can be put inside capsules or added to a gelatin capsule and be taken as a tablet.
Grind your chosen dried herbs in a mortar and pestle until they become a fine powder. Although it is entirely dependent on the herb, 2-3 pinches is usually a sufficient dosage.
Syrup: start by making a basic syrup: dissolve 1.36kg of sugar into a pint of water and then boil. Make sure to stir it constantly until it reaches a gooey, viscous consistency. Once this is achieved, add the previously brewed infusion to the syrup.
Alternatively, you can boil the herbs in honey and subsequently strain them out.
Tincture: for this, you’ll need a fine grain, high proof alcohol – vodka is usually a good choice for this.
Depending on the potency of your herbs, use around 28g of dried herbs per 228ml of your preferred alcohol. Combine your ingredients in a non-metal container and allow the mixture to stand for around a fortnight, make sure you swirl or shake it daily. Transfer it into a sterile container for long-term storage.
Essence: dissolve 28g of an essential oil into a pint of fine grain, high proof alcohol.
Poultice: pound fresh herbs into a pulp and apply them directly onto the affected area of skin/of the body. Then, soak a cloth in hot water and place it over the herbs. As the cloth cools, replace it.
In some cases, the herbs required may be irritants. If so, place the pulp between two pieces of cloth and apply the bundle to the affected area.
After the poultice is removed, carefully cleanse the area with hot water or a chamomile infusion.
Formentation: soak a cloth in a hot or lukewarm infusion or decoction then wring out excess fluid and apply to the affected area.
Cold Compress: this is the same as a formentation, only cooled.