Some Herbal Terms

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Before you can begin your journey to herbal health, it's important to understand the language of herbal preparations. So here's a thumbnail glossary of important herbal terms.

Infusion. An infusion is simply another word for tea. Herbal infusions are used to enhance body care products and to make healing herbal washes or baths. Infusions are best when prepared fresh for daily use, although they will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.

Tinctures. Also called herbal extracts, tinctures are a concentrated liquid form of

Strain through cotton muslin.

Use a double boiler to gently warm extra-virgin olive oil and herbs to make an infused oil. Once the oil has cooled, strain it through a piece of cotton muslin to remove the herbs. Twist the muslin to remove as much oil as possible. See "Basic Herb-Infused Oil" on page 231 for complete instructions.

Squeeze muslin to remove excess oil.

commonly used oil for herbal skin preparations because it resists rancidity. The infused herbal oils discussed in this chapter are intended for external use. To learn about herbal oils for cooking, see "Basil-Garlic Herbal Oil" on page 205.

Salves. Salves are a thickened oil usually created by melting beeswax into an infused herbal oil. Used externally to treat skin problems, they keep the healing properties of the herbs in place longer than alcohol or water-based products. Salves can be stored for many years in a cool, dark place. They are quick and easy to make once the herbal oil is prepared.

Essential oils. It takes sophisticated equipment to make essential oils, which are highly concentrated, pure plant distillates extracted from various parts of plants. Also, a huge volume of plant material is required to make even a small amount of pure oil, so it's nearly impossible to make essential oils at home. However, you can buy herbal oils at herb shops and pharmacies. When shopping

Strain through cotton muslin.

Use a double boiler to gently warm extra-virgin olive oil and herbs to make an infused oil. Once the oil has cooled, strain it through a piece of cotton muslin to remove the herbs. Twist the muslin to remove as much oil as possible. See "Basic Herb-Infused Oil" on page 231 for complete instructions.

herbal medicine made by steeping fresh or dried herbs in a solvent, typically alcohol. Because they are concentrated, tinctures are convenient to use and easy to consume. You'll use them by the drop rather than by the quart or the cup. Tinctures also store well—they'll keep for five years or more in a cool, dark place.

Herb-infused oils. To make an herb-infused oil, you'll steep the herbs in the oil, which imbues the oil with the herbs' healing properties. You can use the resulting oil directly on your skin or combined with other ingredients to make salves and creams. Extra-virgin olive oil is the most

Squeeze muslin to remove excess oil.

for essential oils, look for pure essential oils packaged in dark-colored bottles. Synthetic oils, although far less expensive, cannot be safely or effectively used in therapeutic recipes. Due to variations in the oil content of various plants, you'll find a wide range in the cost of essential oils. Pure rose oil, for example, costs $45 for 14 ounce, whereas the same amount of lavender oil costs $5.

Essential oils are almost always intended for external use. In addition, most essential oils are too strong to use directly on the skin,- they must first be mixed into an oil or cream. Store essential oils in a cool, dark place out of the reach of children. Don't use essential oils if you're pregnant or are undergoing medical treatment. If in doubt, consult with a competent health provider.

It's always a good idea to perform a patch test before using a new essential oil. Dilute a drop or two of the oil in vegetable oil and popular çççgijtial oilç

apply a small amount of the diluted oil to your inner arm. After 30 minutes, remove the test oil and check for any irritation.

To keep essential oils clean, apply with an eyedropper or cotton swab. Also be sure to keep the outside of the bottle clean by wiping the bottom of the bottle after use. Essential oils can mar surfaces, especially plastic ones. Be sure to twist bottle caps on tightly as well.

In addition to using essential oils for creating body care products, you can use the healing power of fragrance in other ways, such as placing a few drops in a scent ring around light bulbs, adding to a diffuser, mixing with potpourri and simmering scents, and adding to cleaning products.

Once you learn how to get the most out of herbs, you'll find that you ve opened the door to the time-honored practice of herbal healing and joined centuries of herbalists who have tapped the magic of herbs.

Here's a list of the qualities of some of the most useful and enjoyable essential oils for salves, balms, and home remedies.

Bee balm (also known as bergamot): uplifting, clean, antidepressant Eucalyptus: invigorating, uplifting, antiseptic, decongestant, analgesic Zonal geranium: uplifting, balancing, relaxing, astringent Grapefruit: bright, uplifting, clean, cleansing, stimulating Lavender: antifungal, antiseptic, antidepressant, calming, deodorizing, antiinflammatory, antibacterial

Lemon: energizing, antiseptic, astringent, antibacterial Sweet orange: uplifting, antispasmodic, balancing, antiseptic Peppermint: stimulating, refreshing, uplifting, cooling, antiseptic, expectorant Rose: sensual, antidepressant, tonic, astringent, antispasmodic, sedative Rosemary: warming, stimulating, analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent Sandalwood: soothing, sensual, centering, antiseptic, sedative, warming Thyme: antibacterial, warming, stimulating, expectorant ^

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2 cups glycerine soap bars, cut into chunks Double boiler

10-20 drops essential oils of herbs or flowers from the list on the facing page (optional) 2 tablespoons exfoliating agents from the list (optional) 2 teaspoons or 2 gel caps nutritive agents from the list (optional) 2 tablespoons dried herbs or flowers from the list (optional) Soap or candy molds (or shallow plastic containers, wider at the top than the bottom) Towel

Plastic wrap or plastic zipper bags

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