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Herbal Preparations

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    Herbal Preparations

    One of my favorite herbal preparations is the salve. A salve is probably best defined as a soothing medicinal preparation that is applied topically and promotes healing and is also known as a balm. While lotions and cremes are emulsions, a salve is an oil and wax based preparation. It is easily adaptable to whatever purpose you might desire it. There is no one right way to make a salve, and the combinations are practically infinite...from romantic aromatherapy to soothing itchy skin, there is a salve for every occasion just waiting to be discovered.

    Perhaps my favorite recipe for tinkering, and the best illustration for building an herbal recipe in general, and a salve in particular, is Sophie and Collin's baby balm, which has undergone several incarnations to get the combination that I am fond of. When I first started, I had decided I wanted a massage oil for infant massage. I wanted it to be soothing for the baby, healthy for her skin and relaxing to the both of us. I initially chose lavender and chamomile, and infused them in olive oil, and ended up adding lavender essential oil to cover up the olive smell. But it was I decided on a salve instead, and added beeswax. Not happy with the recipe, and having read a bit about the benefits of sunflower oil for babies, I made the next batch with sunflower oil. Eventually, I added calendula and then yarrow to the mix. I switched around oils...and then one day, while filtering my latest batch, I tested the oil and found that I had found my perfect oil mixture in terms of smell. At the same time, I played with amounts of beeswax, and adding other things, like lanolin or cocoa butter. Everything worked...but somethings worked better than others. Some things smelled better than others. Some things that worked well didn't smell as well as things that didn't work as well...and I wanted both.

    For a naturally impatient person (like myself), learning to build a salve was a wonderful exercise in patience. If anyone is wondering why I call it "building" a salve, its because I see a salve (and many other herbal preparations) as a series of building blocks (the herb, the oils, etc) that can be put together in a myriad of ways. To build a salve, one first needs a purpose. What do you want to make? Something for a baby? Something for yourself? Once the purpose is in mind, one needs to figure out what herbs best fit the desired outcome. From here, one can either experiment with single herbs or they can choose herbs that they feel--either intuitively or through research--would work together effectively. Once the herbs have been determined, the oils need to be selected. Like with herbs, each carrier oil has its own pros and cons, correspondences, etc. They can be used singly or in combination, and the herbs can be infused in them singly or in combination. I choose to infuse my herbs together. It could be all in my head, but I find it to be more synergistic...though, when initially experimenting with combinations, working from single herb infusions can be more efficient. The finished oil then needs to be combined with the wax to the desired consistency. As with herb and oil selections, there are waxes besides beeswax to choose from (though I rarely use anything other than beeswax and cocoa butter).

    If you want to try your hand at a salve, most of the basic ingredients are available at your local grocery store and craft store. If you are lucky enough to have specialty stores, like for soap making or herbalism or a tea shop, you are off to a great start...and if you have a local source for beeswax (try the local farmers market--if there is a local bee keeper, you can often get a good deal), you really in luck! There are also quite a few ingredients for every effective healing salves that you can probably find in your own back yard (plantain and chickweed to name a few). Olive oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and sunflower oil are probably the easiest oils to find in a grocery story at a reasonable price. To infuse your oils, you need dry herbs...if you have a local organic grocery, CSA, a tea shop, herbalist, etc, they may carry whole bulk herbs for purchase, but if not there are a few reliable online herb suppliers. Another option is to use essential oils in the carrier oil (rather than making the infused oil), which are sometimes easier to find-- even some hobby/craft stores carry soap and candle making supplies and will have a small selection of essential oils (as well as beeswax).

    Basic Salve Recipe

    1 cup of oil (infused oil or carrier oil with essential oil)

    1/2-1 oz beeswax (start with 1/2 oz and add beeswax depending on the consistancy you want) OR combination of cocoa butter and beeswax

    Place oil in double boiler and heat. Melt in beeswax (or other wax combinations) SLOWLY, testing for consistency. If you add too much wax, your salve will be too hard. To fix a hard salve, you can always add more oil, but depending on how delicate your recipe might be, it could throw it off.

    My Fave Lip Balm

    1/4 c sunflower oil infused with chamomile

    a dollop of honey

    10-15 drops of food grade peppermint oil

    cocoa butter to desired consistency

    Baby Balm--great for just about everything from after bath to diaper rash to dry skin

    1 part lavender
    1 part chamomile flowers
    1 part yarrow
    1 part calendula

    Infuse herbs in equal parts sunflower and grapeseed oil.

    Equal parts beeswax and cocoa butter into oil to desired consistency

    Snotty Tot Chest Rub

    30 drops Gully Gum Eucalyptus Essential oil

    30 drops Camphor

    30 drops Lavender essential oil

    1/4 c carrier oil

    Equal parts beeswax and cocoa butter into oil to desired consistency

    (from my blog)
    Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of HistoryPagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

    Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of HistoryPagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible


      Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of HistoryPagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible



        a beeswax-borax combination can be used to make a water in oil solution (where oil surrounds the water)

        some basics on emulsions...

        Herbal Syrups:

        1 mL infusion or decoction: 1 g unrefined sugar/honey
        (1 fl oz or 1/8 c infusion or decoction: 1 oz unrefined sugar/honey)

        Strain infusion/decoction into pan and add sugar at ratio. Continuously stir til disolved and simmer to desired consistency. Cool and bottle. Use cork stoppers...if substance ferments and pressure builds in bottle it is prone to explode if it had a fixed cap.

        Floral Essences

        medicinally, I think these are on a par with homeopathy ( :), little better than a placebo (which studies support)...magically however they might have some application...

        (Chris Penczak has an article in New Witch about using Flower Essences...I picked up the magazine b/c it had an ok article about pagans in the military in it...)

        Edward Bach thought that dew collected from the flowers of plants contains some of the properties of the plant, and that it was more potent on flowers grown in the sun. As it was impractical to collect dew in quantity, he decided to pick flowers and steep them in a bowl of water under sunlight. If this is impractical due to lack of sunlight or other reasons the flowers may be boiled.

        The result of this process is what he called "mother tincture", which is further diluted before sale or use.

        Bach was satisfied with the method, because it was of simplicity he had longed for, and involved a process of combination of the four elements:

        The earth to nurture the plant, the air from which it feeds, the sun or fire to enable it to impart its power, and water to collect and be enriched with its beneficient magnetic healing[citation needed].

        Bach flower remedies are not dependent on the theory of successive dilutions, and are not based on the Law of Similars of Homeopathy. The Bach remedies, unlike homeopathic remedies, are all derived from non-toxic substances, with the idea that a "positive energy" can redirect or neutralize "negative energy".


        Making your own Essential Oils...

        its alot of work...

        and unless you are making your own set up, the equiptment is expensive...

        I have only distilled something (essentially what you are doing when you make an essential oil) in chemistry class...

        I personally would never go to all that work, when I can pay a couple of dollars for it all ready made...though I do think its a good idea to understand the idea and the process...

        so try here for a decent overview...

        information on steam distillation...
        Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of HistoryPagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible


          Medicinal Properties of Herbs
          Terminology for Medicinal Properties

          (from my herbal thread, precrash from Yahoo's cache)

          (Part 1)

          Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of HistoryPagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible


            (Part II, con't from previous post)

            Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of HistoryPagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible


              Re: Herbal Preparations


              Wow, what great information. I have a website all about hers and such, as well as herbal kits that I sell and I will definitely be referring people to this thread. Thanks again.

              Warm Regards,

              < link removed by staff. please contact this poster in private for the link >


                Re: Herbal Preparations

                pre-crash, probably thal's

                - - - Updated - - -

                source unknown

                Homemade Rosewater Recipe

                This recipe is meant to yield about 1 gallon of Rosewater:

                clear gallon container
                about 1 gallon of distilled water
                enough fresh rose petals to fill the jar 3/4 way full
                1 cup of Vodka.

                - Make sure your container is clean and fill it up with rose petals about 3/4 of the way. If you want to use your Rosewater for ingesting make sure your petals have been organically grown.
                - Pour the water in until it covers the petals completely.
                - Once your water is in pour in the Vodka. Put the lid on and shake it up a bit so that the ingredients mix together thoroughly.
                - Place in the sun or on a sunny windowsill and wait. Think of this as the same process as making sun tea with the exception of the length of time needed to be completed.

                You will start to see your water turning color after only a couple of days but for the best results wait two weeks. Strain out the rose petals and you have Rosewater!
                - - - Updated - - -

                Part One, Carrier Oils (thal's stuff pre crash)

                Carrier Oils

                Unless otherwise noted, these oils can be used for creams, lotions, balms, body butters, hair oils, lip balms, massage oils, etc for the body, and/or face…when some use is not suitable, I will try to be sure to note it…HOWEVER, be sure to research fully any use or compound that you are not familiar with, as quite a few of these I have only passing familiarity with…

                Lingo to look for when purchasing oils…

                Cold Pressed - A method of mechanical extraction where heat is reduced and minimized throughout the batching of the raw material. This helps the oil maintain its original state, constituents, and depth. Temperatures are rigorously controlled to insure that it does not exceed 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Although not a practical method of extraction for all vegetable oils on the market it is highly regarded as the extraction method of choice.

                Expeller Pressed - A method of natural, mechanical extraction and processing of oils where a small amount of heat is produced simply through the frictional heat created by hydraulic presses. This is usually around 120-200 degrees Fahrenheit and makes the oil suitable and economical as a base for cosmetics because of its fairly undisturbed molecular state. It also makes a fine food grade oil.

                Refined - A fully processed oil where it has been exposed to high temperatures as high as 450 degrees Fahrenheit, winterization as low as -10 degrees, deodorization (the removal of content which gives an oil its natural scent), and other forms of refinement that will alter its color, depth, and scent. This makes for an economical oil in cosmetics and body care products but it is not the healthiest as a food grade oil.
                Caveat emptor: Refined oils may also be extracted with the use of solvents, extracting mediums or other chemicals.

                Unrefined - A process of mechanical extraction and screen filtering where no additional refining process has taken place. This ensures the finest quality product and makes the oil the most exquisite for food and cosmetic preparation. The unrefined process helps oil retain a rich, strong flavor and color that is true to its natural state. Unrefined oils are always darker in color and richer in scent.

                Solvent Extracted - Unfortunately many of the oils offered on the market today, including commercial store varieties are extracted with the use of solvents. This method of extraction often involves high yields at a low cost, but the chemicals used as the extracting agent have severe environmental impacts and endanger the health and vitality of the final product.


                Mostly art.