The following are some of my favorite recipes for facial steams. Everybody who makes these steams has their favorite recipe which is , I suspect often based on whatever herbs they have on hand. When blending your own formulas, use herbs that have been traditionally used for the care of the skin. Know also whether the herb is slightly drying (astringents) or moisturizing (mucilaginous). Add flowers for color and texture. It is lovely to be steaming over a soup pot of simmering roses, marigold, chamomile, and lavender blossoms.
Recipe for Dry to Normal Skin
Recipe for Normal to Oily Skin
Mix all the herbs together, adjust amounts to suit you, and store in dry, airtight glass bottles.
Bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add a healthy handful of the herb mixture and let simmer with the lid on for just a couple of minutes. Remove the pot from the heat source. With a large towel, completely cover your head and pot of steaming herbs. Enjoy this mini- sauna. It does wonders for the skin.
(1) Use one or two ounces of herbal formula (see recipes below) to 1 pint of apricot or almond oil. Place herbs in wide mouth jar and pour oil over the herbs. Be certain the herbs are completely covered by the oil.
(2) (a) Let sit in a warm place for two weeks, shaking the herbs and oil mixture every day. Or: (b) place herbs and oil in a double boiler and slowly heat the mixture. Bring to a low simmer (Do Not Overheat the oil or you will end up with burnt massage oil). Keep on low heat for about 30 to 45 minutes.
(3) Whichever method you use above, after desired length of time, strain herbs from oil. Use a fine sieve with a piece of cheese cloth placed in it so that no herbal particles get mixed in with the strained oil.
(4) You may wish to scent your herbal oil with a bit of essential oil. Carefully add a few drops of your favorite essential oils and mix in well.
You now have one of the finest herbal massage oils available. Made with the pure essences of herbs extracted in high quality fruit and nut oil, your massage oil will serve both as an excellent lubricant for massages and as a nutrient for the skin.
Formula 1 (for Dry Skin)
Formula 2 (for Oily Skin)
Mix the herbs together and scent with your favorite essential oil. Follow directions above. Please note: I suggest you add essential oil both while you mixing the dry herbs and at the very end of the recipe when you have strained the herb from the oil. It gives a deeper, richer scent.
Herbs work in a multitude of ways to promote well being and longevity. This interaction between an herb and the human body is classified as the action of the plant. Every plant has a multitude of actions often determined by their chemical constituents and they are more often than not classified in more than one category. Following are the most common classifications for herbs that have an impact on human longevity.
These cleansing grains, a perfect soap replacement, are mild, nourishing, suitable for all skin types, and can be used daily.
This method can be combined with either the Simplers method or the Standardized method. The only additional item you need is a conical percolator. These can be made from gallon glass jugs in which the bottoms have been cut off. Though I have always used the maceration technique, the percolation method produces potent, strong tinctures and takes much less time.
Poor digestion due to congested or overworked liver
Symptoms; soreness in the liver area, painful digestion, gas pains, constipation, feeling of fullness in stomach and intestines, loss of appetite; pms; depression; aversion to oily foods
Poor Fat Digestion
Symptoms feeling nausea or soreness in gut after fatty meals, burping with an oily taste in the mouth or throat; aversion to fatty foods
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Symptoms; burning or uncomfortable feelings in bowels; alternating diarrhea and constipation; frequent gas and rumbling sounds in the intestines. Symptoms usually worse with stress or when tired.
Symptoms; a bloated feeling accompanied by various pains in the abdomen or side; frequent passing of gas.
Symptoms: acne, psoriasis. Bowel movement may have a strong, unpleasant odor.
Weight Problems: Over & Under
Symptoms: sluggish metabolism, work on thyroid gland. Increase metabolism. energy.
RE-CREATING SELF; ALLOWING THE TRUE SELF TO EMERGE
In this part of the healing process, we seek ways to re-imagine our way of seeing the self. This is a long complex process, due to social, family and individual patterns of seeing self. Our process here is to go into the Limbic brain, our primal reptilian thought process that very early in our development created the patterns that helped us survive. But often as we grow/evolve those processes no longer are needed for survival and can, in fact, become detrimental if patterns are not changed Many of the suggestions employed here for ‘re patterning thought processes’ are childlike, playful and involve our inner child.
STEP ONE: Mask making ~ using plaster of Paris masks that form and shape to the exact contours of the face, make a mask symbolizing the pathology ~ the image of the "self" you are trying to change. Be explicit in your decoration. Be imaginative. Let your inner child decorate the mask representing everything about you that you no longer wish to be a part of you. When it has been created to represent your anorexia/bulimia self, create a ceremonial fire and burn this mask.
Next, create a mask using the same medium of plaster of Paris to create a mask representing the person you are becoming or wish to reflect inside of you. This mask should represent your wholeness.
STEP TWO: Collage or Treasure Maps ~ Using large poster boards, make a collage of figures of woman who you admire and look up to. Women who you would like to emulate. The one rule here is that there are to be NO thin bodies. This collage must be made up entirely of short, tall, dark, old, young, light, women of color, wisdom, etc., etc., but no think bodies. Quotes from these women can be included in the collage and/or quotes from other women you admire. When this collage is finished to your satisfaction and is a rich tapestry of the faces and round, perhaps shapeless, bodies of women who you feel embrace what soul is all about, hang this visual message where you can see it everyday.
Upon arising, look at this collage. Affirm the beauty of these women in yourself every day. This is a wonderful exercise to help restructure our visuals of women, to liberate women and get them out of the bikinis and corsets that hold women in bondage.
STEP THREE: DREAM WORK ~ it is essential, far better than any kind of therapy I know of, to get in touch with your dream world. I prefer the techniques of Jungian Gestalt dream work and would caution against the "interpretation" types of dream therapy that abound. Jungian Gestalt dream work is a direct link to understanding the archetypical figures and putting us in touch with them. These often prove the most valuable guides, giving us direct access to our inner world. It’s often in this non three dimensional world that we begin to understand the deep nature of our pathology.
Until we become in touch with the underlying nature of the pathology that controls, there is generally not lasting change. The pathology will find other ways to resurface. It is like the analogy using the smoke detector. When the alarm goes off, one should shut it off, but then one needs to find what set it off. If this is not taken care of, it will go off again and again.
STEP FOUR: REPROGRAMMING THE LIMBIC BRAIN ~ every hour on the hour, visually go into your limbic brain and reprogram the way you think. Have key words such as: * I am whole. * I am enough. * I am filled with the radiant energy of Great Spirit. * I deserve nourishment. * I do not have to produce to be loved. * I do not have to be thin to be loved.
What you want to do is to find the key words for you and use these words to reprogram self. This was done at an early age, only unconsciously. Programming such as "I have to produce to be loved"; "Women must be thin and beautiful to be loved"; "People like me best when I am sweet nice and good", etc., etc., Each person is programmed differently, of course, according to their family and social setting. Reprogram the early messages; they are often not appropriate any longer; in fact, are the programming that often sets bulimia and anorexia off in the first stages.
STEP FIVE: SOULFUL READING ~ read books that nourish and support the soul. There are probably some good books out about anorexia/bulimia, but I have not read any. Books I would put on my "soulful reading list" include: Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore; Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan, and Celestine Prophecies by James Redfield.
What books would you add to these lists? Books that make you feel glad to be alive, give reason and value to your life?
STEP SIX: PARTICIPATE IN A NATURAL COOKING CLASS ~ Take a healthy cooking class. Learn to cook for health. In your case, Linda, this is not an issue, since you already know how to cook healthily. However, odd as it may seem, I think it might be helpful to participate in other people's cooking classes. Perhaps study with Ann Marie Colbin for a week end. I suggest this not so much that you will learn new cooking techniques, but that it may be helpful in introducing new attitudes about eating and food. Perhaps, take your positive attitudes to a deeper level.
STEP SEVEN: THE FOOD YOU EAT IS HOLY ~ Create your mealtimes as a spiritual ritual, a sacred affair. Even if you suspect you are going to vomit the food, still, even then, bless it. EAT VERY SLOWLY. Honor the food as a gift from the Creator. You must get in the habit of transforming food so that is no longer the enemy, but a gift that feeds your spirit. And, you must reprogram your body so that it feels it deserves to receive earth nourishment... Reprogram your brain as you eat ~ this food is sacred and is connecting me to Divine Spirit, to my earth path, to my essence. Without this body, my soul could not exist, nor dance, nor walk, nor breathe.
Eat with other people. This will be hard for you, but another technique for reprogramming your consciousness about food. Try to co-ordinate your meal times with your husbands. This would be very important, especially since he is aware and concerned about your eating disorder. Eat with friends.
STEP EIGHT; ESTABLISH HEALTHY EATING HABITS/PATTERNS ~ This is very difficult to do, because everything in you is going to try to sabotage this effort! Be prepared! You will not be hungry. You will want to vomit after meals. The food will make you feel heavy, tired. You won't like the feeling of food in your stomach. Why? Because for the last 15 or so more years, your psyche has identified food and nourishment as "the enemy". Also, on a purely physical level, your system has learned "not" to eat and/or to vomit what you put in it. That is the habit that your body is now in. It will require concentration, trust, and will power to change the patterns. The above suggestions are made primarily to change the deep scarring, the wounds, that happened, that stimulated and created the eating disorders in the first place. This change is necessary for any lasting change to occur. But without day to day discipline, a re patterning of your habits, no program will work.
You need to be prepared for "failure"; times when you don't have the desire to change and slip back into the old patterns of not eating/eating too much. With most addictions, it is a two step dance ~ one small step forward, two backwards. Motion does happen. However, Linda, if you can remember to eat slowly, to eat with people (create your meals as a joyful event), and to think of the food as spiritual nourishment, it will help you with the re patterning/reprogramming part of this health program.
* Start mornings with protein meal ~ a variety of protein such as tempeh, tofu, seitan, (fish/chicken) should be cooked together and served with a vegetable. No sweets in morning.
No fruit juice, little or no coffee/black tea/stimulants. Nervine teas such as TM’s “Easy Now Nervine’ will calm and distress. Your main meal should be breakfast. If your mornings are busy and leave no time for cooking, cook this meal in the evening and reheat in the morning.
You will not want to eat this big meal in the morning. You will feel heavy and tired. But only for four to six weeks. Then your body will start utilizing the nutrients you are providing it. You will gain weight; not much. Steady good weight that will give you energy and allow your radiance to shine out.
*Mid morning ~ protein shake. Use Spirultine and add extra spirilina to it. Yogurt is great in this shake. This protein shake should taste delicious. Can add fruit and fruit juice if your system tolerates protein and sweets. Most people have a difficult time with this combination.
* Lightest meal in the evening. Your evening meal should be light and nourishing and soul satisfying. Try a green salad and/or steamed vegies, soup, and bread.
HERBAL TONIC FORMULAS FOR ANOREXIA/BULIMIA
Drink 6 - 8 cups of tea a day.
* Take Ginseng capsules 2 capsules 3 X daily
* Shitake/Reishi Mushroom Extract: follow dosage on bottle
* Gingko Gold: follow recommended dosage
* Gota Kola tincture: 1 teaspoon 3 X daily
* Drink 4 - 6 cups of either or both of the above teas a day.
* Hawthorne Berry Syrup, capsules, and/or tincture: follow recommended dosage on bottle
* For constipation can take Renee's Liver pills. These are excellent for liver and also aide in bowel movement.
Would be good for you to eat fish and chicken.
Eat your large meal in the morning. (Your high protein fuel food. No sweets. i.e no fruit juices in the morning).
Have a mid morning protein shake. Have a light meal in the evening. Soup, salad, light portion of protein.
Always eat around other people ~ this will be very hard for you. But try it. Make your meal times a spiritual time. Quiet music. candles. prayer for the food. Honoring for all life that gave away that we might live this day, knowing we too must give away one day to complete the cycle.
WRITE A PERSONAL HISTORY ~ Fill our personal health form then elaborate on it by writing a detailed history including any information that might have influenced eating disorders. After this detailed history is complete, go over it again, this time just highlighting those events that seem to stand out. For example, in _____ (patient this was designed for):
* Felt over weight as a teenager, but wasn't ever really. Gained a lot of weight in collage, her friends were all "perfectly trim".
* Goes through a period during college, when she eats 3 meals a day, exercises, takes great care of herself, and feels "the best she's ever felt".
* Husband comes home from service and wants all of her attention. She starts giving to him; stops exercise program, stops doing the special things for self.
* Buy house, over working, working a couple of jobs, fixing house, no time for anything.
* She is trying to do it all ~ to prove she can do it all.
* Stopped eating. Went down to 82 lbs. Stomach shrank so much, wasn't hungry. Just drank chocolate milk three times a day.
* Parents and husband sent her to a psychiatrist and nutrition list. Helped her developed better eating habits.
* Moved. Less stress. Started eating a little better (not a whole lot) and began to gain weight. Got up to 100 lbs.
* Favorite aunt died. She and husband also bought a large old farmhouse heavily in need of repair. Again, had to over work. Lots of stress. Not enough money.
* She closes up after Aunt dies. Starts eating everything. Goes from 110 lbs to 122 lbs.
* Feels fat and ugly. Shuts husband out because she feels so bad.
* He gets lonely and has an affair. Moves out of house and lives with the other woman for a whole year.
* She starts drinking heavily. Would often be drunk by noon. Wasn't eating again.
* Husband was still trying to be supportive of her. No sexual relationship, but they continued to be friends.
* He moved back. She started feeling good about herself again. Ate healthy good food. Not over stressed at work. Things were going great.
* Then husband decides to go back to college. She again is working all the time. trying to do everything. Working day and night jobs. Weight drops to 90lbs.
* Trying to be super woman. Finally Joe gets out of college and things lighten a little. but she can't shake the super woman syndrome.
* Two years ago, she was working the herb gardens and waitressing at night. She was so stressed trying to do both. Bulimia started.
* Found out her father had a brain tumor. she was waitressing, attending to her father, working the herbs, bulimia got very intense.
* The day after he died, she started eating everything. the bulimia syndrome.
Comments: This program was successful for this women. I’ve followed her progression over the course of eight years. She’s been stable in her eating patterns, is enrolled at a naturopathic college where she will graduate with an N.D. degree in another year
Keys in this program;
* Reprogram Limbic brain through inner child work, dream work, and play.
* Do not over work. Over work and stress signal chemicals in the body that send out alarms and alerts in the system to over eat/not eat. Do not over do. Super woman always dies, just like everyone else, only far more worn out and feeling used!
* Create healthy eating habits. Eat with other people. Eat slowly. Eat large protein meal in the morning. Eat a light evening meal. Do not eat late in the evening.
"Let the beauty you love be what you do.
There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth."
Almost all herbs tincture well with the correct mixture of alcohol and water. Herbs can be tinctured as a ready made formula, or tinctured as single herbs and combined later in formulas. Most herbalists prefer to tincture herbs as single extracts. This allows control of the water/alcohol ratio for individual herbs and their constituents. It also allows them greater flexibility when creating formulas from single herb extracts. Though I appreciate the reasoning for single herb extracts, I prefer tincturing my formulas together. I sense there is a union and a greater compatibility that happens as the herbs macerate and merge together. Instead of being single components they seem to become one. As you can tell, there is not one method but each person develops their personal way to create tinctures. Experiment and discover which method you like best. Try several methods when first making tinctures to discover the methods that work best for you.
This title is a misnomer to be sure. Although there has been considerable effort to standardize tincture making, the high number of rebellious, independent, right brain herbalists makes this a monumental task. There have been significant inroads made however, and to the extent that standardization exists, I will explain how it works. Be assured that, until all the Pharmacopoeias agree on the same water to alcohol ratio for each herb, there will be no truly Standardized Method in the Modern Scientific sense.
There are two different aspects or ratios that you must understand to make standardized tinctures. The first is the ratio of the herb to the liquid (menstruum). The second is the ratio within the menstruum itself. The menstruum is made up of water and alcohol in a specific ratio. For the purposes of clarity I will refer to the Herb to Menstruum ratio (written Herb: Menstruum) as ratio A, and the Water to Alcohol ratio (Water:Alcohol) as ratio B. After you determine ratio A and ratio B for your particular tincture, you put the two together and presto; you have a Standardized Tincture.
a. Ratio A, Herb: Menstruum
There are three standard ratios in use today. The type of herb you are using determines them.
b. Ratio B, Water:Alcohol (the Menstruum)
This ratio can vary depending on the herbs you are using and the chemical substances you wish to extract. Determining this ratio can be very simple or very complicated, depending on whether you can buy your desired water:alcohol ratio premixed or whether you have to mix it yourself. The most common standard ratio is 1:1 or 1 part water to 1 part alcohol. I will start with the simple way then tackle the more complex technique, hopefully only for your reference library.
First we determine how much menstruum we need by using ratio A. Weigh out your herb in grams and multiply that number by the ratio determined by whether the herb is DRY, FRESH OR RESINOUS. This will give you the number of ml of menstruum you need.
Example 1: If you have 12 g of dry herb, using a 1:5 ratio; 12g x 5 = 60ml of menstruum
Example 2: If you have 22 g of resinous herb, using a 1:4 ratio; 22g x 4 = 88ml of menstruum.
When you have determined the amount of menstruum needed, the next step is to decide what water:alcohol ratio is best for the particular herb/s. This is where the pharmacopoeias are not always in agreement and thus the Standardized Technique isn't exactly standardized. The following chart provides water:alcohol information:
Wa:Al % Water % Alcohol Proof
1:1 50% 50% 100
1:2 33% 67% 134
1:3 25% 75% 150
1:4 20% 80% 160
55:45 55% 45% 90
60:40 60% 40% 80
70:30 70% 30% 60
When you determine ratio B, the water:alcohol ratio; look on the chart above. If you can buy alcohol in the proof you want all you have to do is measure the number of ml you need and that is your menstruum all made up.
Example: The particular herb you are tincturing works best with a 40% alcohol menstruum. You have 12 g of dry herb from example 1 above. Look on the chart and see that 40% alcohol is the same as 80 proof. Go to any liquor store and buy 80 proof vodka, brandy or whatever you desire. Measure out 60 ml (12g x 5) of it and ratio B, your menstruum, is completed.
Example: The particular herb you are tincturing works best with a 50% alcohol menstruum. Look on the chart above and see that 100 proof alcohol is necessary. Buy the 100 proof alcohol. If you are using the 22 grams of resinous herb in example 2 above, measure out 88 ml (22 x 4) of 100 proof alcohol and the menstruum is ready to use. Then follow the tincturing technique under Simplers Technique.
Most commercial herbal tincture production is done with pure grain alcohol also called ethyl alcohol. This is 190 proof or 95% alcohol. You can buy 100% alcohol. Because many herbalists are very right brain the mere sight of mathematical formulas strikes fear in their hearts and their brains refuse to go further. I promise you this is relatively easy if you will stay with me and try. The several steps in this process are:
1. Determine what % alcohol you want to use in the menstruum, (Pharmacopoeia, etc).
2. Determine how many ml of menstruum you need (ratio A).
3. Multiply the % alcohol (step 1) by the total ml of menstruum (step 2) to get the total ml of alcohol you need.
4. Divide the total ml of alcohol (step 3) by 0.95 (ethyl alcohol) to get the total ml of ethyl alcohol you need to add to the menstruum (ratio B).
5. Subtract ml ethyl alcohol (step 4) from total ml of menstruum (step 2) to get the ml of water in ratio B.
Lets take an Example. Suppose the Pharmacopoeia requires 42% alcohol to tincture our 93 grams of fresh mullein. Now wee go through the above steps:
1. % alcohol = 42% = .42
2. Ratio A, FRESH herbs = 1:2 93g x 2 = 186
ml of menstruum.
3. .42 x 186ml = 78.1 ml of alcohol
4. 78.1 = 82.21 ml of ethyl alcohol
5. 186 - 82.21 = 103.79 ml water So ratio B is Water:Ethyl Alcohol = 103.79:82.21
I intentionally picked numbers that wouldnt work out evenly because if you use this technique your numbers probably wont work out evenly either. If you try it a few times you will find it quite simple to use.
Superfoods are whole foods that are naturally concentrated in important nutrients. They are natures original supplements and may actually be the precursor of the supplement industry. Although supplements, i.e., vitamin and mineral pills, have their place and are useful therapeutic agents, superfoods provide whole spectrum nutrients as only nature can. Most supplements, on the other hand, while useful in the manner that drugs can be are generally made from unnatural substances contrary to what the labels may claim.
These supplements are useful in the `saging graciously process:
This is by far the most wonderful face cream I have ever used. It is rich with natural ingredients. A real moisturizer, it provides nourishment, moisture and food for the skin. And for the final stroke, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to make. Hundreds of my students have made it using this recipe. Almost all agree it is the best skin cream they have ever used. Many have further personalized the recipe for their own unique skin type. This basic formula, though excellent as is, can be further embellished.
Unlike many commercial creams that only coat the surface of the skin, this cream penetrates the epidermal layer and moisturizes the dermal layer of the skin. Because it is extremely concentrated, a little goes a long way. A common mistake when using this cream, is to use too much of it. You only need the smallest finger full. Take a tiny amount and gently massage into your face and skin. There will be a temporary feeling of oiliness that will, within a few minutes, disappear as the cream is quickly absorbed. Though I recommend just a small amount on your face, you can be generous on the rest of your body. Because you make this cream yourself, you can afford the luxury of using your richest face cream on your entire body.
Though this recipe appears easy, it is also a bit challenging. You are attempting to mix (homogenize) water and oil together; and they don't normally mix. Follow the recipe closely. If it doesn't turn out the first time, don't be discouraged, try again. It is well worth the effort.
THE RECIPE FOR THE PERFECT CREAM
(1) Basically the proportions of our cream recipe should be about 1 part group one (oils) to 1 part group two (waters).
(2) In group one, the oil proportions should be approximately 2/3 cup liquid oil (such as almond and apricot) to 1/3 cup solid oil (cocoa butter, coconut oil, beeswax, lanolin, etc.).
(3) In group two, the water mixture, the "waters" can include distilled water, rose water, lavender, orange and other flower waters. It can also include tap water but tap water will sometimes introduce bacteria to your cream that results in the growth of mold. The water mixture also includes your essential oils, vitamins and aloe vera gel. If using aloe vera, your cream will be heavier, but very moisturizing. It is important never to use aloe on staph or strep infections.
There is a lot of flexibility and room for creative input in this recipe. What is essential to its success is proportions and temperature.
(1) Melt group one over low heat in a double boiler. Heat just enough to melt.
(2) Pour into a glass measuring cup and let cool to room temperature. Oils should become thick, creamy, semi-solid, and cream colored. This cooling process can be hastened in the refrigerator, however, keep an eye on it so it doesn't get too hard. When completely cool you are ready for step (3) Place group two in the blender. Turn blender on the highest speed. In a SLOW, THIN drizzle (just like making mayonnaise) pour group one (oil mixture) into the center vortex.
(4) When most of the oil mixture has been added to the water mixture, LISTEN to the blender and WATCH the cream. When the blender coughs and chokes, and the cream looks thick and white like buttercream frosting, turn the blender off. DO NOT OVERBEAT! You should have a beautiful rich thick cream. It will thicken a bit as it sets up.
(5) Pour into cream or lotion jars and store in a cool place.
* Followed as above, the cream recipe should work for you. If it doesn't and the waters and oils separate, it is most likely because of improper temperatures. The waters have to be room temperature and the oils completely cooled.
* If the water and oil separate, you can separate them entirely and begin the process over again. Or, put a little note on your package that says "SHAKE BEFORE USING".
* This recipe is a basic formula and is ready for all your enthusiastic ideas: vitamins A, D, & E; elastin, collagen, avocado oil, various combinations of essential oils, herbs, and etc. One caution: experiment in small batches.
This wonderful astringent lotion has been hailed as the first herbal product to ever be produced an marketed. Legend has it the early gypsies formulated it and claimed it to be a cure-all for everything. Whether or not it is, I hardly know; but I do know that it is an excellent astringent for the face and a great hair rinse for dark hair. I think in some ways it is one of the world_finest cosmetic formulas. It combines gentle common herbs in a masterful way, is easy and inexpensive to make, and is a very versatile formula that serves many purposes. The Gypsies claimed it was good as a hair rinse, mouth wash, headache remedy, aftershave, foot bath and who knows what else! I have seen this exact same formula bottled in exotic little bottles and sold in expensive department stores for a fancy price. You can make it for the cost of a few herbs and a bottle of vinegar. It smells very much like vinegar, so you might wish to add more rose water.
(1) Place all the herbs in a wide mouth jar and cover with vinegar. Be sure there is about one to two inches of vinegar above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and let sit in a warm spot for two to three weeks.
(2) Strain. Set the liquid aside.
(3) To each cup of herbal vinegar add 1/2 cup rosewater and/or witch hazel.
(4) A drop or two of essential oil such as lavender or rose can be added.
(5) Rebottle. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will preserve itself forever.
The Simplers or Folk Method
- This is my preferred method and the way its been done for hundreds of years. It is VERY simple; all that is required are the herbs, the menstruum, and a jar with a tight fitting lid.
- Chop your herbs finely. I recommend using fresh herbs whenever possible. High quality dried herbs will work well also, but one of the advantages of tincturing is the ability to preserve the fresh attributes of the plant. Fill a clean, dry jar to the top with the herbs.
- Pour the menstruum over the herbs. Fill the jar to the top, being sure the menstruum COMPLETELY COVERS the entire herb. Seal with a tight fitting lid. If using vinegar as the menstruum, I recommend warming the vinegar first. It facilitates the release of the herb essence.
- Place the jar(s) in a warm, dark place and let macerate for 2 to 6 weeks. The longer, the better. In Western herbology we are taught the proper time to allow to macerate is 2 weeks. In Eastern herbology, herbs are left to macerate for months, even years. In spite of all the controversy about this subject, I have found that the longer the herb is allowed to tincture the better.
- At the end of the appropriate time, strain. I have found using a large stainless steel strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin to work well. You can use the cloth to wring out every drop of herbal essence. Reserve the liquid and compost the herbs. Rebottle and label as directed on page 2.
- I always encourage the daily shaking of the bottles of tinctures during the tincturing process. This not only prevents the herbs from packing on the bottom, but also invites some of the old magic to come back into medicine making. During the shaking process, you can sing to your jars, stir them in the moonlight or the sunlight, wave feathers over them; whatever your imagination inspires of you. It adds a special medicine to your preparations.
Though alcohol is the menstruum of choice these days, and rightfully has earned its popularity through its effectiveness, vinegar is also a suitable menstruum. Select an organic apple cider vinegar if possible. It is definitely not as strong as alcohol and does not break down all of the plant components as well, but there are some advantages to using vinegar. Vinegar is a food, 100 % non-toxic and tolerable by almost everyone. It helps regulate the acid/alkaline balance in our bodies and is an excellent tonic for the digestive tract. It also tastes good and can be used as a food. Vinegar tinctures are a fine alternative for alcohol sensitive people and can be used for children, alcoholics, and people averse to drinking alcohol. I find vinegar is a good medium for tonics where strength is not so critical. These tonics become part of our food and daily fare. Vinegar is a good base for this type of tincture formula. For strong medicinal purposes, Alcohol based tinctures are probably more effective; they are extremely potent and quick acting in the body.
Add a little honey to your vinegar tonic for a nice flavor. I like knowing my medicine is more like a food substance. I can use these tinctures on my vegetables and salads or sip a small amount plain. Though they may not be as concentrated as alcohol tinctures, I trust in the body's ability to discern what it needs and to use it efficiently.
There is some controversy as to the shelf life of a vinegar tincture. Most literature reports that vinegar tinctures have a short shelf life, up to six months, before deteriorating. My personal experience, and that of many of my peers, has been that vinegar tinctures will last, if stored in a cool dark place, for several years. I have vinegar tinctures that are two, three, four years old and they are still in excellent condition.