Let’s talk herbal infusions eKa CIRCLE
Herbal infusions are one of the most basic yet effective methods of using herbs for health. In fact this is exactly how it was done in the old days. While I am not an expert by any means I have been having huge success using these simple guidelines. Each day I look for something to gather. Make sure it is from an area that you know hasn’t been sprayed with toxic weed killers. I have also been cultivating herbs and flowers intentionally in my little garden for exactly this purpose.
Herbs can be infused into water, oil, vinegar or a pure alcohol. It is essential to pick herbs first thing in the morning before the sun is too hot to ensure optimum fragrance and nutrition in the plant. It is wise to choose things in season and avoid any blemish or rotting on a plant. Each plant has its own vibration and healing property. Blends are also possible as you become more confident in this process. Be aware that oils and herbal properties are all light sensitive so after you have made the infusion store them in a cool, dark place or refrigerate.
- 1 tsp of dried herbs per cup of boiling water, cover and allow to steep for 10 minutes
- 2 tsp of fresh herbs per cup of boiling water, cover and allow to steep for 10 minutes
Drink as a tea or allow to cool and drink as a tonic to aid healing for various ailments.
Some ideas to try are nettle- used as a tonic, peppermint- to settle a stomach, holy basil- to reduce stress and reduce fluoride in the body, red clover- to boost immunity, chamomile- relaxation, fennel- reduce wind and give protection.
You can use dried herbs or fresh for this method. When using fresh herbs and flowers make sure they are extremely fresh, washed and dried before adding the oil. Place the herbs into a jar and cover completely with your favourite oil. I quite like to use organic olive oil or grapeseed oil as they are very versatile when making healing balms and salves. Place a lid on the jar or use muslin or calico secured with a rubber band.
Leave the jars on a sunny windowsill for at least 3 weeks. Stir or shake the herbs daily if possible. It is important that the herbs always be submerged in the oil to prevent any moulds. Label and date the jar if you have multiple items ; I quite like using a white marker to write directly on the jar. When the herbs or flowers have infused strain them through a sieve lined with muslin and rebottle in a clean jar or bottle. Store in a cool dark place until you want to prepare something with the oil. This is the perfect method of extraction for salves, balms, face creams, body lotions and massage oils.
If you are lucky enough to have an oversupply of any fresh herb a dehydrator is a great investment to prolong the shelf life of the herbs. Dry and store in airtight jars in a cool dark cupboard. You can infuse at a later date as required.
There is a method for fast tracking infusion by heating the oil gently. I personally do not recommend this as the nutrient levels suffer. Old school all the way where possible. Try to use good quality organic oils where possible. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
- dandelion flower
- lemon balm
- calendula flowers
- lavender flowers
- emu leaf
- olive oil
- castor oil
- hemp oil
- almond oil
- grapeseed oil
- avocado oil (keep this one out of sunlight)
- sunflower oil
This is my gathering this morning. I have rosemary and oregano from my garden and dandelion from my walk this morning in local fields. There is a recipe on another eKa blogpost for dandelion salve that you can check out if that interests you.
Vinegar or Alcohol Method
This technique is used as more of a tincture or a tonic. It is helpful for internal medicines; it can be taken straight using a dropper or diluted in water or tea. I use the vinegar to steep herbs and citrus rinds to prepare cleaning solutions.When taking any herb internally it is advisable to be absolutely certain what you have foraged and learn from a certified herbalist the effects of that particular herb.
Fill a glass jar half way with the finely chopped fresh herb (or you can use dried if you prefer), cover with the chosen pure alcohol (vodka is the most popular, rum also works well) or vinegar. Cover the top of the jar with a little baking paper and close the lid tightly. The metal of a lid should not touch the liquid.
Place the jars in a warm, dark place and macerate for one more preferably longer. Strain the herb through a strainer lined with muslin and rebottle in clean glass bottles with a secure lid. Label and date each product.
Suitable Herbal Ingredients for Tinctures
- stinging nettle (use gloves)
- lemon balm
- raspberry leaf
- dried edible flowers
- non toxic leaves
- non toxic roots
- aromatic bark
- citrus rind
Happy foraging and co-creating. Mother nature gives us all that we need; let’s relearn how to use the lifeforce of nature with wisdom.
love & light
M + E