Aromatic herbs have been a part of the human culture for thousands of years. Much of the lore associated with the ancient herbalist has been lost in modern times. The art of gathering according to the phases of the moon and the preparation of the herbal formula depending on the use of the herb has been replaced by identifying the herbal properties and using the most expedient method of extraction.
The healing properties of herbs were used by ancient people in ways other than ingestion or topical applications. Strewing paths with herbs, making garlands and festooning the halls all had their place in promoting health and happiness throughout history. The herbs were carefully chosen according to the end result, harvested at the proper phase of the moon and prepared by persons known to have the special gift of coaxing the proper essence for the intended purpose.
Ancient Egyptian and Sumerian records document the use of herbal medicinal practices, and healing herbs are mentioned in the Bible. Yet the use of herbs to enhance daily life slowly lost popularity and much of herbal lore has been lost over time. Even the fairly recent adage that every herb needed for the happiness and health of the family will be found growing in the yard has been lost as homeowners work to force nature to their will.
Herbal tonics are used to prevent disease and improve the general health of the users. There are many ways to receive the benefit of tonics. They can be used a bath additives, teas, juices, tinctures and steaming mixtures. The herbs can be soaked in wine and spirits.
Herbs can also restore weak or damaged body parts and correct malfunctions. Ailments can be relieved as herbs counteract illnesses, pains and infirmities.
Modern day users of herbs find benefit by using aromatics in cooking, medicines and topical ointments and creams. Cosmetic and healing formulas can be whipped up to treat bruises, cuts and even to enhance beauty.
Herbal remedies, just like synthetic drugs, affect different people in different ways, making it important to start out slowly when using any herbal formula. Stinging nettle acts as a laxative for many sufferers of constipation. Others, however, find that stinging nettle has a constipating effect. Both high blood pressure and low blood pressure can be treated with lemon balm.
Modern day herbal remedies are most often taken as teas prepared by the infusion method. The soft part of the herb is immersed in boiling water, covered, and allowed to steep for about 15 minutes, before being strained and served. Most herbal infusions use 2 Tbsp. of fresh herb to each pint of water.
The decoction method is used to extract the beneficial properties of seeds, bark, fleshy leaves and woody roots of the herb. One teaspoon of the herb is boiled in 2 pints of water for 10 to 15 minutes, covered, and left to steep for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Healing properties of herbs with exceptionally woody stems and roots are extracted by letting the herb soak in cold water overnight and then bringing the entire mixture to just below the boiling point.
The most common health problems in an average household can be treated with just a few herbs.
Sage and thyme should be kept handy to be make into a tea to treat throat, bronchial or sinus problems and colds. Chamomile or valerian root tea will promote a sleep. Bitter herbs like sage and dandelion will help with digestive problems.
Skin problems can be treated with topical applications of St. John’s work or marigold. Thyme and chamomile teas will help disinfect a skin wound.