Basic Preparations of Herbs

A herb is sometimes used on its own or sometimes as part of a formula that contains several herbs.

The latter, termed polypharmacy, employs a teamwork effect that is appropriate when the power of a single herb needs to be supplemented. Very often the formula consists of one main herb with others acting as support. The support team can be made up of one or two herbs, or even ten or twelve.

The main herb may, for example, be required to soothe impaired tissue, while the others assist in nourishment, help eliminate toxins, assist in nerve or blood supply, or calm and sedate.

These single or multiple herb choices can be prepared as teas (infusions), decoctions, tinctures, syrups, capsules, ointments, compresses, poultices, suppositories, pessaries, douches, essential oils, herbal oils, smudge sticks, or powders.

Differing forms of administering a herb or herbs are chosen for whether external or internal uses are needed. Also, a choice has to be made regarding by what means the specifi c benefi cial chemistries are to be extracted.

For instance, the main chemical constituents in ginkgo leaf are best extracted using water, and therefore a tea or decoction is ideal; whereas for echinacea root, alcohol is best, and therefore a tincture is ideal.

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Sometimes methods can be combined, thus taking advantage of all available chemistries. As mentioned before, all plants used in the basic preparation of herbs should be organic or wild-crafted. For information on the specifi c plants referred to by common name, see appendix 1.

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