Ave Maria Behrendt
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The herbs are not washed before drying.
They are spread thinly on cloths or unprinted paper and ddried as quickly as possible in the shade or in warm, ventilated rooms. Attics or lofts are the most ideal places.
Roots, bark or very fleshy parts of plants are often dried in a warm oven. The oven temperature should not exceed 35C or 95F. It is best to cut roots which are well washed, for example, mistletoe, before drying.
Only fully dried herbs can be stored for winter otherwise they crack and break when bent.
Glass jars or sealable cartons are the most appropriate for their storage.
Please avoid any plastic or metal containers.
The herbs should be protected from light while you are storing them, so coloured glass jars would be the best to use.
Methods of Preparation
Seven different ways in which one can prepare the herbs to help in our healing processes are detailed here.
Personally, I recommend herb teas or herb baths (both full bath and sitz bath) to most people. However, in cases like the treatment of gout, rheumatism, sprains or neck pains, poultices are the most effective.
For interest's sake, since I have discovered these previously mentioned ailments to be most common in South Africa, I am recommending some plants that can be used as poultices and/or tea infusions and tinctures.
Butter Bur, Umbrella Plant (Petasites officinalis)
Commonly known as Bog Rhubarb, the large fresh leaves are applied not only for sprains, dislocations and sore feet, but also for every kind of burn or wound.
The roots which are gathered before the time of flowering are made into a tea infusion. 1 to 2 cups can be sipped during the day for gout, epilepsy, shortness of breath and fever.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
People who suffer from rheumatism and swelling of joints have found relief from Comfrey tincture as a compress. This is also helpful for bruises, contusions and bone fractures.
The leaves of Comfrey, scaled and used as a poultice and applied to paralysed limbs caused by over-exertion, dislocation, sprain or shock, help overnight. Warm poultices are also helpful in varicose ulcers, muscular rheumatism, gout stones, ulcers, neck pains and periostitis.
A tea can be prepared from the roots and used internally for bronchitis, disorders of the digestive system, bleeding in the stomach and pleurisy (2 to 4 cups are sipped during the day).
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Besides being a blood purifier and bringing relief in gout and rheumatism, dandelion is useful in disorders of the liver and gallbladder.
The beauty of dandelion is that the whole plant has medicinal powers.
Gather the leaves before flowering, the stems during the time of flowering, the roots in early spring or in the autumn.
Five to six pieces of the fresh stems of the flower, chewed daily, bring swift relief in chronic inflammation of the liver.
As long as the plant is in flower, diabetics should eat up to 10 stems daily.
Sicklky people who feel constantly tired and are without energy should take a 14-day course of treatment with the fresh stems of dandelion
The fresh stems can help remove gall stones painlessly.
PLEASE NOTE: The stems with the flowers are washed and only then is the flowerhead removed and the stems are slowly chewed. It might taste very bitter to begin with, but after a while it tastes different.
Dandelion roots eaten raw or taken dry in the form of an infusion purify the blood, improve digestion and have both a diuretic and stimulating effect.
Fresh herbs are cut and the prescribed quantity placed in a teapot. Water is brought to the boil and poured over the prepared herbs. Fresh herbs are steeped for a very short time only (half a minute). The tea has to be quite light, light yellow or light green. Dried herbs are steeped longer (1 to 2 minutes).
Roots are placed in the required amount of cold water, brought to the boil and steeped for 3 minutes.
The daily requirement of tea is placed into a thermos flask and the prescribed quantity sipped during the day. In general one can take one heaped teaspoon of herbs in one quarter litre of water (plus 1 cup) or otherwise as prescribed for the individual plants.
Some herbs (e.g. mallow, mistletoe or calamus) should not have boiling water poured over them, as their healing power is lost through the influence of heat.
A tea from these herbs is made by cold infusion, the prescribed quantity of the respective plants is steeped in cold water for eight to twelve hours (usually overnight), then warmed to drinking temperature only and the daily requirement kept in a thermos flask, rinsed beforehand with hot water.
A cold infusion mixed with a hot infusion provides a means of extracting the most value from medicinal plants. The herbs are steeped overnight with half the prescribed amount of water and strained in the morning. The other half of the prescribed amount of water is brought to the boil, pourerd over the herb residue and strained again. Cold and hot infusions are now mixed.
Fresh juices of herbs are suitable for taking internally in drop form or for dabbing on affected parts of the body. They are made fresh daily. Poured into small bottles and well sealed, they will keep for a few months if stored in the refrigerator.
Stems and leaves are crushed into a pulp on a wooden board with a wooden rolling pin. Spread on a piece of linen, place on the affected part of the body, bind with a cloth and keep warm. This poultice can be kept on overnight.
In a pot bring water to the boil, hang over it a sieve in which are laid fresh or dried herbs, and cover. After some time, take the softened, warm herbs, put them on a lightly woven cloth and place on the affected part of the body.
Everything is covered with a woollen cloth and bound fast with further cloths. No feelings of cold should arise.
Warm poultices are left on for two hours or overnight.
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