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Herbal Preparations – Herbal Oils and Liniments

Greetings friends. Today’s home herbal remedy is herbal oils and liniments. These are among some of the most common methods to use home herbal medicine and among the most effective. Both of these products are used for the outside (external) parts of the body and are not ingested (eaten or swallowed). I have included these two methods together as they relate to each other quite closely and often herbal oils are used in the creation of liniments.

Liniments

Liniments are herbal extracts that are rubbed on the skin for treating strained muscles, ligaments, bruises, arthritis and other inflammations. Liniments usually include stimulating herbs such as cayenne to warm the area and help increase circulation. Antispasmodic herbs like chamomile are also used to help relax the muscles. Liniments may be made from alcohol, vinegar or oil. The application of alcohol can be somewhat cooling, while the liquid will evaporate quickly and leave the herbal principals on the skin. You can use grain alcohol like vodka or gin similar to making tinctures[link] or a food grade ethyl-alcohol used for external applications. Rubbing alcohol may used for externally applied liniments but is poisonous if taken internally. Vinegar acts as a natural astringent and as a preservative. It may be used directly or diluted to 50% strength with water. Oils are useful for extracting herbs with aromatic oils and for applications where one wishes to massage the area being treated.

What You Will Need To Make Herbal Liniments

1. Blender, coffee grinder or nut/seed grinder for powdering the herbs.
2. Mortar and pesal for bruising fresh herbs.
3. Resealable, airtight glass jars that can hold 1 litre of fluid.
4. Empty, clean eye dropper glass bottles or small glass bottles – (Must be clean and sterilized.)
5. Vodka, Gin or Apple Cider Vinegar, Vegetable Glycerine; depending upon what liniment you wish to make.

Herbal Liniment Recipe

1. Powder dried herbs by placing in a blender or nut, seed or coffee grinder.
2. Mix powders together and place 115 gm (4 oz) of dried herbs in a glass jar. – (Ensure the jar is well cleaned and sterilized using a sterilizing agent.)
3. Pour alcohol, vinegar or oil over herb into glass jar. Ensure herbs are covered.
4. Each day shake the the jar so the herbs and alcohol mix together. Repeat this each day for 2 weeks.
5. After 2 weeks, strain the mixture by covering a kitchen colander with cheese cloth. Place colander in a big bowl. Pour the herbal liquid into the colander. Herbs will collect in the cheese cloth while the liquid will run through into the bowl. If there are still herbs in the liquid, strain again. Squeeze herbs in cheese cloth to wring out any remaining liquid.
6. Pour contents of bowl into a clean glass jar and seal well. This is your liniment! You may transfer to smaller bottles as needed.

Amounts
Use 115 gm of dried herbs to 500 ml of Vodka. For fresh herbs use 250 gm of herbs to 500 ml of vodka.
Dose
Because liniment are applied directly to the body, there is no specific amount to use. Do, however be sensible and limit use if any kind of skin irritation occurs.
Storage
If made with alcohol, liniments will keep as long as tinctures; anywhere up to 10 years. Store them and vinegar liniment in the same way; away from sun in a cool dark place in a brown glass bottle. If made with oil then they will last for around 1 year and these too are best kept away from direct sunlight in a cool dark place on a dark glass container.

Herbal Oils

Herbal oils are a method of extracting the active principals of herbs into an oil. Used on the outside of the body like liniments, they are good for sore and aching muscles, cuts and stings and of course are wonderful for massage. When I was first learning massage therapy, I used to make my own oils this way and massage my kids as little babies; they loved it. Spices, mints and other strong smelling herbs are especially good to use in oils. The best herbs to use are those whose properties are strongly related to their essential oils like Lavender. Powdered herbs make oils feel gritty so use fresh cut herbs instead. Generally their are two kinds of oils used; one is soothing, emollient and healing and the other is warming and stimulating. Oils which are soothing and healing are usually made with herbs such as comfrey, calendula, sage, lemon balm and lavender or similar herbs. These herbal oils can be used over the entire body or just on the specific areas needing treatment. Oils which are warming and stimulating are made by adding pure essential oils such as cinnamon, thyme, cajuput, camphor, eucalyptus, peppermint and ginger to name a few. These herbal oils are generally used of specific areas where treatment is needed. The best carrier oils to use are olive oil or sesame oil because these warm the skin and keep longer. A few other oils you can add in smaller amounts are apricot, almond and avocado. You can experiment a little to find your favourite combinations. Be sure to add a little Vitamin E oil needs to be added to act as a preservative.

Another piece of advice is to pay attention to the warnings on essential oils you may add into the mixture. Please be sure to make adequate enquires as to whether a particular herb or essential oil or carrier oil you are going to use has any known contra-indications and abide accordingly. Likewise, if you are going to use these on friends or family members, be aware of any known allergies they may have and make sure to avoid using a herb or oil that may irritate that.

What You Will Need To Make Herbal Oils

1. Mortar and pesal for bruising fresh herbs.
2. Resealable, airtight glass jars that can hold 1 litre of fluid.
3. Empty, clean eye dropper glass bottles or small glass bottles – (Must be clean and sterilized. Dark brown if possible.)
4. Carrier oil; olive, sesame etc. Any essential oils you wish to add.
5. Saucepan
6. Vitamin E oil.

Herbal Oil Recipe

I am including 3 methods here for yielding decent quality herbal oils. Try them all or just use the one that best suits you.

Method 1

1. Rub fresh herbs in mortar and pesal to bruise them and allow for the herbal principals to be extracted.
2. Place herbs into a glass jar.
3. Pour chosen oil/s over herbs and seal the jar airtight.
4. Each day shake the jar so the herbs and alcohol mix together. Repeat this each day for 2 weeks.
5. After 2 weeks, strain the mixture by covering a kitchen colander with cheese cloth. Place colander in a big bowl. Pour the herbal oil into the colander. Herbs will collect in the cheese cloth while the liquid will run through into the bowl. If there are still herbs in the liquid, strain again. Squeeze herbs in cheese cloth to wring out any remaining liquid.
6. Pour contents of bowl into a clean glass jar and seal well. This is your herbal oil!
7. Add in Vitamin E oil to preserve. You may transfer to smaller bottles as needed.

Method 2
1. Rub fresh herbs in mortar and pesal to bruise them and allow for the herbal principals to be extracted.
2. Place bruised herbs and oil into a saucepan. Slowly heat and cook herbs gently until crispy, about 1/2 to 1 hour. Cook root herbs first, then leafy herbs and flowers last. Keep pan covered.
3. Pour chosen oil/s and herbs into the jar and seal the jar airtight.
4. Each day shake the jar so the herbs and alcohol mix together. Repeat this each day for 2 weeks.
5. After 2 weeks, strain the mixture by covering a kitchen colander with cheese cloth. Place colander in a big bowl. Pour the herbal oil into the colander. Herbs will collect in the cheese cloth while the liquid will run through into the bowl. If there are still herbs in the liquid, strain again. Squeeze herbs in cheese cloth to wring out any remaining liquid.
6. Pour contents of bowl into a clean glass jar and seal well. This is your herbal oil! Add in Vitamin E oil to preseve.
7.  You may transfer to smaller bottles as needed.

Method 3

This is lengthier but yields a superior quality oil. The proportions of herbs to oil is different and water is added to extract additional medicinal qualities into the oil. This is an ayurvedic method of making herbal oils.

1. Rub fresh herbs in mortar and pesal to bruise them and allow for the herbal principals to be extracted.
2. Place 1 part herbs, 4 parts oil and 16 parts water in a saucepan. Gently heat until all water has evaporated.
3. Pour the remaining oil and herbs into a glass jar and seal airtight.
4. Each day shake the jar so the herbs and alcohol mix together. Repeat this each day for 2 weeks.
5. After 2 weeks, strain the mixture by covering a kitchen colander with cheese cloth. Place colander in a big bowl. Pour the herbal alcohol into the colander. Herbs will collect in the cheese cloth while the liquid will run through into the bowl. If there are still herbs in the liquid, strain again. Squeeze herbs in cheese cloth to wring out any remaining liquid.
6. Pour contents of bowl into a clean glass jar and seal well. This is your herbal oil! Add in Vitamin E oil to preserve. You may transfer to smaller bottles as needed.

Amounts
Use 250 gm of fresh herbs to 500 ml of oil. Add 400IU of Vitamin E oil per cup of oil as a preservative.

Dose
Oils are used directly on the body so there is no specific dosage. As with liniments, be aware of any skin irritations that may occur and limit use if this happens.

Storage
Oils can be stored for up to 1 year in glass jars in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight.

Well, that’s it friends. Enjoy crafting some home herbal liniments and oils. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as using something you have made yourself.
Until next time, be well, naturally.

Craig Hitchens – Natural Health Practitioner

 

References:

My own clinical knowledge

“Herbs of Life” authored by Lesley Tierra, pg 180-183

 
Alternative & Natural Health Disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of posting but may change thereafter. The information provided on the various natural health subjects from this website of www.craighitchenstherapies.com  is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. The information in the article this disclaimer is linked from is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your health professional before taking any products or following any advice that you believe may conflict with other forms of health care. Always consult your health care professional before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your health professional before use.

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