How to use Herbal Remedies

Infusions

An infusion is like a tea and is used for soft, green or flowering plant parts. Place the herb or mixture in a pot or cup, add boiling water and leave to steep for 10 minutes before straining. The quantity of herb needed varies according to individual herb quality and the strength of infusion required, however the general rule is 1 - 2 teaspoonfuls of dried herb for each cupful of boiling water, or 1 tablespoon of herb for each pint of boiling water. For fresh herbs use double the quantity of herb.


Decoctions

Decoctions are ideal for hard or woody roots, barks, berries or seeds and are made using the same herb and water quantities as infusions above. Place the plant material in a saucepan, add water, cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes before straining. You may need to add a little more water if steam escapes. Use glass, ceramic or unchipped enamel pans, never aluminium.


Tinctures

Tinctures are an extraction of herb made using water and alcohol and are very easy to use; just add a few drops of tincture to water. The usual intake is 1 - 5ml in a wineglass of water 2 - 3 X daily. 1ml is roughly 25 drops and a household teaspoon is roughly 4ml (5ml spoons are available from the chemist). To evaporate most of the traces of alcohol just add your tincture hot water.


Dosage

Herbal remedies are most often taken three times daily, although in very acute situations you can take the remedy more frequently. The standard dose is 30 - 40 drops in a little water three times a day or professionally directed. For children under 7 years herbal remedies should only be used in conjunction with professional advice.


Safety & Contraindications


General Considerations

When properly used, herbs have a natural and balancing action on the body rather than a definite physiological effect and, as such, should be used with care and respect. Individual sensitivity can also vary significantly, so, if you are generally sensitive, start with a low dose and build up slowly once you have determined your level of tolerance. Most people have a fairly high tolerance for herbs such as Chamomile, and can quite happily drink 2-3 cups of the infusion per day over extended periods, however other herbs have a stronger effect on the system and must be used well within the recommended levels. If you are in any doubt seek professional advice.

Herbs should be used only when appropriate, for instance a stimulant herb might be ideal in the morning but not before bed; a herb which stimulates the uterus might be ideal for delayed menstruation but must be avoided during pregnancy. It is not recommended to use single herbs or herbal combination in therapeutic doses for more than 12 weeks, unless professionally advised. This is because the body can become habituated to a herb's action and even dependent, plus cumulative exposure to certain plant chemicals may have an irritant effect on certain body systems. Seek professional advice if there is little or no improvement after 12 weeks (maximum).

If you are taking any prescribed medication you should consult a qualified herbalist before taking herbal remedies.

Warning: In rare cases, Black cohosh may cause liver problems. Consult your doctor if you already have liver disease or become unwell whilst using this product.


Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy

Herbs that stimulate the uterus muscles (including abortifacients, emmenagogues and strong laxatives) must be avoided during all stages of pregnancy, indeed all herbs should be checked specifically for safety if pregnant. The following herbs should all be avoided during pregnancy;

Common Name Latin Name Common Name Latin Name
Agnus Castus/Chaste Berry Vitex agnus castus Juniper berries Juniperus communis
Aloe Vera Aloe barbadensis Kola Cola nitida
Angelica Root Angelica archangelica Lemon Grass* Cymbopogon
Aniseed* Pimpinella anisum Liquorice Root Glycyrrhiza glabra
Ashwaghanda Withania somnifera Marigold Calendula officinalis
Avens Geum urbanum Marjoram Origanum majorana
Barberry Berberis vulgaris Motherwort Leonurus cardian
Basil* Ocimum basilicum Mugwort Artemesia vulgaris
Bayberry Myrica cerifera Myrrh Commiphora molmol
Beth Root Trillium erectum Oregano* Origanum vulgare
Black Cohosh Cimicfuga racemosa Oregon Grape Root Berberis aquifolia
Bladderwrack Fucus vesiculosus Parsley* Petroselinum crispum
Blue Cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides Pasque flower/Pulsatilla Anemone pulsatilla
Blue Flag Root Iris versicolor Pau Darco Herb Tabebuia impetiginosa
Boldo Leaf Peumus boldus Pilewort Ranunculus ficaria
Borage Borago officinalis Poke Root Phytolacca decandra
Buchu Barosma betulina Prickly Ash Zanthoxylum americanum
Bugleweed Lycopus europaeus Quassia Chips Picrasma excels
Calamus root Acorus calamus Red Clover Trifolium pratense
California Poppy Eschscholzia californica Rhubarb Root Rheum palmatum
Cascara Sagrada Rhamnus purshiana Rosemary* Rosmarinus officinalis
Catnip/Catmint Nepeta catarina Sage/Red Sage Salvia spp
Celery Seed Apium graveolens Schisandra Berry Schisandra chinesis
Chinese Angelica (Dang Gui) Angelica sinesis Senna Cassia angustifolia
Cinnamon* Cinnamomum zeylancium Sheperd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara Southernwood Artemesia abrotanum
Comfrey Symphytum officinale St John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum
Cramp Bark Viburnum opulus Tansy Tanacetum vulgare
Damiana Turnera diffusa Thuja Thuja occidentalis
Elecampane Inula helenium Thyme* Thymus vulgaris
Fenugreek* Trigonella foenum-graecum Turmeric* Curcuma longa
Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium Uva Ursi/Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva ursi
Ginseng Panax notoginseng Vervain Verbena officinalis
Golden Seal Hydrastis Canadensis White Willow Bark Salix alba
Gotu Kola Centella asiatica Wild Lettuce Lactuca virosa
Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea Wormwood Artemisia absinthium
Gravel Root Eupatorium purpureum Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Holy Thistle Cnicus benedictus Yellow Dock Root Rumex crispus
Horehound (white) Marrubium vulgare    
Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum    
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis    
Jamaican Dogwood Piscidia erythrina    

Contraindications During Lactation

The following herbs should not be used by breastfeeding mothers.

Common Name Latin Name Common Name Latin Name
Aloe Vera Aloe barbadensis Golden Seal Hydrastis Canadensis
Angelica Root Angelica archangelica Gravel Root Eupatorium purpurea
Basil Ocimum basilicum Holy Thistle Cnicus Benedictus
Bayberry Myrica cerifera Horse Chestnut Aseculus hippocastanum
Beth Root Trillium erectum Juniper Berry Juniperus communis
Black Cohosh Cimicfuga racemosa Jamaica Dogwood Piscidia erythrina
Bladderwrack Fucus vesiculosis Liquorice* Glycyrrhiza glabra
Blue Cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides Myrrh Commiphora molmol
Boldo Leaf Pemus boldus Oregon Grape Root Berberis aquifolia
Borage Borago officinalis Poke Root Phytolacca decandra
Buchu Barosma betulina Sage/Red Sage Salvia spp
Bugleweed Lycopus europaeus Senna Cassia angustifolia
Calamus root Acorus calamus St John’s Wort Hypericum perfor
California Poppy Eschscholzia californica Tansy Tanacetum vulgare
Cascara Sagrada Rhamnus purshiana Thuja Thuja occidentalis
Catnip/Catmint Nepeta cataria Uva ursi / Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva ursi
Cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylancium White Willow Bark Salix alba
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara Wild lettuce Lactuca virosa
Comfrey Symphytum officinale Wormwood Artemisia absinthium
Elecampane Inula helenium Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Garlic* Allium satvium Yellow Dock Root Rumex crispus