How to use herbs at home
Updated: Oct 30, 2022
Anyone who's into living more simply and naturally has probably looked into using herbs as an alternative to everything from over-the-counter medicines to commercial skin care products. But you don't have to be Dr. Quinn, medicine woman in order for herbs to enhance your life; in fact, almost everyone uses herbs on a daily basis, whether for tea or cooking or cleansing, even if they are unaware of it! If you'd like to know more about how to prepare herbs at home to take maximum advantage of the benefits of Mother Nature's pharmacopeia, just read on.
Easy ways to use herbs at home
Add a overflowing teaspoon of dried or chopped fresh herbs to a cup/jug and add boiling water until it reaches the top. Cover with a saucer and leave to infuse for 10 minutes before straining out the herb matter. Add the cooled liquid instead of water at the relevant stage of your recipe, whether you're making tea or cocktails or savory gravies. If you are making larger quantities of infusions, add one overflowing teaspoon of herbs for every cup of water.
Do not keep un-preserved herbal infusions any longer than a couple of days in the refrigerator as they go “off” very quickly.
Get water-based herbal extracts into your natural bath products is by using flower waters, or hydrosols. These are the byproducts of the steam distillation of essential oils and are very easy to use. Lavender, orange flower, and rosewater are the most common. They make great skin fresheners in their own right and retain the properties of the essential oils from which they are made. You can buy hydrosols online or at your local health food stores and use as toner - we use lavender hydrosol in our fabulous, cooling facial toner!
If making an oil-biased product, such as a balm or salve, you could soften your herbs in the base oil used in the recipe. The easiest way to do this is to place a overflowing teaspoon of herbs in a bowl and cover them with the base oil of your choice. Place this over a saucepan of hot water and simmer for an hour, ensuring that the water pan does not boil dry (do not let the oil get too hot; the water, rather than the oil, should be simmering). Strain out the herbs and keep the infused oil for your recipes.
If using very fine herbs that cannot fully be strained out, use the whole dried herb with stems intact for easy removal, or make a cheesecloth sachet with herbs inside to discard them easily after infusion.
Basic herbal properties
With so many different types of herbs out there for purposes ranging from culinary to sacred, a beginner may find it challenging to know which herbs to start with. Fortunately, some common herbs have been shown to have great benefits, which is probably why they are so widely consumed and readily available.
Purifying herbs: rosemary, nettle, fennel, lavender, rock salt, seaweed.
Relaxing herbs: chamomile, jasmine, hops, valerian, meadowsweet.
Skin soothing herbs: chamomile, oats, calendula, marshmallow, chickweed.
Once you are familiar with the different herbs and their properties, you can add them to pretty much anything you want. Some examples include; bath teas, bath salts, homemade potpourri, or even baby products! Think of it like trying to sneak more veggies into your finicky kids' diets by adding them to everything in ways they may not notice.
As mentioned above, both chamomile and calendula are categorized as skin soothing herbs - making them the perfect combination to use in baby products! Here is a bit more information about these amazing herbs:
Chamomile is both relaxing and skin-soothing
People use chamomile to treat irritation from chest colds, slow-healing wounds, abscesses, gum inflammation, and skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox, and diaper rash.
People also use chamomile as a tea to treat an upset stomach, sleeping problems, or menstrual pain.
Calendula creams and washes are used to disinfect minor wounds and to treat infections of the skin.
The antibacterial and immunostimulant properties of the plant make it extremely useful in treating slow-healing cuts and cuts in people who have compromised immune systems.
The herb stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites and minimizes scarring.
Gargling calendula water may ease sore throat.
Calendula will not reduce swelling, but it will reduce pain.
We can talk about how amazing these herbs are all day, or you can check out the baby line for yourself!
Have you used chamomile or calendula before? What did you use them for? We want to know what your favourite herb is. Please let us know by leaving a comment below. So excited to continue the conversation on herbs!
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