Lotions, ointments, tinctures and teas are excellent ways to get the beneficial properties of herbs into the human body. Home-made blends are easy to prepare and can be done with ordinary kitchen equipment.
Tinctures are one of the easiest ways to preserve summer herbs for winter use. Mullein tincture is a perfect example.
Harvest healthy mullein leaves and flowers while in full bloom. Tear them into pieces and put into a quart mason jar. Do not pack the pieces down. Next pour vodka over the plant material until completely covered (a few ounces of water may be added to dilute the alcohol). Keep in a dark cabinet and gently shake every day for 2 weeks. Keep the plant material pushed down into the liquid. (If you forget to shake it and mold appears, throw it all away and start over.) After two weeks have passed, strain the liquid into another quart jar. Add more fresh plant material and repeat the process for two more weeks. This time, double strain the tincture (cheesecloth or a jelly bag works well). Pour strained tincture into a bottle or clean jar, cap tightly, and store in a cool dark place. (Dried mullein can be substituted for fresh leaves if necessary.)
This extra -strength mullein tincture is good for winter lung conditions such as coughs and colds and will keep up to two years in the refrigerator. Mullein tincture may be combined with monarda tincture and sweetened with honey for use as a soothing cough syrup. An average adult dose is one tablespoon 3 or 4 times a day with a double dose given at bedtime. Vodka tinctures are not recommended for children due to their high alcohol content. For individuals with alcohol dependencies or allergies, other herbal remedies may be more suitable.
Whether preparing lotions, ointments, tinctures, or teas, take some time when using herbs. Inhale the scents and feel the textures. Treat herbs with respect. Find them in their natural habitat and watch the way they grow. Remember that herbs can be powerful but may require several doses over a period of days for their beneficial properties to become effective. Give them time to work and results will be more than satisfactory.
*Never take vodka tinctures when pregnant. Always consult with your physician before using any herbal remedy.
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