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Using Herbs for Wellness

Learn how to use herbs in teas, baths, poultices, salves, tinctures and oils.

Herbal baths

There are many ways to enlist herbs for health. You might sip an herbal tea or take an herbal bath after a hectic day, or you might take a capsule or apply a salve or poultice to address a particular concern. Find the herbs you're looking for in Frontier's extensive selection of high quality herbs. Here are some terms you might find helpful when choosing options for using herbs:

Fomentations and Cold Compresses—A simple way to apply herbs is to soak a washcloth in an infusion, squeeze, and apply directly to the skin. A warm application is a fomentation; a cold one is a compress.

Herbal Baths—Simply add herbal decoctions or infusions to your tub bath, sitz bath, or foot bath. (Note that even some normally safe herbs are unsafe during pregnancy.)

Herbal Capsules and Pills—Powdered herbs can be encapsulated in gelatin caps, for easy-to-take remedies. You can make your own with powdered herbs and essential oils.

Herbal Oils—Infused herbal oils are easy to make and inexpensive; it's simply a matter of soaking dried or fresh herbs in high-quality vegetable, seed, or nut oils. They are wonderful for massage oils and insect repellents, and they form the basis of herbal salves and ointments.

Herbal Teas—There are several types of "teas," or herbal beverages. An infusion is made by steeping hot stems, leaves, and flowers of herbs to extract their benefits. Hard materials, like roots, woods, barks and seeds, need to be boiled, then steeped, for best results; this drink is called a decoction. And a cold extract, which is recommended for the most delicate plants, is made by soaking the herbs in cold water. Ratios and steeping times depend on the plant and the strength desired.

Poultices—Herbs are crushed or bruised to release their potency, then applied topically, often over a warm or cool piece of cheesecloth or other light cotton fabric.

Salves, Ointments and Balms—Combinations of herbal oils, beeswax, and herbs provide a soothing way to apply the benefits of herbs externally.

Syrups—Using honey, vegetable glycerin, or maple syrup as a base, herbs are cooked into a sweet, thick concoction. Syrups are especially soothing to throats.

Tinctures—Concentrated extracts of herbs (made by steeping herbs in alcohol, glycerin, or vinegar) are taken directly, or in warm water or juice. While not always great tasting, they are excellent when quick absorption is desired.

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