Healing Herbal Infusions: Simple and Effective Home Remedies for Colds, Muscle Pain, Upset Stomach, Stress, Skin Issues and More

Healing Herbal Infusions: Simple and Effective Home Remedies for Colds, Muscle Pain, Upset Stomach, Stress, Skin Issues and More

by Colleen Codekas


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“An informative, user-friendly guide, Healing Herbal Infusions is brimming with great remedies, recipes and wise herbal advice.” —Rosemary Gladstar

Easy, All-Natural Remedies for Life’s Aches and Pains

Treat ailments the natural way with organic health remedies made from herbs found in your own garden, yard or neighborhood, without resorting to risky medications or prescriptions. These herbal infusions are incredibly easy to make—all you have to do is infuse fresh or dried herbs in a liquid to draw out the healing properties, and you get an amazing homemade remedy that will truly work for you and your family.

Make your own herbal treatments for common cold and flu symptoms, such as Fever-Reducing Tea, Pine Needle Cough Syrup, and Sage, Marshmallow & Ginger Sore Throat Tea. Ease muscle and body aches with Arnica Salve for Sprains & Bruises and Basil, Thyme & Oregano Tea for Chronic Pain, and soothe digestion with Prebiotic Honey Electuary and Herbal Vinegar Infusion for Heartburn. Nourish your skin, lips, hair and, most importantly, your inner well-being with infusions such as Healing Flower-Whipped Body Butter, Relaxing Herbal Face Steam and De-Stress Tea.

Save money and avoid harsh chemicals by infusing your own cures for burns, cuts, scrapes, dry skin, flaky scalp and even a baby’s diaper rash, plus so much more! Each recipe features helpful info, safety tips and dosage recommendations for adults and children. With 75 homemade treatments, this book is the go-to modern resource to support your entire family’s wellness the all-natural way.

Learn more at: www.growforagecookferment.com/healing-herbal-infusions

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624146473
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 10/23/2018
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 88,013
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Colleen Codekas is an herbalist and the founder of Grow Forage Cook Ferment. She also sells handmade salves and balms from her homemade herbal product line, Coco’s Herbals, through her Etsy store. Colleen lives with her husband and son near Ashland, Oregon.

Read an Excerpt



Before we begin, I have a few tips and tricks for you on how and where to acquire your herbs and flowers. I also explain whether you should use fresh or dried plants — and how to dry them yourself. And I'll give you some basics about the types of infusions that are covered in this book, how to make them and how to use and store them. Refer back to this section whenever you need help or reminders on how to begin or prepare for the recipes to follow. The reference section here will tell you more about where to purchase some of the ingredients and equipment listed here.


Gathering Your Herbs

Many of the herbs and flowers in this book can be grown in your garden or yard, or they can be wildcrafted (foraged) out in nature. I recommend using both of these methods as much as possible. I always say that the first step in the healing journey is to be out in nature with sunlight on your skin or raindrops on your face, along with getting the blood pumping through our veins by foraging or growing our own medicine.

It is imperative to use a wild plant guidebook or to go with an experienced forager to ensure that you are gathering the right plant. It is also of upmost importance to forage in areas that are free of toxins such as herbicides, pesticides and road runoff. Last, be sure to check where it is legal to collect plants in your area before you go. The following are some herbs used in this book that can be easily wildcrafted in many locations.

• Birch bark (take only from dead or dying trees)
• Burdock root
• Chicory root
• Chickweed
• Dandelion root
• Elderflowers & elderberries
• Hawthorn berries
• Horehound
• Juniper berries
• Lemon balm
• Mullein
• Nettle
• Pine needles
• Plantain
• Red clover
• Rose petals & hips
• Skullcap
• Saint John's wort
• Sunflower
• Uva ursi
• Violet leaf
• White willow bark
• Yarrow

This next group of herbs and flowers is great to have growing in a medicinal herb garden. For the most part, these herbs are easy to grow and require very little maintenance. Some of these herbs are perennial or self-seeding annuals, meaning they come back year after year!

• Arnica (perennial)
• Basil (annual, sometimes self-seeding)
• Calendula (annual, self-seeding)
• Cannabis (annual; make sure it is legal in your area before growing)
• Catnip (perennial)
• Cayenne pepper (annual, sometimes perennial in warmer climates)
• Chamomile (annual, self-seeding)
• Comfrey (perennial)
• Echinacea (perennial)
• Fennel (perennial)
• Feverfew (perennial)
• Garlic (annual)
• Hibiscus (perennial in warmer climates)
• Holy basil (perennial in warmer climates)
• Horehound (perennial)
• Lavender (perennial)
• Lemon balm (perennial)
• Marshmallow root (perennial)
• Onion (annual)
• Oregano (perennial)
• Passionflower (perennial)
• Peppermint (perennial)
• Red raspberry (perennial)
• Rose petals & hips (perennial)
• Rosemary (perennial)
• Sage (perennial)
• Sunflower (annual, self-seeding)
• Thyme (perennial)
• Valerian root (perennial)
• Witch hazel (perennial)
• Yarrow (perennial)

I also list some of my favorite places for purchasing organic dried herbs in the resources section in the back of the book (here). This is a great option if it's the wrong time of year for foraging or gardening, for obtaining herbs that are hard to find or do not grow well in your climate or for those who are unable to forage or grow their own.

Purchasing organic dried herbs in the bulk section of your local natural grocery store or food co-op is another good option. This is also a great place to find high-quality, organic fresh plants such as basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, onion and garlic.

Methods for Drying Herbs & Flowers

Many of the recipes in this book call for dried herbs and flowers, so it is a good idea to dry your foraged or harvested plants before using them. Dried plants have a much longer shelf life than fresh, so if you collect elderberries or mullein flowers in the summer and properly dry them, they will be available for use throughout the year.

When your herbal material is fully dry, it will be a bit crispy and dry to the touch. Leaves and flowers should crumble easily. Stems will break when bent, and root pieces will be hard without any give. It is important to make sure that your herbs are totally dry before storing them to prevent mold from forming. Once they are dry, store the herbs in sealed glass jars or paper bags labeled with the plant name and date collected. Keep them in a cool area out of direct sunlight.

Hanging to Dry

This is perhaps the easiest method of drying freshly picked herbs and flowers. Gather them in bunches and tie them with twine. Hang the bunches upside down in a well-ventilated area out of sunlight until they are completely dry to the touch. This method works particularly well with sturdy herbs and flowers that have long stalks or many leaves, such as lavender, yarrow flowers, sunflowers, peppermint and lemon balm.

Drying on a Screen

Use an old window screen, or make your own stackable drying screens with a simple wooden frame and a roll of screening. Spread the herbs out in a single layer on the screen and place in a well-ventilated area out of sunlight until dry. This is a great way to dry individual leaves or flower petals, berries, small flowers or root pieces. It also is the best method for more fragile flowers that tend to fall apart when dried, such as elderflowers.

Using a Dehydrator

A good dehydrator can be helpful if you need dried plant material in a hurry or if you live in a particularly humid area. I have an Excalibur, and there are several other high-quality brands available. Use it on the lowest setting. Check the plants often and remove them as soon as they are completely dry to the touch.

When to Use Fresh Plant Material vs. Dried

Dried herbs and flowers are the safest to use in many infusions as they will greatly reduce the chances of spoilage or rancidity. This is especially true for oil infusions, in which using fresh plant material can even be dangerous due to botulism spores. With the exception of one recipe in which I thought it was important to use the fresh herb (Oregano-Infused Oil with Lemon, I call for using dried herbs in all of the infused oil recipes in this book. Using fresh herbs in oil infusions is acceptable if you will be using all of the oil within a few weeks.

There are certain types of infusions in which it is perfectly safe to use fresh plant material, and a few in which it is even beneficial because some herbs are more potent when fresh. For infusions that will be stored for a long period of time before use, the general rule is that if it has a high acidity, high alcohol content or high sugar content, then it is safe to use fresh herbs. This is because the acid, alcohol and sugar are all-natural preservatives. This means that alcohol (tinctures and bitters), vinegar, honey and glycerite infusions are all fine to make with fresh plant material.

For tea infusions, either fresh or dried plants will work equally well. Dried herbs are usually more practical for making teas because they are more concentrated, so a smaller volume of herbs is needed. Fresh herbs are nice to use if you have access to them, because they are often more aromatic and sometimes contain more beneficial volatile oils.

If you'd like to use fresh herbs in place of dried, simply use twice as much as what is called for in the recipe.


Medicinal Teas, Overnight Infusions & Decoctions

Herbal teas are the simplest and most straightforward of all the infusions, requiring only herbs and water. A medicinal tea uses either fresh or dried herbs steeped in near boiling water, usually for 10 to 20 minutes. The tea is then strained and consumed, usually while still hot.

For a much stronger medicinal tea, try a long or overnight infusion. Put the herbs in a mason jar and add boiling water, then cover and let it infuse for several hours or overnight. Strain out the herbs with a fine-mesh sieve before drinking. These types of infusions are commonly served cold over ice, but they can be gently warmed if a hot tea is desired.

A decoction is made by simmering the plant material in water for 20 to 30 minutes before straining and drinking. This is the best method for extracting the medicinal benefits of harder plant material, such as roots, bark, twigs and seeds. A medicinal syrup is often started by making a strong decoction, then letting it cool before adding honey or another sweetener.

There are some herbs that do better in a cold-water infusion, as some of their healing properties can be lost with heat. Use the same method as the long or overnight infusion described above, but use cold or room temperature water. A few herbs that benefit from a cold infusion are marshmallow root, slippery elm, nettle, lemon balm and comfrey root.

Alcohol & Vinegar Infusions

Infusions using alcohol or vinegar for the liquid medium are popular because they have an almost indefinite shelf life. High-proof spirits (80 to 90 proof is ideal), such as vodka, gin, whiskey, brandy or rum, are highly effective at extracting all of the beneficial compounds from herbs. Tinctures are most often made by infusing medicinal herbs in a high-proof spirit. Digestive bitters (here–here) are made in the same way as a tincture, but use bitter herbs and a neutral spirit such as vodka as the medium, so that the flavor of the herbs comes through.

If you'd rather not use alcohol for tincture making, vinegar is a great alternative (for children I recommend using glycerine; see the next section). Raw apple cider vinegar has many health benefits of its own, and it is preferred for most preparations. It is also a great choice for boosting the immune system (see here and here), helping to relieve heartburn (see here) and natural hair care (see here).

Either fresh or dried plant material can be used to make alcohol or vinegar infusions. Simply put the desired herbs into a jar, then fill it with either alcohol or vinegar. Cover the jar and let it sit in a dark place for 4 to 6 weeks, then strain out the herbs with a fine-mesh sieve before using.

Honey & Glycerite Infusions

Sometimes a sweeter infusion is needed, and raw honey is usually what I reach for in this case. Raw honey is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory, so it has plenty of medicinal benefits on its own. It is a powerful immune system booster (see here), and it is effective treatment for minor burns (see here), acid reflux (see here and here) and sore throats (see here).

Raw honey hasn't been pasteurized, so all of the wild yeast, beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals are still intact. The best place to acquire raw honey is from a local beekeeper, or you can also see what your local farmers' market has to offer. If you don't have access to raw honey locally, I suggest purchasing from a natural and organic food distributor such as Azure Standard (see resources.

If fresh plant material is used in raw honey infusions, the small amount of water present in the plant will "wake up" the natural wild yeast in the honey and it will begin to ferment (see fermented honey recipes–here). The end result is a super tasty infusion that is also highly medicinal. If you do not want the honey to ferment, be sure to use dried herbs.

Glycerites are tinctures made with herbs infused in a sweet vegetable-based glycerine syrup (see recipes here–here). These are typically made for children to make the tincture more palatable, and they are suitable for those wishing to avoid alcohol. Both fresh or dried herbs can be used, but if you are using dried herbs, it is usually advised to also add a bit of water to the mix.

For both honey infusions and glycerites, put the desired herbs into a jar. Fill the jar with either honey or glycerine. Cover the jar and put it in a cool and dark place to infuse for 4 to 6 weeks. Be sure to turn the jar every few days to coat the herbs; this is especially important when using fresh herbs.

Oil Infusions

I must admit, I really love making infused oils. This is actually where my herbal infusion journey began, and I've refined my process significantly along the way. Oil infusions are how many herbal bath and body care products begin, so knowing the process is important if you want to delve into homemade salves, lip balms, lotion bars and body butters.

There are many methods for infusing herbs into oil, and some definitely work better than others. One big problem is that the oil can go rancid or become moldy if done incorrectly. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid that. The main thing to remember is to keep light, heat and water away from your herbal oil.

Cold Infusion

The most effective and safest infusion method is to use dried herbs and to do a slow infusion in a cool and dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. This is the method I use in most of the infused oil recipes in this book.

My main rule of thumb is to use completely dry plant material whenever possible when making herb-infused oils. This is because any moisture that is in the plants can cause spoilage and possibly even cause mold to grow on the surface. There are a few exceptions to this rule, mostly because there are a handful of herbs and flowers that lose their potency when dried, such as dandelion flowers, Saint John's wort flowers, mullein flowers, chickweed and lemon balm. If you'd like to use fresh herbs in these instances, it's best to first slightly wilt the herbs or flowers for a day or so, then use the heat method that I describe next. When using fresh herbs, it's also a good idea to only make what you will use up within a month.

Quick Heat Method

To infuse oils using the heat method, the easiest way is to warm them in a slow cooker on the very lowest setting or by using a double boiler (see tips for making one yourself here). I usually do not prefer this method because heating oils over a certain temperature can degrade them, but in the rare instance where fresh or wilted herbs are being used, this is an acceptable method to use. The heat will cause some of the water content to evaporate while also speeding up the infusion process, so they have less chance of going bad. Keep the oil uncovered to allow evaporation, and heat for 12 to 24 hours. The oil should not be heated over 110°F (43°C), which can sometimes be hard to gauge depending on which method of heating you choose. One trick that I've learned is to heat them in a box-style dehydrator (see resources) if you happen to have one. It is an awesome appliance that can fit many jars at once and has lower temperature settings, so there is no worry of overheating.

If you need your infused oil sooner than the 4- to 6-week time frame, you can use the heat method with dried herbs as well. The process is the same as described above, but you do not need to leave the oil uncovered while heating, as there is no water content to evaporate. I will often do this when I need the oil sooner than 4 to 6 weeks, then continue to let them sit for a week or two before using. Just remember that the oil will be a little bit more degraded than if you didn't heat the oil, meaning that it will go rancid sooner, but still not as quickly as if it were exposed to water or sunlight.

Solar Heat Method

Another common method for infusing herbs into oil is to place the jar in a sunny window for several weeks. While this can be an effective method for certain oils with higher saturated fat content such as coconut oil, keep in mind that sunlight will degrade many oils considerably and cause them to go rancid much quicker than normal. Because of this, I generally try to avoid using this method.

Helpful Equipment for Making Infusions

Making herbal infusions requires very little equipment, but there are a few items that can make things easier.

Mason jars in different shapes and sizes. You will be making the majority of your infusions in these. I've gathered quite the mason jar collection during the years, and they are used daily in my kitchen. The sizes I reach for most often are half-pint (236 ml), pint (473 ml) and quart (946 ml).

Lids for your mason jars. I recommend not allowing the metal canning jar lids and rings that usually come with mason jars to come in contact with your infusions. This is because the metal can react with the liquid and create an off product. To avoid this, simply put a piece of parchment paper over the jar first, then top with the metal lid and ring. Alternatively, you can purchase plastic lids that fit on mason jars for storage purposes.


Excerpted from "Healing Herbal Infusions"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Colleen Codekas.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Introduction — Why I Love Herbal Infusions & How to Use This Book,
Acquiring & Preparing Herbs & Flowers for Infusing,
Types of Herbal Infusions & How to Make Them,
Tips for Making Salves, Balms & Butters,
How to Use & Store Your Infusions,
Safety Considerations & Dosing for Children,
Super Immunity Infusion Tea,
Vitamin C Tea,
Elderberry & Astragalus Tincture,
Echinacea Root & Flower Tincture,
Fermented Garlic, Ginger & Sage in Honey,
Fermented Red Onion & Thyme in Honey,
Elderberry, Ginger & Cinnamon Honey,
Fresh Kitchen Herb Oxymel,
Immune-Boosting Vinegar Infusion (Hot or Not),
Oregano-Infused Oil with Lemon,
Arnica Salve for Sprains & Bruises,
Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil for Body Aches,
Saint John's Wort & Cayenne Warming Oil,
Lavender & Peppermint Sore Muscle Oil,
White Willow & Birch Bark Tea for Pain Relief,
Basil, Thyme & Oregano Tea for Chronic Pain,
Turmeric & Black Pepper Tea for Chronic Inflammation,
Four-Herb Wound Salve,
Herbal Honey Burn Ointment,
Itchy Bite & Sting Balm,
Sunburn Aloe Infusion,
Headache Relief Tea,
Feverfew Migraine Preventative Tincture,
Sage, Marshmallow & Ginger Sore Throat Tea,
Horehound Sore Throat Syrup,
Thyme, Peppermint & Honey Tea for Coughs,
Pine Needle Cough Syrup,
Fever-Reducing Tea,
Mullein Flower Earache Oil,
Clove Whiskey Tincture for Tooth Pain,
Hawthorn & Hibiscus Tea for the Heart,
Liver Support Tonic,
UTI Relief Tea,
Eczema Relief Salve,
Lemon Balm Cold Sore Balm,
Ginger & Turmeric Decoction & Honey Syrup,
Prebiotic Honey Electuary,
Fennel & Cardamom After-Meal Tummy Tea,
Marshmallow & Cinnamon Digestive Tea,
Roasted Chicory Root Chai,
Four-Mints Herbal Hot or Iced Tea,
Dandelion & Burdock Root Bitters,
Sarsaparilla & Fennel Bitters,
Herbal Vinegar Infusion for Heartburn,
Nettle & Oatstraw Long-Infused Tea for Vitality,
Sleep Well Tea,
De-Stress Tea,
Calming Massage Oil,
Saint John's Wort Tincture for Lifting Low Spirits,
California Poppy Tincture for Relaxation,
Passionflower-Infused Wine,
Rejuvenating Flower Bath Soak,
Relaxing Herbal Face Steam,
Healing Flower-Whipped Body Butter,
Rose Petal & Rose Hip Face Serum,
Soothing Chickweed Lotion Bars,
Dry Hands Balm,
Cocoa Mint Cracked Heel Balm,
Chamomile, Marshmallow & Vanilla Chapped Lip Balm,
Blemish Balm,
Witch Hazel & Blackberry Leaf Face Wash,
Herbal Hair Wash,
Sunflower, Violet Leaf & Mint Vinegar Hair Rinse,
Rosemary & Thyme Flaky Scalp Treatment,
Spruce & Nettle Beard Oil,
Long Infusion Fertility Tea,
Pregnancy Tonic Tea,
Lactation Tea,
Sore Nipple Butter,
Chamomile & Calendula Baby Oil,
Cradle Cap Oil,
Diaper Rash Salve,
Boo-Boo Balm,
Children's Calming Tea,
Elderberry & Echinacea Glycerite for Colds & Flus,
Calendula & Rose Hip Immune-Boosting Glycerite,
Herb & Flower Profiles,
About the Author,

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