Making Medicine At Home

herbal tincture

For a live video go to Hollyberry Herb Farm on Facebook

An Herbal Tincture is a method of preserving the medicinal attributes of an herb in such a way will allow you to use the herbs long after their season is gone.  As I have said before, the more herbs you eat, the healthier you will be.  However, at certain times of the year, certain herbs are not available.  So, by making tinctures you can use herbs all year round.  Typically, to make a tincture you steep the herb of choice in vodka or brandy for four to six weeks.  Once the herb matter is strained out and the liquid re-bottled, the tincture will keep indefinitely.

The essential oils and herbal essences are soluble in alcohol making alcohol a better solvent than vinegar for making tinctures.  Once the menstruum (plant material and solvent) has steeped, all the herbal goodness and health benefits of the herbs will be suspended and concentrated in the alcohol.  This concentration is why so little of the tincture is needed in an individual dose.

There are many combinations of herbs that can be used- select the herbs based on your needs.  Dandelion is an all around great herb with so many medicinal qualities.  I use this herb alone to make a tincture that is taken by anyone feeling “under the weather” to boost the immune system and ward off the colds and flues that tend to go around in the winter.

A small amount- 1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per day is all that is taken by adults around our house.  When the children were toddlers a few drops in their sippy cups helped battle the snotty noses and colds that came with childhood.

There are many resources on the internet for recipes and several good herbal books that give instruction as to preparation of tinctures.  I like to use Growing 101 Herbs That Heal, by Tammi Hartung.

A basic recipe is:

1 clean 1 pint glass jar with a fitting lid

Approx. 1 cup chopped fresh herb or 1/4 cup dried herb, coarsely chopped.

1 pint of brandy or vodka.

Place the chopped herb matter into the jar.

Creating an herbal tincture

Pour in Vodka or Brandi, let steep for 4-6 weeks, shake weekly, then strain.

herbal tinctures

Herbal tincture steeping and waiting to be strained.  Be certain to label with contents and date- the only way to be certain you will remember what is in the jar.

Once strained, pour liquid into a bottle and cap

There you go, it is that easy!

You can see me make a tincture on Facebook @ Hollyberry Herb Farm

This is what I use for my family.  Research for yourself and decide what is best for your family and yourself.  This is not meant as medical advice or to diagnose illness.

 

 

5 Reasons Rosemary Should Grow In Your Garden

Upright Rosemary“What’s your favorite herb?”

This is probably the question I am asked most often.  I couldn’t pick a favorite herb- possibly a Top 10 list, but never a favorite.

Rosemary is an herb that would ALWAYS be on this list and very likely in the #1 spot.  The reasons are many- from ease of growing to the powerful medicinal benefits- but for sake of time, I will narrow it down to five reasons you will love Rosemary.

#1 Rosemary loves heat.

I have always gardened in Texas and it is ALWAYS hot in the summer.  Rosemary doesn’t care, in fact- it likes it!  Because Rosemary hails from hot, arid conditions in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean, its DNA makes it perfect for Texas gardens and the great majority of the United States.

#2  Rosemary Protects Against Alzheimer’s

Rosemary may also become useful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease in the near future. Researchers have discovered that certain phytochemicals in the herb prevent the degradation of acetylcholine, an important brain chemical needed for normal neurotransmission. A deficiency of this chemical is commonly seen in Alzheimer’s patients.  See full article here

I, personally, am not waiting for all the test results, I have started including rosemary in our family’s diet on a daily basis.  An easy way to use rosemary medicinally is in a tincture.

#3 Rosemary Makes A Great Hedge

Rosemary can be utilized as a shrub.  If you are feeling creative, rosemary can be shaped into topiary.  But more simply, plant as a hedge and trim like any other landscape hedge- except save the clippings and make a tincture!

Rosemary is heat and drought tolerant so it saves on water usage.  Very few pest or fungal problems exist with rosemary.

It blooms!  Very pretty light blue flowers appear in spring and continue for several weeks.  Some years, rosemary will bloom again in the fall.

#4 Bees LOVE Rosemary

Its becoming common knowledge (THANK GOD) that our bee population is in trouble and if the bees go, we go.  Two of every three bites we eat are pollinated by bees.  As we have said, Rosemary needs little care and won’t need spraying of any kind to look beautiful, so it is a great choice for feeding bees, butterflies and a whole host of beneficial insects.  So, plant some rosemary for the bees.  Don’t worry about getting stung, the bees have way too much work to do to worry over you.

#5 Rosemary Will Make You A Great Cook

Well, I may be over-selling rosemary’s abilities just a bit. However, it can’t hurt.  Rosemary can transform a dull chicken or homely sweet potato into something fantastic with very little effort.  Just sprinkle the chopped rosemary in the pot and – VIOLA!

Not only does rosemary taste great, but by adding it to your food you are taking advantage of the health benefits and those are many:

“Indigestion

Rosemary leaf is used in Europe for indigestion (dyspepsia) and is approved by the German Commission E, which examines the safety and efficacy of herbs.

Muscle and joint pain

Applied topically (to the skin), rosemary oil is sometimes used to treat muscle pain and arthritis and improve circulation. It is approved by the German Commission E for these purposes.

Alopecia

Historically, rosemary has been used to stimulate hair growth. In one study of 84 people with alopecia areata (a disease in which hair falls out, generally in patches), those who massaged their scalps with rosemary and other essential oils (including lavender, thyme, and cedarwood) every day for 7 months experienced significant hair regrowth compared to those who massaged their scalps without the essential oils. But the study was not well designed, and it is impossible to say whether rosemary caused the hair growth.

Neutralize food-borne pathogens

Several studies show that rosemary inhibits food-borne pathogens like Listeria monocytogenesB. cereus, and S. aureus.

Improve memory or concentration

Rosemary is often used in aromatherapy to increase concentration and memory, and to relieve stress. One study suggests that rosemary, combined with other pleasant-smelling oils, may lower cortisol levels and help reduce anxiety. Another study found that the use of lavender and rosemary essential oil sachets reduced test taking stress in graduate nursing students.

Cancer

Several studies suggest that rosemary extract may inhibit tumor growth by preventing cancerous cells from replicating. One study found that rosemary, on its own and in combination with curcumin, helped prevent breast cancer. A second study found similar effects of rosemary on colon cancer cells.” Article here

 

So, you see, Rosemary should really be in your garden or at least in a pot on your patio!

I am also sure that you understand that I am NOT a doctor nor have I tried to diagnose or treat any of your ailments.

Bee on the Rosemary Bloom herb

upright-rosemary.jpg

Hello, Again & Here Is To A Healthy New Year

Even in the cold, my girls have been working hard.
Even in the cold, my girls have been working hard.

Much has been going on behind the scenes in this first month of 2014, new projects are on the horizon and old ones have been refined.  The cold has kept us on our toes as the time to start our seedlings is upon us.  Every time I feel like whining about the weather I just read posts of my blogger friends in Illinois and New England and then my perspective returns- 20 below zero is just crazy talk!

My blog has been on my mind as I have been thinking of what my first post of the new year would be.  One of my January activities each year is to clean out every closet and drawer weeding out what is useless, broken, and simply not used.  This year I even took on all my files.  I like to save stuff- recipes, decorating ideas, travel bits- kind of like a hard copy of pinterest.  As I was sorting through a file on health I ran across the notes I took at a women’t conference held at my church.  Dr. Tina Ingram, my long time friend and chiropractor, spoke on health and gave some very good insights.  I decided to post those here today.  I hope that each person wants to something to improve their health this year.  Dr. Tina, as we all call her, is special to me for another reason- she is the one who started me down the path of natural healing and herbs.  That journey began when she treated my daughter Savannah when she was 3, but that story is for another day.

Here is what she had to say:

1. Health is a journey not a destination and we must be proactive

2. We MUST deal with stress

  • Proverbs 17:22- A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
  • Proverbs 12:25- Anxiety weighs the heart down, but a kind word cheers it up.
  • Philippians 4:8- Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admireable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.
  • Proverbs 15:13- A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

3. Exercise is essential- but it doesn’t have to be hard cardio at the gym.  Any form of daily walking, yoga, or cycling is good.

  • Exercise regulates blood pressure
  • Exercise decreases depression
  • Exercise increases regularity (digestive)
  • Exercise stabilizes blood sugar
  • Exercise lowers osteoporosis
  • Exercise lowers stress

4. Rest is another essential element to health

  • You need 6-8 hours of sleep per night.

 

These are just 3 things that can make a huge difference in our health.  I used to be over-whelmed by all the information on health, how to be health, what I should do & what I shouldn’t.  Finally, I decided to stop listening to all of the talk and work on just these three things.  You will see a huge change in your body and your mind if you deal with stress- not just swallow it but find a way to let it go, get enough sleep, and simply walk daily.  As far as walking or running goes, I only do about a mile each day and I do it outside, not at a gym.  Gyms don’t relax me, the make me feel stressed.  I need the out of doors to relax me and enable me to turn lose of stress.  I get tickled at these gals who like to post how many miles they run.  I hate to run and I am getting great results with just a little ol’ mile.  If the weather is bad I put in a yoga DVD (for beginners- I have never stood on my head and would not even attempt it) and that is a great workout and stress reducer.  In short, all it takes is about 30 minutes to change your life.

Just pick one and have a great 2014

Herbal Tinctures- What Are They & How To Make One

An Herbal Tincture is a method of preserving the medicinal attributes of an herb in such a way will allow you to use the herbs long after their season is gone.  As I have said before, the more herbs you eat, the healthier you will be.  However, at certain times of the year, certain herbs are not available.  So, by making tinctures you can use herbs all year round.  Typically, to make a tincture you steep the herb of choice in vodka or brandy for four to six weeks.  Once the herb matter is strained out and the liquid re-bottled, the tincture will keep indefinitely.

The essential oils and herbal essences are soluble in alcohol making alcohol a better solvent than vinegar for making tinctures.  Once the menstruum (plant material and solvent) has steeped, all the herbal goodness and health benefits of the herbs will be suspended and concentrated in the alcohol.  This concentration is why so little of the tincture is needed in an individual dose.

There are many combinations of herbs that can be used- select the herbs based on your needs.  Dandelion is an all around great herb with so many medicinal qualities.  I use this herb alone to make a tincture that is taken by anyone feeling “under the weather” to boost the immune system and ward off the colds and flues that tend to go around in the winter.

A small amount- 1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per day is all that is taken by adults around our house.  When the children were toddlers a few drops in their sippy cups helped battle the snotty noses and colds that came with childhood.

There are many resources on the internet for recipes and several good herbal books that give instruction as to preparation of tinctures.  I like to use Growing 101 Herbs That Heal, by Tammi Hartung.

A basic recipe is:

1 clean 1 pint glass jar with a fitting lid

Approx. 1 cup chopped fresh herb or 1/4 cup dried herb, coarsely chopped.

1 pint of brandy or vodka.

 

Creating an herbal tincture

Place the chopped herb matter into the jar.

herbal tincturesPour in Vodka or Brandi, let steep for 4-6 weeks, shake weekly, then strain.

herbal tincture

Herbal tincture steeping and waiting to be strained.  Be certain to label with contents and date- the only way to be certain you will remember what is in the jar.

Once strained, pour liquid into a bottle and cap

There you go, it is that easy!

This is what I use for my family.  Research for yourself and decide what is best for your family and yourself.  This is not meant as medical advice or to diagnose illness.

Lamp Berger- Oh My…

In a quaint shop in downtown Mineola, Texas I was introduced to the world of Lamp Berger.  The shop owner was so passionate about this lamp with the special burner on top that could clean the air in your house.  Not just make it smell wonderful (which it does), but actually clean the germs and odors out.  Having four children ages 9 and under at the time, we were constantly dealing with them “sharing” things- never toys or anything helpful like that.  I was intrigued by this lamp and Tony confirmed the owner’s claims of this burner having been used in hospitals to clean the rooms before operating, he learned about it in paramedic school.

That lamp was the best purchase I ever made.  My youngest was 18 months old at the time, and once I started burning the lamp for only 15 minutes per day, we never had a green runny nose again.  No kidding- I did not think it was possible to raise a preschooler without those sort of runny noses.  Needless to say, I did not miss them.  Ever since then we keep oil for the lamp on hand and always use it if someone is under the weather.  Of course, given the wonderful scents available for the lamp we burn it every day making doctor visits much more uncommon.

If you are familiar with buying candles that cost just a few bucks to keep your house smelling nice, then the prices of the lamps may seem a little expensive.  However, you need to think of this as an investment in your health.  The “basic” models are simple and attractive with the “fancy” models being something of a work of art.  Prices vary widely depending on what you are looking for in the style.  Purchase one for yourself and you will be glad you did it.

Also, there are oils available that are neutral- meaning that there is no noticeable scent making this a good choice even for those who are sensitive to perfumes and such.  However, for those of you who love wonderful scents, there are so many to choose from, making for a tough decision at times.

My lamp that I bought 10 years ago- what a great buy.
My lamp that I bought 10 years ago- what a great buy.

Please don’t be fooled by other lamps with lovely oils- these are not going to clean germs out of your air.  You need the real deal.

For more information and to find a dealer near you- Lamp Berger Official Site