For many of us, the migration toward independence and self-reliance includes having a knowledge of herbal remedies. There are many reasons for this not the least of which is the lack of traditional, western medicines in a post SHTF world. But even in a world without problems and global uncertainties, the benefit of using herbal remedies are immense. For the most part they are inexpensive, easy to administer and safe.
As you begin to learn about herbals, you may find that you are faced with a myriad of confusing terms. What is a tincture? How about an infusion? What is all this business about an active principal?
Today I am reaching into the archives of some of my own reference books to bring you a dictionary of common terms that are used in the quest for herbal remedies. While not all inclusive, the following list includes some of the most common terms used when describing herbals uses for self-treatment.
Herbal Medicine: What Some of Those Terms Really Mean
Active Principle: A plant chemical proven to have medical effect.
Antiseptic: A substance that prevents or stops the growth of microorganisms that cause infection.
Astringent: A substance the draws together the soft tissues such as skin or mucous membranes.
Decoction: A drink or liquid extract made by boiling plant bark, roots, berries or seeds in water.
Diuretic: A substance that increases the flow of urine.
Emollient: A substance that softens and soothes the skin and mucous membranes.
Essential Oil: A plant oil that vaporizes readily and is often obtained by steam distillation.
Expectorant: A substance that loosens and helps to expel phlegm.
Herbal Tea: A beverage made from steeping or boiling herbs.
Infusion: A preparation in which flowers, leaves or stems are steeped in water that is not boiling.
Liquid extract: Concentrated infusion made by soaking an herb in distilled water, grain alcohol, or glycerin for a long period.
Mucous membrane: Lining of body passage, such as the throat, that protects itself with secretions of mucus.
Photosensitivity: Sensitivity to sunlight, resulting in rash or burning sensation, brought on by ingestion or application of certain substances.
Plaster: Gauze or cloth in which medicine has been wrapped. A plaster is typically applied to the skin.
Poultice: An herbal preparation that is usually applied directly to the affected area to relieve pain or swelling.
Purgative: A very strong laxative.
Tannins: Astringent and bitter compounds found in the seeds and skins of grapes, which slow oxidation and aging.
Tincture: An herbal liquid extract that generally involves macerating the herb in alcohol.
Volatile Oil: A plant oil that vaporizes readily and is often obtained by steam distillation, used interchangeably with essential oil.
Wash: A liquid herbal medicine preparation for external use.
The Final Word
Having some knowledge of the terms used in herbal medicine will help you when choosing the best method to administer your self-healing remedy. Whether are growing your own herbs (see Nine Healing Herbs You Can Grow Yourself in a Healing Garden) or purchasing fresh herbs from a farmer’s market or herbalist, learning to take care of yourself using natural remedies can greatly enhance your ability to take care of your health when there is no other resource available.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
From the Bargain Bin: Today I present some suggested books on the topic of herbal healing and aromatherapy. Speaking of aromatherapy, if you are just getting started, get some clove, tea tree and lavender essential oils and everything else can follow as budget allows. Also, be sure to read my article Essential Oils for the Survival Kit.
Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies: Rosemary Gladstar is the mother of modern herbalism. Her wisdom and vision have inspired an entire generation of herbal healers, and her insights into the healing power of plants have helped people everywhere embrace more natural, healthy, and radiant lives.
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: I first became interested in aromatherapy and essential oils in the early 90s which was before they really became mainstream. I read every book I could get my hands on and dabbled at creating synergy’s (a combination of two or more oils that create a chemical compound that is greater than the some of its individual components). My bible then, and even now, is this book.
Aromatherapy for Dummies: Another good book that will help you get started understanding and using Aromatherapy. And you know how I love the “dummies” book series.
Clove Oil: Clove oil should be a component of every survival first aid kit. You have a multi-purpose product that takes up little room but solves a myriad of unwelcome and unexpected ailments. Travelers – this especially applies to you!
Top 14 Essential Oil Set: This well-priced set included Bergamot, Clary Sage, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lime, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Spearmint, Orange & Tea Tree.
This month Emergency Essentials is featuring a fabulous deal on freeze dried chicken.
The chicken combo includes Asian Seasoned Chicken, Chicken Breast Strips, Diced Chicken, and Seasoned Chicken. These are great for stir fries (with your home garden grown veggies) and cooked with rice for an all-in-one dish in your cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.
Also on sale is the freeze dried fruit combo that includes Apple Dices, Bananas, Peaches, Pineapple Dices, Blueberries and Strawberries. Click here for the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials.
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