Herbs and Medicine

By into the rustic - 9:08 AM

For millennia, herbs have been used to treat and cure mans ailments. The ancient people and even indigenous groups of today, say that for every sickness there is, there exists a cure in nature. That this is how our world maintains its balance.

There is an old Irish legend that says that medicinal herbs grew forth from the buried body of a fallen hero. That curative powers were in each herb for the specific anatomical area from which it grew out of.

Herb Preparations for Medicinal Purposes


This is a fancy term for a strong tea. To make your herbal infusion, pour 1 pint of boiling water over 2 Tbl. of dried herbs. Let this steep for 10 minutes if you are taking the infusion internally. If you are applying the infusion externally, let it steep for around 3 hours.


To make an ointment, you mix one part powdered herb with four parts heated lard or similar fat. Stir them together until it is mixed evenly. Add a few drops of tincture of Benzoin as a preservative. You can find Benzoin in your local pharmacy or online. Tincture of Benzoin is a solution of Benzoin resin and alcohol. Benzoin resin comes from the bark of many different trees from the genus Styrax. It is used in perfumes, incense, flavorings, and medicine. See chapter on Tinctures for information on how to make your own!


This is where you simmer your herbs (2 Tbl.) in a covered pan with 1 pint of water. Do this for 5-10 minutes.

Methods of Herbal Healing


This is a bag of hot herbs that is held against an infected area or aching spot on the body. Be careful when using this method, not to burn the patient. Let it cool slightly before applying directly to the skin. Also, once the poultice has gone cool, immediately replace with a fresh warm one. Never reuse your herbs, it's not a tea bag.

Some Helpful Poultices to Make

  • Comfrey Leaves Healing Poultice
To make this, chop up 3 comfrey leaves coarsely. Add to this about 1/4 c. boiling water. Mash up well and wrap in a hot cloth and apply to desired area.

Comfrey is one of the BEST healing herbs we have. It is useful for treating arthritis, broken bones, sprains, cuts, burns, bites, bruises, and more. It grows quickly in the garden and flourishes, so once you have planted a few seeds you are set.

  • Hops Healing Poultice
Mash fresh hops up with your mortar and pestle. Add to this 1 c. hot cider vinegar. Wrap in a cloth and apply to desired area. This is used to soothe boils, inflammations, relieve pain from facial neuralgias, rheumatism, toothache and sciatica. Hops contains even more healing qualities when ingested. See my later chapter on Hops for more information.

  • Linseed Poultice
This is used to help with aches and pains. To prepare, mix 1/4 lb. linseed in 2 c. hot water. Stir well and often as it will thicken up and become dough-like. To this mix in 1/2 oz. olive oil. Take the mixture now and spread it over a pre-warmed cloth. Fold over into a bag and apply to aching body.

Salves and Ointments

Salves and ointments are made by mixing an herb with a carrying agent which is then applied by rubbing onto the problem area of the body. A lot of these salves/ointments use a wax/oil base to them. The most common one used is an olive oil/beeswax base. Another alternative is to use fresh lard, which can last a long time in your ointment if it is stored in a cool place.

Ointments and Salve Recipes To Try

  • Balm of Gilead Salve
Gilead balm (aka Populus Trichocarpa,), is the sticky brown colored buds found on the black cottonwood.

This is found in the wild usually from California up to Alaska. The buds are harvested in the spring before the leaves form. Make sure that the buds are at the sticky stage. Once your buds are collected, add enough lard to cover them completely once it the lard has melted. Simmer this mixture together for about 2-3 hours. Strain and put into sterilized jars.

Medicinal Uses: Great for applying on scrapes, cuts and chapped hands.

  • Chickweed Ointment
To make this take 1/2 c. dried powdered chickweed and add to it 1 c. warmed lard. Mix well. Using a dehydrator, put the mixture inside and set the temperature for 100-100 degrees F for 2 days. Once the mixture is finished, it will look very green. Store in a cool place of your refrigerator.

Medicinal Uses: Mosquito bites, itches and irritations, and minor cuts and scratches.

Herb Pillows and Sachets

These are made by taking small fabric bags and filling them with herbs, flowers and sometimes crushed spices. To this you also need to add a fixative of either isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol sprayed on, or orrisroot.

Types of Herb Pillows/Sachets

  • Headache Pillow
Mix 1/2 oz. of cloves with 2 oz. each of lavender, marjoram, betony rose leaf, and rose petals. Set this all into a pillow and sniff deeply to cure headache pains.

  • Good Night Sleep Pillow
Mix 1 oz. mint with 2 oz. of rose petals and 1/4 crushed clove. Sew into a small pillow and insert into your pillowcase at night.

  • Traditional Herb Sachet
Mix 1 part each of dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried marjoram, and dried basil. This does not need a fixative.

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