There are so many different ways herbs can be used. For one of our herb talks we put together this list of some of the many forms herbal remedies can take. Which ones have you tried?

Infusion – fresh or dried herbs covered in hot water and steeped for a few minutes. Ususally used for leaves and flowers.

Decoction – herb is simmered or boiled in water for some time and strained. Used with roots and barks,  infusions and decoctions can be used as mouthwashes, gargles and eyebaths.

Tincture – a liquid extract of a plant, usually in alcohol, sometimes in water.  Fill a jar with herb of choice and top up with vodka or brandy and leave between a day and a month before straining and bottling in a dark coloured glass.

Wine – fresh herbal wines and beers such a elderberry or nettle.

Vinegar – herbal vinegars are usually made form pleasant tasting herbs and used in salad dressings. They can be added to a bath or used as a gargle.

Oxymel – a mix of honey and vinegar and can also be used as a cordial. Very good for colds and flu.

Electuary – dried herbs are mixed into honey to make an edible paste. Good as a children’s remedy (though don’t give honey to children under 12 months!).

Bath - herbs added to bathwater in a sock or cloth full of dried herbs under the hot tap and left to soak.

Herbal sweets  – coltsfoot rock or peppermints are a traditional way of taking medicine.

Ointment or salve – the simplest way is to blend beeswax with an infused oil. More wax makes a firmer balm.

Infused oil – herbs are macerated in the oil, for example St John’s Wort.

Butter - can be used instead of oil to extract the herb. Once clarified, it keeps without refrigeration.

Cream – a mix of water and oil based emulsions. More difficult to make and best refrigerated.

Poultice – a mashed fresh herb put on the skin. They can be kept in place with a bandage and changed every few hours.

Fomentation or compress  – a decoction applied externally on a flannel or bandage.

Embrocation or liniment – herbs in an oil or water base massaged into the skin.

Syrup – made by boiling herbs with sugar.