Preparation and application of healing plants

Medicinal plants are used individually or in mixtures, and can be administered internally (that is, orally) or externally, in this case applied to the epidermis (bath, poultice, compress, plaster, cream, paste, powder) ; introduced into the orifices of the body (nose, ear, oral cavity, lacrimal sac, etc.), breathed (inhalations). In external use they are almost always accompanied by another that serves as a vehicle.

To be used orally, medicinal oils, extracts, decoctions, packaged (in powders, tablets, capsules, etc.), essences, fluids, infusions, syrups, macerated products, herbal teas, tinctures, wines and liqueurs, juices, juices are prepared , of which the most used are: alcoholic extracts, decoctions, infusions, syrups, herbal teas and wines and medicinal liquors; the others are not prepared at home, but industrially). Of those for external use, we can mention baths, poultices and compresses; to be introduced into the orifices in general the products prepared in the same way as those for oral use; for inhalation they are used only in vapor form.

The nomenclature and details related to Ayurveda nutrition are expressly cited.

A. Herbs prepared with water
a) Cooking (Kvatha)

This procedure makes it possible to obtain the active principles from the hard parts of plants, such as roots, stems, barks, seeds, and even leaves, when they are very strong. For all cases you can use a clay container or, failing that, glass. For kapha problems, copper utensils can be used; for pitta, silver or bronze; and for vata, of gold or iron. Never use aluminum.

Preparation: In a suitable container, place the corresponding part of the plant, adding cold water. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes; It is removed from the heat and filtered in a strainer or on a fine cloth.

Application: Cooking can be used both internally and externally. For its internal application it can be sweetened with honey, drinking it according to the indications of each case. External application varies depending on the condition being treated.

Some ways to apply the decoction:

1. Enemas, enemas In this way, washes of the terminal section of the digestive tract are carried out, for conditions such as constipation. Depending on the part of the plant to be used, slightly warm decoctions or infusions are used, to which a tablespoon of kitchen salt is added. The procedure consists of the following:

a) Put the liquid in the special container for enemas that is sold in pharmacies, which has an outlet at the bottom, connected with a rubber hose that ends in a rounded plastic tip.

b) Lay the patient on his right side, with the legs drawn up on the abdomen.

c) With the help of petroleum jelly or another lubricant, insert the end of the hose into the anus, ensuring that the liquid does not leak out. The container should be almost vertical to the patient.

d) Up to one liter of fluid can be administered, at the rate that the patient supports. In general, enemas are used to cleanse the body through a bowel movement.

Caution: Do not give enemas to people with intestinal ulcers or peritonitis.

2. Gargles, rinses, swims These methods are used to combat infections and irritations of the mouth and throat. First, prepare a decoction or infusion of the herb, remove it from the heat and leave it to rest for a while; when it is warm, it is strained. Then a small amount of warm liquid is introduced into the mouth, so that it comes into contact with the affected part, without swallowing it; then he is expelled. It is recommended to do it several times a day, and at least in the morning and before going to bed.

3. Inhalations This procedure is generally used to attack facial conditions, decongest the nasal passages and relieve asthma attacks. Herbs rich in essential oils are used, which are boiled in a container. This is removed from the fire, and the patient must keep his face exposed to the steam, with his head covered by a large towel.

4. Baths The recommended herbs are cooked. When the medicinal water is lukewarm, the bath is applied to the affected region, or to the entire body. Baths are generally used to tone the body, to relax it and for various conditions. Thus, they can be applied in forms of proper bath, sitz, vaginal wash, etc.

5. Compresses They can be made cold or hot, depending on the desired effect. The herb is cooked, which is left to cool or is kept warm; After dipping a clean cloth into it, it is wrung out and placed in the affected area. When used hot, the compresses are changed as they cool; The latter are generally applied to mature abscesses, cure external infections, decongest inflammation and, in general, alleviate skin problems.

b) Infusion

It is the most frequently used way to obtain the active principles of the soft parts of the medicinal plant (flowers and leaves).

Preparation: Ayurveda, normally uses 1 part of herbs for 8 to 10 parts of water.

Put the herb parts in a suitable container (not aluminum). Add boiling water, cover, and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Filter or strain, and use the infusion according to the indications for each particular herb.

Application: The infusion is mainly for internal use, sweetened with honey. It can also be used externally, when it comes to the soft parts of the plant, and in the same way as cooking; that is, in baths, compresses, enemas, etc.

c) Juice

This is the name given to the liquid product obtained after crushing the fresh part of the recommended herbs, or squeezing the juicy fruits.

Preparation: The fresh part of the plant or fruit is crushed. The juice is then squeezed or strained into a container, using a clean, fine cloth.

Application: Juices are commonly used internally in fresh form. Externally, the fresh part, crushed and applied directly to the affected part, can be used.

d) Maceration

Ayurveda, normally uses 1 part of herbs for 4 to 6 parts of water and remains overnight.

This procedure consists of soaking the herb in cold boiled water (aqueous maceration), or in diluted alcohol (alcoholic maceration).

Preparation: Put the plant in a dark glass container; add cold water or diluted alcohol, let it rest for 6 to 8 hours. It should not be prolonged any longer, since the preparation tends to decompose and can be dangerous to health. It is filtered and used according to the indications of each herb and condition that is being treated.

Application: Aqueous or alcoholic maceration can be used internally, taking in glasses the number of times necessary, depending on the plant and the disease to be cured. Externally, it can be used for skin conditions, applying it directly.

e) Jams

Ayurveda uses jams profusely as a means of recovering health. Jams are sweetened, semi-solid or solid preparations that are made by forming a paste or powder of the main ingredients, cooking it in water, with the addition of ghee, sugar syrup and certain amounts of herbs and spices. Many jams are used as vehicles for other natural therapeutic preparations.

A jam is at its peak, when a cord can be stretched between the fingers and it sinks into the water without dissolving.

The most common jams for therapeutic use are many. Some of the most used are: laxative jam (with Sen or Aloe), astringent jams (against diarrhea and dysentery), strengthening jams of the digestive fire or agni (with Ginger), feminine toning jams (with Areca), toning jams of the pathways respiratory, rejuvenating jams or 40 herbs, tahini is almost a very pleasant jam or paste (sesame) that also contains salty rasa, it is used for the treatment of bleeding hemorrhoids.

f) Wines

Arishtas wines are made from decoctions and asavas from squeezed juices. Both are made to ferment. They are often used as vehicles for other preparations and to fan the digestive fire.

B. Herbs prepared with alcohol
a) Elixir

It is a hydroalcoholic liquid preparation; In other words, it has a part of water and another of alcohol. Eventually it sweetens it. It is used internally.

Preparation: First make a syrup by dissolving six parts of sugar in four parts of water, heating them over low heat, until it thickens and dissolves well. Immediately prepare a decoction or infusion of the herb and strain it. Mix seven parts of the infusion or decoction with 1.5 part of pure alcohol (90 degrees) and 1.5 of syrup. Filter through a clean, fine cloth. Store in a tightly closed dark glass container and label. It can be kept like this for three months.

Application: It is used internally by taking it in cups. The times it is ingested depends on the herb and the condition.

b) Syrup

It is a concentrated solution of sucrose (sugar) in water, in which a decoction or infusion of herbs is dissolved.

Preparation: Make a simple syrup; remove from heat, and filter with a very fine cloth. Prepare a decoction, infusion or juice of the desired herb or fruit, and add to the syrup. Add 5% brandy of 50 degrees. Store in a suitable container for a maximum of 8 days.

Application: It is used internally, taking in cups or tablespoons, depending on the herb and the condition.

c) Tincture

This procedure consists of leaving the crumbled herb in ethyl alcohol (50%) or brandy for a certain time (generally 15 days).

Preparation: Put the shredded herb in a container that can be hermetically closed. Add alcohol or brandy, in relation to one part of the plant for 9 parts of alcohol. Cover the container and let it rest for 15 days, shaking it daily. The mixture is kept at a temperature of 22 to 25 ° C, without exposing them to the sun. After that time, squeeze the herbs; add the juice to the liquid, complete the evaporated alcohol to recover the weight from the beginning, and filter with a fine cloth. Store in a dark glass container with a tight lid. It can be kept for several months.

Application: For internal use, it is taken by drops eventually dissolved in warm water; For external use, a few drops of the tincture can be diluted in water and applied in the form of frictions, depending on the condition being treated.

C. Products prepared with vegetable fat
a) Ointment, ointment

These are semi-solid preparations for external application. Its creamy consistency makes it easier to spread the skin on the affected parts. It can be used as a base coconut butter, carité, mixing with plant extract or juice.

Preparation: Dissolve the fat in the water bath. In addition, in a container, also in a water bath, place the plant with a little vegetable oil and boil for a moment over low heat, stirring. Remove from the heat, filter with a fine cloth and add to the melted petroleum jelly or butter. Mix well, using a wooden spoon, until a semi-solid product is obtained that is placed in a covered and labeled wide-mouthed container.

b) Medicinal oils

They are preparations where the active principles of one or more plants are dissolved in oil to facilitate their application and absorption by the body. The vehicle is usually pure olive oil; sometimes the oil rectified three times of eucalyptus; otherwise, the one used is specified.

Hot preparation: 1) Add 250 gr of dry herb or 750 gr of fresh herb for every 500 ml of oil (eg marigold). 2) Put the oil and the herb in a glass container and heat it in a bain-marie for about 3 hours. 3) Strain the mixture through a filter (for gelatin). 4) The liquid is kept in clean and airtight bottles.

Cold preparation: 1) Fill a glass jar with the herb tightly packed and completely covered with oil (cold-fired). It covers well and is left in a sunny window for 2-3 weeks. 2) Pour the mixture through a filter (for gelatin). 3) The oil is drained by squeezing the filter bag containing the mixture. 4) After a week it is filtered again and stored.

D. Powdered preparations (Churna).

In Ayurveda, the ideal is to use botanicals in season and in place where an individual’s condition is treated. However, not all herbs are available everywhere or all year round. This is part of the reason they are processed to help preserve them. Most preparations maintain their potency for a year or more, if they contain minerals.

When crushing the plant with liquid a paste is obtained; without liquid, a powder or churna . The pulverization of the herbs must be carried out with the necessary care so as not to destroy the sensitive active principles of the plants by the heat of the process. Converted into powder they can be consumed either directly or molded into tablets or packed in digestible capsules. The average dosage of powdered herbs equivalent to the more traditional forms is 400mg – 750mg (1 / 2-1 teaspoon in a glass of water = 2-3 capsules) per day.


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