Making Herbal Oils, Salves and Capsules

Now, what can you think of that you could use an herbal infused oil on that you could not use a tincture on? Setting aside the fact that alcohol is not usually cheap so who would want to rub a tincture on someone’s sore feet, oil has the consistency to stay where you put it until wiped off. So your herbal infused oils are for two reasons, 1- Cooking, and 2- External use. Now obviously cooking with herbal-infused oils is not using it as medicine, but it is still one way of using healthy oils instead of buying expensive GMO oils or just downright unhealthy oils just to cook with and eat. However, the main reason you want to have a few herbal-infused oils is that sometimes there will be what my little ones used to call “Owies” that you will be expected to take care of. Now some of you may already understand how to infuse an oil with herbs. But I am going to tell you a bit more information that you can tag as more than basic information.

First up, what type of oil should you use when infusing to make a medicinal oil? Naturally, you would want to use something that is non-GMO because you will be putting that on wounds with a direct link to someone’s bloodstream. I like to use olive oil. Now I know some of you will say, well olive oil is not cheap, and you are right if you buy the name-brand stuff. But in today’s markets more and cheaper brands of olive oil are showing up because consumer demand is higher than ever but consumers also complain about the high prices of this oil. However, you do not have to use olive oil if you choose not to. What you want is a food-grade carrier oil such as coconut oil or sunflower oil. To infuse your oil what you need is a pint jar. Fill that jar about halfway with the dried herb but use more if you will be using the fresh herb. Now pour your carrier oil in the jar covering the herb and leaving 1-inch headspace. Place the lid on tight and shake it. Sit that in a cool dark place for 4-6 weeks, try to remember to shake it daily to keep it mixed well. When it is ready you will need to strain the herb. Now when you strain it remember to squeeze out every little bit to get all the medicine you can. The way I do it is, I strain it in a cheesecloth, then I just make a ball with the cloth and the herb and squeeze it into the jar with the other oil.

Now you have an herb-infused oil to do what you need. It is good practice to only infuse herbs you will be using on the skin such as plantain or jewelweed for poison ivy, oak or sumac, or comfrey for bug bites, cuts, and scratches. I also like to infuse an oil with St. Johns Wort flowers and leave and use that on athlete’s foot fungus because it does the job in half the time as any over-the-counter medication (OTC).

Herbal Salves

Herbal salves, there are many ways to make these, and not 1 way is better than the next, it’s simply a preference. Salves are great, they both cover wounds and protect them from invading infection and heal with their medicine content. Because the salve is the consistency of petroleum jelly when applied to the skin it creates a coating over the area and protects it and it won’t just runoff. The difference between oils and salves is simply preference, again, except the fact that you can cook with oil, mostly they perform almost the same job. However, oils have an easier time entering the skin and taking the medicine with it, you can rub the oil in quickly and it will soon show no trace of existence. With a salve, you put it on on it is there until it is rubbed off. They are both greasy or oily, as they may be, but they both carry needed medicine to where it is needed most the wound. Use a salve to cover a cut, scrape, scratch, bug bit, scare, stitched wound or even skin irritations. According to what medicine lies in the salve will direct your use.

Salves keep practically indefinitely and can be used for all ages. To make an herbal salve you need an infused carrier oil, which can be coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil, or your choice oil, essential oils, and beeswax. You also need a small container to put the hot salve in before it hardens. Labels, if you have them or you can use something like a piece of medical tape written on with a permanent marker. The essential oil is not necessary but it does add scent and even more healing qualities to your herbal salves. I personally feel that the best salve you could make for an SHTF scenario would be a comfrey salve. Comfrey herb can save lives with its regenerating powers. You can make a salve out of any herbs that you would want to use on someone’s skin for medical purposes. To make your salve you will need either a double boiler or a small cooking pot. If you do not have a double boiler then you will need to be very careful with the heat so you do not burn your salve.

To make the salve first you will need 1 ounce of beeswax. Add that to the pan or boiler and put that on the heat. You want to melt the beeswax slowly. After it has melted you will be adding your herbal infused oil. So if we are making a comfrey salve you will add the infused oil of comfrey now. Add 8 ounces of infused oil to 1 ounce of beeswax. It will solidify some because the oil is probably cooler than the beeswax. Just keep it on the heat and melt it all blended into a liquid 100%. After that, you are ready to add any essential oils you want. A good essential oil is Chamomile because it is a great herb to use on the skin for itch relief and natural antimicrobial properties. You will need to add 64 drops of essential oil to this amount of salve. Mix well and then start adding the salve to your containers because it will begin to harden up very quickly. If you have a lot leftover that hardens, it is fine to put it back on the heat to remelt it.

It will take just a few minutes in small containers to harden enough so that you can put a cap on it and store it away until needed. There you go you have just made an herbal medicine salve.

Herbal Capsules/Supplements

Here is a list of many of my favorite organic powdered herbs to put in capsules:

  • Ashwagandha
  • Black Walnut
  • Cayenne
  • Boneset
  • Cranberry
  • Damiana
  • Horsetail
  • Hydrangea
  • Saw Palmetto
  • Spirulina
  • Triphala
  • Turmeric
  • Valerian Root
  • Willow Bark

Well, that is just my list of favorites, you can put any herb into a capsule as long as you have the powder version of the herb. Of course, you could try and make it if you have a coffee grinder, but it won’t be as good as the product you can buy ahead of time, along with all the non-GMO gelatin capsules and capsule machine. As with any other piece of prepper equipment you should have a stock of gelatin capsules, a capsule machine, and powdered herb. That way you can make capsules anytime you need more when you run out, and if there is no more available, it’s back to your good ole herbal infusions!

Now there are something like 2 different sizes to these capsule machines, so you will need all the attachments that come with the machine so you are able to do different milligrams of capsules. You will need to know how much you are adding to your capsules so that you will get the dosage correct. This also means you may want to purchase a scale that can weigh the powdered herb. It is pretty easy to do this, there are 2 sizes that I know of. The “0” size holds between 150-300 milligrams of powdered herb and the “00” size holds between 250-500 milligrams of powdered herb. Since plant material weights vary,  you would need the scale to determine the exact amount. Now as you can tell this requires a bit of research to determine how much of certain herbs you will need to take, dosage-wise, for what ailment you are treating or preventing. It might be a wise investment to purchase a book that tells you what dosages you need to use for popular medicinal herbs such as Valerian root and Boneset.

As the family natural doctor, you have to know your practice or you won’t be doing anyone any good. This book alone is great but it is not meant to be a definitive guide to everything you need to know. Use it as a stepping stone for learning the basics and a bit of advanced knowledge but remember, never stop learning, read, read, read!

Directions for making herbal capsules

 1. Place the capsule machine stand in the center of a shallow-sided dish. Then place the capsule machine base on top of the stand.

2. Pull apart each empty capsule and place the longer half in the base of the machine, open the end up. Repeat until the capsule machine base is full of capsule halves.

3. Take the smaller half of each capsule and place at the top of the capsule machine, open side up.

4. Bring out your powdered herb. As little as two tablespoons of powdered herb (or herb blend) you’d like to encapsulate will fill about 24 capsules.

5. Fill the capsule machine base with your powdered herb. It’s sometimes easiest to use a measuring cup for easy pouring, though a spoon will do too.

6. Using the capsule machine’s spreader card, gently coax the powder into the capsules by gently working the spreader card back and forth over the top of the herb so that the powder is evenly distributed.

7. Take the tamper and press down on top of the herb powder to get it packed into the capsules.

8. Continue to alternate between using the spreader card to evenly distribute the powder and pressing down with the tamper until all of the space in the capsule is filled.

9. Once completely filled, use the spreader card to sweep off the excess powder into the shallow-sided dish.

10. At this point you could also fill the tops using the same method described above, however, we’ve found that it can be a frustrating experience. While it wastes some space, we like to leave the tops empty for easier encapsulating.

11. Take the bottom off the stand and place the top of the capsule machine on the base. Press down on the machine top’s center.

12. When you feel like you have good compression, take the top off, and the capsules should now be packed.

13. Holding over an open jar, press down on the back of the capsule machine’s top to release the finished capsules from the machine into the jar.

Into the jar, sprinkle a pinch of the same powdered herb you just encapsulated, and give the jar a shake to distribute the powder onto the outside of each capsule. Enjoy!

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