Posts Tagged ‘how to make an herbal infusion’

Herbal Infusion Recipe

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

herbal oilHerbal Infusion Recipe

This is the basic recipe for making patchouli infused oil to be used in the creation of various bath and body products.  For this recipe we are going to be using the double boiler method.  There are various methods to choose from when making an herbal oil infusion.  To view other processes of infusing herbs for bath and body products please click on this linkPlease note:  Depending on the herb/herbs that you are selecting to infuse, will determine whether you go with a hot method or a cold method route of infusion.  Some herbs are very heat sensitive.  Therefore, if heat is introduced for the infusion, some of the medicinal benefits may be lost.

With oil infusion, a key to remember is the longer that the herbs are allowed to set in the oil, the stronger the herbal infusion will be.  Our herbal infusion sat undisturbed for 4 weeks (after the double boiler method) before we strained the herbs out and introduced the infusion to a recipe.

We selected sweet almond oil because it readily absorbs into the skin and has a non-greasy feel to it.  There are however other oils you can choose from.  For the selection of your solvent (liquid you are infusing the herbs into), you will want to pick an oil that has a low rancidity rate.  Some other great solvents that can be used are: vegetable glycerin, apricot kernel oil, and olive oil.  Each oil has various skin loving attributes to them, so it is very easy to cater the oil infusion you want to make to the specific need you are looking for.

Although there are other herbs you can select for oil infusion; for this recipe, we wanted to make an oil infusion that was great for dry skin and promoted a healthy and radiant glow.  Besides being an astringent, patchouli is also known for its antimicrobial, anti inflammatory and antiseptic properties.  Plus, since Valentine’s Day is coming, and patchouli is known for its possible APHRODISIAC properties, we found patchouli to be a good herb of choice.

For this infusion, you will need:

patchouli oil infusionPatchouli c/s
Sweet Almond Oil
a pint sized canning jar with lid
2 pots (one smaller with lid, and one larger)
Water
Stove top
Scale

Here are the steps for making patchouli infused oil (double boiler method):

Using a scale, weigh out 45 grams of patchouli c/s.  Place the herb into the smaller pot.  Next, weigh out 392 grams of Sweet Almond Oil.  Pour this over the herbs in the smaller pot, set aside.  Next, place some water into the larger pot.  You want to have at least 3-4 inches of water.  Next, place the large pot onto the stove top on the lowest setting of heat possible.

making patchouli oil infusion

Then, place the lid on the smaller pot and then place the smaller pot into the larger one.  Although it is essential to keep the small pot lidded the entire time it is heated, you will want to monitor the oil infusion and stir it occasionally.  You will want to let the oil infusion simmer slowly for 30 minutes to an hour.  Do not allow water to get into your infusion.

double boiler herbal oil infusion

Once this time period has passed, remove the smaller pot from the larger one.  Allow the oil infusion to reach room temperature and then place the oil infusion into a pint sized canning jar and lid.

herb in oil

Although technically, once the herbs have simmered, you may strain them out and use the oil infusion once it reaches room temperature.  We however wanted a very strong patchouli oil infusion so we let the oil infusion set and steep for an additional 4 weeks after double boiling.  While the herbs were steeping, we took advantage of the sun and placed the jar in the window sill during the daytime.

Once four weeks had passed, the patchouli herb was strained out of the oil using cheesecloth.  Please note:  When you are ready to strain out the herbs, do not forget to apply pressure to the drenched herbs to get out as much oil as you can.  Finally, after tons of anticipation our oil infusion was ready to be put to use.

In the End
The patchouli oil infusion smelled amazing!  Not only was this recipe super easy to make, but it was fun too.  The addition of the oil infusion to our formulation allowed our end product that extra boost in the moisturizing category, and our skin was soft and supple after use too.

Happy Homemade!

Herbal Infusion

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Herbal InfusionHerbal Infusion

Many times the herbs that we seek out to use in a bath or body recipe may be a little too coarse for our skin.  This is the point where typically a conundrum lies.  The battle that is at hand is the great skin loving nutrients and benefits that herbs are able to provide versus the rigidity and awkwardness of the herbs physical form.  This is especially true for herbs that are cut and sifted.

There is however great news to share.  An herbal infusion is the problem solver in this situation.

What is an Herbal Infusion:  The true definition of the action of infusion is a procedure of withdrawing various nutritive compounds of an herb into a solvent, and allowing them to linger in the solvent for a period of time.  Basically, an herbal infusion is the method of extracting the medicinal benefits of herbs and steeping them to allow the transfer of herbal benefits into another medium.

There are different kinds of herbal infusions that can be made.  They all vary according to what medium is used.  The different solvents or mediums that can be used for an herbal infusion are water, oil (such as olive oil, apricot kernel oil, or sweet almond oil), vegetable glycerin, vinegar, propylene glycol, or alcohol.  Typically, herbal infusions made with alcohol or vegetable glycerin are referred to as tinctures or extracts.  The difference between extracts and tinctures is the amount of herb infused in the alcohol or glycerin.  An extract is considered 1 part herb to 1 part alcohol or glycerin.  A tincture is considered 1 part herbs to 3 parts alcohol or glycerin.

Infusions are necessary with some herbs due to their delicate nature.  Typically the fragile parts of the plant are used for infusions; this would be the parts that are above ground.  These parts would include:  leaves, flowers, stems, or aromatic pieces.   It is important to know your herbs and understand their nature before deciding the best infusion route to take.

Hot infusions:
Hot infusions will bring out vitamins, and enzymes.  This type of infusion will also allow the aromatic notes of the herbs out, which are also known as essential oils.  This method works best for the herbs that are a little more reluctant to forgo their medicinal characteristics.  This is generally the herbs in the form of barks and roots; although all portions of the plant can be used.  Herbal tea is the most popular example of a hot herbal infusion.

Cold infusions:
Cold infusions are best for herbs that have a heat sensitive nature.  Using the hot method with these types of herbs may eliminate some of the remedial properties.  This process is best for these types of herbs because through steeping (allowing a plant material to set in a medium undisturbed), they will release their medicinal attributes without being forced to do so with heat.

It is believed that the best types of herbs to use for an infusion are dried ones.  This is because nourishing minerals and phytochemicals that are naturally in herbs are best accessed by the drying out of the herb.  However, fresh herbs may also be used.

Depending on the method of your herbal infusion, it will vary the strength of the infusion itself.  Another deciding factor with infusion is the time that your herbal infusion will take as well as the deadline of your need for the infusion.  There are several different ways varying in strength and steep time that you can infuse herbs.

solar herbal infusionSolar Infusion:  This method involves the placement of your herbs and your solvent into a covered glass jar.  Make sure the cover is on tightly.  Then you allow your jar to set undisturbed in a warm/sunny area of your home-under a skylight or in a window sill. Allow this mixture to set for at least two weeks.  For more potent infusions, allow to set for 4-6 weeks.  After the time has passed, you may strain the herbs out with cheesecloth and use.  To make an even stronger infusion with this method, after straining, add another round of herbs to the same oil and allow it to set and steep again for two additional weeks.  Solar infusions typically use oils as the medium.  NOTE:  While sun tea can be made this way, it is important to understand that water can grow mold and bacteria within days.  Therefore, refrain from allowing sun tea to set in the sun more than a day before using or before refrigerating.

Oven Extraction:  The best method to use if you have selected a heat sensitive oil as your solvent and you are in a time crunch.  This method involves placing your herbs and solvent in a glass jar.  You will also want to make sure that you have it covered with a tight fitting lid.  Once sealed, select a deep cake pan and fill it with water.  The water level should rise to cover about half of your jar.  Then, simply place your deep cake pan into the oven and allow it to heat for several hours.  You want to make sure your oven temperature is on its lowest setting.  Once the time has passed, strain the herb out and allow the infusion to reach room temperature before using.

Hot water herbal infusionHot Water Steep:  This herbal infusion can be done if water is your selected solvent.  To do this method, place your herbs in a glass container.  Then, boil water.  Once your water is at a boil, turn off the stove top and carefully pour the boiling water over the herbs and into the jar.  Once the hot water has been added, quickly lid the jar tightly.  Allow the herbs to steep for 4-10 hours before opening the container to strain the herbs out.  Allow the infusion to reach room temperature before using.  A recipe for this hot water tea infusion:  Place 1 cup of dried herbs into a quart jar.  Pour hot water over the herbs.  Lid.  Set for 4-6 hours.  Strain.

Double Boiler:  This method is done by placing the herbs and oil in a lidded pot with the tightest lid possible.  Herbal Oil Infusion Recipe:  45 grams white sage leaves  + 392 grams of apricot kernel oil.  Next, take a second bigger pot and place water into it. Then, place the bigger pot on the stove top and set it on a lower temperature setting.  Next, place the smaller lidded pot containing your herbs and oil into the bigger one.   Allow this to simmer slowly for 30 minutes to an hour.  Throughout the time, continuously check your oil to make sure it is not overheating, and stir.  After the time has elapsed, strain the herbs out using a cheesecloth.   Allow the infusion to reach room temperature before using.

Tips for Infusions:
You can add extra scent to your infusion by adding fragrance oils or essential oils.

You can place the herbs that you will be infusing into a teabag or cheesecloth to help make the straining process easier.

No matter which method of infusion you are doing, a tight fitting lid is essential to the process.

You can combine herbs to make creative herbal infusions.

Uses for Infusions:
Water infusions can be used as a hair rinse.  This rinse can be left on the hair until the next time you shampoo.

Water infusions can be ingested as a tea (hot or cold) as long as the herb is safe for consumption.  Some herbs cannot be ingested at all, and can be deadly if consumed.   Check with your doctor before ingesting any herbs.  Honey can be added to make the taste of the tea more favorable.  If you have remaining infusion, refrigerate to slow spoilage rate.

Herbal infusions can be applied directly to the skin.  Oil infusions can be used for oil based bath and body products like massaging oils.

Herbal infusions can be inhaled for aromatherapy purposes.

Oil infusions can be bases for salves and balms.

You can use an oil infusion for emulsion products like sugar scrubs, lotions, and soaps.

For all natural herbs that you can use to make your own herbal infusions, shop Natures Garden’s Herbs.

Natures Garden sells our herbs for external applications only.  We are providing this information for herbal infusions for educational purposes only.  Nothing we mention should be construed as medical advice or for medical treatment purposes.   Please consult your doctor before using any herbs for treatment or other medicinal purposes.

White Sage Uses

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

white sageWhite Sage was considered a Holy herb by the American Indians who used it for smudging ceremonies, for bathing, for deodorant, and for medicinal purposes.  Natures Garden sells our white sage for external applications only, but in the following article, we will discuss how this wonderful herb has been used throughout history.  Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice; consult your doctor before using any herbs for treatment purposes. We provide this data for educational purposes only.    

White Sage (Salvia apiana) is an evergreen shrub that grows to 4-5 feet in height.  White sage grows well in climates that provide lots of sunlight, well-drained soil, mild winters, and little water.  Over-watering white sage can kill the plant. The leaves of white sage contain essential oils and resins that provide a wonderful aroma when rubbed together.  White sage’s scientific name is salvia apiana (apiana refers to the fact that bees are attracted to this plant); salvia means salvation.

The American Indians referred to white sage as the king of all sages, and frequently used this herb for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.  In fact, it is believed that the term “Holy Smoke” originated from the American Indians “smudging” white sage to rid people and places of unwanted evil spirits, and to protect themselves from those spirits.  In addition, they believe that the smoke of sage attaches itself to negative energy found within a person, and removes it from their body.   

White sage is still used today for smudging purposes.  The smudging process involves lighting the tips of dried sage leaves, blowing them out, and allowing the smoke to escape into the air.  Smudging is typically done using a sage wand (smudge stick), but loose white sage leaves can be used instead.  Sage wands are sage leaves wrapped tightly together.  To burn a smudge stick, light the tip of a few leaves and blow it out.  You can either wave the stick in air or place stick in a fire-safe container that contains salt or sand. The salt or sand will allow the smudge stick to stand erect while burning. To extinguish the smudge stick, place smoking end of the stick into the salt or sand and smolder. The smoke created from burning sage produces a calming effect on those who inhale it.  (Always use caution when burning sage, as anything that is on fire can potentially catch other things on fire.  Also, keep anything that is burning away from children and pets).

In addition to smudging, white sage may be used for topical applications by preparing teas, poultices, and/or oil infusions.  White sage is used in these applications because it has anti-fungal, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, calming, deodorizing, and healing properties.  White sage contains diterpenoids, which are compounds which have been shown to fight bacterial infections, and reduce allergy symptoms.  It also contains cineole, which acts as an anti-inflammatory/anti-bacterial agent.  Tannic acid content provides anti-fungal properties.  Sage is also used as an antipyretic; used as a sweat bath to reduce fever. White sage has a calming effect on the body and soul.  This is likely due to its miltirone content (a compound which performs similar to valium to reduce anxiety).  Finally, white sage contains phytoestrogens, which are compounds very similar to the female hormone estrogen.  Herbalists have used white sage to help treat the hot flashes that accompany menopause.

 

White sage tea is prepared by steeping sage leaves in hot water.  Care is taken not to add white sage leaves to boiling water, as boiling water will destroy some of its medicinal value.  Once this tea is made, it can be used to make natural lotions and creams, soap, and hair care products.  The American Indians used white sage tea as a “soapless” shampoo.  Since white sage has deodorant qualities, sage tea can be used as a fabulous hair rinse that leaves your hair soft and manageable.  Sage tea can be used in place of plain water to make wonderful homemade soaps.  Natural lotions and creams can also be made using white sage tea in place of plain water.  This tea can also be added directly to your bathtub for a relaxing herbal bath.  Due to its tannic acid content (which has anti-fungal properties), white sage tea can be used as a foot bath to treat athlete’s foot.  White sage tea can also be used as a refreshing, natural vaginal deodorant.

White sage can be infused into oils to make fabulous massage oils, ointments, body butters, salves, lip balms, ect.  To prepare a white sage oil infusion, crush 1 cup dried white sage into 16 oz. olive oil (or another light oil such as sweet almond oil or sunflower oil), warm it gently in a double boiler for about 1 hour covered, pour the solution (including the herbs) into a jar and lid.  Allow this to set for 4-6 weeks; strain and use.  Your oil infusion will have a shelf life of about 1 year.  This white sage oil infusion can be used to make soaps, lotions, massage oils, ointments, salves, deodorants, creams, lip balms, scrubs, and other body products.

Finally, it is reported that white sage can be used internally (in small amounts) in the form of a tea for an array of medicinal treatments. Never should sage essential oil be ingested.  Before ingesting any type of herbs, you should consult with your doctor first. Herbalists use white sage as a tea, for soothing sore throats, for relaxation, for hormonal imbalances, for diarrhea, for indigestion, for ulcers, and for treating congestion in the respiratory tract.  Since white sage is a natural deodorant, it can be used to make natural douches.

White sage contains a compound known as thujone. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this compound increases your heart rate and causes mental confusion. It can also lead to vomiting, restlessness and kidney complications when used in excess. Hence, you should exercise caution when using white sage.

A study performed at the University of Arizona in 1991 demonstrated that Salvia apiana has potential antibacterial properties against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Candida brassicae.   It was also published in March 2005 in “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” that scientists at the University of Southern California found white sage to contain eucalyptol, or cineole.  This compound is known to kill bacteria and can help clear a sinus infection.