What Are Herbs And Herbal Extracts?

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What Are Herbs And Herbal Extracts?

An herb is defined simply as any plant that has culinary or medicinal uses. Ask any person for their quintessential idea of what an herb is, and they’ll probably think of a small foliage plant, like parsley or coriander, but in fact ‘herbs’ come in a tremendous variety of shapes and sizes, from tiny flowering plants to huge trees.

Of course we don’t just use leaves and stems to make herbal pills, tinctures, poultices or teas, or for that matter when we are cooking. In many cases, the roots, flowers or even seeds of the plant are the bit we’re interested in, and the main body of the plant might contain no or few active ingredients.

Sometimes, herbs contain enough of the desired ingredient to be consumed whole, but in many cases, herbs have to be concentrated into an extract if they are to contain enough of the active ingredient to be useful.

Dry extracts are made by allowing the herb to dry out (often by heating it) and then compressing or powdering the resulting dried plant matter, and these extracts are most commonly used to make herbal capsules and pills. It is possible to make quite powerful extracts using this method, and indeed many herbal supplements contain extracts in the ratio of 50:1 or even 100:1 and above. A 100:1 extract means that 100 parts of raw plant matter are used to make just 1 part of extract.  

Extracts can also be made by soaking or boiling the herb in water (if the active ingredients are water soluble) or alcohol (if they are not). The resulting solution can then be evaporated and reduced, leaving a concentrated liquid of the desired ingredient.

Herbs and their extracts can be administered in a variety of ways. Daily supplements usually take the form of herbal capsules or herbal pills – small capsules that are filled with dry powdered extract. Often raw dried plant matter and flowers can be brewed into teas and drunk straight away by boiling the plants in water. Extracts made by soaking the raw herbs in alcohol – or tinctures – are also drunk as medicines. Finally, some herbs are put into little cloth bags and made into poultices or compresses and used to reduce swelling or prevent infection from small wounds.

Whilst making herbal extracts of a desired strength and composition can be difficult to do at home, many simple herbal remedies such as teas and tinctures can be easily produced in your own home, with the minimum of equipment and materials. You’d be amazed to learn how many of the plants in your garden have medicinal properties, even those pesky weeds that you have to keep clearing out!

There are many excellent books about how to make your own home remedies, and how to grow the right herbs in your own garden or even your kitchen. DIY herbalism is a great hobby to look into, combining the pleasure of growing plants with the interest of producing simple remedies and very tasty teas for you and your family.

At Pure Herbal Power we provide a range of effective herbal capsules for general health and wellbeing and for improved sexual pleasure and performance. Visit Herbal Capsules now to find out more.

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