Herbal home remedy, instructions for use

Herbal drinks usually work best on an empty stomach. Often it is suggested to drink them in small sips throughout the day, but it is also possible to divide the daily dose into 2 or 3 divided doses. In certain cases, one is satisfied in particular to quite simply prepare the remedy as needed (for example, one will use a calming plant before going to bed). Medicinal plants are mainly used in liquid form of infusions, decoctions or macerations.


This is indeed the simplest and most common method for “soft” herbal teas; leaves as well as flowers:

  1. Pour 500 ml of boiling water (remove from heat as soon as it boils) over 1 tbsp. (3 to 5 g) of the chosen herbal medicine (or herbal mixture), then cover.
  2. Leave to infuse for 3 to 5 minutes for fresh plants, and 5 to 15 minutes for dry plants and filter.
  3. Drink the herbal tea hot after adding a little honey or natural syrup if desired.

The decoctions

However, it is sometimes necessary to boil the plant to extract its active ingredients, especially for woody medicinal plants (wood, bark, tough leaves, roots, hard seeds):

  1. Place 1 tsp. tablespoons (5 to 8g) of the chosen medicinal plant in a stainless steel saucepan (avoid aluminum).
  2. Add 500 ml of water then bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 5 to 30 minutes.
  4. Cover to prevent evaporation.
  5. Filter and consume the decoction, sweetened or not, within 24 hours. Drink hot, but keep cool.


Certain constituents are indeed so fragile that even the infusion risks altering them. The medicinal plant must then be left to macerate in cold or lukewarm water for about 10 hours. Generally, we prepare the herbal tea the day before and let it macerate overnight.

Tinctures (mother tinctures)

Tinctures are liquid preparations which result from the cold extractive action of ethyl alcohol on dried herbal drugs. The substances which are intended for the preparation of tinctures must be dried in an oven, so that the alcohol is not weakened by their water of vegetation, and suitably divided, so that the alcohol attacks them more easily.

The contact between the substance and the solvent is more or less prolonged depending on whether the substance gives up its active principles more or less easily. The alcoholic strength varies from 60% to 90% depending on the nature of the substance.

  • 60% alcohol: For easily soluble active ingredient (tincture of arnica)
  • 70%: For very active drugs, say heroic = toxic (tincture of belladonna) → Preparations not recommended to make at home!
  • 80%: For drugs richer in resinous principles and volatile oils (tincture of benzoin)

There are simple tinctures (one drug) and compound tinctures (several drugs). Tinctures should be stored in a cool, dark place in well-stoppered containers. Some must be renewed every year because they deteriorate.

Tinctures also provide excellent preservation of the medicinal properties of plants and should be taken in small doses.

To prepare a tincture :

  1. Finely grind the chosen plant in an electric mixer with about five times its weight in alcohol of at least 40% (fruit brandy).
  2. Pour the preparation into a glass jar and seal tightly.
  3. Leave to macerate for a month in the dark, shaking the jar vigorously every other day.
  4. When the maceration period is over, filter through a piece of muslin, pressing everything together to extract the maximum amount of tincture.
  5. Pour the tincture into colored glass bottles. Preferably, small bottles will be used with a dropper-type cap.
  6. Alcohol tinctures can be stored for about seven years.
  7. To use them, you can place the desired number of drops in a little water (especially if you drink this mixture before going to bed!) Or even put them directly under the tongue for a faster effect.


Syrups are aqueous preparations characterized by their sweet flavor and viscous consistency. They contain sucrose, at a concentration of at least 45% by mass. Syrups can contain one or more active ingredients, or else serve as a vehicle in various preparations.

The liquid in which the sugar is dissolved can be water, distilled floral waters, herbal teas, various aqueous solutions containing extracts, tinctures, alcohol, etc.

Syrups are also ideal for treating coughs, especially when made with honey.

To prepare a syrup :

1. Heat 250 ml of infusion or concentrated decoction previously filtered in a saucepan.
2. Add 500 ml of honey or organic sugar and stir constantly until the mixture is homogeneous.
3. Let cool and bottle.
In the refrigerator, this preparation can be kept for 6 months.
If needed, take 1 teaspoon (for children) to 1 tablespoon of syrup before meals.

However, it is important to prepare your herbal home remedies with weakly mineralized water. Water indeed plays an essential role because it conveys the active ingredients and, in fact, the properties of medicinal plants.


Arnaud. C. (Docteur en pharmacie)

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