How To Use The “Folk Method” To Make Herbal Preparations

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

When it comes to making herbal preparations, one of the simplest ways to go about it is to use the folk method. The folk method is often used by beginner herbalists because it’s a simple and easy method to follow, but that doesn’t mean it’s for beginners only. Many experienced herbalists continue to prefer this method of herbal preparation, especially those that tend to rely on their instincts when working with herbs.

In this post, I’d like to explain what the folk method is, discuss the differences between it and ratio method, and walk you through the steps of making an herbal preparation using the folk method.

What Is The Folk Method?

The folk method is one of the simplest ways to make herbal preparations. As its name implies, it’s what the common “folks” would use. The folk method is simple and easy. There is no difficult math involved, you use what you have on hand, and no extra equipment is needed. As you grow as an herbalist, you will eventually rely on your instinct and knowledge to craft the folk preparations you’re going to use.

While many people may think the folk method is not of high quality because it’s too simple, this is simply not true. Many well-known and well-respected herbalists prefer using the folk method because of its simplicity and the intuition it takes to use it.

Rosemary Gladstar is one of these herbalists. Not to say she never uses the ratio method (because she may), but most times, you’ll find her putting a bit of this herb and a sprinkle of that herb in her formulas. You’ll also notice that most of her recipes call for “parts” which is another indicator of a recipe made using the folk method. Rosemary refers to this method as “the simpler’s method of measurement.”

“… simpler referred to someone who was observant and relied on intuition and an inner knowing for making preparations” (Gladstar, 2008, p. 378).

What’s The Difference Between the Folk Method and the Ratio Method

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

As with most things, there are pros and cons of each method. Your preference and situation will determine which you will use.

Like I mentioned earlier, the folk method requires no exact measurements. You can follow a recipe that uses roughly estimated parts, or you use your knowledge, experience, and intuition to judge how much of an herb to use in your preparation. With this method, it’s rare that any two preparations will turn out the same. When it comes to determining dosages for preparations made using the folk method, again, your knowledge and intuition will come into play. Most times, though, dosages are titrated up or down based on the situation you’re dealing with.

The ratio method, on the other hand, uses exact measurements of herbs and solvents. Oftentimes, a specific amount of herb is weighed and a certain volume of solvent is measured. This is then combined, and the result will be consistent each time you make it. Dosage suggestions are based on the strength of the herb and the herb to solvent ratio. Stronger preparations will have smaller dosage recommendations while weaker preparations will have larger dosages.

Again, there are benefits to each method, and one is not better than the other.

Examples of the Folk Method

To show some preparations made using the folk method, let’s look at three recipes below. Let me encourage you to try these out for yourself so you can familiarize yourself with this method.

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

Calendula Infused Oil

This infused oil is one of the simplest herbal preparations you’ll ever make. It’s mad with the wonderful herb, calendula, using the folk method. It can be used as is on the skin or added to other herbal recipes like this simple Calendula Salve.

Calendula Infused Oil

[recipe_ingredients]

Dried calendula (Calendula officinalis) flowers
Carrier oil of choice (olive, sweet almond, fractionated coconut, etc.)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • In a clean, dry pint jar, place enough dried calendula flowers to fill jar 1/3 of the way full.
  • Cover the herbs with carrier oil of your choice, filling the jar to 1 inch from the top.
  • Stir the mixture with a clean, dry spoon, screw on a tight lid, and allow it to sit in a dark, warm spot. Shake every couple days for good measure.
  • Strain the mixture after 4-6 weeks and store in a clean, labeled glass jar.

[/recipe_directions]

Traditional Folk Oxymel Preparation

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

This preparation comes from our blog post on how to make oxymels, and it shows a traditional oxymel preparation made using the folk method. As you can see from the recipe below, you have no specific measurements, only parts. Therefore, when combining the ingredients, you eyeball the amount of each as you put it in your jar.

Traditional Folk Oxymel Preparation

Recipe adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs

[recipe_ingredients]

Dried herb of choice
1 part apple cider vinegar
1 part raw honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • In a clean, dry pint jar, place enough dried herb to fill 1/4 of the way full.
  • Cover the herbs with the vinegar and honey until the jar is full or slightly less than full (strive for a ratio of approximately 1:3, herbs to vinegar/honey mixture).
  • Stir the mixture with a clean, dry spoon, screw on a tight plastic lid, then shake until well mixed.
  • Store the jar in a dark, cool place and shake every couple of days.
  • Strain the mixture after about two weeks and store in a glass jar.

[/recipe_directions]

Cumin, Coriander, & Fennel Seed Tea

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

Another recipe made using the folk method is this one for Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel Seed tea. This tea is perfect to benefit digestion during the colder months of the year when we tend to eat heavier foods. This recipe is made using equal parts of herbs. It’s also easy to make in bulk and use whenever you need a digestive boost!

Cumin, Coriander, & Fennel Seed Tea

Recipe from Herbal Teas Throughout The Seasons

[recipe_ingredients]

1 part cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum)
1 part coriander seeds (Coriandrum sativum)
1 part fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Mix all dry ingredients together and add to a glass mug.
  • Cover with 2 cups (16 ounces) of just-boiled water and steep for 20 minutes.
  • Strain and compost the herbs.
  • Sip this tea before or after meals to promote healthy digestion.

[/recipe_directions]

REFERENCES

Gladstar, R. (2008). Herbal recipes for vibrant health. North Adams, MA: Story Publishing.

How To Make An Oxymel

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages for a variety of respiratory and immune system issues including coughs, mucus, and difficulty breathing (Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.). Made from vinegar and honey, oxymels are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Keep reading to learn how to make an oxymel using a few different traditional methods. Note that because oxymels use raw honey, do not give them to children under 12 months old.

Why Use An Oxymel?

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

You might be wondering: why use an oxymel over other herbal preparations?

Derived from the Greek word oxymeli, which translates to “acid and honey,” oxymel use has been documented since the age of Hippocrates as a means to use and extract herbs that are not so pleasant in flavor when taken through other methods (Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.). These herbs tend to be the more pungent aromatics, such as garlic (Allium sativa) and cayenne (Capsicum annuum), that also lend a supportive role for the immune and respiratory systems (Green, 2000).

Both apple cider vinegar and raw honey are common kitchen allies that can be used to help soothe the throat, calm a cough, or bolster the immune system through colds and flu. When combined with herbs that carry complementary actions, oxymels offer a potent, yet tasty, support for times of sickness or compromised immunity.

In the words of Hippocrates: “You will find the drink, called oxymel, often very useful… for it promotes expectoration and freedom of breathing” (Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.).

4 Ways To Make An Oxymel

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

At its core, oxymels are simply an herbal extraction of apple cider vinegar and honey. In essence, the simplest way to make an oxymel is to combine a vinegar and a honey herbal infusion you have previously made. Although this is not a traditional oxymel preparation, it is an easy and convenient method, especially when you have premade vinegar or honey infusions already on hand.

Time Saver Oxymel Preparation

[recipe_ingredients]

1 part herbal infused vinegar
1 part herbal infused honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine infused vinegar with infused honey in a sterilized glass jar. Mix well with a clean, dry spoon until both preparations are fully combined.
  • Label and store in a cool place free of moisture for 6 months.

[/recipe_directions]

Note: Oxymels should be stored in glass jars with plastic lids as the vinegar in the mixture will corrode a metal lid. If you don’t have plastic lids available, you can place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the jar and the lid.

There are several traditional ways oxymels can be made. Below are three different methods to prepare oxymels as a delivery for tinctures, decoctions, or as a means for extracting dried herbs.

The classic, standard oxymel recipe uses 5 parts honey to 1 part vinegar, but many modern recipes will call for more of an equal balance between vinegar and honey. Feel free to play with the proportions depending on the focus of your formula and your taste palate.

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Traditional Folk Oxymel Preparation

[recipe_ingredients]

Recipe adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs

Dried herb of choice
1 part apple cider vinegar
1 part raw honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • In a clean, dry pint jar, place enough dried herb to fill ¼ of the way full.
  • Cover the herbs with the vinegar and honey until the jar is full or slightly less than full (strive for a ratio of approximately 1:3, herbs to vinegar/honey mixture).
  • Stir the mixture with a clean, dry spoon, screw on a tight plastic lid, then shake until well mixed.
  • Store the jar in a dark, cool place and shake every couple days.
  • Strain the mixture after about two weeks and store in a glass jar.

[/recipe_directions]

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Oxymel Base For Tinctures

[recipe_ingredients]

2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups honey
Herbal tincture of your choice

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine the apple cider vinegar and honey in a pot and simmer to the consistency of a syrup.
  • Remove from the heat and add in your herbal tincture using a ratio of 1 part tincture to 3 parts oxymel (Ex: 30 drops of tincture to approximately 1 teaspoon oxymel) as needed or desired. Stir well to combine.
  • The oxymel base can be stored in a dark, cool place or in the fridge. Stir or gently shake before using.

[/recipe_directions]

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Oxymel Using Vinegar Decoction

[recipe_ingredients]

8 oz dried herb of choice (choose plant parts that are ideal for decocting such as barks, berries, and roots)
8 cups vinegar
3 cups raw honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Place the dried herb and vinegar in a pot and bring to a boil. (Be careful not to inhale the vinegar steam too much or put your face over the top of the pot!)
  • Reduce heat and allow to simmer gently until the liquid is reduced to roughly 5 cups.
  • Strain the herbs from the vinegar and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Add the honey to the herbal decoction. Mix thoroughly to combine.

[/recipe_directions]

Time to Start Brewing

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Making an herbal oxymel is a simple and convenient herbal preparation that creates an ideal balance between vinegar and honey for supporting the immune and respiratory systems. With so many different ways to prepare an oxymel, there is a bit of room for creativity and experimentation with every batch you brew!

Get started making an oxymel today with our recipe for Homemade Fire Cider — just in time for the cool months ahead. Learn more specifics on herbal extractions through our posts How To Make An Herbal Honey and Making Herbal Vinegars.

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

REFERENCES

Green, J. (2000). The herbal medicine-maker’s handbook: A home manual. Berkley, CA: Crossing Press.

Hippocrates. (400 B.C.E.). On regimen in acute diseases. Retrieved from http://classics.mit.edu/Hippocrates/acutedis.html.

How to Make A Homemade Flower Essence

I never understood the potency of flower essences until I made one myself — carefully picking each beautiful, delicate flower from the plant, intentionally setting it in spring water, and placing the bowl under the sun in the center of my garden. It was a magical meditation as the golden rays of the sun penetrated the petals and my skin simultaneously. In that moment, I could feel something powerful was happening.

Often times, the best way to learn about something is through experience. That’s why, in this post, we will go over five steps you can take to make your own homemade flower essence.

The Power of a Homemade Flower Essence

A flower essence is a solar water infusion of the flowering part of a plant. This type of infusion harnesses the sun’s energy to pull beneficial properties and essences (or life force) out of the plant material and into the water.

Flower essences are primarily used to support the emotional, mental, and spiritual body, and they embody the concept of self-care. You can find out more about flower essences in our post, How To Use Flower Essences for Emotional Support.

Dr. Edward Bach discovered and created the first line of flower essences in 1935. He found that when he supported the personalities and emotions of his patients, instead of their symptoms only, their emotional upsets and bodily stresses would dissipate naturally as the body shifted back into a state of balance and began to work effectively again (The Bach Center, n.d.). Dr. Bach also believed strongly in the power of self-care and was passionate about empowering everyone to tap into their ability to support themselves and others. This is why he created a simple flower essence line.

Learning how to make a homemade flower essence can be very empowering and can help to support you in your self-care journey.

How to Make Homemade Flower Essence

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

To make a homemade flower essence, gather the fresh blossoms of a plant you can identify as safe for human consumption. Be sure to choose a clear, sunny day to gather your blossoms, preferably in the early morning, when there may still be dew on them. The blossoms are then placed on the surface of a bowl of spring water and left outdoors in direct sunlight where they can be infused by the heat and light of the sun for several hours. This process is thought to transfer the energy pattern of the flower into the spring water, embodying the beneficial essence of the plant. This “mother essence” is preserved with brandy before being further diluted to form the “stock” bottle, which is the dosage bottle (FES Flowers, n.d.).

Below is a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of this process.

Supplies Needed:

One medium sized glass bowl
One large, clean, dark glass bottle
One or more one-ounce amber or cobalt dropper bottle(s)
Pure spring water
High-quality brandy
Labels

Step 1 – Choose Your Essence

While you may want to explore further resources on flower essences to pick the right essence for you, choosing an essence can be as simple as picking a flower that is growing in your garden or in the environment you live in that is intriguing to you. Sometimes the things we feel attracted to call to us because we could benefit from adding them into our lives. Flower essences are considered non-toxic because they contain only small traces of actual physical substance and have no direct impact upon the body’s biochemistry (FES Flowers, n.d.). However, it is still important to make and consume flower essences with care.

Safety Note: Only harvest flowers from plants that you have positively identified and know to be safe for use. Also, be sure to harvest organically grown plants and in a sustainable way.

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

Step 2 – Harvest Flowers

Plan to make the flower essence on a clear, sunny day, when there are no clouds in the sky. It is also important to check in with yourself as preparing a flower essence can feel like a magical experience, not a mechanical one. Tune in to your mind, body, and spirit and see if you can be completely present in the moment. Make sure you are in the right place energetically to put good intention into the flower essence making process. If astrology is important to you, you may want to consider those aspects as well when choosing the day to make your homemade flower essence.

When picking the flowers to use, it’s traditionally recommended to use a leaf from the plant to cover your fingers so you don’t touch the blossoms. Try to avoid using clippers or tools. If you find this difficult, you can wear gloves instead and/or use tools if you need. This is not required, but suggested, so that your body’s energy or other sources of energy do not transfer into the flower essence.

Make sure the plant(s) you choose to pick from are organically grown. If wild crafting, choose a place where the plants grow in abundance and are not exposed to pollution from the city. Choose fresh, vibrant blossoms from the plant, and pick flowers that grow in profusion. Only pick a few blossoms from each plant to ensure the plant can live a healthy life after your harvest.

Step 3 – Prepare the Menstruum

Fill a glass bowl with spring water. If you do not have access to a spring, bottled water is okay to use. Avoid distilled water because some believe the ionization process destroys the water’s life force necessary to hold the flower’s essence.

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

Step 4 – Infuse the Essence

Place the flowers on top of the spring water in the bowl until the entire surface of the water is covered. Place the bowl in direct sunlight where no shadows will cross over it (including your own) for three to four hours. During this time, the essence of the flowers will be infused into the water through the energy of the sun.

Step 5 – Strain & Bottle

After three to four hours, skim the flowers off of the water using a leaf from the plant if possible. The water left in the bowl is now called the “mother essence.” Pour this into a clean, amber glass bottle, filling the bottle halfway with the mother essence and halfway with brandy. The final mixture in the bottle should be half mother essence and half brandy. The brandy is used as a preservative and an anchor to hold the subtle essence vibrations in the water.

Don’t forget to label your bottle! Write mother essence, the date, ingredients, where it was made, and any other important information on the label. Store it in a cool, dark, dry place. If made well and stored correctly, mother essences and stock bottles should retain their potency for six to ten years (Devi, n.d.).

Note: Use brandy that is at least 80-proof alcohol. If you would like to avoid using alcohol, you may use apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin instead. However, it should be stored in the refrigerator, and this will shorten the shelf life to one year.

To Use Your Homemade Flower Essence

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

The mother essence is to be diluted and never consumed directly. To dilute it, place two to ten drops of the mother essence in a one-ounce amber or cobalt bottle with a glass dropper and fill the remainder of the bottle with half brandy and half spring water. This is called a “stock” bottle. From this stock bottle, take two to four drops under the tongue, up to four times a day, as needed.

Tap Into Your Creativity

Allow yourself flexibility and freedom when creating your homemade flower essence. As mentioned before, this is believed to be a magical experience, not a mechanical one. There is no one-way to make a flower essence. The method we detailed in this post is known as the “Sun Method” of preparation. However, some herbalists enjoy making flower essences under the full moon, or during different unique and profound astrological times. Feel free to experiment and play around with things that resonate with you!

Last year, I felt inspired to make a sunflower flower essence during the solar eclipse in North America. I used big, bright sunflowers from my organic garden, placed them in spring water in direct sunlight about an hour before the eclipse began, and skimmed the flowers off about an hour after the eclipse ended. I live in Portland, Oregon, where the solar eclipse was in 97% totality, meaning that the moon almost covered the sun completely, casting many eerie but beautiful shadows in the area.

The traditional way to make a flower essence is to ensure that no shadows will go over the bowl. However, I felt like the eclipse was a very powerful energetic moment in time that I wanted to capture in my essence. I also really feel the sunflower essence embodies the solar eclipse energy of light and shadows. The essence of sunflower, Helianthus assuus, assists in balancing the light and shadow side of the self, dissolving low self-esteem in those that need it, and welcoming in light or dissolving the self-glorified ego and welcoming in loving compassion (Kaminski & Katz, 1996).

Remember

Making a homemade flower essence should be a fun, empowering activity to support your journey into herbs traditionally used for self-care and ritual. Flower essences are strengtheners of our own soul forces, enabling us to learn and grow from life’s challenges. They are not a quick fix. They are wonderful plant allies, inviting us on a transformative journey, and can be our guides along the way.

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

REFERENCES:

Devi, L. (n.d.). The essential flower essence handbook. Retrieved from http://spirit-in-nature.com/learn-more/the-free-online-essential-flower-essence-handbook

FES Flowers, (n.d.). Frequently asked questions about flower essences. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://fesflowers.com/files/1714/2678/9743/FAQ.pdf

Kaminski, P., & Katz, R. (1996). Flower essence repertory: A comprehensive guide to North American and English flower essences for emotional and spiritual well-being. Nevada City, CA: Flower Essence Society.

The Bach Center, (n.d.). Our founder, Dr. Edward Bach. [Web Page]. Retrieved from https://www.bachcentre.com/centre/drbach.htm

How To Harvest Bark From Trees and Shrubs Correctly

How To Harvest Bark From Trees and Shrubs Correctly | Herbal Academy | Ever wanted to harvest bark from trees or shrubs? In this post, we'll teach you four bark harvesting rules to follow so you can harvest bark correctly.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to harvest bark from trees or shrubs, you’re not alone. Bark is commonly used in herbal preparations, but the idea of harvesting barks can be rather confusing. How exactly does one go about harvesting barks from trees or shrubs in an ethical and sustainable manner?

In the article below, we’ll discuss four basic rules for harvesting barks from trees and shrubs in a way that promotes the health of the plant as opposed to harming it. We’ll also share some information on how you can learn even more about harvesting wild plants in our new Botany & Wildcrafting Course.

Bark Harvesting Rule #1: Never Harvest Bark from the Trunk of a Living Tree or Shrub

How To Harvest Bark From Trees and Shrubs Correctly | Herbal Academy | Ever wanted to harvest bark from trees or shrubs? In this post, we'll teach you four bark harvesting rules to follow so you can harvest bark correctly.

Many people assume that it is ethical and sustainable to harvest bark from the trunk of a living tree or shrub when, in fact, it is not. One reason is that any time you cut a tree, you are creating an open wound on the tree — one that can introduce disease or cut off the circulation of the tree’s food and water. This latter possibility is especially the case when the bark is stripped around the circumference of the tree. This is a technique referred to as girdling, which completely cuts off the circulation of the tree’s food and water and inevitably kills the tree. The only exception to this rule is when you harvest bark from trees or shrubs that are no longer living, which will be discussed in rule #3.

So where exactly do you harvest bark from on a tree or shrub? Let’s look at the next bark harvesting rule to find out.

Bark Harvesting Rule #2: Harvest Bark from Pruned Lower Branches

How To Harvest Bark From Trees and Shrubs Correctly | Herbal Academy | Ever wanted to harvest bark from trees or shrubs? In this post, we'll teach you four bark harvesting rules to follow so you can harvest bark correctly.

The best place to harvest bark on a tree or shrub is from the branches—but not just any branch.

Many wildcrafters will speak about harvesting bark from branches of a tree by pruning off the branch. This is a much more ethical and sustainable approach but can be unrealistic for branches that are several dozen feet up in the canopy. It’s best to leave the pruning of these branches to trained professional tree-climbers for obvious safety reasons.

When harvesting bark, choose lower branches. You can utilize your pruning skills when choosing the best place on the branch to make your cut. You can do this by pruning in a way that encourages new growth and potentially removes damaged growth.

Here are a few pruning tips to keep in mind.

  • Always cut perpendicular to the collar of the branch.
  • Make sure your tools are sharp enough to make a clean cut. Again, you are wounding the plant and an angled or ragged cut can encourage the accumulation of moisture and introduce disease.
  • Always clean your tools between harvesting each individual tree/shrub in order to prevent the introduction or spread of disease.

Remember, when choosing a branch to prune, supporting the health of the tree or shrub is your main goal.

Bark Harvesting Rule #3: Only Harvest Bark from Recently Felled or Fallen Trees

How To Harvest Bark From Trees and Shrubs Correctly | Herbal Academy | Ever wanted to harvest bark from trees or shrubs? In this post, we'll teach you four bark harvesting rules to follow so you can harvest bark correctly.

Like rule #1 mentioned, one should never harvest bark from the trunk of a living tree, but it is okay to harvest bark from any site on a tree that has been cut down or has fallen over on its own.

With that being said, harvesting barks from felled or fallen trees has to happen within a few weeks of falling or being cut down, not from those that have begun to rot and decay. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. For example, wild cherry bark should always be harvested fresh, never from fallen branches on the ground, and immediately dried to prevent fermentation from occuring as this produces compounds toxic to the body. As always, be sure to research the bark you are planning to harvest for recommendations and safety information.

Never, absolutely never, cut a tree down simply to harvest its bark or its root bark. This is not only unethical, but unsustainable, and is the reason why so many tree species used in herbalism, such as slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), are currently at risk from over-harvesting.

Bark Harvesting Rule #4: Harvest Bark During Early Spring or Late Fall

How To Harvest Bark From Trees and Shrubs Correctly | Herbal Academy | Ever wanted to harvest bark from trees or shrubs? In this post, we'll teach you four bark harvesting rules to follow so you can harvest bark correctly.

Many wildcrafters who live in four-season climates consider either early spring or late autumn into winter the best times of year to harvest barks.

Generally, the movement of the life force of the tree or shrub is most active during the spring and fall. This is when the tree is creating more bark, and this process can vary from species to species. It’s for this reason that one should research the particular species they are interested in harvesting as well as consult with a more experienced wildcrafter to see which season they recommend for that species.

Removal of the bark from branches or roots may take a little patience. Don’t forget to find out whether it is the outer bark, as with wild cherry (Prunus spp.), or the inner bark that is meant to be harvested, as with sassafras (Sassafras spp.) root bark. There can be a major difference between the various layers of bark and their properties, with a specific bark layer being traditionally harvested for herbal use while others are not.

If you’re ready to take your wildcrafting skills up a notch or two, harvesting bark from trees and shrubs may be the next step for you. Knowing how to identify and harvest plants properly are important skills for any herbalist — and we want to help you build your knowledge base!

How To Harvest Bark From Trees and Shrubs Correctly | Herbal Academy | Ever wanted to harvest bark from trees or shrubs? In this post, we'll teach you four bark harvesting rules to follow so you can harvest bark correctly.

On that note, we’d like to invite you to check out our new Botany & Wildcrafting Course if you’re interested in growing your plant identification and wildcrafting skills! This course is for beginner and intermediate level learners and will help you learn how to identify, harvest, preserve the herbs around you in an ethical and sustainable way.

Click here to learn more about our Botany & Wildcrafting Course.

We welcome you to join us in this wild and wonderful adventure!

Freezing Herbs For Later Use – 5 Ways

It is high summer and gardens are overflowing with herbs, many of which are at their peak and ready to harvest. This is the season when many leaves and flowers are most potent, and drying these herbs in bunches or laid flat on screens is one easy way to preserve summer’s bounty for later. Freezing herbs allows you to store your garden fresh herbs even longer, making your harvest more interesting and versatile than ever before!

Continue reading “Freezing Herbs For Later Use – 5 Ways”

How To Make A Poultice With Dried & Fresh Herbs

It’s easy to focus on the internal herbal preparations, like teas, extracts, and syrups, because we are so conditioned to “taking something” – whether that be supplements, OTC medications, or prescriptions – to manage our health. Topical herbalism, though, has many unique preparations that have benefited people for generations. In this post we’ll teach you how to make a poultice using both dried and fresh herbs.

Poultices are probably one of the most often overlooked topical applications of herbs – which is a shame! As we discuss in our online herbal programs, this simple type of preparation can be used as herbal first aid and after care for things like burns, splinters, cuts, and bruises, or they can be used for more chronic health challenges. Poultices can be used on the chest to help the body handle congestion, on joints to soothe injuries or arthritis, and on immune related skin troubles like shingles. Not only are they very simple, they are also versatile.

How To Make A Poultice with dried and fresh herbs

What Is a Poultice?

Even though the word “poultice” sounds a little odd, a poultice is nothing more than a direct way to apply herbs to the skin. For making a poultice, herbs are usually crushed into a pulp or made into a paste that is spread directly onto the surface of the skin, up to an inch thick, and held in place with gauze or muslin wrapped around the area to keep the poultice from rubbing off. A very basic poultice can even be made with a whole leaf held in place with an adhesive bandage!

By changing the temperature of the poultice, the healing actions can be altered. A warm or hot poultice will help to increase circulation to the area, and a cold poultice can help soothe inflammation. Adding skin tingling, stimulating herbs like ginger is another way to use herbs to help increase circulation to the area. Continue reading “How To Make A Poultice With Dried & Fresh Herbs”

Herb Infused Oils

how to make herb infused oil

There are a few ways to infuse oil with herbs and we will go through them here. If you have never made an herbal infused oil you are in for a wonderful treat! You may use infused oils in cooking or in bath and skin products. There are so many herbs to choose from depending on the intended use.

As an example of the many uses of herb infused oil let’s take a look at rosemaryRosemary can be used as vibrantly flavored oil for roasting potatoes or stirring into your favorite pasta sauce.  For topical use, rosemary can be used in a number of bath products. Rosemary is a popular support for an itchy scalp and dandruff and to support hair growth. This is stimulating and invigorating herb. Continue reading “Herb Infused Oils”