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Stress Treatments

The following plants are used to prevent and treat stress. It is surprising how many of these plants we come across everyday, both around the house and in the super market. Below, is a list of plants, categorized by their general function in treating stress. Both the scientific and common names are shown.

CALMATIVE: Relaxing or pacifying; sedative.

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MUSCLE RELAXANT

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TRANQUILIZER: Reduces tension or anxiety.

There are many ways to use these plants to help treat stress. Below are descriptions of various ways to prepare herbal remedies for the soul.

MACERATIONS: The maceration method is used for those plants that might be adversely affected by heat. The plant material is steeped in water, alcohol (ethanol), spirits, or white wine at a room temperature. Normally the proportions are 1 part herb to 20 parts liquid- a typical quantity would be 4 grams and 100 ml. Herbalists will advise the necessary time of steeping when they prescribe a treatment.

INFUSIONS: The infusion method is used for extracting active constituents from an herb by steeping it in hot water. It is a quick and common method of making herbal teas and is applied mainly to the soft parts of plants-the leaves, flowers, stems and seeds. The infusion is prepared by pouring the required amount of boiling water onto the herb or herb mixture in a warmed cup or larger nonmetallic container, then covering it with a tight fitting lid. The liquid is then allowed to stand for 5-15 minutes with occasional stirring. After the mixture has been strained muslin, a filter paper or a fine nonmetallic sieve it is usually taken immediately. The usual proportions are one to three teaspoons of dried herb to each teacupful of liquid.

DECOCTIONS: The decoction method is for extracting active constituents from an herb by boiling it in water. It is applied mainly to hard plant parts-wood, bark, stems, roots, hard fruits and some seeds- for which a simple infusion would not be sufficient. To prepare, water at room temperature is poured over the cut-up herb in a nonmetallic container and is then brought slowly to a boil and simmered gently. It is then strained while still hot and water is added to bring it up to its required volume. The usual proportions are one to three teaspoons of the dried herb to one cup of water. Decoctions should be used as soon as possible, and always within one day.

EXTRACTS: An extract is obtained by steeping an herb in water, alcohol, ether, or a combination of these liquids and then concentrating the preparation by evaporating it. The herb is usually first steeped in water. Then the liquid is strained off and simmered very gently for a long time in nonmetallic container with constant stirring until most of the water has evaporated and the extract has the required consistency.

TINCTURES: A tincture is prepared by prolonged steeping of a fresh or fried herb in a solvent, which is usually alcohol or alcohol and water. Instructions for preparation are given in pharmacopoeias. Usually the proportions are 1 of crushed plant material to 5 parts of 60% alcohol. The prepared herb is soaked in the alcohol in a stoppered glass vessel for 3-7 days, kept in a cool, dark, dry place and occasionally stirred or shaken. The liquid is then poured off and also pressed out of the soaked plant and topped up to the required volume with alcohol (and water). The solution is then left to stand undisturbed until it is clear-for a minimum of 12 hours-after which it is filtered.

INHALATIONS: Essential oils, finely dispersed solutions and fine powders are used as inhalants. They are best applied with an instrument called a nebulizer, which produces a fine spray of the product.

HERBAL VINEGARS: Herbal vinegars are prepared by steeping about 10 grams of fresh or dried herbs in 200 ml of wine or cider vinegar and alcohol or vinegar and water. This mixture should be left for at least 24 hours and then strained into bottles.

HERBAL WINES: Herbal wines are prepared by steeping fresh or dried herbs in a good white wine. The proportions are the same as for vinegars.

HERBAL OILS: Herbal oils are prepared by steeping 5 grams of fresh or dried herbs in 100 ml of a pure vegetable oil for several weeks in a warm, dry, sunny place and then straining.

AROMATIC WATERS: Aromatic waters are aqueous solutions, usually saturated, of essential oils to which alcohol is usually added. They are freshly prepared as required, a month’s supply at the most because they do not keep as well as herbal vinegars.

WARNING: Never mix use any of these treatments without first consulting with an herbalist or physician.

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