All posts by Melanie Hooten

Melanie Hooten was a Isian and Correllian High Priestess. She studied Wicca for over 15 years, before her sudden passing in 2015, age 36. Melanie was a light in the world, and her writing are left here as a testament to her love of the Earth, and of the Goddess.

Herbs: Their usage and properties

Herbs have been used for millennia to treat a variety of ailments, and for use in spells, talismans and amulets. Modern medicine has replaced the more widespread use of herbs for treatment of illnesses, but homeopathic remedies continue to grow in popularity and effectiveness.

Having said that, the information provided in this section is here to allow you to begin investigating herbs.

If you or someone you know is sick, they should seek medical attention.




Dosages

Infusions, decoctions and wines are measured in cups (8 fluid ounces) and the adult dose would be 3-4 cups a day for infusions, 2-3 cups a day for decoctions and .5 cup a day for wines.

Tinctures and syrups are measured in teaspoons or drops (1 teaspoon equals roughly 20 drops). The adult dosage for tinctures is 1 teaspoon (5ml) 2-3 times a day. For syrups the dosage is 1-2 teaspoons 2-3 times a day.

Preparations

Infusions: Infusions are better suited for the more delicate parts of a plant. If you will be making your infusions in a teapot, reserve one pot for this process only. To make an entire pot of the infusion, use 3 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 1.5 ounce of fresh herbs. To make it by the cup, you will need 1-2 tsp dried herb or 2-3 tsp fresh herb per cup of water. To prepare a pot of tea, warm your pot, add herbs and then pour the freshly boiled water over it. Cover the pot and let the herbs steep for at least 10 minutes. You can drink it hot or cold and add honey to sweeten if you like. Refrigerate unused portions to be drunk later in the day, and it should hold it’s medicinal properties for 24 hours from the time prepared. To make one cup, put your herbs in a tea ball, add boiled water, cover with a saucer and let steep for about 10 minutes.

Decoctions: Decoctions are used to prepare the parts of the plant where its constituents are more difficult to extract, such as barks, roots and berries. A decoction will last a bit longer than an infusion since the boiling process sterilizes the liquid. To make a decoction, you will need 4 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 2 ounces fresh herb. Place very finely chopped herbs in a pan and cover with the water (which should be cold). Bring this mixture to a boil, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then strain the liquid off and press as much of the remaining liquid out of the herb (you can wrap the herb in cheese cloth to help squeeze the rest of the liquid out). Again, refrigerate unused portions and these should last up to a couple of weeks. (If you wish to add a more delicate herb to the decoction, it should be added after the liquid has been simmered and then be allowed to steep for about 10 minutes before straining.)

Tinctures: A tincture is a good solution for long term treatment as will store for up to two years. These are also much stronger than teas and as such they are taken in much smaller doses. To make a tincture, you will need 8 ounces of dried herb, 1.5 cups of alcohol (grain alcohol like Everclear), and 4 cups of water. For a smaller bunch, use 4 ounces of dried herb, .75 cup of alcohol and 2 cups of water. Chop your herbs up finely and put them in a glass jar with a good tight fitting lid. Pour the liquid over the herbs and tighten the lid. Keep the jar in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks. Shake the jar every two days. After the two weeks, strain the liquid off through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar, pressing all of the liquid out the remains of the herbs. Store in a colored glass bottle if you can and keep it in a warm dark place (sunlight can have negative effects of tinctures).

Herbal Wine: There are two ways to make herbal wines, one is easy and one is difficult. The easy way requires 4 ounces of dried herbs and 5 cups of red or white wine. Finely chop herbs and place them into a large jar with a tight fitting lid. Pour the wine over the herbs and let this mixture steep for two weeks. Strain off with cheese cloth and bottle. The more challenging way is to make the wine yourself. To do this, you will need: 1 whole root ginger, peeled; 2.25 pounds sugar; rind and juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges; 1 banana; 1 pinch of cayenne pepper; 8 ounces of raisins; a package of yeast compound; a large pot of tea and a 2 quart jar. Squeeze the oranges and lemons and slice the banana. Grate the ginger, chop the lemons and oranges, add the raisins and pepper and 1 pound of the sugar. Place in the 2-quart jar, one that is sealable, like an apothecary jar. Pour some fresh brewed tea over the mixture (enough to cover and go about 1 inch above the ingredients) and allow the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to cool down. Then add the yeast. Loosely stopper the container and leave to ferment for one week. Add 2 ounces of fresh tea to the jar every day until the jar is 2/3 full. Then strain out the fruit and ginger, add the rest of the sugar and more fresh tea (fill the jar this time), ferment another week and then bottle.

Mouthwashes and Gargles: Mouthwashes are one of the simplest to do if you already have the knowledge to make tinctures, decoctions and infusions. With infusions and decoctions, you can just swish away, find the herbs that meet the purpose you are looking for, make your infusion and use it as you would any other mouthwash. With tinctures you need to dilute, 1 teaspoon of the tincture to .5 cup water. You will want to choose herbs that are known for antiseptic properties as they will likely be the most helpful. A gargle or mouthwash can be used up to four times a day, as necessary.

Eyebaths: An eyebath is prepared in much the same way as an infusion. The main difference is that you will need to boil the water for 10 minutes before pouring it over the herbs to make sure that the water is properly sterilized. You also need to very carefully strain the herbs from the water to make sure no herb particles make it into the eye, which can actually complicate your problems more than the eyebath can help. Also, if you need to use an eyebath frequently (like every day), add a little salt to help balance your eye’s natural salinated liquids.

Inhalations: For ailments which you feel would be cured by vapors such as chest congestion and lung problems, inhalations are best suited. You will need about 4 cups of water, 2 ounces dry herbs or essential oils of your choice, a large bowl to put the liquids in and a towel to drape over your head and keep the beneficial steams from escaping. Begin by boiling the water and prepare your bowl by placing the herbs (if any) you plan on using inside. When your water is boiling, add it to the bowl and herbs (or if you choose to use essential oils, pour the boiling water in the bowl and add 3-6 drops of oil) lean over the bowl and drape the towel over your head so that it covers the sides of the bowl and breath the steam for 10 minutes. If you need to, by all means, come up for air during the treatment, and sit in a warm room afterwards to allow your lungs time to readjust to the environment.

To learn more about a specific herb, select from the list below:
Full Herb List

Yarrow Achillea millefolium (compositae)

Other Names: milfoil, nosebleed, herb militaris, soldier’s woundwort, thousand leaf, thousand seal, field hop
Traditional Uses:rheumatism, toothache, hemorrhage, fever
Magical Uses:
Description: Fine feathered gray-green leaves and flat heads of small white, pink, or red flowering midsummer to autumn.

Use: The part used is the top growth cut before flowering. Used to treat rheumatism, toothaches, headache and fever.

Infusion: Used to prepare more delicate parts of plants. 3 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 1?

Common Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria (Rosaceae)

Other Names: church steeples, liverwort, sticklewort, cockleburr
Traditional Uses:jaundice, astringent, stop bleeding
Magical Uses:
Description: gray-green cinquefoil leaves, yellow star-shaped flowers, apricot scent, seedheads stick to clothes.

Use: steep fresh leaves in water to make infusion, used as an external astringent to stop bleeding and for treating wounds.

Infusion: Used to prepare more delicate parts of plants. 3 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 1?

Common Bugle Ajuga reptans (labiatae)

Other Names: creeping bugle, carpet bugle, carpenter’s herb
Traditional Uses:staunch bleeding
Magical Uses:
Description: pink, white or blue flowers in midsummer, rosettes of green leaves.

Use: Cut entire plant down at the bottom and dry to use medicinally to treat bleeding from wounds and cuts.

Infusion: Used to prepare more delicate parts of plants. 3 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 1.5 ounces of fresh herbs; pour the freshly boiled water over herbs in a pot, cover the pot and let the herbs steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain and serve. Refrigerate unused portions, lasts up to 24 hours.

Common Ladys Mantle Alchemilla vulgaris (Rosaceae)

Other Names: lion’s foot, bear’s foot, common alchemil
Traditional Uses:eye disorders, stop bleeding, menstrual disorders and childbirth
Magical Uses:produce gold
Description: Grows 6-18 inches tall, leaves are pleated and cloak shaped. In summer will blossom small yellow-green flowers.

Use: Use leaves and flower shoots for eye disorders and to staunch bleeding. Also traditionally used as an aid in childbirth and treatment for menstrual disorders.

Infusion: Used to prepare more delicate parts of plants. 3 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 1?

Garlic Allium sativum

Other Names:
Traditional Uses:antibiotic, expectorant and digestion, high blood pressure
Magical Uses:protection
Description: white skinned bulb, with each bulb being divided into several cloves. Tall stem with single round pale green or pink bloom.

Use: The parts you want to use are the bulbs (the “root” of the plant). Used for treating high blood pressure, as an antibiotic, as an expectorant and digestive aid. Also used for flavoring and has accumulated many superstitions.

Decoction: used to prepare barks, roots and berries 4 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 2 ounces fresh herb; finely chop herbs in a pan and cover with the water (which should be cold). Bring this mixture to a boil, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then strain the liquid off and press as much of the remaining liquid out of the herbs as possible. Refrigerate unused portions, lasts up to 2 weeks.

Tincture: A tincture is a good solution for long term treatment as will store for up to two years. 8 ounces of dried herb, 1?

Chives Allium schoenoprasum

Other Names:
Traditional Uses:stimulant, digestive aid
Magical Uses:
Description: Small bulb that grows in clumps, with thin, dark green hollow leaves that grow to 8-12 inches tall. Slightly tall flower stems hold small purple flowers.

Use: Use the leaves of the plant. Mainly used for flavoring and garnishing since it carries a mild onion flavor. It is medicinally used as a stimulant, as a digestive aid and is high in vitamin C.

Infusion: Used to prepare more delicate parts of plants. 3 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 1?

Aloes Aloe vera (Liliaceae)

Other Names: Cape aloes, socotrine, medicine plant, aloe vera, burn plant
Traditional Uses:heal wounds, burns and mastitis
Magical Uses:
Description: Succulent with clumps of pointed evergreen leaves.

Uses: The leaves are the parts used. You can either squeeze the sap out of a freshly broken leaf and apply directly to a burn or wound, or you can dry the sap into a resin with which you could produce tinctures. Fresh sap is also used to treat mastitis.

CAUTION: Not to be taken internally as it can cause hemorrhage.

Tincture: A tincture is a good solution for long term treatment as will store for up to two years. 8 ounces of dried herb, 1?

Marsh Mallow Althaea officinalis (Malvaceae)

Other Names: guimauve, mortification plant, schloss tea, sweet weed, wymote
Traditional Uses:lung and bowel disorders, inflammation, gastric ailments
Magical Uses:
Description: Tough-rooted herbacious perinnial. Has white or pink blooms where the leaf bunches meet the stem with velvety stems and leaves.

Uses: Use flowers, leaves and shoots. Also use roots dug up in winter dormancy after the plant has been established at least two years (used fresh or dried).

Infusion: Used to prepare more delicate parts of plants. 3 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 1?

Hollyhock Althaea Rosea

Other Names:
Traditional Uses:diuretic, mouth ulcers, soothing balm
Magical Uses:
Description: Grows up to 10 feet with wide hairy leaves that grow to 12 inches in width.Large flowers in summer white and pink in the wild and purple, red or yellow in cultivated form.

Uses: Use fresh flowers and leaves as a diuretic and to help with some chest compaints. Helps mouth ulcers and is soothing on the face.

Infusion: Used to prepare more delicate parts of plants. 3 cups of water to 1 ounce dry herb or 1?