Friday, March 20, 2015

The Urban Homestead Herbalist

What is the difference between an apothecary and a pharmacist? The apothecary is the forerunner of the pharmacist. They gathered raw materials and prepared medications. The modern pharmacist dispenses drugs prepared by pharmaceutical companies. 

Herbal medicine came before either of the above. For thousands of years human have used plants to treat injury and illness.

To be a homesteader means to learn to do for yourself with what you have, where you are.

Everyone has bumps, scrapes and bruises so it is wonderful to walk to the garden and find a plant that can help you heal. Arnica Montana has had a secure place in the home apothecary for a very long time.

Arnica Montana

Native to Central Europe, Mountain Arnica spread to Scotland, England and North America through escape and for medicinal use.

It's primary use has been to sooth and heal sprains and bruises.

According to the British Homeopathic Association, Arnica is rich in selenium and arnica ash is high in manganese. These powerful antioxidants may be the reason for Arnica's healing properties.

Following is an easy recipe for herbal infused oil

To make an herbal infusion:
  1. pick herbs early in the day, before the sun has hit them
  2. Carefully clean the herbs ( no bugs please) and sort the parts of the plant needed
  3. Tightly pack the herbs into a clean mason jar, pour the oil of you choice (I prefer olive oil) in to cover the herbs, put on the lid and put in a cool dark place for about four weeks
  4. Carefully drain the oil and put it in a dark colored jar and store in a cool dark place.
If you are in a hurry, here is an easy, stove top method.

Stove top method for herb infused oils.
Place the herb filled jar in a sauce pan that has been filled about ¼ full of water, simmer for 4-8 hours. Remove jar from saucepan and allow to cool. Decant, bottle, label, and store in a cool dark place.

I keep our oils in the refrigerator. With care they will last about a year.
The infused oil is easily made into salves and lotions.

Have you grown or used Arnica? Please share your experiences and ideas.  We love to hear from you.

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