HERB 502 Module 2 Notes
HERB 502 Module 2 Notes HERB 502
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This 15 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kyri Allison on Sunday October 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HERB 502 at American College of Healthcare Sciences taught by Teresa Collins in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see Advanced Herbal Materia Medica I in Herbal Medicine at American College of Healthcare Sciences.
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Date Created: 10/02/16
Terminology of Herbal Medicine I. Herbal Phytochemistry a. The study of chemicals in plants a. Intention of determining the chemical composition of a plant, identifying plantspecific chemical features, and describe constituents with effects that may be of interest to pharmacology b. Provides the foundation for isolating constituents thought to be responsible for a therapeutic action, testing those constituents, and determining whether they can be synthesized and used c. Interested in the individual parts, not the whole II. Herbal Phytopharmacy a. The study of the preparation of herbal medicine b. Herbal Pharmacognosy i. A branch of herbal phytopharmacy that covers the identification of natural drugs ii. Can be carried out in several methods 1. Organoleptic tests – using senses such as appearance, feel, taste, and smell iii. Physiochemical methods – can create “fingerprints” of herbs to examine pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics 1. Pharmacokinetics – the process by which a drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and eliminated by the body 2. Pharmacodynamics – examines the effects of an agent at active sites in the body II. Phytopharmacology a. Concerned with the chemical constituents of plants in a holistic manner b. Less concerned with pharmacokinetics/dynamics and more interested in research and testing of natural products in humans III. Phytotherapy a. The study of the uses and limits of herbal medicine for particular human illnesses and conditions References Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Modern Herbal Medicine. London: Churchill Livingstone. Weiss, R. & Fintelmann, V. (2000). Herbal Medicine (2nd ed). Stuttgart: Thieme. Notifiable Diseases I. Reportable or Notifiable Diseases a. Must be diagnosed by a licensed medical professional b. Have significant public health consequences c. Practitioners must immediately refer any clients exhibiting symptoms of these illnesses to a medical doctor d. Treatment may be augmented with holistic methods in consultation with a medical doctor II. History a. 1878 – Congress authorized the US Marine Hospital Service to collect morbidity reports regarding cholera, smallpox, plague, and yellow fever from US consuls overseas b. 1879 – Congress made a specific appropriation for the collection and publication of reports of these notifiable diseases c. 1893 – Congress expanded the authority for weekly reporting and pulication of these reports to include data from States and municipal authorities d. 1902 – Congress enacted a law directing the Surgeon General to provide forms for the collection and compilation of data and for the publication of reports at the national level e. 1912 – State and territorial heath authorities recommended immediate reporting of five infectious diseases and the monthly reporting of ten additional diseases f. 1928 – All states, D.C. Hawaii, and Puerto Rico were participating in reporting of 29 specified diseases g. 1961 – CDC assumed responsibility for the collection and publication of data concerning nationally notifiable diseases III. Present a. Public health officials at state health departments and CDC continue to collaborate in determining which diseases should be nationally notifiable b. Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), with input from the CDC, makes recommendations annually for additions and deletions to the list of nationally notifiable diseases c. In the United States, state legislation or regulation currently mandates reporting only at the state level i. Reporting of nationally notifiable diseases to CDC by each state is voluntary ii. All states generally report the internationally quarantinable diseases (i.e., cholera, plague, and yellow fever) in compliance with the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations 2 d. Data on selected notifiable infectious diseases is published weekly in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and at yearend in the annual Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States e. Most recent list of nationally notifiable infectious diseases: i. http://www.cdc.gov/ncphi/disss/nndss/PHS/infdis.htm 3 Active Constituents I. Introduction a. Herbs contain a mixture of healing chemicals known as “active constituents” b. Most herbs contain more than one active constituent, one of which is generally dominant c. The combination of constituents gives each herb its particular range of physiological actions d. Production i. Primary pathway 1. Metabolism/Photosynthesis 2. Produces simple sugars 3. Unique to each plant species ii. Secondary pathways 1. Not essential to survival but provide protective benefits for development 2. Many active constituents are synthesized along secondary pathways 3. May produce: (a) Fats, waxes, lignin, mucilage, alkaloids, rubbers, resins, essences, etc. e. Importance i. To understand how herbs heal, and identify helpful herbs correctly, we need a basic understanding of what they contain ii. Must also understand constituents to choose the correct preparation method 1. Knowing the active constituents in plants and the most suitable solvent is the basis of sound herbal preparation and increased bioavailability II. Alkaloids a. Organic compounds formed from carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen i. Mostly stable crystalline substances, but some are liquid, amorphous, etc. ii. Among the most efficient and therapeutically significant substances known 1. Can be poisonous in excessive doses iii. Generally found in all plant organs, but concentration varies throughout the flowering cycle iv. Generally bitter in taste and retain medicinal effectiveness in dried botanicals b. Effects i. May raise or lower blood pressure, provide pain relief, or stimulate the CNS ii. May be present in smaller quantities and act as a catalyst to healing iii. Many alkaloids are unsuitable for herbalists because of their low therapeutic margin 1. Popular in the pharmaceutical industry c. Extraction i. Usually non water soluble – colchicine and ephedrine are two exceptions 1. Salts of alkaloids are water soluble ii. Can generally be extracted by chemical solvents such as ether, alcohol, or chloroform III. Flavonoids a. Color pigments of flowers, fruits, and sometimes leaves are the result of flavonoids b. Effects i. Antioxidant, antiinflammatory, antiallergenic, and antiviral ii. Also benefit the heart, blood vessels, liver, immune system, connective tissue, adrenal glands, kidneys, muscles, and nervous system iii. Active against a wide variety of oxidants and free radicals c. Extraction 4 i. Usually commercially extracted using chemical solvents such as acetone, alcohol, dichloromethane, or alkaline hydroxide solution at high heat ii. Flavonoids are generally water soluble and soluble in alcohol iii. Can also be taken through eating whole foods such as berries IV. Glycosides or Heterosides a. Very common in plants and have a strong effect on animal and body tissue; some are poisonous b. Mixing with water can separate them into a sugar and a nonsugar i. The active constituent (nonsugar) that combines with the sugar is called the aglycone 1. May be an alcohol, a phenol, or a compound containing nitrogen or sulfur c. Effects i. Various effects include slowing and strengthening heartbeat and laxative effects d. Extraction i. The aglycone is extracted by soaking the herb in warm water or using an acid or alkaline base for extraction V. Saponosides or Saponins a. Natural compounds that have a chemical nature similar to glycosides b. Effects i. Can increase the permeability of membranes and cause hemolysis by destroying RBC membranes and releasing hemoglobin ii. Irritate the mucous membranes of the digestive and respiratory tracts to facilitate expectoration iii. Increase the body’s ability to absorb some active compounds including calcium and silica iv. May also have antiinflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial action v. Many are used in cosmetic creams c. Extraction i. Soluble in water and produce a lather and durable foam VI. Essential Oils a. Volatile aromatic compounds b. Effects i. Each has a varied action on the body ii. Examples include antiseptics, expectorants, etc. c. Extraction i. Essential oils are usually removed through distillation ii. Fresh herbs may be crushed and rubbed on the skin for the purest form of fresh oil 1. Larger quantities are generally obtained commercially iii. Covered hot water infusions are an effective solvent for herbs containing essential oils iv. Herbs containing essential oils should be stored in airtight, cool, dark glass or stainless steel containers for no more than two years VII. Bitter Principles a. Nonpoisonous substances with a strong, bitter taste b. Effects i. Taken before meals in small doses, stimulate the appetite by promoting the flow of digestive juices ii. Larger doses tend to reduce appetite iii. May also have a diuretic and hepatic action c. Extraction i. Generally extracted as alcohol extracts, tinctures, or medicinal wines VIII. Tannins 5 a. Organic, nonnitrogenous substance that has astringent and antiviral properties b. Always found in the bark of the trunk, roots, and occasionally leaves c. Bind albumin in the skin and mucous membranes and form a watertight protective layer d. Effects i. Promote rapid healing and formation of new tissue over wounds ii. Effective when used as a compress for inflammations and swelling, a gargle for sore throats, mouthwash for inflamed gums, and an infusion for diarrhea iii. Important to use correct dose, as excess tannin can irritate or damage the stomach wall and liver even if not ingested e. Extraction i. Soluble in water and alcohol ii. If exposed to air, turns dark and loses some of its medicinal properties iii. Should not be stored for more than two years IX. Mucilage a. Chains of chemically liked sugars known as polysaccharides b. Effects i. Generally used to soothe irritated respiratory and digestive membranes ii. Also have a mild laxative action and in small doses can prevent diarrhea 1. Not topical anesthetics, but relieve irritation c. Extraction i. Partially soluble in water; swell and form a gel ii. Prepared by extraction in cold or warm water (boiling water destroys efficacy) iii. Not soluble in alcoholic solvents X. Vitamins, Minerals, and Trace Elements a. Vitamins – any group of unrelated organic substances occurring in many foods in small amounts and necessary in trace amounts for the normal metabolic functioning of the body (Dorland’s Medical Dictionary) i. May be either water or fat soluble b. Minerals – nonorganic, homogeneous, solid substances of the earth’s crust i. Plants are abundant in minerals, but are only as nutritious as the soil in which they grow c. Wild herbs and weeds are often more nutritious than cultivated herbs d. Effects i. Provides the body with a ready supply of vitamins and minerals e. Extraction i. Some are watersoluble and can be taken as teas 1. May be destroyed by heat, so preparations should be covered and boiling water should never be used 2. Others require simmering before they release minerals 6 Standardization, Pharmacognosy, and Safety I. Phytochemical Variability a. This is the main factor supporting standardization of herbal material b. The chemical profile of a living plant is constantly adapting to environmental conditions i. Circadian patterns, precipitation, microclimate, companion organisms, developmental stage, soil composition, and nutrient availability affect the chemical profile c. Many species have chemical races (chemotypes) which can look the same but contain significantly different concentrations of types of compounds d. Traditional herbalists deal with issues of variability through empirical and organoleptic assessments i. In contrast, scientists employ chemical analysis and standardization techniques to produce herbal products with a consistent phytochemical composition II. Synergy and Standardization a. Part of standardization attempts to identify the active constituent in an herb and ensure that an extract or product contains adequate levels of that component i. However, in many cases the active constituent has not been identified ii. Isolated constituents have also been found to be less effective or ineffective when synthesized and used alone iii. One solution to this is broadspectrum extracts which attempt to preserve the diverse phytochemical profile of an herb closest to its natural form b. Many traditional herbalists believe that it is not desirable to add synthesized or extracted constituents to bring a product to a certain quality level i. Instead, they often focus on preparing and growing herbs effectively III. Safety a. Therapeutic Margin i. The difference between the optimal effective dose and the dose at which unacceptable adverse effects occur b. For herbal materials with a low therapeutic margin, variation in active constituents can be critical i. As such, supporters of standardization point out that the process can reduce the likelihood of adverse effects including toxicity ii. Accumulation 1. Active constituents of some herbs can accumulate in the body if used over a long period of time, which can cause toxic symptoms to appear IV. Holistic Phytomedicine a. While isolating constituents can improve safety, it can also have other consequences i. While an herb may have one primary active constituent, other active consituents ofthen modify the effect of the primary constituent. ii. These other constituents may affect the stability or bioavailitiby of the primary constituent iii. May also buffer active consituents and reduce side effects found with isolated components 7 b. Unless safety dictates otherswise, the entire herb (or active parts of the herb) should be used V. Dosage a. All dosages given in lessons are for adults b. Herbs should be treated as potent substanses and dosage should be considered accordingly i. Duration limits should also be considered c. Using Special Care i. Preferable to give small amounts consistently ii. Carefully evaluate the body mass of clients (specifically frail clients, children, and elders) 1. Children have different body surface area to mass ratio and a different body composition 2. Ability to process herbs and drugs in the liver and clear them through the kidneys may also be reduced d. Two formulae can be used when considering the correct dose: i. Young’s Formula 1. If a child’s height and weight are typical for their age, then an age based formula may be used 2. Portion of adult dose = (child’s age in years) / (age in years + 12) (a) Portion of adult dose for 6 y.o. = (6) / (6 + 12) (i) Dose = 6/18 or 1/3 adult dose ii. Dilling’s Formula 1. Portion of adult dose = age in years / 20 (a) Portion of adult dose for 6 y.o. = (6) / (20) or 30% of adult dose 2. If a child is small for their age, a weight based formula should be used (a) Less than 30kg (i) Percent of adult dose = (weight in kg) X (2) (b) More than 30kg (i) Percent of adult dose = (weight in kg) + 30% of adult dose e. Duration i. While the daily dose is important, it is also important to evaluate the duration of treatment 1. Children should follow protocols of short duration (57 days) VI. Individualization a. Always treat each person as a unique individual with his or her own unique physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual condition. b. What suits one may not necessarily be good for another. i. Ex. a 12yearold child may be small and frail, and require the dosage outlined for a toddler 8 Preparations I. Teas a. Ingredients i. 1t herb ii. 1cup purified water b. Recipe i. Place your herbs into a ceramic or glass teapot. Do not use an aluminum pot. ii. Bring the water to a boil iii. Turn off the heat and pour the water over the herb iv. Cover the pot and let steep for five to ten minutes v. Strain the tea in a nonaluminum strainer and then drink. Use immediately: Do not store. vi. Honey, lemon, or milk can be added, although milk tends to mask the delicate flavors. Do not use honey with infants under one year as there have been reports of botulism spores in honey and this can be fatal in infants II. Infusions a. Stronger than tea; will extract glycosides, alkaloid salts, and watersoluble vitamins b. Intended for immediate use c. Ingredients i. 1oz dried herbs ii. 1pt purified water d. Recipe i. Place your herbs into a ceramic or glass teapot ii. Bring the water to a boil. Do not use an aluminum pot. An electric kettle or kettle on the stove is fine iii. Turn off the heat and pour the water over the herb iv. Cover the pot and let steep for 10 to 20 minutes v. Strain the tea in a nonaluminum strainer and then drink. Store for no more than 24 hours in the refrigerator III. Decoctions a. Used for hard woody substances such as roots, bark, and stems that have constituents that are water soluble and nonvolatile b. Mainly extract mineral salts and bitter principles c. Ingredients i. 1oz herb or root ii. 1pt water d. Recipe i. Place the water into a pot made from a nonreactive material (such as stainless or enamel). Do not use aluminum. ii. Cut or crush the herb or root and add it to water in the pot. Do not cut or crush in advance, as vital constituents can be lost. iii. Turn on the heat to medium. iv. Simmer your decoction with the lid off until the volume of water is reduced by one quarter, so three quarters of a pint remains. v. Cool and strain. vi. Take in divided doses according to the use. 9 vii. Store for no more than 72 hours in the refrigerator. IV. Tinctures a. The concentrated liquid form of herbs; example of maceration (cold collation) b. Remain the preferred way to produce herbal extracts and regarded as the most convenient way to use herbs i. Invaluable as water will only retrieve some of the medicinal properities of an herb and can be stored for extended periods c. Obtained by macerating or percolating crude drugs in alcohol, dissolving definite chemical substances or proximate principes in alcohol, or by diluting extracts of drugs with alcohol d. The strength of tinctures prepared by this process is expressed in ratios i. 1:5 meaning that 1lb of herbal material is dissolved in 5lb of liquid e. If you use fresh herbs to prepare a tincture, double the quantity of dried herbs so you are using 2 oz for every 1oz of dried herb called for in your recipe. i. An alternative formula is to add one part herb to five parts of alcohol. f. Ingredients i. 1oz dried powdered or chopped herb or 2oz fresh ii. 1pt alcohol such as vodka or even cider vinegar g. Recipe i. Mix herb with alcohol or cider vinegar in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, such as a canning or preserving jar. ii. Keep the tincture in a tightly closed jar in a warm spot (but not in the sun), for approximately two weeks. iii. Shake the tincture two to three times every day. iv. After two weeks, strain the tincture through pharmaceutical filter paper, a coffee filter, cheesecloth, or muslin. You may need to strain your tincture two or even three times to remove all of the herb solids. Leaving solids in your tincture may lead to mold and spoilage. v. Store your tincture in a dark bottle or cupboard. vi. Half a pint of tincture should equal the medicinal potency of one ounce of the fresh herb, so approximately one teaspoon will equal the medicinal strength of one cup of infusion. vii. The dose is small, approximately 2040 drops three times a day, although this varies with each herb. Dilute in approximately one quarter of a cup of water to take. 1. Tinctures can also be used topically in water for bathing wounds, soaking feet, in the bath, or as a household disinfectant. V. Fluid Extracts a. Convenient and most concentrated form of herbal preparation i. Approximately twice the strength of a tincture b. Require special equipment to prepare, so not preferred for home preparation i. Commercial Preparation: 1. Generally, the herb is soaked in alcohol for two weeks; then pressed and strained to extract all the liquid. This is similar to a tincture. This liquid is then distilled under a slow heat until most of the alcohol evaporates. The remaining liquid is filtered under pressure. 2. In percolation, the crude herb is reduced to the consistency of sawdust and packed into a column. A mixture of alcohol and water is selected to extract the desired active ingredients. This mixture of solvents is trickled slowly down the column over several days. This flowing liquid or menstruum may be used to extract a second column of fresh material to produce very concentrated extracts that are completely made at room 10 temperature. The insoluble residue left behind after this process, known as marc, has no useful medicinal action. c. Fluid extract’s strength is stated as 1:1, meanting that 16 drops of the liquid is equal in strength to one gram of dried herb i. The first figure is always the extract ii. Ex. 3:1 would mean 48 drops of extract extract is exual to one gram of dried herbs iii. Some may be as high as 1:4 or 1:5 strength d. Keep indefinitely if stored correrctly VI. Elixirs a. A clear, flavored liquid preparation containing one or more active ingredients; generally contains a high proportion of alcohol or sugar b. Usually a tincture of either a single herb ora mixture of various herbs held in solution by alcohol in some form c. Dilute before use d. Ingredients i. 2oz powdered herb ii. ½pt 75% alcohol iii. 1¼pt water iv. 3oz water e. Recipe i. Mix the herb with alcohol in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. ii. Add water and steep for two weeks. iii. Strain; then add another 3oz of water. iv. Sweeten with honey, label, and use. v. Store in the refrigerator. VII. Essences a. Useful to flavor bitter preparations or as a topical application b. The type of alcohol used will depend on the intended use of the essence. i. Any essence that will be used orally must use ethyl alcohol, the type found in vodka. ii. Isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) or Methyl alcohol (wood alcohol) may be used for topical preparations only as these forms of alcohol are toxic if taken internally iii. Be sure that the percentage of alcohol is at least 45% (or 90 proof) c. Ingredients i. 1t essential oil ii. 3T alcohol d. Recipe i. Place the alcohol into a sterile glass bottle. ii. Add essential oil. iii. Shake thoroughly and store in a dark cool place. iv. Essences will store for up to six months, depending on the essential oils used. Citrus oils will deteriorate most quickly. VIII. Formentations a. Intended for topical application either hot or cold b. Basic Recipe i. Prepare a hot or cold decoction ii. Dip a cloth or towel in the hot or cold decoction, wring out, and apply locally to affected area. iii. If applying a hot fomentation, change when cool. iv. Reapply, keeping the decoction warm. 11 v. This administration is useful for sprains, bruises, strains, pulled ligaments, and aches and pains in general. vi. To prepare a cold fomentation, prepare a decoction as usual and cool before using. 1. If a very cold preparation is required, prepare ice cubes with the decoction and add, or wrap in the towel or cloth. IX. Ointments and Salves a. Useful method of applying herbs to the skin b. Tips and tricks i. Read through your recipe carefully at least twice before starting ii. Have a sink full of hot soapy water ready for your dishes as you are finished with them. Ointment mixture can be hard to remove once it cools and dries iii. Have all your ingredients and equipment ready in advance iv. Handling lanolin can be messy. Some people prefer to make oil based ointments. You can infuse your oil with your herbs in advance for two weeks then strain and continue with the recipe. This saves you the step of having to heat and strain your oil v. Apply common sense when making your ointment just as you would when cooking: Wear gloves when handling hot pots; keep children out of the cooking zone; and let oil and lanolin cool before handling c. Basic Recipe i. Ingredients 1. 1lb anhydrous lanolin 2. ¼oz to ½oz beeswax, grated 3. 8oz fresh herb or 4oz dried herb – Depending on the herb you use, you may need to reduce this amount so that the melted lanolin will cover it. ii. Preparation 1. Melt lanolin in a stainless steel bowl over a pot of hot water or in a double boiler. (a) ALWAYS use a double boiler to heat lanolin and oil 2. Add herbs and simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on the herbs you use, you may need to do this in two batches or reduce the quantity of herb used. (a) The lanolin should cover the herbs in order to extract the active constituents. (b) Stir occasionally with your chopstick or old wooden spoon. 3. Remove the lanolin from the heat and let it cool until you can safely handle it. 4. Place your muslin or cheesecloth inside a colander, spreading it up over the side so no herb escapes into your strained mixture. 5. Pour your cooled lanolin and herb mixture into the muslin or cheesecloth and strain it into a second bowl. (a) You may need to squeeze the herb in the cheesecloth to extract all the lanolin. This can get messy, so you may want to wear gloves. However, if you don't wear gloves, your hands will be wonderfully soft and moisturized! 6. Now return your lanolin to your double boiler or bowl over water and add the grated beeswax, stirring occasionally until it is melted and incorporated. 7. You will need to vary the amount depending on how firm you wish the final ointment to be. (a) This may take some trial and error: You can check the consistency by dipping a teaspoon into the hot mixture and placing it in the freezer for five minutes. If it is too stiff, add more lanolin or oil; if it is too thin, add more beeswax. The consistency can be affected by humidity. 12 8. Once you have achieved the consistency you need, pour your ointment into sterile jars. (a) Use a darkcolored or opaque glass jar with a tightfitting lid. The jar opening should be wide enough to easily get the salve out. (b) Let the mixture cool before putting on the lid. 9. Store in a cool place, avoiding extreme temperature changes, for example in a car or sunny windowsill. d. Other methods of preparation are available for ointments made with essential oils, and ointments made with less or no lanolin. X. Poultices a. An effective way of applying herbs directly to the skin b. Useful for drawing out inflammation to the surface and easing painful joints i. Preparation 1. Fresh leaves can be bruised and mashed or powdered or dried herbs can be used 2. Pour over just enough boiling water to wet the mixture (a) Ground flaxseed, white bread, or bran can be added to increase bulk and retain warmth 3. Apply the mixture wrapped in a cloth and cover with a hot, wet cloth 4. Replace the cloth with another when it gets cold 5. Wash the poultice area with chamomile infusion to ease inflammation XI. Syrup a. Particularly useful for cough mixtures b. Ingredients i. ½ pt decoction of herb ii. ½ cup honey iii. Vegetable glycerin (~4oz) c. Recipe i. Prepare a decoction of the herbal formula. ii. Stir, strain, and cool. iii. Add honey to decoction and simmer for 20 minutes. iv. Store for up to 72 hours in the refrigerator. v. Vegetable glycerin can be added to help preserve the syrup for up to one week, using four tablespoons of glycerin to every eight tablespoons of syrup. XII. Powders a. Consist of fine particles of any dried, ground herbs b. Usually measured in grains i. 1 grain = 65mg ii. 15 grains = 1g c. Once an herb is powdered it begins to lose therapeutic potency XIII. General Guidelines a. Always get your ingredients and equipment ready before you begin. b. All measurements are for dried herbs, unless stated otherwise. i. If you are using fresh herb, double the stated quantity. c. The quality of your herbs will determine the quality of the finished herbal product. i. Ensure that your herbs are organic or spray free, have not been gathered near a roadway, are free from insects and mold, and that they have a good aroma and color. d. Water used in herbal preparations should be free from fluoride and chlorine. e. To convert recipes to metric, use the conversion charts in your student handbook or online in your classroom. 13 i. Note that it is not possible to provide a volume equivalent for herbs, since some herbs are heavier than others are. Ensure you have a small, accurate scale on hand when making your herbal preparations. f. Always read the recipe completely before starting and ensure you understand the steps involved. g. Never use aluminum ware. i. Aluminum can react with the chemicals in the herb and affect the product. ii. Aluminum may accumulate in the body and has been implicated in Alzheimer's disease. iii. Instead, use stainless steel, Pyrex, earthenware, or enamel that is free of chips and cracks. h. Always bottle and label your finished products if needed and keep them out of reach of children. i. Be sure to follow storage guidelines for your preparations. However, keep in mind that storage of homemade products is not a science: i. Never use a preparation that smells or appears to have gone bad. 14 Solvents I. Water a. Poor solvent for the organic fractions of herbs but essential for watersoluble components b. Encourages microbial and enzyme action c. Excellent vehicle as it passes freely across cellular membranes and is an integral part of every metabolic reaction in the body II. Alcohol a. Alcohol is most effective and therefore most commonly used. III. Vegetable Glycerin a. Glycerin is a good solvent for the organic fractions in herbs but not quite as efficient as alcohol. b. Provided the concentration of glycerin is kept high, it has acceptable preservative qualities. i. However, when diluted too far, glycerin supports the growth of molds and other microbial organisms. c. Unlike alcohol, glycerin is therapeutic in its own right, being used medicinally for several purposes in the body. i. Because the cellular structure is composed largely of lipids, which are chemical combinations of glycerin and fatty acids, we can appreciate the affinity of glycerin for cellular metabolism. d. It also has a strong sweet taste, which improves the palatability of herbal preparations. IV. Acetic Acid a. A very strong solvent and when blended into glycerin can compensate totally for alcohol in an herbal extract b. In natural therapy, the preferred source of acetic acid is Apple Cider Vinegar, which is a naturally fermented form. i. Apple cider contains alcohol and microorganisms break this down into acetic acid. ii. Vinegar can also be used where there is a reason not to use alcohol, such as for children. iii. One solution to the bitter taste is to blend the remedy with a liquid honey, which not only sweetens the mixture, but also adds to the preservative qualities and enhances the nutritional qualities. 1. Such a mixture is known as an oxymel. 2. Note: Do not use honey for infants under one as it can carry botulism spores. V. Combinations a. A combination of glycerin and ACV is pleasantly sweet and is frequently used to prepare remedies. b. Glycerin remedies tend to foam readily, so a proportion of alcohol (a natural antifoam) reduces this problem considerably. 15
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