Experience and knowledge are needed to gather and preserve medicinal herbs successfully. This usually requires a lifetime of practice and knowledge that is handed down from generation to generation. Lack of knowledge when preserving and caring for medicinal herbs could lessen the medicinal properties if they are not cared for properly.
Medicinal herbs derive from plants and trees. While these different herbs can be grown in a home garden, they tend to have a more effective use medicinally when they are grown in the wild. It is best to gather herbs only in dry weather, when the plant is in full bloom and the seeds are ripe. Healing properties from herbs are cultivated from the bark, roots, flowers, seeds and leaves.
Bark should only be removed from the tree in the spring when the sap is beginning to rise. The rough outer part of the bark is shaved off to reveal the smooth inner part of the trunk. This part is then peeled from the tree. It can be dried by placing it in the sun for a small period of time before finishing the drying process in the shade.
Roots of medicinal herbs should be dug up in the springtime while the sap is still rising on the bark or during late autumn after the sap has gone down. Roots need to be sliced and placed for drying in the shade. They can be tied up in small bundles and hung in a place to dry. All the parts of medicinal herbs can be dried in the shade if they are in an airy space. The sun quickens the drying process, but if they are left too long in the sun, their medicinal value will decrease.
Flowers, seeds and leaves should only be gathered during their prime when they are in full season and placed for drying in the shade. They should be stored in heavy brown paper bags after being dried. When dried properly, all medicinal herbs can keep their value for years. There are hundreds of medicinal herbs across the world and too many to list, so only the more well-known and more commonly used herbs will be mentioned.
Different herbs to take for getting a good night's sleep include chamomile, valerian root, skullcap and passion flower. To help aid the digestion process in the body a person can use ginger, marshmallow or licorice. The liver can be helped by using milk thistle. Echinacea is widely known for its ability to strengthen the immune system.
Women experience different hormonal phases throughout their lifetime. Herbs to help with menopause and other hormonal issues include black cohosh, dong quai, licorice, ginger and angelica. St. John's wort can be taken to promote a sense of emotional well being. Men who have prostate issues may benefit from using saw palmetto.
Certain medicinal herbs such as fenugreek, hibiscus and indigo help with hair growth. Aloe vera is used to treat burns, wounds and certain skin disorders, and it can also fight off infections. Herbs like gotu kola, ginseng, asparagus and mango ginger have been used as aphrodisiacs to increase sexual desire.
All of these herbs can be prepared and drunk as teas. They can be used alone or some work better in combination with others. Herbal tea can be made by placing the dried herb in a cup before pouring boiling water over it. The tea should then be allowed to steep for a few minutes before drinking.