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I was wondering if it's medicinal constituents are the kind that only extract via alcohol then it seems a waste of time to try extracting it via glycerin[/color]. That is my main impetus for asking questions about it, and my curiosity in general about other herbs.
sharon's answer was spot on - especially this part:
There is no Right or Wrong Way. First we learn to do it as our teacher shows
us, and then as we gain experience and wisdom, we begin to develop our own
techniques and refinements.
I'm a definite advocate of thinking creatively about herbs and
medicine making; if you have an idea about an herb or how to prepare
something, try it out. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but you'll
learn fro the experience.
Also wanted to thicken the plot a bit, regarding solubility as its
applied in medicine making....
When considering what solvent/menstrum to use in making a preparation,
whether an herb is soluble in it (will dissolve into it) is very
useful, but also kind of misleading, because often preparations ~do~
contain constituents that aren't soluble in the menstrum used. A
great example is inulin in a burdock tincture. Inulin is only
slightly soluble in alcohol, but it is extracted by the alcohol and is
miscible* in it - the inulin is in the tincture, but left to sit will
settle out as a seperate substance in the tincture... so you shake
your burdock tincture, and its cloudy muddy brown, but if you let it
sit, the inulin portion settles to the bottom of the jar more like a
milky layer than a layer of sediment. You could filter this through a
coffee filter and get nothing, because its not a sediment. I've made
burdock tinctures where a third of the resting bottle was settled
inulin, which demonstrates that the "slightly soluble" label does
~not~ mean that a tincture won't be ~very~ rich in inulin.
Another good example is the fixed oil in flax seeds. If you make an
infusion with them, you end up with a tea rich in mucilage (certainly
soluble in water) and fixed oils (not soluble in water). This is
because even though the oil isn't really ~dissolved~ in the hot water,
it's separated from the seeds by it, and will remain in the tea when
you've filtered out the spent flax seed. Same goes for sunflower seed
tea (a good sebacious diaphoretic).
You can even see the film of oil at the top of the water in the tea
cup. This even applies in something as simple as lavender tea - the
essential oil in lavender flowers is insoluble in water. But clearly,
pouring hot water over a volatile oil will cause it to be released
from the plant material into the water, where it them rises in the
steam (if it didn't, we wouldn't smell it). And because we can tastes
it in the tea, we know its i the water, too, soluble or not.
Tincture's don't extract mucilage, and yet many mucilaginous tinctures
will have a moistening effect on mucous membranes. I would state that
in the GI tract, where the actual physical mucilage comes into contact
with tissues, water preps are certainly better, while when treating
respiratory/urinary tissues, where actual physical mucilage doesn't
get too anyway, tinctures can be notably moistening (good example here
would be cornsilk tincture).
Another example would be that a tincture of horsetail, which contains
little silica (not soluble in alcohol) still seems to have effect that
correlate with what silica does. Henriette calls the phenomenon
"plants don't read books".
This is all not to say that understanding solubility/solvency isn't
important, because i do think it is quite important (and for the
record I frequently say that it makes no sense to try to extract
propolis in water, because its just won't extract it), but that we
need to look deeper into our herbs and our preparations of them than
into what books say is so. Charts that say this this and this kind of
constituent is soluble in this this and this kind of menstrum/solvent
are helpful and insightful, but if you don't go deeper than a chart
they end up being misleading. Its akin to energetics - you can see a
chart that says an herb is hot dry cold damp or whatever, but the
application of those ideas is more complicated than those simple terms
(if it wasn't, people wouldn't eat chilis in the tropics).
So, just remember that nature is always more expansive than any of the
ways we try to catagorize it.
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RoseRed wrote:There are indigenous cultures that would chew (and chew and chew) and make a spit poultice out of it to prevent or treat infection. I'm assuming that something in the saliva breaks it down into usefulness.
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