Herbal preparations are easy to make, but take time, patience, and supplies to complete. The 2010 winter season was a rough one in New York and winter did not gradually move into spring then summer, it almost seemed to jump right into summer. Around April, I had an itchy throat and a friend of my suggested a tincture. When I asked her for the instructions, what she described to me was not a tincture herbal preparation, but an infusion. These two preparations are completely different; one is water based and the other alcohol based. Herbal preparations can be separated into three categories: water based, oil based, and alcohol based.

Water Based

Boiling herbs in water is done to draw out properties. From this method you can make a tea infusion, decoction, facial steam, or baths.


Add 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs or fresh flowers/leaves to a mug/bowl, add boiling water (about 1 cup or desired amount)and let stand for approximately five minutes. To make a stronger infusion add 2-4 teaspoons of dried herbs or fresh flowers/leaves to a mug/bowl and let stand for approximately 20 minutes. These infusions can be used to drink, rinse hair(just increase amount of water to use on hair), or perform facial steams/inhalations.

Facial steams/inhalation

Follow the same instructions for making an infusion. Place the water(about 3 cups or desired amount) and herbs in a bowl. Lean over the bowl with a towel covering the head for approximately 10 minutes. The steam from this infusion will deep clean the skin or clear the sinuses.


Used to make tonics from roots or berries. Add 2 teaspoons of dried root, berries, or wood to a pot and add about 1 cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes on the stove. Drink two teaspoons as one dose.


Add herbs to a sheer bag and place in a bathtub. The herbs will infuse while you take a hot bath to ease any pains or relax your muscles.

My Recipes

I have an excess amount of nettle, horsetail, and marshmallow root that I am trying to get rid of, so I use these three herbs in everything. When it comes time to make your own herbal preparations use herbs that will aid in what you need to improve.

1. Infusion

I mixed my horsetail and nettle herbs and make an infusion to drink. The horsetail from this infusion aids: skin, nails, hair, urinary systems, and provides energy. The nettle from this infusion aids: irregular periods/excess menstrual bleeding, overall great for blood, hair. These two herbs also are great as tinctures, which will be explained in another post.

I also created a marshmallow root infusion to aid with colds and mucous build up.

2. Facial Steam

I do my facial steams with horsetail and nettle herbs. I first rinse my face and exfoliate (lemon, a little honey/sugar, oatmeal). I wash that off and then steam for about 10 minutes. After I steam I lightly pat my face dry, still leaving a little moisture. I then do a mask. If I use Queen Afua’s mask- I leave it on for 20 minutes. If I do the Aztec Secret Mask I leave that on for 60 minutes. After I wash the mask off(cool water to close the pores) and dry my face, I add aloe gel. After the aloe gel dries, depending on how I feel I leave my face alone or I add a tiny bit of Shea butter. I do this once a week. To avoid getting sick, don’t go outside into cold weather, do it before bed or if you are staying in for the day.

3. Inhalation

If I ever feel like I have a stuffy nose, I drop some peppermint or eucalyptus oil/leaves into water and cover with a towel for about 15 minutes.

4. Baths/Decoctions

I am not big on baths, when I do take a bath, I just use sea salt and a little essential oil. Decoctions, I have not tried this method because I don’t have roots/wood/berries to use.

What are your favorite water based herbal preparations?


An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre


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