The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Variables in Determining the Strength of Herbal Pharmacy

A pot of tea is a pot of tea is a pot of tea…

Well, not really.
There are many variables that affect the strength and quality of herbal pharmacy, whether it is created in one’s home kitchen or in a larger industrial facility.
Included below are the points emphasized and addressed during our 10 Month Foundations program.

1. Time – within reason, the longer the better.
The specific time duration depends on the solvent.
For water infusions, the time may range from 30 minutes to overnight (8-12 hours).

For alcohol tincture macerations, the time may range from 2 weeks to 6 months.

2. Heat – Warmth increases movement. Warming a carrier oil, glycerin, honey or water increases extraction. 
Usnea (a lichen) is the only herbal preparation I know of that needs a hot alcohol extraction.

3. Agitation or movement – either continuous or intermittent.
Stirring, churning, simmering or percolating all apply here.

4. Surface to Volume Ratio – Within reason, the smaller the herb particles, the more surface area is exposed to the solvent.
Something similar to cornmeal size works well.
If the herb becomes too fine a powder, like powdered sugar, it can pack tightly and have the opposite effect.

5. Marc to Menstruum Ratio – Within reason, the more marc the better. However, there is a limit to how much a solvent can dissolve and hold.

6. The quality of the herb.

7. The quality of the solvent.

8. The care and mindset of the person creating the pharmacy.

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