Friday, December 30, 2011

More Herbal Videos Available

I uploaded another herbal video to YouTube a few days ago. It was uploaded in two parts as listed below. I hope you enjoy them and if you watch them, don't forget to "like" them.

Edible & Medicinal Herbs 1 - Part 1 - In this video I take you for a walk where you learn how to identify and use Colts foot, Oregon grape, Stinging nettles, False solomons seal, Wild ginger, Heal all, Wild ginger, Wild strawberry, Trillium, Hazel nut tree, Plantain, Candy stripe, and Bunch berry, and Horsetail as food and or medicine.  

Edible & Medicinal Herbs 1 - Part 2 - In this video I take you for a walk where you learn how to identify and use  Saint John's Wort, Balsamroot, Yarrow, Chickweed, English daisy, Ball Head Cluster Lilly, and Iris as food and medicine. Additionally she explains some wildcrafting and collection techniques and you learn how to make Saint John's Wort oil.

The Edible & Medicinal Herbs II - Part 1 and 2 was made available a few weeks back and you will find links to them from Edible & Medicinal Herbs 1 - Part 2 on YouTube at the end of that video if you missed these before.

Alternative Medicine In Trouble Again

1. Medical Docs are trying to get rid of their competition again. They are out to put Chiropractors and Naturopaths out of business using their usual excuse of  "danger". Talk about danger, have they looked in the mirror? The AMA was proven guilty of an illegal conspiracy against the chiropractic profession in September of 1987, and it slowed them down, BUT they have found loopholes in the law and are back at their old tricks again.  Here is a great link about what is going on. 

2. In Oregon, the Oregon Health Plan is being overhauled and although Naturopaths have been covered in the past, due to a lack of indicating their coverage in the new bill, they may no longer be covered in the future.  We need to contact the Oregon Health Authority by January 3rd to ask them to language in the bill that includes Naturopaths. You can get a brief explanation of this at the following link and can send an email from this page to ask for Naturopathic coverage. Even if you are not on the Oregon Health Plan, many people  are. Take a moment to help them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Harvesting Herbs - Wildcrafting

It is so gratifying and empowering to collect herbs in the garden, field or wood-land  area and then lovingly dry them for tea or make them into an herbal elixir, tincture, salve or other healing medicine. These simple skills should  and can be available to anyone willing to take the time to learn. Today, I will discuss harvesting techniques with you.

Harvesting of plants can be split up into a couple categories. Harvesting from your garden and wildcrafting. Harvesting from you garden is simpler than wildcrafting. Wildcrafting has a few additional requirements to consider. We will go over these before we get into the nitty gritty of how to collect herbs. If you are harvesting from your own land or garden, you can skip the legal issues and social responsibilities of wildcrafting that follow below.

Legal Issues and Social Responsibilities When Wildcrafting

Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from their natural habitat for the use of food or medicine. When wildcrafting there are a number of  things to account for. If you are harvesting on your own land there will be no legal issues but if you are harvesting on someone else’s land be sure you have permission from the private land owner or if on publicly owned land make sure you know the state or federal laws and abide by them. Often with public land it is as simple as getting a permit that can be obtained for free. Permits can be obtained from the ranger station, BLM office or parks and recreation office, depending on who is maintaining the land you wish to harvest from. They will usually want to know where you are going to harvest, what you are harvesting, how much you will be harvesting, if it is for self use or market use and do you know what you are doing.

One thing I would advise you to inquire of them is if there is going to be any new road installation, timber sales (clear-cuts specifically), power line installation or buildings/parking on the land they are managing. If there is, you may want to scout that specific area out for herbs you can use. If they are going to cover the area with roads or buildings or clear-cut the area, there are many herbs you can collect and use rather than seeing them wasted under asphalt or concrete. In clear cuts it is a bit more complicated as you would only want to take the herbs that will be not be able to continue living in an open field. This requires additional knowledge on your part.

Harvest With Respect

Wherever you are harvesting, respect for the environment is important. Making sure you do not damage the environment necessitates your knowing how the various plants interact with each other and how your removal of plants is going to affect a specific ecosystem.  If you remove plants without knowing how to do it in a careful and respectful manner the ecosystem is damaged and further availability of those plants is threatened.

Be honest with the land manager about what you are doing. Harvest conservatively, clean up your garbage and maintain the area of harvest. As herbalists we want to preserve but also manage the environment. The act of our harvesting changes the environment so it is best if we do this in a well thought out manner.

Become a permanent caretaker of weeds
Consider long-term contracts with land managers if that is possible. This will allow you to truly manage a piece of land and get a continual harvest off of it. This is most readily accomplished with private land managers. 

The Nitty Gritty of Collecting Herbs

First get your tools ready

Tools that most wildcrafters find helpful are clippers, knife, shovel, and handsaw. However, I have done a lot of collecting with sticks as a digging tool and rocks to pound off root bark. Sometimes a rock is the best tool in fact.  You also need collecting containers.

If you are collecting in warm weather and want to get back to your house with fresh plant material that is still in good shape, figure out how you will accomplish that. If you drive two hours in mid-July in a hot car or truck, how will your plant material look when you return with them. Things to consider are protecting them in coolers with ice, in boxes or large insulated containers with ice, a car air conditioner, or perhaps even processing the plant in the field.

Once you are ready to go, where will you harvest the plant?

Look for an area that has an abundance of the plant you want to harvest. Make sure the plants look healthy that you plan to harvest. Never take more than the forest or field can replenish in a reasonable amount of time, and never more than you can use. Some  surrounding influences to plants that might effect their health is:
• Power lines
• Soil quality
• Clean water
• Is there any ground contamination nearby? (Don’t harvest near the town dump or in a farmers field that uses pesticides or herbicides or grows genetically modified seed)
• Do other plants they are in community with look healthy?
• Are there a lot of pollinators around? If not, there may be insecticide use on the land.
Harvesting the plants

Now you are ready to actually harvest the plant. Do this in a respectful manner. What that means to you can vary from person to person. Some people ask individual plants permission or permission from a grandmother plant. Some people like myself are simply grateful for the plants. I thank spirit for everything I harvest be it a wild plant, a garden plant or a chicken. I thank the being that is giving its life so that I and others may continue to live our lives in a healthy manner. You do what works for you.  Whatever your words or thoughts are, they must be followed by actions of respect.. If you devastate the area by harming the environment while you harvest or harvest so many plants/seeds that the plant can not maintain itself there anymore, your words and thoughts were hollow shells and were not truthful. Walk your talk for your talk to have meaning. It is your actions that show the truth of your intention.

The right time to harvest

Many things effect plants and when you should harvest them. Some of these are the season, time of the day, the phase of the moon and other planetary activity, if the plant is dry, if it is flowering, budding, been pollinated or not etc. There is much to know about when it is best to harvest.

In general, the aerial plant parts are best harvested in the spring and summer, before or during flowering. They should be harvested in the morning after the dew has dried and before the full sun is upon them. Seeds are best harvested when fully ripe and dry. Roots are best harvested late in fall to early spring when the plants' energy is down in its roots.

Specific Information
I have taken some of the most basic and useful ideas for harvesting and listed them below. They are categorized by the plant parts you would be harvesting.


• Harvest prior to pollination
• Early in the morning
• In the appropriate stage for that flower such as with many Asteraceae flowers you usually harvest them when their ray flowers are pointing straight up in the air.
• Make sure the flowers are dry. Harvest after the dew is gone.
• Don’t harvest more than 10% of the flowers in that area as you are removing their ability to make seed and create future generations.


• Harvest at maturity generally
• Dry seed only
• Don’t harvest more than 10% of the seeds in that area as you are removing their ability to generate more plants.
• Spread the seed – In some cases spreading the seed around will help the plant. If you know how the seed naturally spreads and best grows, you can do a better job of it.
• Collect and grow your own seed for next time

Aerial leafy parts

• Harvest early morning in bud or flower stage but, this can vary. You need to know what is best for that specific plant. Each plant will vary slightly as to what part of the aerial parts you will be picking. It might be the entire aerial part of the plant in bud or flower stage. It could be just the leaves or just the flower tops. You really need to know the specific part of that plant that is used before harvesting the herbs. The dirty or scraggly and woody parts of the plant  are not harvested.
• Dry plant material only.
• Be careful not to harvest too much of any one plant in an area.


• Take bark from small limbs
• If a tree or shrub needs pruning in the fall or spring, this is a great time to harvest the bark
• Don’t take bark off the trunk unless the tree is destined to be destroyed anyway. If bark is collected from the trunk of a tree, there is a risk damaging the tree irreparably; and if collected from around the tree trunk in a complete ring, the tree will die.
• It is best to harvest bark in the spring and fall when the sap is flowing
• Harvest the inner bark. This is the medicinally active part.
            Often when collecting the bark, you will get both the outer and inner bark together and if the outer bark is not thick it is OK to use it that way in most instances. When getting bark from small limbs the outer bark is not very thick and really too hard to remove anyway.  Sometimes the outer bark is thick and you want to remove it. This is especially true of larger, older limbs. Removal of outer bark is best done when the limb has been freshly removed. Since it is easier to work with fresh bark, remove the outer bark from the desirable inner bark while still fresh and pliable. You will also need to remove the bark from the core or heartwood of the limb. I often use a hammer or rock to remove fresh bark. It will usually fall right off fairly easily. If it dries I usually have to use a knife and it becomes much harder to accomplish.
• Don’t remove more than 10% of the limbs at the very most on any one tree. If you have never pruned trees, get a lesson from someone who has fruit trees on how to prune and it will help you to be a better caretaker of the wild trees you prune.


• Annuals(not generally used)
• Biennials last only two years usually and you can harvest their roots from the fall of the first year until they start to send out spring shoots in the second year. I prefer them in the fall or winter of the first year, but if I have to will get them in the spring. They are not useful after that.
• Perennials live three or more years. You can harvest their roots from the fall through winter, until  they start to send out spring shoots.
• Good for us & the plant to harvest in the Winter. Our harvesting the root in the fall-spring gives us better potency in our herb  It is additionally healthy for the plant to harvest the roots then as it is able to set seed in the summer and spread that seed prior to our harvesting the roots.
• Thinning is a key idea here with perennials. Thin out thicker areas and leave the plants alone in areas of scarcity.  With some plants, you can take part of the lower root and replant the top part of the root. What I notice however, is that plant is never as healthy as the ones that grow without part of their roots removed. The root left grows strangely.  So, although some herbalists do this, I do not. I would rather take the whole plant than leave an unhealthy plant behind to propagate itself.
• When digging up a root, remember to fill the hole back up with earth.


• Generally collected whole such as hawthorne, chaste tree, schisandra
• Collect when fully ripe
• Since bugs tend to like fruit, some fruits are better collected after the first frost to kill bug eggs.

If you want specific information on the parts of each plant to collect and when to collect it, that information  is in a chart called Harvesting and Liquid Extract Preparation Chart that can be found in my book “Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth.”

Are You Collecting Fresh OR Dry Plants?

Fresh Plants Require
• Immediate processing
• Immediate shipping if you are shipping them to another user
            - ice bags are necessary
            - layer the plants with paper between them and ice bags in the paper. This keep them cool. Other wise they will compost in the center of the box. It also helps keep them from crushing themselves if you wad up the paper layers.
-  holes in box help decrease composting
- next day, second day, ground shipping depends on how delicate they are

Drying Plants Require
• Dry quick, thoroughly – Consider a warm, dry attic with fans. Even a  hot southwest bedroom with fans can work. Open the screened windows for air movement or use fans. If you have a dryer that is helpful for small amounts of herbs. Be careful to protect them from light, insects and night moisture if drying the plants outside.
• Storage -  Protection from insects, heat, air and sunlight and moisture are necessary.

For details on how to dry and store herbs see the blog I will post in a couple days called "How to Dry and Store Herbs."

Additional Resources
Here are ideas for you to learn more about wildcrafting or growing and collecting garden herbs.

Join my class "Becoming An Herbalist" for in-depth information on harvesting herbs. 

Plant Lover's Guide to Wildcrafting by Krista Thie
                Available at Longevity herb Press, 1549 W. Jewett Blvd, White Salmon Wa, 98672 or on Amazon 

Edible & Medicinal Herbs Volume I (Video)
                        narrated by myself and free for you to view in one week - I will re-post it here and announce it on the blog that it is available: (two parts to it)
             Edible & Medicianl Herbs Volume II
narrated by myself and free for you to view here: (two parts to it) 


Get a field guide specific to your area. Take a class in botany. Go on walks with local herbalists or take herb classes in your area. In Eugene Oregon I offer a variety of different herb classes. They change from year to year. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Herbal Steam Inhalation

Steam inhalations are a powerful and inexpensive form of hydrotherapy. Adding herbs to a steam inhalation make an already helpful tool, an even greater ally in decreasing respiratory congestion which accompanies colds or sinus infections. Herbal steam inhalations are easy to use. At one time it was a process that most families used in their home during the winter months.

I will share my quick method for making a steam inhalation using water and essential oils.  A slower method involves making an infusion (type of tea) first. I will share how to make infusions with you in the coming week.

•    4-6 quart pot   
•    Stove
•    Table       
•    Towel or blanket
•    Pot holder
•    Essential oil (Could also make an infusion of dry herbs)

Any volatile, antimicrobial oil or herb capable of opening the nasal passages can be used in a steam inhalation for respiratory congestion. The opening of the passage way via a steam inhalation is due to both the steam of the water and the menthol in the herb. Two herbs with menthol that are easy to find and inexpensive are peppermint and wintergreen. The menthol in these herbs is what gives it that refreshing brisk coolness to our mouth or on our skin when we ingest them or put the herbs on our skin.  In addition to herbs with menthol, I also want a strong antimicrobial herb to be added to the water such as thyme,  or oregano.

My favorite two herbs to use in the inhalation are peppermint and thyme essential oil.  Both are carried in health food stores and are generally easy to procure. If you live some place where you have trouble buying herbs or if you simply wish to purchase them online you can trust the herbs at this link:
Additionally, Mountain Rose Herbs donates 15% of their sales purchased from clicking on this link to Wise Acres Herbal Educational Center.

•    Pour 2-4 quarts of water into the pot.
•    Bring the water to a boil.
•    Take the water off the heat.
•    Prepare an area at a table where the head can be positioned above the pot without getting burnt by the pot.
•    Place the hot pot on the table, using a potholder to protect the table.
•    Drape a blanket over the head and pot, creating a vapor cocoon.
•    Sit over the pot with the head directly over the pot of tea & inside the blanket cocoon.
•    Add 1-2 drops of essential oil to the pot. (Most essential oil bottles have a dropper top.)
•    Breathe in the vapors. Keep your eyes closed so they don't get irritated.
•    If the vapor cocoon gets too hot or too intense:
         Remove head from under the blanket.
         Rest a moment.
         Return when ready.
•    The essential oil will disappear as vapor very quickly so you will need to add 1-2 drops more of each essential oil when the oil vapor is gone. Do not add too much essential oil.

Adding more essential oil than suggested can cause irritation of the lungs and eyes. It has been known for a person to put the essential oil in before getting inside the blanket cocoon. By the time they are inside the blanket cocoon the essential oil has vaporized off. The full strength  of the essential oil only lasts for 20 seconds and then disappears. If the person does not know the essential oil is short lived,  they may think they did not put enough in. Now they put in 4 drops of each oil and it is over-powering. I make sure when giving this procedure to a patient that I have made sure they will not use more than I tell them and they will follow my directions. If I am concerned about them following directions, I alternatively give them teas to use rather than essential oils. The tea simply necessitates the extra step of making an infusion from the tea. The infused tea is then put on the hot pad and you have a continuous supply of vapors coming off the pot until the tea runs out of essential oils. It is not as intense as straight essential oil. Teas are also better for children.

For my child patients whose parents want to use a vapor inhalation, I give them the following instructions. I have them make a tent house over a card table. Make it as small as possible, but with enough room for themselves and the child. They then get inside it with the pot of tea and make a game out of inhaling the vapors. If they make the tent too big, the vapors will disappear into the large space and not be as available.

Making Herbal Tinctures

What is an Herbal tincture?

A liquid extract or tincture is a method of preserving herbs in a base of water and alcohol, making them convenient to dispense and take. In addition to preserving the herb for long periods of time, alcohol is better than water at extracting some constituents. Plants with resins or volatile oils need a high concentration of alcohol for thorough extraction while mucilaginous plants and plants high in mucopolysaccharides are better extracted with water. This is the reason mucilaginous plants, like comfrey or marshmallow are made into teas or if necessary to use as a tincture, are preserved with a low concentration of alcohol.  Making a tincture generally takes from 4 to 12 weeks to prepare using the maceration method. I will be discussing the maceration method of making a tincture as I like it best and it is a commonly used method. There are other methods that can be used to make a tincture, such as the percolation method.

Sometimes an herbalist will call an extract made by extracting herbs in vinegar or glycerin a tincture but usually the vinegar is called a tinctract or vinegar extract and the glycerine extract a glycerite. Generally when an herbalist says the word tincture they are talking about an herbal extract made with alcohol or alcohol/water.

Making herbal tinctures can be quite easy or very detail oriented and involve a lot of math depending on if you want to be exacting or not. The easy method of making tinctures called the folk method is a system that many beginning herbalists use.  If you want to make a tincture that is the same strength each time, you need to use a bit of math and follow a formula to ensure you make the product the same each time. Herbal companies use mathematical formulas to make sure they have consistency. Many herbalists do also.

The Folk Method of Extraction
In the pure folk method people often don't take into consideration the percent of alcohol the plant would be best extracted with. Often people use whatever they have around and it is often something that is 80 proof or 40% alcohol. Fill the jar about 1/3 -1/2 with fresh or  dried plant material. Pour alcohol over the top of the herbs. Realize that the herbs will soak up the alcohol so you may need to add extra later. You can check the next day to see if you need to add more alcohol. The alcohol must stay over the top of the plant by at least 1/4 inch at all times to keep it from oxidizing. If you are adding alcohol to fresh plant you won't need to add more due to their being water in the plant. With the dry plant extract, the plant will suck alcohol into its dry cells. This is why you have to add more later.  If you are adding alcohol to dry plant, you will definitely need to add more the next day. Put a lid on the container and steep for 4 to 6 weeks in a cool, dark place such as a pantry. Shake it often. Then strain or press out the liquid or menstruum. Usually in the folk method you don't even both filtering it. You simply use as is.  This is really all there is to the folk method. It is very simple and you don't have to know much to do this. In many cases this will work just fine. 

Now in its simplest form, you don't even mix the herb and alcohol. You just pour the alcohol over the herb and wait. However, most people using this method will use a blender to mix the alcohol and the herb together. This breaks up the plant into smaller particles and lets the alcohol get absorbed into the plant quicker and allows it to come into contact with more plant material, thereby extracting more of the goodness from the plant. This can also be accomplished with a mortar and pestle. It is just much slower than a blender.

Improving the Folk Method
The folk method is best use to extract dried plant materials. Fresh plants have moisture in them and as soon as you mix the fresh plant with the alcohol, you are diluting the alcohol. If the plant has 75% moisture in it, you are diluting the alcohol a lot.  Fresh plants that have little moisture content or fresh plants that have constituents in them that you can extract with low amounts of alcohol will do well with the folk method.  When you want to use this method with plant material that needs high amounts of alcohol or that has a lot of moisture in it, herbalists using the folk method will often use 190 proof (95%) alcohol. Doing this will allow you  to get a good extraction from plant material  such as resins. If the plant being tinctured is fresh and it has a high moisture content and has constituents that necessitate a moderate to high amount of alcohol to extract them the 190 proof alcohol would be needed again.

The Formula Method of Extraction
Herbalists use this method for consistency of product. You know what percent of alcohol and water you will have in the final product. You also know the strength will remain fairly consistent. 

Herb Class At Wise Acres
When using the formula method you take the amount of herb that you are going to tincture and multiply it by a set number to get the amount of alcohol and water you will be adding to the herb. Once you know the total amount of liquid you will add, you multiply that by the amount of alcohol and the amount of water you want in the final product. This gives you the total amount each of water and alcohol to add. This is fairly straight forward for dry plant tinctures. When making a fresh plant tincture it becomes more complicated as you now have to account for the amount of moisture in the plant. This necessitates, weighing and drying and re-weighing the dried herb and using this figure in your calculations to decide how much alcohol and water to add. I will not explain the fresh formula as it is more complicated than I want to get into in this blog. I find many people in my classes are confused by tincturing fresh plants and we have to go over it a couple times for them to understand it. If you really want to know how to do this you can join my "Becoming An Herbalist"  or you can get my book "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth."

The Mathematical Formula Method for Dry Extracts
The following information is taken directly from my book "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth."

Pasting the book data in this blog messed it up a bit and I have tried to neaten it. I could not use the numerous photos or the tables. Sorry it is not perfect. It still gives you very good, detailed, written directions that anyone willing to take the time can follow easily. I have added some additional notes since it is taken out of the context of the book.

Dry plant tinctures are easier to make than fresh plant tinctures. Your first extract using this mathematical formula method should be from dried material to ensure good results.

Implements and ingredients:
•    Finely chopped herbs.
•    Glass containers with tight fitting lids.
•    Alcohol - 190 proof or 95% alcohol.
•    Spring water, well water or filtered water
•    2 strainers.
•    Large pot or bowl.
•    Press cloth like a thin tea towel.
•    Filter:
        Cheese cloth or unbleached coffee filters.
•    Bottles for liquid extract.

1.      Weigh the plant.
2.   Decide the strength of the product, 1:5, 1:3, etc. (See “Herb Chart for Harvesting and Preparation of Liquid Extracts”) - To make it easy for you, use 1:5 for dry leafy and flower parts and anything dense like a root or bark, use 1:3 or 1:4.
3.    Check the percentage of alcohol necessary. (I have a chart in my book or you can go to a local health food store and see what the herb companies are using. The percentage for each tincture is listed on their bottle.)
4.    Calculate the amount of alcohol and water.
5.    Measure amounts of alcohol and water = menstruum.
6.    Combine the menstruum and marc (plant).
7.    Put the mixture in a container with a tight lid:
             • Gallon glass containers or canning jars work well.
8.    Store in a cool, dark place.
9.    Shake daily until ready to press.
10.    Press.
11.    Filter.
12.    Bottle.

The metric system should be used for calculations. This allows conversion between weight and volume. The conversion used is slightly rounded, but it will enable you to convert grams and milliliters equally and give an excellent product as an end result. The conversion factors:
     1 pound = 450 grams = 450 milliliters
Next, the strength of the liquid extract and percentage of alcohol should be determined.
•    Write the strength of the extract in the form: A:B. Below in the calendula example we use 1:5 as our A:B strength.
•    List the weight of the herb (A) in grams.  
Calculate for the total fluid used in this product.
•    Multiply the weight of the herb by the B number.
•    B x plant weight in grams = total fluid in milliliters.
The total amount of liquid in milliliters needs to be further divided into the percent of alcohol and percent of water.
•    The calculation for the amount of alcohol:
    -Total fluid in milliliters x % alcohol.
•    The calculation for the amount of water:
    -Total fluid in milliliters x % water.

Calculations for a 1:5 liquid extract of calendula at 70% alcohol.

Calendula liquid extract 1:5.
1# or 450 grams of herb will be used: 450 grams x 5 = 2250 milliliters of total fluid.
The fluid will need to be further separated into alcohol and water.
For the alcohol in this extract :
    2250 milliliters x .70 (70%) =    1575 milliliters of alcohol.
For the water in this extract:
    2250 milliliters x .30 (30%) =    675 milliliters of water.
To check the math, add the alcohol and water together. The sum total should be 2250 milliliters.

Mixing the marc and menstruum
Measure the alcohol and water and mix together, forming the menstruum. (Technically it is not really called a menstruum until the herbs are added to it but lets not get too picky.) Mix the menstruum and marc (herbs) together. The herbs should be finely cut so that multiple plant cells will come in contact with the menstruum. The herbs can be chopped prior to adding to the menstruum or the entire mixture of menstruum and marc can be chopped together in a blender.  If using the blender method, add the menstruum to the blender, filling it no more than half full. Next add a small amount of marc and begin blending. Keep adding the marc to the blender, finely chopping after each addition. 

Each Herb absorbs liquid differently. The general rule is to have at least three times more menstruum in the container than marc.  This will allow enough menstruum for the dry herb to absorb. Most of the menstruum will be absorbed within 24 hours. After 24 hours, if there is a lot of unabsorbed menstruum, add more herb. There should be a minimum of 1-2 inches of menstruum above the level of the marc at all times. If there is extra herb that cannot be added to the menstruum, save and add later. Usually, fluffy flowers and leaves will absorb more menstruum than a dense root or seed.
The following are some general rules for absorption of liquid:
(1)    Leafy things, like colt’s foot, mullein, lady’s mantle and some roots will expand substantially.
(2)    Small, rock-like roots, like stone root, wild yam and false unicorn, do not expand much.
(3)    Barks and non-rock-like roots will almost always expand. The container of blended herb and fluid should contain 1/3 plant material to 2/3 pure liquid
(4)    Always check a dry extract the next day for expansion. Maintain a minimum of 1”- 2” of fluid over the top of the herb.

Final Stage of Maceration
Shake the container daily until the liquid extract is ready to press. Usually herbs are best extracted without heat. This is not a place to discuss heating herbs and alcohol as it is too complicated and dangerous.

When finished, the liquid extract should attain the color, flavor, and aroma of the herbs. Without herbal experience to know when an extract is ready, wait for a specified time period. If no more herb is to be added, wait for 2 months before pressing. If more herb is to be added, wait one month before pressing. Once ready, the marc is separated from the menstruum by pouring through a strainer. The strainer is placed in a bowl and the menstruum and marc are poured into the strainer. Pick up the strainer filled with herbs, put a second strainer, lined with a press cloth, under the first strainer. Place the herbs from the first strainer into the cloth-lined strainer. Pick up all sides of the cloth and bring them together at the top. Twist the cloth in a circular motion to squeeze the remaining menstruum out of the herbs by hand or use a mechanical press. 

The liquid remaining in the marc is some of the best extract. Care should be taken to press as much liquid as possible from the herbs. If there is more herb to be added, add it to the liquid now and follow the previous directions. This addition of herb should sit for 1-2 months before pressing. Occasionally, herbs are added numerous times before the final product is ready. The product gets stronger with each addition. After straining the marc from the menstruum for the final time, filter and bottle the liquid extract. The liquid extract can be used unfiltered, with little bits of herb, or filtered with a cheesecloth or unbleached coffee filter for a more presentable product. When finished, store the extract in a dark -colored container or bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Most liquid extracts have an indefinite shelf life if kept in a cool, dark area.

For More Information On How to Dry and Store Herbs
Join Dr. Tilgner’s class "Becoming An Herbalist" for in-depth information and experience.