How to use plants and herbs therapeutically

Despina Vasiliadou's picture

In the list below we included plants and herbs that can be found in most european countries, those we considered most known and beneficial as well as easy to collect. 
To help our readers in using plants and herbs, we give brief directions on how to make decoction, infusion, tincture, essence e.t.c.



1 tea spoonful (2 - 3 gr.) of dried or 2 tea spoonfuls (4-6 gr) of fresh herb in a cup of water.


We put the herb in a cup which we fill with water that has just boiled. We cover the cup and let 10-15 minutes so that the ingredients of the herb are enough infused. Then we filtrate in another cup. The infusion can be stored in a closed, preferably glass, container in the fridge or any other cool place for as many as 24 hours.



20 grams of dried or 40 grams of fresh herb in 750 gr. of cold water. We boil the mixture until it is reduced to 500 gr. (we make approximately 3 cups)


We boil at a low temperature the water with the hardest parts of the plant (roots, branches, fruits) as they need a more intense process than the leaves before they can release their healing ingredients. We store in a closed, glass container in the fridge or any other cool place for as many as 48 hours.


We soak the herb in cold or hot water for quite a long time – a few days.



2-3 spoonfuls of herb in a medium sized thermos filled with boiled water.


We let soak all night, next morning we filtrate.


Tinctures can be stored for a long period of time, 2-3 years, so we can have them stored and ready to use when necessary. They are made by soaking herbs into alcohol. Alcohol helps active ingredients of herbs dissolve more easily that's why tinctures are more effective than infusions or decoctions. We must use pure alcohol at a proportion of 1: 5 (one part of herb into 5 parts of alcohol). Also, we must store them in dark, glass bottles, in a dark, cool place.


200 gr. of dried or 300 gr of fresh sliced herbs in 1 litre of alcohol 40% (vodka, gin or white rum).


Put the sliced herbs in a big, dark container and pour the alcohol to cover them completely. Put a lid on the container and store at a dark, cool place for at least 15 days. Shake the container every 2 days. The more we leave the mixture in the container the more effective the tincture, the longer it lasts.

After 15 days, filtrate the liquid pressing the herbs tightly to strain them. Put the tincture in clean, sterile dark bottles.


Sirup can be made by mixing equal parts of infusion or decoction with honey or sugar. It can be stored for almost 6 months.


500 ml of infusion or decoction and 500 gr of honey or sugar.


Put the infusion or decoction in a saucepan and add the honey or sugar. Warm the mixture at a low temperature stirring continuously until it dissolves and gets the texture of sirup. Let it cool and then put it in dark sterile bottles. Store the sirup in a dark, cool place.


The easiest way to make ointment is by using vaseline or bee wax. Ointments can last up to 3 months.


60 gr of dried or 150 gr of fresh herbs in 500 gr of vaseline or bee wax.


Mix the vaseline or wax with sliced herbs in a glass container over a low temperature in a “bain marie”. Stir the mixture continuously for about 15 minutes. Filtrate and strain the mixture carefully (it's hot!!) and put it in dark, sterile jars. Put the lids on top without tightening them. Tighten when the ointment gets cold.


We can get essences through steam distilling so we need an evaporator. Such evaporators for essences can be found everywhere in the market.


We put boiled water in the evaporator. The heat of the water passes to the herbs, breaks their fibers where essences are released from. When the steam gets cold it liquifies. This liquid contains both water and essence which split by themselves as the essence is lighter and stays on the surface of the container where they arrive. We collect the essence from the surface with a spoon.


The best extracts are made with glycerin as our product will not only contain the herbs useful ingredients but it will also be moisturizing and emolient because of the glycerin. We can use these extracts for making refreshing lotions e.t.c


15 grams of herb, fresh or dried, in 100 grams of glycerin. We can possibly increase the herbs for a stronger extract.


We put the herb with the glycerin in a container and store it in a dark, dry place for 4-6 weeks, then we filtrate the mixture in a dark bottle.

Useful Tip

We can usually drink 2-3 cups of herb decoction / infusion / tisane / tea per day. However, with some

herbs we need to be cautious and use them with a doctor's or pharmacist's advice.