All of us have taken vitamins, medications, and/or herbs at some point in our lives. So, when it comes to extracts, capsules, tinctures, and teas, do we know what they all mean? Let’s take a brief look and put them into perspective.
Capsules: The medicinal part of the herb is freeze-dried, pulverized and packed into gelatin capsules.
Essential Oil: Essential oils are the volatile oily components of herbs. They are found in tiny glands located in the flowers, leaves, roots, and/or bark and are mechanically or chemically extracted. Essential oil is prescribed almost exclusively for external use.
Herb, Dried: The flowers, leaves, stems, and roots of many herbs are often available dried at health food stores and Chinese pharmacies.
Herb, Fresh: Herbs that are used in both culinary and medicinal ways (such as parsley or dill) are most often found fresh. They can be made into homemade extract, juice, infused oil, tea, and more.
Infused Oil: Made by steeping fresh or dried herbs in an edible oil. After a period of time, the herbs are removed and the oil used internally or externally.
Juices: The extracted juice from fresh herbs can be found mixed with commercially prepared fruit or vegetable juices.
Liquid Extract: Macerated plant material is steeped over a period of time in a solvent or solvents such as alcohol, glycerin, and/or water. The steeped liquid is then reduced to lessen the concentration of (or entirely removed) the solvents.
Ointments: Dried or fresh herbs are steeped in a base of oils and emulsifiers (such as beeswax, petroleum jelly, or soft paraffin wax). After a period of time, the herbs are removed and the ointment packaged. For external use only.
Syrups: Syrups are usually a combination of herbal extracts and a sweetener, such as honey or sugar. Generally used for colds, flu, and sore throats.
Teas/Infusions: Like any other teas, herbal tea bags are available, herbal tea can also be made with loose dried or fresh herbs.
Tinctures: Plant material is soaked in alcohol. The saturated plant material is then pressed. Liquid from this pressing may be diluted with water and packaged – usually in small dropper bottles.