Notes on Alcohol for the Beginning Herbalist

There’s this little herbal misunderstanding that has become a pet peeve of mine. Some people seem to think that grain alcohol (also known under the brand-name of Everclear) is somehow evil or unsuitable for medicine because of how strong (evidently this is equivalent to harsh). But really, it’s only as strong as you make/need it. So, that cheap vodka you buy. It’s usually either 40% or 50% alcohol and the rest (60% or 50%) is water. That makes it Everclear with with a bunch of water added. Expensive water, eh? You can sometimes buy high quality vodka from potatoes or some source besides grain but it’s a pretty penny in most places. So, you could buy yourself some Everclear (if it’s legal in your state) or you could buy organic grain...

White Sage & Bacon: Adventures in Traditional Salve Making

Making most all of my salves in animal fat is this past year’s herbal experiment. Lard is an interesting substance, lovely and white and creamy and… so very smelly. At the moment, I’m having to use plain ol’ storebought lard since I haven’t found a good source for easily obtainable and affordable organic lard and I’m out of bear fat just now (I’m going to try making lard with the next beaver tail I get though). Regular lard from pork smells kind of like bacon, but weirder. Considering the aroma, I tend use an equally strong smelling herbs in order to balance the aroma effect. Nevertheless, the salve still usually ends up smelling a bit like food. Why use lard, you ask. For a few reasons, not the least of which is how...

Notes on Keeping Track of Your Medicines

I’ve learned this one from hard experience, over and over again. I’ve more than once picked up a jar of neutral green tincture and discovered it had no label. So I open it and sniff, also neutral green (thank goodness so many plants have distinctive tastes and smells). Uh oh. The next step is tasting, which is great unless you’re not sure whether you have the jar of Plantain or the jar of Datura leaves. Dammit. Sometimes this has happened because I failed to put a label on the jar, especially in the very beginning when I only had a half a dozen tinctures and could recognize each by the jar they were in. Sometimes the label fell off or got wet or had incomplete information, like the one that said “Skullcap, Fl. Tops, 75% alcohol,...