Easy Herbal Oils, Salves, and Syrups

Soothe injuries and boost your immune system with these simple, plant-based recipes.

herbal-infusionsInfused Herbal Oils

Herbal oils are convenient and easy to use. These are made by extracting ground-up herbs with organic olive oil. You can apply this herb-laden oil directly to your skin, where it will exert its healing influence through absorption, or you can use the oil as a base for making a salve or lip balm. Infused oils aren’t the same as essential oils, which are composed of concentrated, steam-distilled volatile oils of a plant. Infused herbal oils may be made from dried arnica flowers, bergamot leaves and flowers, calendula flowers, cayenne peppers, cannabis leaves and flowers, chickweed leaves and flowers, comfrey leaves, ginger roots, helichrysum flowers, mullein leaves, turmeric roots, and virtually any herb containing essential oils {such as rosemary, thyme, and lavender}. All will extract well in warm oil.

Fresh garlic cloves, cottonwood buds, elderberry leaves, horse chestnut buds, mullein flowers, and especially flowering Saint John’s wort also extract very nicely in warm olive oil.



To make Saint John’s wort oil, grind fresh Saint John’s wort flowers and leaves into a mash and add 1 part of this fresh herb mash to 3 parts olive oil. Stir thoroughly, and then pour the mass into a gallon jar, capped with cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band. {The cheesecloth will allow excess moisture to escape.} Set the jar in the sun for 2 weeks, stirring daily. The oil will eventually take on the ruby-red color of its active constituent, hypericin. After 2 weeks, squeeze the contents through 4 layers of cheesecloth into a clean bowl, pour the oil into a clean gallon jar, and allow it to settle overnight. Then, excluding the watery sludge, pour the bright-red oil into clean containers for storage, and use as needed.

To make an infused oil of dried herbs, first, grind the herbs to a medium-fine consistency. In a crockpot, stainless steel pan, or gallon jar, combine 1 part herbs with 5 parts organic olive oil {for 1 ounce of herb, use 5 ounces of oil}. Or, simply put the dried herbs into the vessel and add sufficient olive oil to make a thick mash that you can just stir with a spoon. Stir daily to encourage extraction, and keep the oil very warm {110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit}. Some folks set the macerating oil close to a woodstove or in the sun to stay warm. In any case, never heat the oil directly on a stovetop-temperatures in excess of 150 degrees will denature the oil. After 1 week, pour the warm mass through 4 layers of cheesecloth draped over a bowl. Lift the corners, gather them together, and squeeze and squeeze, allowing the clear oil to flow into the bowl. Alternatively, you can use a tincture press, which is certainly more efficient. Collect the infused oil in a jar and allow it to settle overnight. Then, being careful to exclude the sludge that will have formed on the bottom of the jar, pour off the clear oil into amber glass jars for storage. Store in a cool, dark place. The shelf life of infused herbal oils is 1 year.

Salves and Balms

Homemade salves and lip balms call for beeswax and oil, which mix only if heated to 150 degrees. You won’t need to use a thermometer; simply pour an infused oil into a heat-resistant glass beaker, set it over a saucepan half-filled with water, and bring the water bath to a gentle simmer on the stovetop.

To make a soft salve, use 0.6 ounces of wax for every cup of oil. Grate the beeswax with a cheese grater, mix the grated wax into the oil, and gently heat the mixture until the beeswax melts, stirring constantly with a chopstick or wooden spoon. After the wax incorporates perfectly into the oil, immediately remove it from the heat and pour the liquid salve into suitable containers. It will harden as it cools.

Lip balm is made in the same way, except you’ll need to increase the concentration of beeswax to 2 ounces of wax for every 1 cup of oil. This will make a harder product that won’t melt in your pocket or purse, but will still protect and heal chapped lips. You can use the infused oil of calendula flowers or chickweed to make a very pleasant lip balm. For additional flavor, per 1 cup of lip balm, stir in 1 drop of mint essential oil, 3 drops of vanilla extract, or both.


To make lip balm, first, make herbal oil by combining equal parts dried chickweed leaves or flowers and dried calendula flowers {follow my earlier instructions for making infused herbal oils}. Combine 1 cup of this oil with 2 ounces of beeswax. Stirring constantly, gently heat the oil/beeswax mixture in a hot water bath until the beeswax melts. Pour the liquid lip balm into small, flat salve containers or empty lip balm dispensers-this recipe will yield eleven 1-ounce tins. As it cools, it will harden.

While some balms are suited to everyday use, occasionally you’ll need a stronger salve for soothing specific ailments.

Trauma Oil is traditionally made by combining the infused oils of 3 powerful herbs: calendula, arnica, and Saint John’s wort. You can make the oils separately and then combine them into equal parts to make the trauma oil. Heat the oil and mix with beeswax to make trauma salve, and then store the mixture in a flat tin. To use, rub the salve as needed into an afflicted area. I’ve seen this remedy used as-is to reduce inflammation and pain in a swollen finger, a twisted ankle, and an inflamed tendon.

Healing Syrups and Teas

Herbal syrups are the most universally accepted ways to ingest herbs. I find them to be particularly well-suited for children, who may disagree with the strange and bitter tastes of many herbs but actually look forward to their daily spoonful of syrup. Syrups may be administered by the loving hand of a parent who has the foresight to fortify their child against common colds and flu.

Black elderberry syrup packs a powerful immune-enhancing punch. To reconstitute dried berries, simply cover them with boiling water in a jar overnight and allow them to plump up. To make syrup from reconstituted dried berries or from fresh berries, place the berries in a saucepan with a little water and set on low heat. Stirring frequently, cook until the berries are thoroughly softened, and then remove from the heat and allow them to cool enough to be handled. Press out the juice in a tincture press or through a large sieve, thereby excluding the skins and seeds. Return the clear purple juice to the saucepan and set over low heat, stirring frequently. Reduce to 1/4 the original volume, producing a very thick product. This will take about 1 hour. Measure the liquid, and then add an equal volume of vegetable glycerin or honey. Pour into 4-ounce amber dropper bottles or small jars. A child’s dose is 1 teaspoon up to 3 times per day. An adult dose is 1 tablespoon up to 3 times per day.

A decoction is a concentrated herbal tea, often used to extract the essence of roots, barks, and seeds that don’t readily relinquish their properties in a simple tea.

Strong decoctions are double-strength and may easily be made into herbal syrup. Combine 1 part strong decoction with 2 parts vegetable glycerin or honey. Stir until thoroughly incorporated, and then store in 4-ounce amber dropper bottles or small jars. The shelf life of syrups made in this manner is about 6 months and may be extended by refrigerating the syrup. If mold appears on the surface, discard.

To make, use 2 handfuls {about 2 ounces} of sliced or coarsely ground herbs in 4 cups of water. Combine in a stainless steel saucepan, cover, and leave overnight to soak. In the morning, stir the contents with a wooden spoon and heat on a low burner, simmering for 15 minutes. Then, strain out the root pieces and return the liquid to the stovetop. Stirring frequently, reduce the volume by half.

Many kinds of roots, barks, and seeds can be made into strong decoctions and then combined with honey or glycerin to produce herbal syrups or cough syrup. Astragalus roots, cascara sagrada bark, elecampane roots, hawthorn berries, motherwort herb, turkey rhubarb roots, self-heal flowers, spikenard roots, yellow dock roots, violet flowers, licorice roots, and fennel seeds all make good herbal syrups.

salves and lotions

How To Make A Healing Salve

Studying plant energetics and their actions? Many of us in the herbal community share a passion for seeking out natural homemade remedies. We are not only studying plant’s actions individually but also how to create vehicles for these herbs to work together with the body. These vehicles have names like a healing salve, tincture, infusion, decoction, and much more.

Here is the link to the original article: https://theherbalacademy.com/how-to-make-a-healing-salve/

Website: http://theherbalacademy.com

One of the best ways to receive the benefits of herbs as well as alleviate dry skin is through the creation of a healing salve. The skin is one of the largest gateways on the body to receive actions of the plants. Calendula or Calendula officinalis, known commonly for its skin healing magic is a great herb to start with salve making. It is used to heal wounds, rashes, and other skin irritations. This time of year, dryness, and irritation can be prevalent due to the weather’s icy bite and moisture-sapping indoor heat.

how to make a healing salve by HANE

A How-To Guide to Making a Healing Salve

If you would like to play with your own mixture, it is highly recommended to research the actions and energetics of herbs. For the recipes provided today, here is some brief information on the herbal actions indicated.

  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) has anti-inflammatory actions. Meadowsweet, combined with calendula, which is healing for the skin, can soothe sore feet, hands, and shoulders as well as rough cracked skin that goes along with hard work.
  • For a dry skin salve, you can use a calendula base, then add lavender (Lavandula), which is soothing and anti-inflammatory. The addition of coconut oil is very moisturizing as well as a nice compliment to the lavender smell.

To make a salve, you must have the following materials:

  • 1 cup of oil (coconut or olive oil is best)
  • Equal parts dried herbs
  • 1 ounce of beeswax (shaved)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Jars or containers to store salve in – We recommend using glass or tin containers which you can find easily on Amazon. Containers can be purchased in a number of sizes based on personal preference.
  • Essential oils are optional

For the suggestions recommended above, here are the homemade salve recipes below.

Aches and Pains Salve


One part dried meadowsweet
One part dried calendula
One cup of olive oil
One ounce of beeswax
15-20 drops of Roman chamomile essential oil to relax


Winter Salvation


One cup of coconut oil
One part lavender
Two parts dried calendula
One part dried rose
One ounce of beeswax
15-20 drops of grapefruit essential oil to uplift


The first step to making a healing salve is to create a herbal oil infusion.

Creating a herbal oil infusion can be completed through the double boiler method:

  • Place herbs and oil in Pyrex container or smaller pot, over the top of a large pot with water about  ¼ full.
  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Once water is boiling, you can then turn the stove down to a simmer and let the herbs and oils infuse in this double boiler method for 30-60 minutes.
  • Take care not to splash water into your oil/herb infusion.

making a healing salve- infusion

Another method for making an infusion is called solar infusion. In this method, place herbs and oil in a sealed Mason jar and then position the jar in a sunlit area for 4-6 weeks. You can find more methods for creating making herbal infusions here.

Once you have completed your oil infusion, remove from heat and set aside.

Now you will prepare your infusion for the salve:

  • Place three layers of cheesecloth over the top of a funnel or atop a bowl.
  • Pour the infused oils over cheesecloth to strain the oil and keep herbs separated.
  • Once drained, gather the cheesecloth with your clean, dry hands and squeeze out the remaining oil.

Super Side Note! You can compost the remaining herbs in the cheesecloth. Or if you are using coconut oil, you can tie off the cheesecloth with a rubber band or string and place into a steaming bath for moisturizing and soul-awakening deliciousness.

beeswax for healing salve

Making The Healing Salve

  • Place your shaved beeswax in a pan over low heat, and pour the infused oil over top and melt together.
  • Once the beeswax and oil have combined, pour the mixture into jars.
  • Place your herbal salves the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to determine the solidification of the salve.

Using less beeswax will yield a more creamy salve, and more generous usage will yield a harder salve.

healing salve tutorial

Salve Application

Once complete, you can simply rub fingers over the top of your salve and then spread over the desired area on the body, avoiding the eyes. One of the hidden benefits of salves is that they can make wonderful massage oils. Coconut oil is especially known for its ability to heat at lower temperatures, so it warms very well with natural body heat and the salve instantly becomes a massage-like oil. Use this opportunity, after a bath or whenever you are using your salves, to mindfully take time for yourself or your loved one and massage any worries or tension away.


de la Floret, Rosalee. (2013, June 15) Meadowsweet Herb: Queen of the Meadow. Retrieved fromhttp://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2013/06/meadowsweet-herb-queen-of-meadow.html

Gladstar, Rosemary. (2012). Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Photos: Courtesy of Herbal Academy of New England. Google Images

Website: http://theherbalacademy.com

herbal medicine

Thinking About Making Your Own Herbal Medicine?

Perhaps you have been thinking about making your own herbal medicine, but you have questions. Isn’t it dangerous? Do you need lots of sophisticated equipment? And what about training? Do you need to be highly skilled in making your own medicines – right?

Actually, making safe and effective herbal medicines at home is an ancient tradition practiced worldwide. In many cultures, everyday ailments have been treated with handmade herbal medications for generations; in fact, only recently have medicines not been made in the home. Are herbal medicines safe? Yes, they are perfectly safe – especially when you prepare and use them as recommended by an experienced herbalist. The recipes and procedures on this website are ones we’ve enjoyed and tested for years, and the herbs suggested are time-honored and effective.

All it takes to make herbal preparations like salves, creams, and tinctures is a kitchen with common appliances like a blender, measuring spoons, and saucepans. For the more adventurous, we have included recipes for convenient dried teas, which call for a food dehydrator. If you are an experienced cook, making herbal medicines in the kitchen will feel comfortable and familiar. But even if you aren’t a gourmet chef, there’s no need to feel intimidated – if you can boil water, use a grater, and mix a few ingredients, you’re ready. After you learn the basics of herbal preparations, you can use your imagination to create all kinds of interesting combinations.

To understand how plants heal, let’s review basic plant science and the inner workings of herbs. By weight, plants are composed primarily of starches and sugars {soluble fiber}, which store energy, and cellulose and lignin {insoluble fiber}, which give plants their shape. Like our own bodies, plants also contain a large percentage of water. Together, these elements – the primary constituents – make up more than 95 percent of a plant.

Secondary constituents compromise the remaining 5 percent of the plant, and these are the medicinal ingredients. Even if they occur in very tiny amounts, medicinal constituents can have powerful actions. For instance, the traditional digestive herb gentian contains a compound so bitter that a single drop of the extract can be tasted in a gallon of water.

Constituents occur in different proportions in different parts of each plant. For instance, flowers are typically high in sugars like sucrose, and all above-ground plant parts contain coloring pigments like anthocyanidins and flavonoids, a plant’s own “sunscreens” that protect its genetic material from ultraviolet light damage. Seeds contain unique fats to provide energy for the fast-growing sprout, and roots act as storehouses for food and medicines. Because the useful properties of plants are unevenly distributed, it’s important to know where the medicinal constituents are concentrated. Another important consideration when making herbal remedies is the timing of the harvest of a particular herb because the potency of constituents varies during a plant’s life cycle.

What about the safety of the herbs themselves? Interestingly, when herbal treatments are compared to treatments with pharmaceutical drugs, fewer and milder side effects are usually recorded when a herbal compound is used. The preparations you will make in these articles are some of the most time-honored and effective you can find, consistent with each herb’s history of use when the plant is prepared and taken properly. Many herbs, such as ginger and garlic, are also foods that we take for their healing properties. But herbs can be harmful when misused or taken carelessly. Remember that your current physical condition and medications must be taken into consideration when choosing which herbs to take and which to avoid.

If you are experiencing or have any of the following, we recommend that you consult a qualified practitioner before preparing and using the formulas on this website.

  • Pregnancy anticipated pregnancy or nursing.
  • A course of prescription or over-the-counter medications or other drugs.
  • A chronic illness.
  • A history of allergies.
  • Very young or advanced age.

If you are generally in good health and are not taking life-sparing medications, such as Coumadin or chemotherapy, you will find herbal medications to be remarkably safe and free of side effects.

When it comes to making herbal medicines, especially teas, most people are accustomed to using dried herbs. But we hope that you will enjoy working with the beautiful herbs that you grow and will include them in the recipes as fresh ingredients. Fresh herbs are the most potent and desirable form of these healing plants. When a herb is dried, it loses varying amounts of its active constituents, depending on how it was dried and how long it was stored before use. But when a herb is fresh and consumed directly from the earth, it is full of “earth Qi,” or healing energy. With herbs, as with food, the fresher the better.

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