A Lexicon of Plant Preparations: What’s What ~ 6.20.16

Happy Summer Solstice (at 6:34 EDST)!


 solstice roses

And, on Friday, St.Johannes , which is a special , more traditional midsummer point. I have a great recording, Baltic Runes that I love listening to, with the peculiar back and forth singing, some pieces sounding like things in nature, all variations of Nordic vernacular music in Estonia & Finland.

For sometime I’ve wanted to post a bit depicting various plant-based medicinal preparations, as I often hear confusion and misnaming when people work with them.

Here we go!

Essential Oils: the volatile, aromatic substance extracted from the plant’s blosso, leaf, root or see, usually via steam distillation, sometimes by solvent extraction. Absolutes are extracted by solvents, and are denser, truer scents. New methods include benign, hexane free solvents which render the extraction organically certified. CO2 extraction (carbon dioxide) is the newest method, and yields scents truest to the physical plant. Some C)2 oils are diluted in a carrier oil so they are easier to blend. In general, one wants to purchase undiluted, therapeutic grade eos from reliable sources.

Hydrosols: the plant-infused water that separates in the distiller during an eo extraction. Permeated with more subtle therapeutic properties and  differing aromatic effects than essentail oils, hydrosols, aka hydrolats or floral waters are NOT the same as flower essences. Beware “hydrosols” that are merely distilled water with essentail oil added to them.

Flower Essences: a non-fragrant, “passive’ aqueous extraction of a flower’s subtle healing forces. This is done by selecting blooms just about to open, then placing them in a bowl of purified water (not touching with hands through the whole process) in the sun, exposing them for 3-ish hours. This is to be done early in the morning (I like to begin at dawn) and finished before the “witching hour” which sets in around 11:00 and lasts to mid-afternoon. In the old days, no one would do planting or harvesting during this period, as the forces are just not good. In Biodynamics, we still follow this recommendation.

The flowers are strained out, and the water is preserved with alcohol, vinegar or  vegetable glycerine.

Herbal Tinctures: an extraction of plant parts in either 190 proof alcohol or vegetable glycerin, used in herbal medicine. Great way to “store” plants, as these solutions keep their powers longer than dried herbs. Also easier for some to take, rather than teas or herbal capsules.

Perfumery Tincture: a fragrant extraction of materials such as spices, ambergris, coffee, vanilla beans, African Stone Fruit, used in perfume making. 190 proof alcohol is used and sometimes the materials are ground first.

Homeopathy: a highly dilute preparation of plants, minerals, metals, even insects or animal parts, which is successed and potentized, so no material substance remains. Homeopathic remedies come in pellet or liquid/alcohol form. Highly therapeutic and effective when and only when, the correct remedy is chosen and the correct potency. This is an even more exacting medical  art than herbalism, aromatherapy or flower essences.Any questions

Oil Maceration/Infusion: by placing thoroughly dried, chopped plant material into suitable carrier oil (sunflower, olive, sesame…and we prefer organic oil!) and warming slightly awhile in a non-reactive pan OR, by placing in a sunny spot for several weeks, then decanting the infused oi into a clean jar. (The inimitable Rosemary Gladstar likes to remove the plant material after a few weeks and re-infuse with fresh vegetation).

solar infused oils

Any questions? Goodness, I didn’t even go into enfleurage!

Oh, and news…I now have a Facebook page for Tender Flower! Still having a bit of trouble posting to it, but hopefully will have that sorted out soon. The address is: facebook.com/tenderheartblossom











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