My region, the Val d’Hérens in the Swiss Alps, is a very specific biosphere with an
amazing variety of plants, many of them medicinal herbs. The more I learn about these herbs, the more I want to use them. The easiest ways to employ medicinal herbs are to either dry them and use them for herbal infusions, or to make herbal oils.
For herbal oils you can use either the plants’ leaves or flowers – or both – and add ecological oil. If I can get hold of it, I prefer to use almond oil, otherwise sesame oil works well. Both these oils have a discreet smell and good qualities for the skin.
You should pick leaves or flowers for herbal oils at midday, because then the amount of etheric oils in the plants is the highest. The flowers are used as they are, but if you use the leaves you should rinse them and let them dry thoroughly. Then “crush” the leaves between your hands or chop them, which allows them to better let off their beneficial components. Fill the leaves or flowers into a small, sterilized glass jar and cover them with the oil of your choice. Put a lid on the jar and let it stand in a sunny place for a month, shaking it every other day to allow the oil to really penetrate the herbs.
After four weeks filter off the plant remnants and fill the oil into small, sterilized bottles, best if made of coloured glass since the contents are sensitive to sunlight. Then store your bottles in a cool, shaded place, e.g. in the refrigerator.
I have used the following plants for herbal oils:
• Lavender is said to have a calming and relaxing effect, and to be good to cure insect bites. It is very suitable as a massage oil.
• Peppermint has a cooling effect. This is also suitable as a massage oil, but can also be used in the kitchen (enhance your tabbouleh with it!)
• St.John’s wort oil is good for burns and bruises and relieves muscle tension.
• Arnica oil treats muscle ache or rheumatic pain, and is efficient to treat insect bites.
• Rosemary When used as massage oil or diluted in a bath, it can relieve aches, cramps, or a stiff neck. In the kitchen it can enhance your salad or certain pasta dishes.
Nature’s healing power is immense, and being able to tap into a part of it feels wonderful.
I don’t know how much of the positive effect of herbal oils is due to the famous placebo effect, but I don’t really care. I trust in the knowledge of our ancestors who already used them – and on top of that I simply enjoy what nature is giving me.