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 Integrative Medicine: Preparing Herbal Treatments 

Place a steamer, colander, strainer, or sieve over a pot of rapidly boiling water. Layer either chopped fresh or dried herbs in the steamer, reduce the heat to a simmering temperature, and cover the pot. Allow the steam to thoroughly penetrate and wilt the herbs.

After about five minutes, spread the softened and warmed herbs on a clean white, loosely woven cloth, such as cheesecloth, and apply * to the affected area. To hold in the heat, you may overwrap the poultice in a woolen cloth or a towel. The poultice should remain in place for at least twenty minutes, and/or for as long as your child will sit still. If your child feels comforted and soothed by the poultice, you may leave it on overnight.

Herbal Tinctures
Tinctures employ alcohol to draw out and preserve the active properties of an herb. Because tinctures concentrate the essence of herbs, they are commonly taken as drops in tea, or diluted in spring water. Tinctures may also be used in a compress or body massage.

To prepare an herbal tincture at home, loosely fill a glass bottle or jar with herbal parts. If you are using fresh herbs, scissor them into manageable pieces. If you are using dried herbs, crumble them into the container. Add pure spirits, such as vodka, to cover the herbs. Seal the container and allow the tincture to stand in a warm place (between 70° and 80°F) for two weeks. While you are waiting for the tincture to mature, shake the container daily. After two weeks, strain out the herbs and squeeze out the residue.

To remove some of the alcohol from a tincture before giving it to your child, add the suitable number of drops of tincture to 1/4 cup of very hot water or tea. Most of the alcohol will evaporate away in about five minutes.

Herbal Vapor Inhalation Treatment
An herbal inhalation treatment is very helpful for respiratory and sinus conditions. It opens up congested sinuses and lung passages, helping your child to discharge mucus, breathe more easily, and heal taster.

Fill your bathroom sink with very hot water and add 2 to 5 drops of herbal oil. To keep the water hot and steaming, allow a small, continuous trickle of hot water to flow into the basin (the overflow outlet in your sink should prevent the water from spilling over). Have your child inhale the steam for at least five minutes. As the treated water becomes diluted, add a few more drops of herbal oil as needed.

If it is not feasible to use the bathroom sink for this purpose, or if you are using dried or whole herbs, use a pot of water heated on the stove to prepare an inhalation treatment. Fill a pot "preferably one that is wide but not too tall) with water. If using whole or dried herbs, add a small handful, heat the water to boiling, and simmer for about five minutes. Then remove the pot from the heat, place it on a hot pad or trivet on a tabletop, and allow it to cool slightly. If using herbal oil, heat the water to just short of boiling, remove it from the heat, place it on a tabletop, and add 4 to 5 drops of the oil. Have your child drape a large towel over his head, forming a tent, and lean over the pot. Have him inhale the steam for at least five minutes. (Be careful that the mixture is not too hot; if it is, it can burn the nasal passages.)

To help clear lung congestion, encourage your child to take several deep, full breaths of air after an inhalation treatment.

(Excerpted from Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child ISBN: 1583331395)
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 About The Author
Janet Zand LAc, OMDJANET ZAND, O.M.D., L.Ac. is a nationally respected author, lecturer, practitioner and herbal products formulator whose work has helped thousands of people achieve better health....more
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