If you read the post earlier this week on how to make your own herbal supplements, you may be wondering about the powdered herbs that go inside the gel capsules. In that post, I talked about simply ordering your powdered herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, but there is another way that is both easy and economical: simply powder them yourself. Herbs tend to lose their efficacy quicker when they are powdered, so doing it yourself only as you need them will help preserve your herbs over time as well.
- If you grow your own herbs, simply harvest, dry, and store them for later use. Make sure that your herbs are completely dried before storing. If they are brittle enough to crumble easily, they should be good. Any moisture left in the plants will cause them to rot. This is the most economical way of getting your dried and powdered herbs.
- If you don’t grow your own herbs, you can still order them from a sustainable source like Mountain Rose Herbs in dried form instead of powdered. In the example that I used the other day, you may choose to make some Echinacea herbal supplements, but perhaps you’d like to have the herbs on hand to make an infusion as well. By ordering your herbs dried, you can do both!
- In order to powder your dried herbs, you have a few tool options. The folk method is tried and true and is certainly a connection with herbalism’s roots: the mortar and pestle. I will say this, though, as nostalgic as the mortar and pestle is, it’s also a lot of work. I actually prefer to use a modern tool: a coffee grinder. Some people like using their food processor, Vitamix, or Magic Bullet, but I only powder small amounts of herb at a time and find that a coffee grinder works perfectly. Here’s a tip: Keep a coffee grinder specifically for herbal use. You wouldn’t want your morning cup of coffee to taste like lavender or your lavender massage oil to smell like coffee! I got a brand new one from a thrift store for just a few dollars. You don’t need anything fancy, in fact, this one is only $10 on Amazon and I’m sure it would work just fine.
- Simply add some of your dried herb material to your grinder of choice and either add some elbow grease (if using the mortar and pestle) or press a button. Whizz until your herbs are a fine powder. It shouldn’t take long to grind herbs down, but spices and bark will take a little more time or effort. Make sure you allow your grinder’s motor to rest, if need be. Once you’re happy with the consistency of your herbs, let the powder settle before you open your grinder, otherwise, you’ll have an herb cloud escape. Make sure you clean your grinder well after each use.
That’s it! Easy, huh? One of the benefits of making your own herbal supplements that I neglected to mention the other day was that by doing it yourself, you have absolute control over what goes into them. Some companies include fillers, additives, and preservatives. Seems kind of silly when it’s so simple to make your own herbal concoctions.
Powdered herbs are also used a lot in cooking; such as garlic powder, turmeric, garam masala, or cinnamon. Other herbal medicinal applications include poultices, salves, extracts, and liniments.