10 unique forms of herbal medicine that are effective. Herbal medicine comes in many forms.  So lets have a look at the types of herbal medicine you might have at home right now or in the future. Herbal medicine comes in the form of herbal infusions, herbal decoctions, herbal capsules, herbal tablets, freeze dried herbs, herbal tinctures, fluid extracts, herbal glycerinates, herbal syrups and essential oils.

Herbal infusions

Infusions are the simplest and most ancient of herbal preparations, sometimes called herbal teas. They can be made with fresh or dried herbs, in tea bags or loose. Normally one teaspoon of herb per cup of boiling water will work. Herbal infusions are a good replacement for black tea or coffee. They can be absorbed better than dried herbs, tablets or capsules. The disadvantage is that relatively large amounts are required for therapeutic effects.

Photo by Tom O’ Brien


The harder parts of plants, the roots, seeds, dried berries and bark that need to be boiled in water and simmered for 20 minutes to extract the medicinal properties. One of my favourite decoctions is valerian root. While you have to take out a pot and take your time decoctions are well worth the time you spend making them. You will end up with powerful medicines that can last for days.


Capsules, containing dried herbs, mostly in powdered form represent the majority of herbal products sold today. They are easy to take and transport and need no preparation. They maintain their freshness well and are convenient to carry around during the day. Try to avoid capsules that contain chemically treated gelatine, so opt for veggie-caps only.


Tablets are made by compressing the ground, powdered herb and adding binders and coating to make them stable.

Free-dried herbs

A new development is to use freeze dried herbs. As with foods, they are made by subjecting herbs to freezing, followed by evaporation at low pressure. This preserve the pain in a non-alcoholic form.


Tinctures are made by dissolving an herbal substance in alcohol, which extracts both its both water soluble and fat soluble components. After sitting for up to two weeks, the resulting solution has a concentration of approximately 1 part plant to 9 parts alcohols (1:10 ratio).

herbal medicine for pain

Fluid extracts

Fluid extracts are made by removing the alcohol from a tincture, making if far more concentrated, usually 1:1. This can done by low temperature methods.


Another innovation is the use of glycerine instead of alcohol. This is very useful for pets, children or the elderly or cancer patients. The taste is improved and they may be flavoured more easily this way.


Syrups are made by adding honey or sugar to tinctures or extracts, typically for cough or sore throat or colds. They may contain significant amounts of alcohol. They are palatable and east to take.

Essentail oils

Oils are heat distilled from plants or removed by cold extraction. They are mixed with vegetable oil or water and used as an inhalant, douche, or added to an eyewash are drops, mouthwash, massage oil or to teat cuts and abrasions.



Herbal Remedies by Asa Hershoff and Andrea Rotelli

Ayurveda and the Mind by David Frawley

Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman