How To Infuse Oil With Herbs For Traditional Home Remedies

How To Infuse Oil With Herbs For Traditional Home Remedies

Wondering how to infuse oil with herbs? It’s really simple – and incredibly useful.

 

For millennia, humans have used herbs for all kinds of things – health, cooking, for religious purposes, keeping livestock healthy, and more. So, it’s nothing new to infuse oil with herbs for your own purposes.

 

And there’s a reason for our species dependency on our plant friends – herbs have natural properties in their essential oils that are useful for seasoning dinner and medicinal uses, such as calming an upset stomach.

 

When it comes to herbs, there’s various ways to use them such as eating or drinking them or applying topically – on yourself or your animals, including your backyard chickens.

 

To use herbs for things like cuts and scrapes, to promote healthy skin, as an anti-inflammatory, or more, you can apply the plants by themselves (there’s lot of traditional and historic records of humans using plants alone.)

 

OR you can infuse them in an oil, which makes the plants easier to spread over a large area and concentrates the natural chemical constituents of the plants.

 

How to infuse oil with herbs

 

You can also do other things with the infused oils, such as make lotions, salves, and more.

 

For your backyard chickens, using infused oils can be better than using the plants themselves. Chickens are less likely to pick at the oil and eat the plants, and it’s easier to keep oils on an animal that likes to run around and forage.

 

For complicated applications, such as open wounds, oil can make it easier to apply and “stick” the herbs, and get around folds of skin that might otherwise harbor bacteria.

 

Imagine trying to keep a bandage full of herbs on a hen! It CAN be done, but it’s just easier and better peace of mind with infused oils.

 

Infused oils also mean the essential oils of the plant – the part that helps the most – is more concentrated and bioavailable to your chickens.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you how to infuse oils with herbs…and we’ll use two GREAT medicinal herbs – comfrey (botanical name Symphytum uplandicum) and plantain (botanical name Plantago major).

 

Both have a long history of helping maintain healthy skin, regrow skin after injury, reduce pain from sprain, strains, and more.

 

Multiple studies have shown that comfrey aids in relieving pain from sprains and strains, and you can easily use oil infused with comfrey to make salves.

 

Now, there’s plantain the herb (botanical name Plantago major, also known as broadleaf plantain) and plantain the fruit (banana cultivars of the genus Musa) – they’re two different species of plants with nothing to do with each other. 

 

The plantain we’ll use in this recipe (Plantago major) is a traditional home remedy for insect bites and as an anti-inflammatory.

 

how to infuse oils with herbs

What oils should you use?

There’s lots of options here. The easiest oil to use is a high quality olive, although you can use sunflower, grapeseed (which has lots of antioxidants and vitamins), jojoba, coconut oil (fractionated or not) or any other oil you can imagine.

 

I would stay away from corn oil, which is likely to be impure and genetically modified, and anything with soy. I’m also not 100% sure how well peanut oil will work.

 

The key is to use a 100% pure, high-quality oil.

 

How to infuse oils with herbs

This is probably the simplest thing you’ll do all week. To get the benefits of the herbs in the oils, all you need to do is soak the herbs in your oil of choice.

 

I use mason jars to infuse oils with herbs because they’re easy to clean, keep on a shelf out of sunlight, and are readily available.

 

Place the herbs in the mason jar – for this recipe I used a 1:1 ratio of comfrey and plantain, about ½ a cup of each. For a pint mason jar, 1 cup of herbs total is what I use – that way, the oil soaks all the bits of plant and nothing molds or invites bacteria into the mixture.

 

As long as the herbs are covered in oil, they won’t mold, but if any air pockets remain, there’s the potential for them to rot.

 

Pour the oil over the herbs until the jar is full, then top with a mason jar lid.

 

Allow the mixture to infuse for up to 6 weeks. Realistically, you can do it for much longer than that, but you’ll want to use the mixture as fast as possible and in my experience, any longer than that has diminishing returns.

 

After 6 weeks, pour the mixture through a mesh strainer and into a clean mason jar to separate the oil from the herbs. Your infused oil is now ready for other recipes!

 

Depending on the herbs you’ve infused (calendula is one of my favorites!) you can also cook with this oil or use it as a salad dressing.

 

What herbs can you infuse oil with?

Pretty much any herb you want. A great alternative to plantain and comfrey are oregano and, as mentioned before, calendula and rose, which have great properties to promote healthy skin.

Comfrey Salve For Chickens: Oh So Effective For First Aid

Comfrey Salve For Chickens: Oh So Effective For First Aid

Comfrey salve with oregano is really easy to make, and it’s one of those home remedies that should be in your natural first aid kit.

 

It’s simple to whip up in just 30 minutes (and I mean literally whip up – once you have your ingredients assembled, it’s just about melting and stirring) but you’ll doubtlessly find a multitude of uses for it.

 

It’s fly season here, which means lots of bites, so we’re battling itchy pigs that are scratching their ears bloody.

 

We’ve also got hens that have been overly bothered by roosters, and they could use a little extra TLC.

 

what herbs can chickens eat content upgrade-min

 

When it comes to comfrey salve, I like making it not just with comfrey plant, but also with oregano leaves. While comfrey has anti-inflammatory properties, the oregano has antibacterial properties that double the healing punch of the salve.

 

The choice is up to you, though. You can make it comfrey alone, or combine it with your favorite herbs or plants to create your own homemade product.

 

What is comfrey?

 

If you’ve never heard of comfrey, its scientific name is Symphytum officinale, and it is native to Europe and parts of Asia.

 

It grows 12 inches to five feet tall, and has green leaves and purple flowers. It’s a spring and summer plant, and grows well in full sun.

 

comfrey salve with oregano

 

Easy to establish, comfrey is one of those plants that will regenerate—in fact, once you grow it, good luck getting rid of it.

 

A lot of people grow comfrey because it’s sublime for compost piles, and helps yield rich, nutritious soil.

 

Note, though, if you want to use comfrey for its natural medicinal purposes in a salve, you should harvest the leaves before the plant flowers.

 

You can also use dried comfrey, which you can purchase here.

 

Why is comfrey salve with oregano so useful?

 

Although comfrey salve has been proven to successfully treat sprains, strains, and inflammation in people, for a backyard chicken owner, comfrey salve is excellent to help your chickens heal from a rash, skin irritation, or inflammation.

 

In studies, comfrey sped up the healing time.

 

Oregano has long been known to have antibacterial properties – in fact, researchers have been studying oregano essential oils as a way to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

 

One benefit is that while it’s natural, comfrey salve with oregano also has no withdrawal times, so if you do need to use it, you can still eat your hen’s eggs.

 

A word of warning

 

Before we continue, let’s address a myth I see on the internet and in Facebook groups a lot.

 

I see advice out there to feed comfrey to your chickens.

 

I don’t agree with this advice.

 

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are poisonous chemicals that are known to cause liver damage.

 

So, experts recommend to only use comfrey externally, and to not allow your pets or chickens to ingest it.

 

So, a comfrey salve is okay, but feeding it to your chickens isn’t the best idea.

 

Ok, so how do I make a salve my chickens won’t eat?

 

Without a doubt, if you put something in front of them, chickens will try to eat it. 

 

So it’s important to create a comfrey salve that can be blended into the skin.

 

This is easily achieved using something like coconut oil, which has a lower melting point than other fats (more on this in a minute).

 

 

How to make comfrey salve

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup organic coconut oil (where to buy) (you can also use grapeseed oil which has natural antioxidant benefits)

1/4 cup organic beeswax (where to buy)

1/4 cup dried comfrey (where to buy)

1/4 cup dried oregano (where to buy)

 

Tools:

Non-reactive pot

Mason jars (where to buy) or salve tins (where to buy)

Fine mesh strainer

 

It’s best to start with a comfrey oregano infusion (more about this below), but if you don’t have a lot of time, you can fast-track the infusion.

 

I’ve done this before, and it works out fine.

 

For these directions, I’m going to assume you’re fast-tracking the infusion.

 

First, melt the coconut oil over low heat.

 

When melted, combine the comfrey and oregano in your non-reactive pot with the coconut oil.

 

Place the mixture over low heat until the coconut oil has turned dark green. This indicates that the healing oils from the comfrey and oregano have been leeched.

 

Don’t heat the oil until boiling, just warm it.

 

This takes about an hour, but it might take more. 

 

Strain out the herbs until the melted coconut oil is free of particulates (if there’s some still in there, it’s okay, just do your best).

 

In a clean non-reactive pot, combine the infused coconut oil with the beeswax, and return to the heat.

 

(The coconut oil melts at 77 degrees, so combining it with the beeswax means it’s a little more stable, and won’t turn into mush in warmer weather).

 

Continue to warm until the mixture until all the beeswax is melted, stirring every so often to make sure it’s completely combined.

 

Transfer to a clean mason jar or container, and allow to cool until completely solidified.

 

Once hardened, you can start using the comfrey salve on your backyard chickens or other livestock.

 

How to make a comfrey oregano infusion

 

Combine a half cup of comfrey and oregano (fresh or dried) into 1 cup of grapeseed oil (which I love for its natural healing properties) or olive oil, and let steep for 2 weeks or so. After 2 weeks, strain the comfrey and oregano leaves from the oil.

 

While there’s a lot of steps, when you’re actually making the comfrey salve with oregano, it’s not very hard. If you can melt, stir, and pour, you’re pretty much set.

 

[Comfrey photo by Finchj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

 

Resources:

Nancy Bubel. “Growing and Using Comfrey Leaves.” Mother Earth News, May/June 1974, accessed June, 22, 2016

University of Maryland Medical Center. “Comfrey.” Accessed June 21, 2016.

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you think you’ll try to make comfrey salve with oregano? Leave a comment below!