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Methods of Botanical Preparation

There are many methods of botanical preparation and prescription. The clinic has a wide variety of botanical preparations available. The naturopathic doctor will select the best method of preparation and prescription for you depending on the nature of your case.

Several types of botanical preparations are listed below:


  • Decoctions are usually made from roots, stem, bark, and berries of the plant but sometimes consists of leaves and flowers.
  • Decoctions involve simmering the components of plants in boiling water therefore dissolving the plants in water.
  • volatile oils and other substances in the plant must be simmered in order for them to be released into the water.
  • decoctions can be taken hot or cold depending on the case.


  • Infusing a herb in oil allows its active fat-soluble ingredients to be extracted into the solution.
  • Hot infused oils are simmered in oil.
  • Cold infused oils are heated naturally by the sun.
  • Infusions can be added as massage oils or added to creams and ointments.
  • Infusions are weak solutions and are usually used for topical treatments.


  • Tinctures are made by soaking a herb in water with an ethanol (alcohol) extract which encourages the active plant constituents to dissolve.
  • The percent of alcohol depends on the amount of herb being used (from 10-15% to 95% alcohol).
  • Alcohol and water makes the solvent easily absorbed when the mixture is ingested by the patient.
  • The ratio of herb to solution ranges from 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 to 1:5 depending on the type of the botanical used.
  • Tinctures can be used away from foods or with foods to stimulate digestive function.
  • Tinctures have a relatively stronger action than infusions or decoctions.
  • Tinctures have a long shelf life and can last for years.

Fluid Extract

  • Fluid extracts are made by a process of doubling an extract from a prepared tincture.
  • Fluid extracts are made by taking the menstrum concentrate from the first tincture of herb in alcohol solution and adding a second tincture using the menstrum extract from the first tincture.
  • This doubles the strength of the first tincture.
  • The process can be repeated again and again each time increasing tincture potency making these preparations very strong.

Solid Extract

  • In a solid extract the substance end product has the consistency of molasses with more solid than liquid.
  • Solid extracts are very potent in their effect and do not need to be used in large amounts.


  • Honey and un-refined sugar are effective preservatives and can be combines with infusions or decoctions to make syrups and cordials.
  • Syrups have the additional benefit of having a soothing action and therefore make a perfect preparation technique for cough mixtures, immune stimulants as well as relieving sore throats.


  • Ointments contain oils or fats heated with botanicals and unlike creams contain no water.
  • Ointments form a separate layer on the skin and can protect against injury and inflammation.
  • Ointments can carry medicinal constituents such as essential oils into the body when applied topically.
  • Ointments are good for areas which need protection from moisture such as chapped lips and diaper rash or eczematous irritated skin.


  • Poultices are mixtures of fresh, dried, or powdered herbs and is applied topically to an affected area.
  • Poultices are used to ease nerve and muscle pains, strains, sprains or broken bones.
  • Poultices can also draw pus from infected wounds, ulcers, and boils.
  • Poultices can be applied as a suppository and react with body temperature to become active and work on mucous membranes of the body.
  • Some herbs are dissolved into the small intestine, however suppositories are used to apply the herb topically to the affected area.

Dried or Cut Herbs

  • Dried or cut herbs are difficult to be absorbed into the body as they are not in solution or dissolved making them insoluble.
  • Dried or cut herbs need to be digested and must be taken with food so digestive enzymes are already active.
  • Dried herbs are usually used for flavoring in foods and soups and are rarely used in this form for medicinal purposes.