Frequently Asked Questions
How do I determine the dose of tincture for a child?
You can use “Clark’s Rule” to figure out a safe tincture dose for a kiddo. Divide the child’s weight by 150. For example, if a child weighs 50 pounds, they would get 1/3 of the amount of an adult dose. If 20 drops are recommended for adults, about 6 drops can be given to a 50 pound child.
What is the best way to store herbs?
Herbal preparations will last longest if kept cool and dry, and away from direct sources of light, such as in a cupboard. (But not the one over your stove where it is quite warm and steam constantly rises.) Dried herbs can be kept in the bags they come in, or transferred to glass jars with lids. Dark colored glass is best if available, but not necessary. If you transfer herbs from their original packaging, remember to label them accurately. Tinctures come in darkened bottles, but still do best when kept from the light.
What is the shelf life for tinctures? For dried herbs?
When kept in appropriate conditions tinctures can easily last 10 years or longer (decades), since they are based in alcohol. Dried herbs usually hold up for a year or two. You can usually sense when the vitality is gone from the plant. Look for vivid color, and use your nose. Ideally, dried plants look just like they do when they are fresh and growing, minus the water.
How much alcohol is in a dose of tincture?
A typical dose of tincture (herbal alcohol extract) contains the same amount of alcohol as about 1/88 of a glass of wine, or what naturally exists in a ripened banana. If you are recovering from Alcohol Use Disorder or are clinically allergic to alcohol, it is best to avoid even the small amounts present in a dose of herbal tincture. If not, it’s such a small amount of alcohol, even very young children or very elderly people are usually able to safely use herbal tinctures.
What’s the deal with Comfrey?! And why is it in some of your products when the internet tells me to avoid it?
Comfrey has become a controversial plant in herbal medicine, mainly because of poorly conducted studies, and even worse reductionist thinking circulating on the Interwebs.
The short answer is: the basic issue with Comfrey is that some studies performed on laboratory animals ended with them sick with liver diseases; some so sick that they died. Comfrey plants contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which, for these studies, were isolated from the plant using chemical solvents, and then given in unnaturally occurring quantities to the animals, who then became ill. This is an example of a study which is taking the plant completely out of the context in which it has traditionally been used (and let’s not even get started on the totally unethical use of animals in laboratory studies!). These alkaloids are not present in those proportions in actual comfrey leaves used in teas, for example, when made with the whole leaf of a cultivated plant (and arguably may not even be metabolized when taken that way). Wild comfrey plants can have higher concentrations of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, even in the leaves, but in the cultivated variety they have largely been bred out.
Comfrey has a long history of use (over 2000 years, likely even longer) and has been held in high regard since antiquity as a very important plant in healing. Comfrey is not unlike the many millions of women burned at the stake for hundreds of years, for the crime of practicing crafts such as herbal medicine and midwifery. Feared and prosecuted, all while offering incredible healing.
It is best to avoid use of the comfrey root internally, the part of the plant where these alkaloids are more highly concentrated. The root can be used topically/externally quite safely, and is divine where broken bones or other like traumas are in need of mending. The leaves of the cultivated variety of the plant (Symphytum officinale) are considered quite safe by many herbalists to consume internally. The leaf of Symphytum officinale is the variety and part of the plant you’ll find in the Powerhouse Tea or Infusion from Village Herbals, while the root is found in our Skin Soother Salve.
There are some diverse opinions about this even within the herbal community. Please do your own research and make an informed decision about whether to use it, rather than take our word for it. As with the use of any plant medicine, or anything else, your body is the final authority. If you notice adverse effects when taking any herb, it is best to discontinue it immediately. This is just brief explanation to attempt to make a confusing topic a bit simpler to understand.
Can I still use up my Motherlode Infusion or Tea after I’ve had my baby? Or is it just for pregnancy?
Motherlode is made with herbs that can be great for people at any stage or phase of life, but it’s the most ideal blend for pregnancy. You can finish out your bag even after your baby is born, but don’t forget to check out our Mamma Mia Infusion, and switch to that for the best support, postpartum. After a couple of bags of Mamma Mia, for ongoing herbal nourishment as you nurse and work to replenish your lost nutrient stores, you can switch again to the Powerhouse Infusion.
Do you carry single bulk herbs?
Yes! They are not listed on the site for sale because of constant fluctuations in availability. But we have a wide variety! Please contact us to ask about the specific ones you are looking for. (Hint: if it’s an ingredient in any of our products, it’s likely we have it in stock for sale as a single, bulk herb.)
What is the difference between tea and infusion? Do I really need the bigger bag of herbs?
- Tea: A small amount of herb brewed for a shorter amount of time.
- Infusion: A larger amount of herb, brewed for a longer amount of time.
You will see that the same product may be sold in a smaller bag, and referred to as “tea,” while the larger bags are sold as “infusion.” Why is this? To make infusion, you need a larger proportion of herb to water. Typically about 1 cup, or a large handful of herbs is used for every quart of boiling water you pour over it, and it is steeped for 4-12 hours. With tea, a couple of tablespoons of dried herbs per 8 oz of water are brewed together for about 15 minutes or so.
The larger bags of Powerhouse, Fertili-Tea, Motherlode, Mamma Mia and Gut Repair should last a good while (3-4 weeks) and provide loads of nutrition, in addition to medicinal benefits. This means the cost breaks down to roughly a dollar a day. There is no harm in brewing the same blend as a tea, which is why we sell it that way, as well. Perhaps you want to try a smaller amount before you commit, or perhaps you prefer it as a tea. Tea will not extract as many of the nutritive aspects of the plant as infusion will, since a bulk amount, brewed for longer is required for that benefit.
How do I know which herbs to use?
If you aren’t sure which herbs to use, and the product description doesn’t answer your question, or if you think you might benefit from some more personalized guidance, a private herbal wellness consultation might be appropriate. If you turn to the internet for advice, beware of a lot of confusing and contradictory information. It is wise to look for herbal information that is actually written by an herbalist, in order to get practical insight, and avoid getting lost in a bunch of theory. There are many great herbal books out there, written by practicing herbalists. It is always wise to consult at least three different books (written by herbalists!) to learn about a given herb and it’s applications. Below you will find a list of such books.
What books do you recommend for learning about herbs?
Here are some of our faves for getting started learning about herbs. (Of course it’s difficult to limit this list to just these books, as there are so many great ones out there!)
- Energetic Herbalism by Kat Maier
- Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
- Anything by Rosemary Gladstar, but especially Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health and Herbal Healing for Women
- The Wise Woman collection: Healing Wise; Breast Cancer? Breast Health!; and Herbs for the Childbearing Year, Down There, and The New Menopausal Years, all by Susun Weed
- The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook by James Green
- The Male Herbal by James Green
- A Woman’s Book of Herbs by Elisabeth Brooke
- Anything by Matthew Wood, especially The Book of Herbal Wisdom and Earthwise Herbal
- Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee de la Floret
- Foraging and Feasting by Dina Falconi
- Discovering Wild Plants by Janice Schofield
- The Boreal Herbal by Beverley Gray
I want to harvest my own herbs. How do I begin?
- Make sure to positively identify any herb that you decide to collect from the wild yourself, and especially before ingesting it.
- Be very mindful of taking only what you need. Never take so much that you over-harvest an area. Leave 75% intact of any given stand of plants. Tread lightly!
- Always ask permission before harvesting on anyone’s land, and ask permission from the plant. Believe in the answer you hear, even if it’s just a faint feeling.
There are too many nuances to include in this brief answer, about when to harvest, what to harvest, and why. But a general guideline is to focus on the part of the plant that the plant is currently focused on, as this is where the most energy will be concentrated. For instance, the first green shoots in early spring; flowers, when the plant is in flower; seeds, when seeds are set, and roots, usually, though not always, in the fall when the energy is drawing down into the earth in preparation for winter dormancy.
Do I need to worry about herb-drug interactions?
Herbs can definitely interact negatively with certain medications, and this should be discussed with your health care provider. Common medications which have a high likelihood of being contraindicated with certain herbs include: hormonal birth control/oral contraceptives, SSRI medications and certain blood thinners. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Please use caution and understand risks. It is your responsibility to do your research and seek out safety information before using any herb or drug together.
Which of your herbs are sourced from the wild in Alaska?
The herbs collected from the wild for use in Village Herbals products are generally made into extractions (tinctures and salves), while the dried bulk herbs which comprise our teas, infusions and such are sourced from Certified Organic, Fair Trade sources, and whenever possible come from American herb farms. This is because we could never keep up with the amounts needed for our dried herbal products by growing or wild crafting ourselves.
Here is a list of some of the wild-crafted herbs we put in our tinctures and salves (this list is changeable and may not be exhaustive):
Red Raspberry Leaf