Use of Medicinal Plants

The active ingredients are found in certain anatomical structures of the medical plants, sometimes in the leaves, others in the roots, in the flowers, in the seeds or in the bark from which they must be extracted to be used.

In some cases, it is enough to eat the plant or part of it.
You should think about where you are going to act because it would be very painful in a wound.
But to administer a substance contained in a plant is not enough to consider where it is going to be applied, but its physical and chemical characteristics must be taken into account since, for example, many vitamins are destroyed by heat.

For temperature purposes, we must take into account:

HOT WATER: If we make a plant in boiling water, the soluble substances will pass from the plant to the water, but not all

COLDWATER: If we put the plant in cold water and heat it, all the soluble substances will be detached from the plant, in such a way that when it starts to boil, in the plant, there will no longer be any substance

TIP: To take advantage of the plant must be added to the boiling water, while if what we want to take advantage of is the liquid, we will throw all the ingredients in cold water.

Plant conservation

Once they are collected, and then dried, the process of plant conservation begins.
The conservation must be reduced to the minimum possible time.
If the drying has been done correctly, the plants can be saved until the following year.

A dry, cool and dark place should be found, with little difference in temperature.
The kitchen is not a good place since high temperatures are usually reached, even in winter, by keeping the kitchens lit.
A good place would be a ventilated basement, without humidity.

he plants can be cut, classified and labeled identifying the type of plant in question and stating the date, placed in stainless steel containers (stainless steel) or colored glass (amber or green) to prevent the passage of light and allow to see inside at all times, which can be noticed the presence of water droplets, a sign that the drying has not been correct.

The conservation of fresh plants should be reduced as much as possible because over time they lose their properties and aroma.

Desiccation of plants

Once we have collected the plants, we must act quickly to conserve the maximum amount of active substances of the plants.

First we must let them dry in the sun for a few hours (except plants that contain volatile scents).
The desiccation will be carried out in a ventilated and dry place, with the plants spread preferably hung, so that the air can circulate through in all directions.
DO NOT leave two different floors in contact

The roots and rhizomes should be washed with water to remove the soil and then left to dry in the sun so that moisture disappears from its surface. Then they will be cut into two-inch-thick pieces. They should be left to dry on the cartons, changing the position every day, they can even be exposed to the sun during the day and during the night to be kept to avoid the humidity of the dew in the morning.

The fleshy organs can be dried in a stove if the temperature is not exceeded by 40 degrees.

With the drying, the water is eliminated, which comprises approximately 80% of the weight of the fresh plant.

The drying will be finished when the leaves stop being wet to the touch and acquire a stiff consistency and break when trying to bend them.
The duration of the process will vary according to the type of plant. Usually, a week will suffice, although 15 days may be needed.

To know if a plant is well dried, place it inside a transparent plastic bag, close with two knots and wait a couple of days at least. If it still contains water, it will condense on the plastic in the form of small droplets visible to the naked eye.

There is no problem in following the process of desicaciĆ³n until it culminates.

Collection of plants

WHERE DO WE COLLECT THEM?

Preferably, plants should be collected where they develop spontaneously, instead of having a small medicinal garden at home, although the latter results with other benefits, such as an aromatic environment, the aesthetic function or the stimulus for its conservation and love of nature. In addition, if we plant useful herbs as a culinary condiment, we will have them constantly at our disposal.

It is important to calculate the amount we need, which does not have to match what we can find. On the other hand, we must limit ourselves to collecting the minimum necessary quantities. In no case should exceed the amount that we are going to use in a year because even in the best conditions of conservation each season should be replenished all herbs.

WHEN WE COLLECT THEM?

You have to choose the date and weather conditions and the time of day:

The date should be the first days of the collection period, in case it should be cancelled and the field trip should be left for another day.
Meteorological conditions: In order to prevent the madical plants from rotting, a dry day should be chosen, in which the sun shines, that has not rained the previous day and much better if it has not rained the previous week since in the absence of water the active principles They are much more concentrated.
The time of day should be either in the morning or at sunset.

The different parts of the medical plants will be collected according to the following:

– The roots are unearthed when it is not the period of vegetation that is to say in autumn or in spring.

– The bulbs are collected in autumn, after having matured the seeds, which is when the active substances accumulate in them.

– The stems are cut towards the end of autumn when the leaves have already lost their activity.

– The leaves are collected when they are in full development, before flowering, when the first buds appear.

– Flowers and flowering tops are cut at the beginning of their development before the petals spread and fertilization takes place.

– Fruits, both fleshy and dry, should be harvested at maturity, but before they begin to degrade.

– The seeds should wait to be picked when the fruit is fully ripe and the medical plant begins to wilt (if the fruit opens and drops the seeds, they can be collected from the soil).

– The bark can be removed throughout the year, but you have to choose trees or shrubs over three years, so as not to damage them.

HOW ARE THE PLANTS COLLECTED?

Pruning shears will always be used, the twigs will never be broken with the hands, because we will damage the plant, since in this way the tissues are torn.

A different bag should be prepared for each type of plant, and plastic bags will be rejected, since they give rise to the formation of moisture that activates putrefaction, besides it would be useless to choose the most appropriate time or a sunny day to avoid the humidity of the leaves if we then have to store the medical plant in a wet environment Ideal paper bags, or newspaper to wrap the plants one at a time.