Making Herbal Preparations
by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa for a class in the Society for Creative Anachronism
Oils * Ointments * Infusions * Decoctions *
Syrups * Lohocs * Tinctures * Wines * Vinegars * Poultices & Plasters
* Compresses or Fomentations * Troches
Oils can be made in several manners. Essential oils are made by various types
of extraction; we won't consider them here. Infused oils, in which the 'essence'
of the botanical is extracted into a carrier oil by infusion, are most commonly
used in period medicine. One can also add the extracted essential oils to
a carrier oil.
The most common carrier oil used in period appears to have been olive oil.
Other kinds of carrier oils, such as sweet almond, canola, linseed, hempseed,
poppyseed, were probably also used in period depending on availability and
budget. Modern oils such as soy can also be used: consult a good book on
herbal preparations or cosmetics to pick an oil. Additives such as lanolin,
glycerin and vitamin E are not period but can help the oil keep and improve
NOTE: due to problems with botulism in garlic/oil mixtures, the US Dept.
of Agriculture recommends that herbal oils for internal consumption
be made fresh (via heat infusion) and any leftovers refrigerated immediately,
and used or discarded within 24 hours.
Infused Oils can be either hot-infused or cold-infused. Cold-infused oils
take much longer to produce than hot-infused oils, but retain better quality.
- Fill a jar with the botanicals you want to use. You may want to grind
or crush spices and cut up or bruise herbs in an mortar & pestle first.
It should be full but not too tightly packed, as you don't want it to get
- Pour over it as much oil as will cover completely. Use a stainless
steel knife or chopstick to poke the mixture for bubbles. Close it up tightly.
Set it on a sunny windowsill, on top of a radiator, or in another warm place,
for several weeks.
- It should steep for between 2 and 3 weeks, or until the oil
has acquired a pronounced taste and smell of the herb. At that point, strain
it through a piece of muslin, jellybag, or muslin 'cheesecloth' bag (don't
use coffee filters; they break!). Squeeze the oil through the cloth to get
most of it.
- Refill the jar with more of the botanicals, add the oil back in, and
steep again. At the end of several weeks, strain again.
- You can repeat the process multiple times as necessary to get the
right strength of oil
- Adding a drop of preservative resin, such as tincture of benzoin,
liquid benzoin resin, or tincture of myrrh, will help it keep its savor.
- Mix about the botanicals and the oil (between 1 part botanical to 2
parts oil, and 1:1) either in the top of a double boiler (enamel or stainless
steel), or in a ceramic bowl floating shallowly in a Crockpot.
- Heat on medium (for a stove) or high (in a crockpot) for 3 to 4 hours,
until the herbs become burnt and crispy looking.
- Strain into another container (you can cool it first, if you can't
get the bowl out of the crockpot!) through muslin, or a jellybag. You can
repeat the heating process with more botanicals if the oil doesn't seem strong
Essential Oils in a Base Oil
Store all oils in a cool dark place, in clean, closely-sealed bottles or
- Fill a clean jar or bottle with the base oil you are using.
- Add the essential oils drop by drop. (I use up to 15 drops of essential
oil to 2 oz of base; Colleen Dodt in The Essential Oils Book suggests
2 to 5 drops essential oil to 1 tsp carrier oil, but that's a bit strong for
- Close the jar or bottle tightly and shake to distribute the oils
- Allow to sit overnight to let the oils blend. Shake before using.
Gervase Markham's English Housewife gives a number of recipes
for infused oils in his chapter "Of Physical Surgery" in The English Housewife.
Here are two examples:
"To make oil of camomile, take a quart of sallat oil and put it
into a glass, then take a handful of camomile and bruise it, and put it into
the oil, and let them stand in the same twelve days, only you must shift
it every three days, that is to straight it from the old camomile and put
in as much of the new. . . "
"To make an oil which shall make the skin of the hands very smooth, take
almonds and beat them to oil, then take whole cloves and put them both together
into a glass, and set it in the sun five or six days; then strain it, and
with the same anoint your hands every night when you go to bed, and otherwise
as you have convenient leisure."
John French's Art of Distillation (1651) says:
"OIL OF JASMINE IS MADE THUS
Take of flowers of jasmine as many as you please, and put them into as
much sweet mature oil as you please. Put them into a glass close stopped,
and set them into the sun to be infused for the space of 20 days. Then take
them out and strain the oil from the flowers and, if you would have the oil
yet stronger, put in new flowers and do as before. This is a pleasant perfume
and being mixed with oils and ointments gives them a grateful smell. It is
also used in the perfuming of leather. After this manner may be made oil
of any flowers. "
Ointments can either be made by adding a fats/waxes to infused oils, or by
heating the botanicals in certain fats. Essential oils can also be added to
fats or combinations of oils and fats/waxes.
Lard, Vegetable shortening, cocoa butter, or commercial ointment bases can
be used to make ointments. The most common ointment bases in period would
have been animal fats, such as lard. Certain kinds of vegetable fats that
are solid at room temperature might also have been used. Petroelum jelly,
while not period, is sometimes used by modern herbalists. The choice of a
base should depend on the purpose: items with petroleum products will be
absorbed less well into the skin than those with vegetable or animal fats.
Note: you can also melt the ointment and whisk in essential oils.
- Measure the amount of fat you wish to use into a pan, preferably in
a double boiler; or use a bowl in a crockpot as described for oils.
- Heat the fat on medium-low or low until liquified.
- Add the botanicals. (Ody suggests 500 g of ointment base to 60 g.
dried herb; I suggest 1 part dried herb to 3-4 parts base, and 1 part fresh
herb to 1 to 2 parts base). Stir them in completely.
- Heat on medium low for 2 to 3 hours or until the herbs are crisp.
- Strain out through a piece of muslin or a jellybag-- one you can dispose
of! (Coffee filters will NOT work).
- Pour quickly into suitable containers and allow to cool.
The Herbal Body Book, by Stephanie Tourles, suggests a recipe for
scented cold cream which is 1 part fluid oil to 4 parts shortening, with
1 drop each of tincture of benzoin and an essential oil.
Oil & Beeswax
Though paraffin wax is much cheaper than beeswax, it is not absorbed as well
into the skin. (Paraffin was discovered in 1830.) The proportion of oil to
wax can vary depending on how thick and waxy you want the result. (In cold
climates, use less wax; in warm climates, use more wax.)
I have found that any more than 1 part wax to 4 parts oil makes something
along the lines of hard lip salve. Suzanna the Herbalist of the Steppes suggests
one part wax to 5 parts oil.
Iasmin de Cordoba provided this helpful chart for quantities that she has
worked out for a medium-hard balm. She notes that additives can drastically
change the quality of your ointment.
|How Much Oil You Have
||How Much Wax You Add
(According to Iasmin, 6 tsp of melted wax just about fills
a standard ice cube tray compartment)
All ointments last longer when kept in a cool dry place. Fat-based ointments
should generally be kept under refrigeration. Generally, use within 6 months
to a year. Over time, development of 'bloom' or discoloration make indicate
contamination: discard immediately!
- Melt the wax in a double boiler or a can or jar in a pan of water (don't
expect to be able to use the top pan, jar or can for anything but wax!)
- When the wax is melted, remove from heat and slowly pour in the oil,
stirring continously with a cheap whisk
- If it starts to separate, move it back into the hot water bath and
whisk vigorously until incorporated.
- Remove from heat, cover and let set.
- If the ointment turns out to be too squishy or too hard when cool,
you can remelt it in a water bath and add more wax or oil.
An example of a wax-hardened ointment:
From the Widowes Treasure, printed by Edward Alde for Edward White 1588 at London.
To make the Oyntment of Roses
Take oyle of roses foure ounces, white waxe one ounce, melte them together
over seething water, then chafe them together with Rosewater and a little
Infusions are created by soaking the botanicals in a liquid. Generally the
term is used to indicate steeping the botanicals in hot water, i.e., what
we call a tea or tisane.
Store unused portion in the refrigerator.
- In a teapot, glass jar, or glass or ceramic bowl, place 1-2 tsp of
botanical to each cup of water. (More for weak herbs, less for strong).
- Heat the correct quantity of water to boiling.
- Pour the water over the herbs.
- Leave to steep 3-5 minutes for a tea, 15-30 minutes for a bath or
- Use hot or cool.
A decoction is a tea-like liquid made by boiling your herbs/spices/botanicals
in water (rather than steeping them in water that has already boiled). Modernly,
decoctions are primarily made with 'tough' substances such as barks or roots.
- In a ceramic or stainless steel pot, combine water with an appropriate
amount of the herbs/spices (Ody suggests 30 g dried or 60 g fresh botanical
to 750 ml). Using the same proportions as if you were making a tea (6 or 8
parts of water to 1 of botanical) seems to work best for me.
- Bring the water to a boil, and boil 15 minutes (for fresh or every
aromatic ingredients) to half an hour (dried ingredients).
- Strain the liquid through a strainer or cloth; add sweetener if desired
for internal consumption.
- Pour into a clean, hot jar and close tightly.
- Some decoctions are used hot; others are cooled and used cold. Decoctions
will keep, refrigerated, about 3-6 days.
Syrups are made by boiling infusions, decoctions, or juices with sugar or
honey. They can be taken alone by the teaspoonful, added to food, or mixed
with water as a julep.
Simple syrup of sekanjabin
- In a glass, ceramic, enamel or stainless steel pot, mix the juice,
decoction, or infusion with honey or sugar: 1 part juice/infusion to 1 part
honey, or 1 part juice infusion to 1 to 1.5 parts sugar. (For a light syrup,
you can use as little as 1 part sugar to 2 parts liquid.)
- Heat to a simmer. Strong syrups can be simmered to reduce by 1/3 to
1/2, but oils will be lost.
- Pour into a clean bottle and cap tightly.
- Strong sugar/honey syrups (reduced by 1/2) can often be stored in
the cupboard; but others should be stored under refrigeration or canned.
Two period recipes for syrups, from Plat's Delightes for Ladies, printed
- Mix 4 cups of sugar with 2.5 cups of water in a ceramic, glass, enamel
or stainless steel pan.
- Bring to a boil.
- When it has boiled, add 1 cup vinegar.
- Boil until reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.
- At this point you can add mint or other food botanicals.
- Remove from heat. If you have added botanicals, leave to steep overnight,
then strain in the morning.
- Place in a tightly capped jar. Fruit sekanjabins must be refrigerated;
plain ones are generally safe to store in a cupboard.
A most excellent sirup of Violets, both in taste and tincture.
Expresse the juyce of clipt Violets, and to three parts of juyce
take one fourth part of conduit water: put the same into an Alabaster mortar,
with the leauves which you have stamped, and wring the same out thorow a
cloth, as you did at first, into the other juyce: put thereto a sufficient
proportion of the finest sugar and brought also into a most fine powder:
let the same stand 10 or 12 hours in a cleane glased earthen pan: then drain
away the cleerest, and put it into a glasse, and put thereto a a few drops
of the iuice of Lemmons, and it wil become cleer, transparent, and of the
violet colour. Then you may expresse more iuyce into the sugar, which will
settle in the bottome, with some of the thickest part of the iuyce: and beating
the same up a gentle fire, it will also become a good sirup of violets, but
not comparable to the first. By this manner of work you gaine one quarter
of sirup, more than diuerse Apothecaries doe.
A Singular manner of making the sirup of Roses.
Fill a siluer Bason three quarters full of rain-water or Rose-water:
put therein a conuenient proportion of Rose-leaues: couer the bason and set
it upon a pot of hot water (as we usually bake a custard) in 3 quarters of
an houre, or one whole houre at the most, you shal purchase the whole strength
and tincture of the rose: then take out those leaues, wringing out all their
liquor gently, and steepe more fresh leaues in the same water: continue this
iteration seuen times., and then make it vp in a sirup: and this sirup worketh
more kinly than that which is made meerly of the iuice of the Rose. You may
make sundry other sirups in this manner.
A lohoc aka linctus is something to be licked up, esp. for coughs and chest
complaints.Generally they are thick sugar or honey syrups. Culpepper suggests
using a liquorice stick to administer lohocs.
Make an infusion or decoction of the herb(s) in water. Mix it 2 to 1 with
sugar. Heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Boil until reduced by
1/2 to 2/3, or to a thick syrup. Store in the proverbial cool dark place.
Tinctures are made by soaking the botanicals/herbs/spices in some cold liquid,
generally alcohol. What you are doing is extracting the essential oils of
the botanical into the liquid.
Generally, modern tinctures are made by soaking the botanicals in vodka,
brandy or 'grain alcohol'. (Rubbing Alcohol, Denatured Alcohol
and Industrial Alcohols are poisonous. Do not use these for internal consumption.
Vodka is cheap and has little odor-- it's best to use a potable alcohol for
all preparations if you can. For EXTERNAL USE ONLY, some places sell a perfume
diliutent that has denatured alcohol and glycerin and is legal for under-21s
to use for perfumes, etc. ) Spices may need to be broken, bruised or macerated
Making of an alcoholic tincture is the first step to making a cordial or
To make a cordial, add sugar syrup, honey or liquid sweetener to taste.
- Place the botanicals to be tinctured in a jar with a tight-fitting
lid. Ody suggests tincturing in a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part alcohol
and mixing 1 liter of this with 200 g dried or 600 g fresh herb. I
generally use enough of fresh herbs to fill the jar loosely to the desired
level, or about 1/4 that much of the dried stuff, or of fruit.
- Pour the alcohol over it the botanicals to cover and/or fill the jar.
Close the lid tightly.
- For optimum color and flavor, place the jar in a cool (but not damp)
- Let the tincture sit for at least a week. Ody suggests 2 weeks, but
some spices take longer and some herbs take less. Note that if you are making
a compound tincture mixing herbs and spices, or dried and fresh botanicals,
you may want to add the different botanicals over time so that the strongest
(such as cloves, cassia, pepper) go in last, and the more delicate go in first
and have more time to soak. (Caution: undiluted vodka will eat away corks
if left in constant contact with it.)
- When it has steeped long enough to be strong, strain it carefully
(you can use coffee filters for this), cork or seal tightly, and store in
a cool dark place.
To make a liniment/rub, you may want to add glycerine to avoid skin irritation.
Mix 1 part tincture to 3 parts water to make a perfume or sweet water.
Tonic or Spiced Wines, etc.
Tonic wines, such as rose wine, and spiced wines, such as hypocras, are made
by steeping herbs and spices in the wine, straining and removing. Mulled
ciders, wines and ales are made by heating the beverage with the spices added
and serving it hot, either strained or not. For spices you want 1 part spice
to 3 parts wine or more; for herbs 1 part herb to 2 parts wine. Infuse for
2 weeks or more.
Fleeting mentions of flavored or medicinal vinegars show up in a few period
references. Herbal vinegars, either for cosmetic application (mix with water!)
or for cooking, are easy to make, by infusing or hot steeping botanicals in
Many sorts of base vinegars are available.
There are two methods, hot and cold infusion, for flavored vinegars:
- Distilled White Vinegar is actually merely acetic acid diluted with
water, not vinegar at all. Most cooks don't care for it, but it can be used
for applications where you want to emphasize the herb without any other flavor
- Cider vinegar is made from apple cider. It's inexpensive, light brown
in color and has an apple-y taste to it. It was probably less often used
than Wine Vinegar
- Wine Vinegar comes in two main kinds, red and white. White wine vinegar
(not the same as distilled) is harder to find. Both have a wine-ish flavor.
Other kinds of wine vinegars are available at speciality stores.
- Balsamic vinegar has a strong 'dark' flavor and smell of its own.
It's not recommended for making flavored vinegars.
- Rice wine vinegar is available at Oriental groceries. It's somewhere
between white wine vinegar and distilled vinegar, but it is distinctive.
- In a glass, enamel, ceramic or stainless steel pan, heat the vinegar
- In a bowl or jar, place a quantity of botanicals with the vinegar
of your choice. (1 part dried herb/spice to 3-4 part vinegar, or 1 part fresh
to 2-3 parts vinegar).
- Pour the hot vinegar over the botanicals.
- Cover and leave to steep overnight.
- You can remove the old botanicals and strain into a jar and cover.
For a stronger vinegar, put fresh botanicals in the jar to steep until used.
Flavored vinegars should be stored in a cool dark place but will keep for
at least a year, generally longer.
- Fill a jar with fresh botanicals or 1/4 to 1/2 full with dried botanicals.
Do not pack tightly.
- Pour in vinegar to cover. Close the jar
- Allow to steep in a cool dark place at least 4-6 weeks.
- You can strain before using if you wish.
Markham suggests rue vinegar for headaches:
"Take Rue, and steep it in vinegar a day and a night, the rue being first
well bruised, then with the same anoint the head twice or thrice a day."
Poultices & Plasters
Poultices and plasters are generally the same thing: mashed and/or heated
botanical applied to the skin as a dressing. The major difference between
modern poultices and plasters is that plasters tend to have a layer of cloth
between them and the skin, but the terms are often used interchangeably. Period
plasters appear to have had had non-botanical ingredients (i.e. chymical/alchemical
'metals') and been pre-prepared. The term Cataplasm is a synonym for poultice.
Cold poultices, such as plantain, provide cool moist heat. Soothing mucilaginous
herbs and botanicals such as plantain and oatmeal are supposed to soothe the
heat of a wound or injury, and ease skin irritation.
- collect a goodly quantity of the fresh herb
- mash/bruise/macerate it with a mortar and pestle, or grind it to a
paste in a food processor (for small hurts, chew a leaf of plantain to serve
as a poultice)
If you must use dry herb, reconstitute it by soaking in water, or better,
make an infusion and use as a compress. Powders can be mixed with water to
form a paste.
- spread it on the affected part
- For tidiness, you may want to cover the poulticed area with a wrapped
cloth or gauze bandaging.
Hot poultices provide moist heat. Hot grain poultices used to be used simply
for this purpose in veternary practice. Hot poultices and compresses can be
used to 'draw' things like wound infections, pimples and boils to the surface.
Hot applications to the face, neck, and chest have been used to combat congestion.
Generally, the stronger the action of the botanicals, the shorter the time
it should stay in contact with the skin. Mucilaginous poultices such as plantain
and marshmallow root can stay on longer than those with active ingredients!
- Gather a goodly quantity of the fresh herb. (Use dried herb only when
- Bruise or macerate and cook with a little water until hot, or mix
powder with a little hot water to form a paste.
- Apply to the affected part
- Cover with a cloth/towel/bandage so it doesn't drip all over the place,
and to keep the heat in.
Culpeper's directions for Poultices:
"They are made of Herbs and Roots fitted to the
Disease and Member afflicted, being chopped smal and boyled in Water almost
to a Jelly, then by adding a little Barley Meal or Meal of Lupines, and a
little Oyl or rough Sheep Suet, which I hold to be better, spread upon a
cloath and applied to the grieved place."
Of Plaisters, Culpeper says:
"1. The Greeks made their Plaisters of diverse
Simples and put Mettals in most of them if not in all, for having reduced
their Mettals into Pouder they mixed them with that fatty substance, whereof
the rest of the Plaister consisted. whilst it was yet hot, continually stirring
it up and down lest it should sink to the bottom, so they continually stirred
it till it was stiff, then they made it up in rolls, which when they
need for use they could melt by the fire again.
2. The Arabians made up theirs wih Meals, Oyl, and Fat,
which needed not so long boyling.
3. The Greeks Emplasters consisted of these Ingredients,
Mettals, Stones, diverse sorts of Earths, Feces, Juyces, Liquoiris, Seeds,
Roots, Herbs, Excrements of Creatures, Wax, Rozin, Gums. "
Compresses or Fomentations
A compress or a fomentation is made by soaking a cloth in an strained infusion
or decoction of the botanical, and applying it to the affected part, either
hot or cold as indicated. Compresses are especially indicated
where you don't want the actual botanical touching the skin, such as the eye
A troche is a little cake, a way of keeping and transporting powdered herbs
for internal consumption. They can be made with Gum Tragacanth paste, or flour
and water paste.
The most famous are the 'cookies' mentioned by Hildegard of Bingen in her
"Take some nutmeg and an equal weight of cinnamon
and a bit of cloves, and pulverize them. Then make small cakes with this and
fine whole wheat flour and water. Eat them often. It will calm all bitterness
of the heart and mind, open your heart and impaired senses, and make your
"They are thus made, At night when you go to bed,
take two drams of fine Gum Tragacanth, put it into a Gally-pot, and put half
a quarter of a pint of any distilled Water fitting the purpose you would
make your Troches for, to it, cover it, and the next morning you shall find
it in such a Jelly as Physitians call Mussilage, with this you may (with
a little pains taking) make any Pouder into Past, and that Past into little
Cakes called Troches. Having made them, dry them well in the shadow
and keep them in a Pot for your use. "
More on scents and other things:
Scents of the Middle Ages: http://www.lehigh.edu/~jahb/herbs/scents.html
Making Medieval-Style Scented Oils & Waters: http://www.lehigh.edu/~jahb/herbs/oil&water.html
Note: Books from Storey Publishing have excellent information on making herbal
health products for beginners. If you want pictures, the Dorling Kindersley
publications on herbalism are great.
Booth, Nancy M. Perfumes, Splashes and Colognes.
(Pownal, VT: Storey Publishing, 1997)
An excellent book on making scented products, though it has no period recipes
or real references. Great directions for making your own, recipes (unfortunately
postperiod) for familar scents, wonderful reference on fragrances in general,
good instruction and theory on blending scents.
Chevallier, Andrew. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants: A Practical
Reference Guide to More Than 550 Key Medical Plants & Their Uses. (NY:
Dorling Kindersley, 1996).
Good illustrations of techniques-- same as the books by Penelope Ody. Reference
manual with safety information.
Clarkson, Rosetta. The Magic of Herbs: A modern
chronicle of herbs, and savory seeds, especially Chapters XIV - XVI. (New
York: Macmillan, 1939). ISBN: 0-02-030976-7.
Covering to a wonderful extent the medicinal, food,
and scent uses of herbs, with a definite emphasis on history-- especially
early printed books. The sections on Pomanders and on Sachets have the best
documentation I have found on such things, though more original recipes are
included in Rohde's _Scented Garden_. The information is clearly referenced.
Some chapters are divided by herb or vegetable; others are groupings by type
of material. Illustrations are very useful and apposite, and period references
Dodt, Colleen K. The Essential Oils Book: Creating Personal Blends for
Mind & Body. (Pownal, VT: Storey, 1996) ISBN 0-88266-913-3.
A good beginning resource on aromatherapy applications and on modern medicinal
uses of scent.
Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. (NY: Dorling Kindersley,
The major safety book I use when dealing with whole herbs. Very easy
to use, and also gives directions-- with clear photographic illustrations--
for making various preparations.
Lawless, Julia. The illustrated encyclopedia of
essential oils: the complete guide to the use of oils in aromatherapy and
herbalism. (NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995)
Includes safety information not found elsewhere; especially
for essential oils. Also gives background on, uses of, and types of extraction
for each oil covered. Check oils here before using.
Ody, Penelope. Home Herbal: A practical family guide to making herbal
remedies for common ailments. (NY: Dorling Kindersley, 1995).
Useful primarily for the small section on making herbal remedies. Duplicates
information from The Complete Medicinal Herbal.
Telesco, Patricia. The Herbal Arts: A handbook of
Gardening, Recipes, Healing, Crafts and Spirituality. (Secaucus, NJ:
Citadel Press, 1998).
Gives an overview of making a wide variety of herbal
preparations, as well as a 'Multipedia' of information on various herbs including
uses, history and sometimes recipes. Some new age spirituality included.
A good beginner's book on how to make various body/cosmetic preparations.
Unfortunately, the recipes are not period but it's a good place to look for
ideas and applications.
Tourles, Stephanie. The Herbal Body Book : A Natural Approach to Healthier
Skin, Hair, and Nails. (Pownal, VT: Storey, 1994)
Period or near period sources
(I am indebted to Iasmin de Cordoba for some of the annotations.)
*An Herbal  Also known as Banckes' Herbal. Author
unknown, published 1525. Facsimile/transcripted edition, ed. by Larkey &
Pyles. (NY: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1941)
Banckes includes some recipes for poultices, wine washes and drinks, as well
as vinegars (look for the word 'eisell')
Culpepper, Nicholas. The English Physician. 1652, et seq. (most
popular reproduction is from the 1800s. The Complete Herbal editions often
do not reproduce the recipes/suggestions.) Available online in the Peter
Cole published original at: http://www.med.yale.edu/library/historical/culpeper/culpeper.htm
Iasmin says: "Culpepper's book of medicine was first published in 1652. Included
with the descriptions of herbs and their uses is a section on the temperaments
of herbs and the directions for making various substances, but especially
Gerard, John.Gerard's Herball (Thomas Johnson, Ed.). Publisher:
Iasmin says: "Gerard's Herball was first published in 1597. I used the 1633
facsimile edition which was corrected and added to by Thomas Johnson (he
added nearly 800 plants and descriptive information as well as roughly 700
new illustrations). An excellent and complete edition for any researcher
to own, though the cost is prohibitive. Readers would be well-advised
to remember Johnson's additions to the work and read the text accordingly,
looking specifically for Gerard's originals."
An edited selection of the items from the Herbal was published as:
Gerard, John. Leaves from Gerard's Herball: arranged
for garden lovers. edited by Marcus Woodward (Peter Smith, 1990). also
available from Dover in paperback.
Hildegarde of Bingen. Hildegard von Bingen's Physica: the complete
English translation of her classic work on Health and Healing.
Trans. from the Latin by Patricia Throop. (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 1998).
Though the authorship (and inspiration) of the Physica
is sometimes disputed, it does include section on herbs and plants with not
only humoral notations but recipes. Hildegarde was apparently fond of recommending
sauna baths, hot plasters, ointments and troches (little cakes of
Markham, Gervase. The English Housewife. (Michael R. Best, Ed.)
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press. 1615/1986.
Iasmin: "The English Housewife was published in 1615 as book two of the two-part
Country Contentments, with the first book being called The Husbandmans Recreations.
Best's edition was based on the 1633 edition with corrections for the 1615,
1623, 1638, and 1658 editions as appropriate. Markham's work is that of a
copyist. His text is based on Bancke's Herbal, A Treasury of Healthe, A Book
of Soveraigne Approved Medicines and Remedies, and Arcana Fair faxiana, among
others. Excellent edition for the price, with thorough and scholarly
editing. Unfortunately, this is not a facsimile copy and the text and
spelling has been normalized throughout the work."
Plat, Hugh. Delightes for Ladies. edited by Violet and Hall Trovillion
from the 1627 edition. (Herrin, IL: Trovillion Private Press, 1939)
Includes a number of scent, water and sachet recipes. The earliest printed
edition of this item is 1602, but it was based on a publication from 1594.
della Porta, Giambattista. Magiae naturalis [Natural Magick].
1558/1584. Available on the World Wide Web from http://www2.tscnet.com/pages/omard1/jportat5.html
Iasmin says: " This work edition is a translation done by Porta himself and
placed online by Major Scott L. Davis (US Army, Retired). Of specific interest
to the researcher will be Porta's eighth and ninth books of this 20-book
compilation, which are labeled "Of Physical Experiments" and "Of Beautifying
Women." Printed facsimile copies are extremely expensive.
July 13, 2004
(originally published 2002).
Copyright Jennifer A. Heise. Contact me via email for permission to reprint: email@example.com
Permission is explicitly granted for limited reproduction as a printed handout for classes in schools, herb society meetings, or classes or guild meetings in the Society for Creative Anachronism (except to corporate officers and board members of the SCA, Inc.), as long as I am notified and credited and the entire handout is used.
Jadwiga's herbs homepage: http://www.gallowglass.org/jadwiga/herbs/herbs.html