Maria Treben Herbs


The right way to gather, store and prepare herbs


A knowledge of herbs is essential for gathering. Gathering should be undertaken at the right time, at the right place and in the right manner. Experience shows that best results are obtained with freshly picked herbs, which are absolutely essential for success with serious illnesses. Fresh herbs can be picked in early spring, sometimes from the end of February till into November. Some are even found during winter under the snow (e.9. Greater Celandine), if one knows where to look. For winter a not too large supply of dried herbs is stored. For this purpose they are gathered at the time of their greatest vigour.
For FLOWERS this is the beginning of flowering.
For LEAVES before and during the time of flowering.
ROOTS are dug out in early spring or autumn.
FRUITS are gathered at the time of ripening.
At the same time observe the following hints: Pick only healthy, clean plants free from pests. Gather herbs on sunny days in dry condition, when the dew has evaporated. Fields and meadows treated with chemical fertilizer, the banks of dirty, contaminated waters, railway embankments and the neighbourhood of heavy traffic roads and motorways (highways) and of industrial plants, are no places for gathering. Treat Nature with consideration! (Don't pull plants out by their roots, don't make a mess.) Some plants are protected by law. There are enough herbs with the same effectiveness which are not protected (e.9. Auricula - Cowslip). Do not crush flowers and leaves while gathering and do not use plastic bags and containers. The herbs begin to sweat and later become black during drying.


The herbs are not washed before drying. They are spread thinly on cloths or unprinted paper and dried as quickly as possible in the shade or in warm, ventilated rooms (attics). Roots, barks or very fleshy parts of plants are often dried in a warm oven. The oven temperature should not exceed 35° C. = 95° F. It is best to cut roots which are well washed (Mistletoe and Willow-herb are also cut) before drying.

Only fully dried herbs - they crackle and break when bent - can be stored for winter. For storage, glass jars or sealable cartons are the most appropriate. Plastic and metal containers are to be avoided. The herbs should be protected from light (use coloured glass jars, green being the most appropriate). Keep a supply for one winter only. With time the herbs lose their healing power- Every year presents us with a new harvest of herbs.

Methods of Preparations


INFUSIONS: Fresh herbs are cut and the prescribed quantity placed in a teapot or other non-metallic container. Water is brought to the boil and poured over the prepared herbs. Fresh herbs are steeped for a very short time only (half a minute will suffice).The tea has to be quite light; light yellow or light green. Dried herbs are steeped somewhat longer (one to two minutes). A tea prepared in this manner is substantially more wholesome and also more pleasing to the eye.

Roots are placed in the required amount of cold water, brought to the boil and steeped for 3 minutes.

The daily requirement of tea is poured into a thermos flask and the prescribed quantity sipped during the day. ln general one takes one heaped teaspoon of herbs in one quarter litre of water(= 1 cup), or otherwise as prescribed for the individual plants.

COLD INFUSIONS: Some herbs (e.g. Mallow, Mistletoe or Calamus) should not have boiling water poured over them, as their healing power is lost through the influence of heat. A tea from these herbs is obtained by cold infusion. The prescribed quantity of the respective plants is steeped in cold water eight to twelve hours (mostly overnight), then warmed (to drinking temperature only) and the daily requirement kept in a thermos flask, rinsed beforehand with hot water. A cold infusion mixed with a hot infusion provides a means of extracting the most of value from medicinal plants. The herbs are steeped overnight with half of the prescribed amount of water and strained in the morning. The other half of the prescribed amount of water is brought to the boil, poured over the herb residue and strained again. Cold and hot infusions are now mixed. The active substances which are soluble either only in cold or only in hot water are obtained in this way.


Tinctures are also extracts, which are won with 38% to 40% strength corn or fruit spirits. A bottle or other sealable container is loosely filled with the appropriate herbs and rye whisky or vodka poured over them. l=eave standing well sealed in a warm place (ca. 20° C. = 680° F.) for fourteen days or longer, shake frequently, then strain and squeeze out the residue. Tinctures are taken internally as drops diluted with herb tea or applied externally as compresses or massages.


Fresh juices of herbs are suitable for taking internally in drop form or for dabbing on affected parts of the body. They are made fresh daily. Poured into small bottles and well sealed, they will keep for a few months, however, if stored in the refrigerator.


Stems and leaves are crushed to a pulp on a wooden board with a wooden rolling pin. Spread on a piece of linen, place on the affected part of the body, bind with a cloth and keep warm. This poultice can remain on overnight.


In a pot bring water to the boil, hang over it a sieve in which are laid fresh or dried herbs, and cover. After some time, take the softened, warm herbs, put them on a lightly woven cloth and place on the affected part. Everything is covered with a woollen cloth and bound fast with further cloths. No feelings of cold should arise. Very effective are warm Horsetail poultices. Warm poultices are left on for two hours or overnight.


Two heaped double handfuls of herbs are finely chopped. 500 gm. of lard are heated as if for frying schnitzel. The herbs are stirred into this hot fat, allowed to crackle briefly, stirred around, the pan is removed from the hotplate, covered and cooled overnight. The next day the whole is warmed lightly, filtered through a linen cloth and the still warm ointment poured into previously prepared glass jars or ointment pots.

Oils are prepared as follows: Flowers or herbs are loosely placed in a bottle up to the neck, cold-pressed olive oil is poured over them till the oil stands two finger widths above the flowers or herbs. Let stand 14 days in the sun or near a stove.


FULL BATH: The appropriate herbs are steeped overnight in cold water. One bucketful (6 to 8 litres) of fresh herbs or 200 gm. of dried herbs is needed for a bath. This is heated and strained the next morning and poured into the bath water. Soak in it for 20 minutes. The heart must be above the water. After the bath do not dry off but wrap yourself in a bath towel or robe, go to bed and lie there for one hour perspiring.

SITZ BATH: For a sitz bath take only half a bucketful of fresh herbs or approx. 100 gm. of dried herbs and proceed as for a full bath.The bath water must cover the kidney region. Observe the instructions for the particular herbs. The water from the full bath as well from the sitz bath can be re-warmed and used twice more.


A piece of cottonwool or gauze, of a size compatible with the affected area, is dampened with drops of Swedish Bitters and laid on the affected area, which has been well covered with lard or Calendula ointment to prevent the alcohol drying out the skin. Over this a somewhat larger piece of plastic may be placed to protect the clothing, then a warm cloth or a bandage is tied over the whole. The compress is left to take effect for two to four hours, depending on the illness and tolerance. If the patient can tolerate it, the compress can remain on overnight. After removal of the compress the skin is powdered. Should sensitive people develop skin irritations the compress must be applied for a shorter period or dis¬continued for a while. People who are allergic to plastic may dispense with it and only use the cloths. In no case should one forget to grease the skin before applying the compress. Should itching occur, use Calendula ointment.

With these compresses it is not necessary to lie in bed, for, if the area is well bandaged, one can sit or move about the house.


Abbé = Father
anaemia = anemia
diarrhoea = diarrhea 
gynaecologist = gynecologist
haematoma = hematoma
haemophilia = hemophilia
haemorrhage = hemorrhage
haermorrhoid = hemorrhoid
homoeopathic = homeopathic
leucorrhoea = leucorrhea
leukaemia = leukemia
oedema = edema
oesophagus = esophagus
seborrhoea = seborrhea