Decoctions are aqueous preparations of plant parts boiled in water for 15- 20 minutes until the water volume is halved. To prepare, break the plant parts into small pieces before soaking in a given amount of water in an earthenware container (palayok). Metal pans should be enameled; avoid plastic or aluminum containers. Use 500 cc (1 pt) of water for every 30 gm (1 oz) of dried herb. Cover the container and boil for 10-20 minutes, until water volume is halved; strain, cool and refrigerate. Decoctions usually keep for 2-3 days.

As in preparing tea, infusions use dried or fresh herbs. Pour hot water into plant material and allow to stand while tightly covered, stand for 10 min; strain; drink hot or iced and cold. Infusions usually prepared fresh for the day's use.

Pills (Honey Pills)
Pills can be made by mixing thoroughly the dry and powdered drug with equal quantity of honey cooked to bright red syrup. The moment the mixture starts to cool off, it can be rolled to desired tubular strands and cut into small pieces. Air dry the pieces of pills in a clean place and bottle them neatly. If honey is not available, a concentrated syrup of cane sugar can be substituted.

The commonest and easiest way of preparing the drug materials. With a mortar and pestle, the well-dried plant materials are crushed and ground well-dried plant materials into a fine uniform powder; store in clean bottles. Powdered drugs should be as fine as possible so as to ensure faster solubility.

Alcoholic Decoction (Tinctures)
Place the botanical extracts or plant materials (powdered, fresh or dried) in 40% to 60% proof alcohol (some use 70-80% proof lambanog), one part herb to 5 parts distilled spirits and keep in an airtight container (25 gms of material in 600 cc of spirits). Stir or shake the mixture at least once a day, infusing for a period of 4 to weeks. Alcohol extracts and preserves the essential ingredients for the longest possible time. Strain and store in an airtight dark glass jar. Dosages are usually 5-20 drops, added to water or taken directly.

To facilitate the process, boil the alcohol solution in a water bath until it boilsboils; pour the boiling solution into the container together with the plant extracts or materials; tightly seal. Use the decoction two weeks after the storage. The residue can be used to prepare ointments.

Powder the drug material thoroughly. If tablets of small size with high drug concentration is desired, a portion of the dried drug material may be decocted into a thick concentrated solution and them mixed with the other powdered material. In making the tablet, a sufficient amount of starch or rice paste is added to the mixture and is forcefully mixed and kneaded by hands. Make small globular tablets out of the kneaded paste-like material. If excessive eater has been placed in the mixture, allow the mixture to stand first in a cool, well-ventilated place, until the right paste-like consistency is attained. Improvised tablet-making devises (i.e., molds) may be constructed from wood or metal.

Applicable for children and infants, prrepare a simple syrup by dissolving 850 gms of cane sugar in 450 mL of boiling water. Wait for all the sugar to dissolve, then apply more heat, filter with degreasing cotton, then add more water up to 1000 mL. Place the drug material in water and boil, remove the residual solids afterwards (generally, every mL of the decoction fluid contains 1 gm of the concentrated drug). Add the decoction fluid to the syrup in a 1:1 proportion. If the syrup is not to be added, the decoction should be treated with sufficient amount of fungicide, like benzoic acid, for long storage.

Prepare the necessary drug materials, place inside a glass jar or other suitable container, add oil (peanut oil, bean oil, tea oil, coconut oil, etc.) up to 2 to 3 fingerwidth higher than the level of the powdered drug in the glass jar. Suspend for 5 to 7 days. Then, cook in an iron casserole until drug material chars. Remove the drug residue or dross and extract the oil. This time, the fire should be increased mixing thoroughly while increasing the heat, until smoke forms on the oil surface, and until globules of oil, which is place in water, does not form separated globules anymore. Reduce the heat and add litharge, mixing thoroughly while continuously adding until all of it dissolves. Remove the casserole from fire and let stand to cool, then add camphor or other aromatic substances. Lastly, pour the prepared drug material in cold water, suspend for overnight or longer. Place the mass separated from the liquid on a piece of parchment or cloth. An ointment plaster is thus produced. Observe care in cooking procedure and guard against burning or fire. A close-type of oven (or hooded) is preferable.

An alternative way:  Make 1 pt of infusion or decoction, strain and set liquid aside. Pour 3 oz of oil into a pan, add 3 oz of lard fat, a drop of tincture of benzoin for every oz of base, and add the liquid. Simmer until the water has evaporated. To stiffen the mixture, slowly add beeswax or cocoa butter.

Poultice or Paste
Grind, crush or pound the plant material (dried or preferably fresh) with a little oil, water, molasses or honey. Spread on a square of warm cloth or banana trunk, and applied to the skin. The crushed plant can also be boiled for a few minutes to achieve a pulp. The material is applied directly to the affected areas. They are usually more potent than compresses.

An infusion or decoction is used to soak a warm cloth (linen or muslin) or banana trunk and placed on the affected area. They are usually milder than poultices.

Pound fresh plant materials and filter through a fine piece of cloth or just squeeze the plant parts to extract the juice.


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies, Norman Shealey 1998
 A Manual on Some Philippine Medicinal Plants (Preparation of Drug Materials), U.P. Botanical Society, 1977
 M. Leila Santiago-Flores, DVM