Ayla's Herbs
Terminology Iris picture
Decoction Made by boiling the hard parts of plants in water to extract the active ingredients. Used on tough roots, wood, bark and nuts. "Finally, with a decoction of elecampane roots and wild cherry bark to help, the cough quieted and she returned to her bed." VoH
Infusion Made by pouring boiling water on the leaves, petals or other soft parts of herbs and letting it stand or steep for a given amount of time. "She put some hot stones in a bowl of water to make an infusion of ergot for Ayla." CCB
"In fresh water, she made an infusion of arnica flowers..." VoH
Ointment Made with a combination of ground herbs and heated beeswax, oil or fat to be directly applied to the skin after it is strained and cooled. "...don't forget that horsetail-fern ashes mixed with fat make a good burn ointment." CCB
Poultice A thick mixture of herbs applied externally for an extended period of time. Usually made with just enough boiling water to cover or dampen the herbs, then applied between two thin layers of material to hold it in place and keep the heat in. "...Ayla dipped comfrey root in water to rinse it. Then she chewed it to a pulp and spit it into the hot marigold-petal solution to use for a wet poultice directly on the open wound." VOH
Wash The results of an infusion or decoction used externally - gently wiped on with a soft cloth (or piece of leather in Ayla's case). A compress is when you hold the dampened cloth on, changing it when it cools. "Boiled roots of sweet rush make a wash for burns." CCB
"...oh, yes, boiled yellow-spined thistle blossoms. Put on as a wash after it's cooled." CCB

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CCB The Clan of the Cave Bear
VoH The Valley of Horses
MH The Mammoth Hunters
PoP The Plains of Passage

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