Monthly Archives: January 2013

Herb Dispensing Practicalities — Packaging

IMG_0803 How to dispense the herbs from a mobile clinic to a homeless population with limited funding takes careful consideration, both in terms of ease of use for patients and the cost of packaging.

TINCTURES/GLYCERITES – For a long time I would only use glass bottles to dispense tinctures, however, after my experience at staffing the Rainbow First Aid Station, Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference Clinic, and Sandy Relief Clinics, I began to use 1 and 2 oz plastic bottles that have a lined cap — no dropper. Droppers and glass tincture bottles are a bit costly, and the plastic bottles with cap come to around 25 cents a piece for a 1 oz and 29 cents for a 2 oz. And while it’s true, I am not the biggest fan of plastic bottles, they do have a few things going for them other than affordability. First, they don’t break, and second, they are much lighter than glass.

And to answer the obvious question of how I control dosage without a dropper– I use the cap as the measuring device. For example, in the 1 oz bottle, the cap holds 4 mils and 1/2 cap holds 2 mils. If I want to do a smaller dose than that, I simply dilute with water. If I fill the bottle with 1/2 tincture formula and 1/2 water, then 1 capful contains 2 mils of tincture and 1/2 capful holds 1 mil.

One bottle holds around 8 capfuls total, so if I am using a drop dosage plant such as anemone, I must decide how many drops I want for each dose and multiply by 9. For example, if I want a 5 drop dosage, I multiply 5 X 8 which equals 40. I place 40 drops in the bottle, fill with water and on the instructions say “Take 1 capful as needed.” It follows that with each capful, the patient is getting 5 drops of anemone. Or if I want more doses in the bottle, I can place 5 X 16 = 80 drops in the bottle, fill the rest with water and say “Take 1/2 cap as needed” and thereby provide 16 individual doses of 5 drops each in the 1 oz bottle.

TEA – Loose tea is an absolute pain in the butt if you don’t have the equipment to make it with ease (such as a french press or kitchen, etc) so I pre bag my teas in hopes that will make it more doable for folks. Enter the iron-shut tea bag, also known as the Press n’ Brew. These are cheap and oh-so-handy. You simply blend your tea, fill the bag, and iron shut. In the picture above, I am preparing calendula tea bags, which do double duty as both an antimicrobial for internal use (as a gentle and tasty anti-fungal for example) or as a compress in first aid for infection. Other such double duty tea bags I keep in stock are chamomile and marshmallow. We can also custom blend personalized tea formulas for clients in the bus, with our electrical hook-up, but it’s a good idea to have commonly used blends already on hand.

January Herbal Happenings

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January Herbal Happenings
Tuesday, January 1, 2013

This month’s offering–a hope for 2013 that we can live with purpose and work with compassion. And if you don’t yet know your life’s passionate purpose, may you have the courage and curiosity to keep looking for it.

I’m writing fresh off a shift with the People’s Relief Medical Clinic in the Rockaways and Coney Island. The picture here is of the Coney Island walk-in clinic being run out of a medically outfitted train-car. After offering some care to walk-in cases, we spent the evening providing medical services door-to-door in a 19 story high rise that hasn’t had elevator service since Hurricane Sandy hit. The residents of Ocean View Towers not only have had to withstand the horrors brought by the hurricane, but a difficult recovery process that is lasting far too long. Many residents are elderly and/or disabled and are unable to navigate the endless flights of cold, slippery, concrete stairs to fetch their food and medicine. We encountered a wide range of medical ailments, conditions often aggravated by the fear and frustration they are living through. They are now told the elevator won’t be fixed until the end of February. It is truly heartbreaking. I go into a bit more detail in my recent posting in The Herb Bus blog.

The team of volunteers that coalesced to provide relief services when governmental agencies were failing this community is an inspiring vision of what health care can be. These dedicated, compassionate and endlessly patient health care workers provide a full spectrum of health care services — nurse practitioners, herbalists, doctors, EMT’s, social workers, and street medics working side-by-side. This is collaborative medicine at its best. Navigating the tactical challenges of providing free grassroots health care in a country whose healthcare system is profit-based can be draining and daunting. It is important that we continue to share the stories of our successes and failures to create a collective knowledge base from which we can continue this work. To learn more about the People’s Relief Medical Clinic including plans for a more permanent wellness center click here.

Atlanta has urgent medical needs as well. And there are many here working to spread the health. In particular, I’d like to thank all the volunteers from the Harriet Tubman Free Foot Clinic for their dedication to providing foot care for our city’s homeless. Caring for feet not only ensures basic mobility, but can provide relief from pain, ease stress, and tonify the different organs and systems of the body. For our last clinic of 2012, we had a celebratory evening, offering foot, acupuncture, and massage services all while passing spiced cider and sweets. You can see pictures of the holiday clinic and party here.

This month’s edition of Herbal Happenings is filled with many more opportunities, both herbalistic and fantastic, to learn, feel, and share the health. Enjoy!

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