Hydrolates or distilled herbal waters

Rose water and orange blossom water are well-known hydrosols, which we mainly know because of their use in cosmetics and cuisine. In recent years, hydrosols have also been made from many other herbs, which are used as a general health product or as medicine.

Hydrolates or distilled herbal waters

Hydrolates are the distilled waters that are left over from the extraction of essential oil. They still contain residues of volatile components from the plant, but also, for example, mucilages that are distilled and then dissolve in the water. Interestingly, some distillers in the DrĂ´me (France) distill not only aroma plants such as lavender and thyme but also common herbs such as nettle and plantain. You then get a kind of concentrated herbal tea (water extract) that can also be stored well and is especially suitable for use as a lotion. These herbal waters combine the slightly disinfectant properties of an essential oil, the astringent and soothing qualities of a herbal tea and perhaps even the spiritual-energetic power of homeopathic remedies. This is of course open to discussion.
Be that as it may, hydrosols are old traditional products that are now presented again in a modernized form and I personally always find it interesting to use those experiences of the past in a critical and adapted way.

A list of a number of herbal waters and their uses:

  • Nettle hydrolate: skin purifying, can be used both internally and externally, but also for the hair (+ rosemary and horsetail)
  • Angelica root hydrolate: antispasmodic and digestive aid, especially used for stress, anxiety with intestinal complaints, spastic colon?
  • Marigold hydrolate: general for skin and mucous membranes, as a cleansing skin lotion (+ lavender and chamomile)
  • Horsetail hydrosol: skin firming and antiperspirant (baths, foot baths + sage and cornflower), weight and joint problems (+ nettle and meadowsweet)
  • Chamomile hydrolate: skin cleansing, soothing and disinfectant on inflamed and irritated skin and mucous membranes, so for eczema but also for the stomach. As a mouth and gargle water for canker sores, sore throat (+ sage and peppermint)
  • Cornflower hydrolate: gently astringent and disinfectant: especially for irritated and inflamed eyelids (+ chamomile and plantain)
  • Lavender hydrolate: soothing, especially for insomnia (in the bath) and skin protective for oily skin, acne (+ sage and cornflower), first aid (sunburn, insect stings) and in veterinary medicine (itching, fleas, hair loss)
  • Hawthorn hydrosol: heart tonic and slightly antispasmodic, can be used for old age heart and sometimes during menopause (+ chamomile and real sage)
  • Melissa hydrolate: soothing and invigorating, like Angelica
  • Meadowsweet hydrosol: diuretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic for use in rheumatic conditions, externally as a lotion for cellulite (+ sage and horsetail)
  • Rosemary hydrolate: generally stimulating, promoting circulation in baths, foot baths (+ vine and thyme), for the hair (+ nettle and lavender), as a sports lotion (+ lavender and thyme)
  • Sage hydrolate: disinfectant for the mouth and throat, gum strengthening (+ chamomile and horsetail), excessive sweating, sweaty feet (lotion + horsetail and lavender)
  • Thyme hydrosol: disinfectant, increases resistance for colds, bronchial disorders, cough (as syrup + plantain and chamomile) as a sports drink (+ rosemary and hawthorn with honey or sugar)
  • Plantain hydrosol: skin soothing, anti-allergic for eczema, skin problems in babies (+ chamomile and lavender) and for the respiratory tract for hay fever, colds, cough (syrup + thyme and lavender)
  • Vine hydrosol: strengthens blood vessels (veins) for varicose veins, phlebitis, bruises, sometimes used for menstrual problems and menopause (+ sage and hawthorn)


How to use hydrosols?

  • pure 2 tablespoons daily internally, possibly in water or herbal tea
  • pure as a lotion: skin cleansing instead of soap or in washing water e.g. chamomile, marigold
  • pure as hair water: chamomile, horsetail, rosemary or nettle
  • eyewash: cornflower, chamomile, plantain
  • mouthwash: sage, chamomile, marigold
  • mixed with clay as a compress or even as toothpaste
  • foot bath: for example against sweaty feet, sage and horsetail
  • make syrup with sugar and hydrolate instead of water: thyme, plantain against cough
  • in the kitchen: soup, dessert e.g. mint, lavender, thyme


Possible combinations (3 herbal mixtures: the ideal number) for all kinds of ailments.

  • acne: sage + lavender + chamomile as lotion for external use
  • allergy: plantain + nettle + chamomile as a herbal drink, possibly heated as a tea
  • cellulite: meadow spiraea + horsetail + nettle
  • joints: horsetail + nettle + meadow spiraea
  • hair: nettle + rosemary + lavender as a lotion, moisten and massage the hair and scalp
  • heart tonic: hawthorn + rosemary + lemon balm
  • headache: mint + lavender + lemon balm, gently rub and massage the head
  • dry skin: plantain + cornflower + chamomile, externally as lotion
  • oily skin: sage + cornflower + mint, externally as lotion
  • oral cavity: sage + chamomile + mint, gargle and rinse
  • eyes: cornflower + chamomile + plantain, moisten external eyelids or as a compress
  • transition: sage + vine + lemon balm, internally as a drink, possibly in tea or fruit juice
  • overweight: nettle + horsetail + meadowsweet, taken internally as a drink
  • digestion: angelica + mint + chamomile
  • stress: lavender + lemon balm + archangel root
  • perspiration: sage + lavender + mint, externally as lotion
  • veins (varicose veins): vine + horsetail + rosemary, external baths or compress
  • resistance to infections: thyme + meadow spiraea + sage

Of course, these are not miracle cures, they can in no way replace a visit to the doctor or therapist.

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