Monday, May 12, 2014

{Herbal Learning Guide} Lesson 1B: How to Make: Infusions/Decoctions


Although it is often times more convenient to purchase your herbal preparations already made, it is one of the basic rules of herbalists to know how to prepare herbs. This chapter we will talk about how to prepare herbal teas. Teas form the basis of herbal medicine, are one of the primary ways to enjoy herbs, and are one of the easiest herbal preparations to make but it is also a fine art.

Do not use aluminum or copper pots and/or utensils to prepare herbs!

Most American’s eat too many sweet and salty foods and their taste buds respond to only these stimulants. Thus many people refuse to use herbal medicine because o the flavors. According to Rosemary Gladstar, it is important in your herbal work to develop a taste for these often bitter and unfamiliar flavors of the medicinal herbs.

Why tea?
“Medicinal teas are generally not as potent nor as active as tinctures and therefore may not be as effective for acute situations. But they are more effectual for long term, chronic problems. Used with consistency over an extended period of time, they insure gradual but stead, long term results. Since the menstruum used is water, it is non-toxic and user friendly” (Rosemary Gladstar).

Infusions and decoctions are medicinal-strength teas, rather than beverage teas. Whether you infuse or decoct the herb is determined by the part of the plant you’ll be using.

According to Jethro Kloss (Back to Eden, p. 78-79) an INFUSION is usually made just like a tea. Boiling water is poured onto a certain amount of the herb in a cup or other suitable container. This is covered with a saucer or other cover and allowed to steep, in order to give the ingredients in the herb time to pass into the water. The aromatic and volatile ingredients, vitamins and essences are removed by the infusion. The average amount of herb used is ½ to 1 ounce in a pint of water, or 1 teaspoon of the dried herb, or 2 teaspoons of fresh herb, in 1 cup of water. After adding the boiling water, let them sit, uncovered for about 10 to 20 minutes. The length of time can vary depending on the herb used). Never allow an infusion to boil. After the resting period, strain carefully into a cup or other container and drink. Take the infusion while it is hot for colds, influenza, coughs, or to produce sweating. Most infusions are taken in small doses, regularly spaced during the day, using a total of about 1-3 cups, depending on the condition and the herb used.

Kloss goes on to explain a decoction: A decoction is made by simmering (SIMMER ONLY DO NOT BOIL) the plant part in water, in a nonmetal container for 3 to 5 minutes or even up to 30 minutes if the material is very hard. Keep the container covered. Use 1 teaspoon of the powdered herb, or 1 tablespoon of the cut herb to a cup of water. If you are planning to simmer the decoction for 30 minutes, always start with about 30 percent more liquid to allow for evaporation. For example, if you would usually use 1 ounce of the herb to 1 pint of water, start with one and a half pints instead, so that there will be about one pint left after 30 minutes. Strain carefully before using.

Infusions and decoctions should keep in the fridge for 1-2 days when stored in a tightly closed glass container.

Rosemary suggests making a quart of tea each morning for use throughout the day instead of making teas by the cupful.


Your Tasks For This Lesson:
(1) Research, using your three herbal books (click here to see a list of some reference materials recommended by Rosemary Gladstar) when you should make an infusion vs when you should make a decoction.
(2) Research and determine what the proper method to prepare a medicinal herb formula that includes both roots and leaves.
(3) Research the dosage of medicinal teas for (a) chronic health problems and (b) for acute health problems. Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Medicinal Herbs – A Beginner’s Guide, has a great general dosage chart in it
(4) Make two different infusions and two different decoctions.

To view the main page of our Herbal Learning Guide, including the links to other lessons, please click here.






37 comments :

  1. I am going to share this with my father. He drinks lots of teas for medicinal purposes and he knows quite a bit more than I do on the subject so I think he will find this post informational and helpful.

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  2. Herbal teas are wonderful and soothing for all types of ailments whether physical or mental. I love trying different ones but never thought to make my own, this gives me a clear picture on how to do so thanks.

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  3. I really need to get a new house so I can get my herb garden going again. I would love to try doing a lot of herbal remedies just have to wait a bit. I do use essential oils for now though, they are a decent alternative.

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  4. I use a lot of herbs and drink a lot of herbal teas. I just am getting over a cold and feel the herbs helped me not take antibiotics.

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  5. I drink a lot of tea, but really have never tried an herbal tea. I have heard so many great healing benefits of using herbs, so this post intrigues me. Thank you for all the information you just shared! It is very helpful!

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  6. Herbal teas do wonders, after a long hard day of work I like to take a sip from my cup of tea and relax.

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  7. I like herbal teas.. i drink them as often as i can.

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  8. Very interesting information on the difference between diffusing and decocting herbals. Although I prefer to purchase them ready to use-this is good to know in case I feel like experimenting.

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  9. That's nice that you gave the instructions for storing it too. I love detailed posts like this one for something new.

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  10. Interesting must share with an online friend who is all about this kind of stuff. Thank you.

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  11. We have always used herbal teas. My daughter has to drink a lot of catnip tea when she was small.

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  12. I agree with you when it comes to junk. Not yet ready to drink teas, but I have taken a lot of processed foods and added fresh whole foods.

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  13. Very interesting and makes me realize I have a LOT to learn about herbs. I had never even heard the word decoction!! Good idea to make it all at once in the morning.

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  14. I've never tried to infuse herbs into my tea but I know that they have some great benefits. This is great information for those of us who don't know a lot about herbs.

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  15. I have been hearing more and more about the benefits of herbal teas. I started drinking green tea recently because it is supposed to be so good for you

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  16. We drink tea but rarely! I know a few people that are huge tea drinker! Will have to share this with them! =)

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  17. You sure know your herbs! I should start researching the benefits too.

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  18. I love tea! I think I could use a glass this morning actually!

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  19. This sounds wonderful, I prefer natural methods myself - sounds like a great resource.

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  20. Great information here! I've never made my own infusions, but am curious now. Thank you for sharing :)

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  21. I knew not to use copper, but I didn't know about aluminum. Thanks for the tip on that!

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  22. Thanks for all the information. I never really drink tea (I am more of a coffee person) so this is all great information.

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  23. great tips and advice's these are really helpful. Nowadays, people tend to rely on manufactured medicine and stop using natural herbs. I even use herbs in my cough.

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  24. I find this very relevant and helpful since people tend to use manufacture products than natural herbs in curing ailments. Very nice to see one.

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  25. I give credit to those who are knowledgeable about and take the time to use herbal teas for healing. It is something that I would like to learn more about.

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  26. I've tried and tried but I cannot get myself to enjoy tea. I want to so badly! I just don't like the taste of tea I guess.

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  27. herbal teas are so good for our systems. I will bookmark this post to refer back to it later. thanks for the great info

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  28. When I was growing up my mom used to let us drink herbal when we get sick. I don't know anything about herbs but I do prefer herbal meds than any pills or tablet. Thanks for sharing this herbal guide lesson

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  29. Every time I heard about herbal teas, it reminds me of my grandparents. They both loved to drink tea and both enjoying the benefits from it.

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  30. I was wondering how to make Moringa leaf decoction. I even tried once but failed miserably. Thanks for sharing the easy lesson to make decoctions

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  31. I've never considered trying anything like this but I agree... I crave both sweet and salty items because my body is so used to them.

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  32. Thank you for another great lesson. I am still following along and am enjoying this. Medicinal teas are a great skill to have!

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  33. I love herbal teas and am a strong believer in the healing properties of various herbs. Thanks for the lesson!

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  34. Interesting stuff - I'm guilty of being attached to the salty and sweet tastes, and I must admit, herbal teas are never really my thing. :(

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  35. Thanks for this post. I would really love to make infusions for my water.

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  36. Wow I had no idea. I drink a lot of herbal tea, but will def be researching a bit more next time!

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  37. WOW this is great information I am going to share with my parents. They love drinking teas.

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