Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How to Make a Standard Decoction with Herbs

Okay, are you ready to ramp up your skills as an herbalist today? I'm going to teach you a new way to use herbs medicinally.

A standard decoction is a tea made from thicker plant parts, such as bark, roots, seeds, or berries. These also contain lignin, a substance that is difficult to dissolve in water. Thus decoctions require a more vigorous extraction method than infusions (tea). Standard decoctions are still only temporary extracts and should be discarded if not used after 6 hours. I recommend making a fresh batch in the morning and using it throughout the day and then discarding any leftover at the end of the day.

For a decoction use about 1 1/2 ounces of plant to 1 quart of water. Here is the procedure

  • Place ground plant into a suitable pot with a lid. Never use aluminum cookware as it can react with certain herbs

  • Pour in 1 quart of cold water. Mix to uniformity.

  • Place container over heat. Once material comes to a boil, set your timer for 15 minutes of boiling time.

  • Remove from heat and cool to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Pour your decoction through a strainer, expressing juice from the plant material. You should have slightly less than the 1 quart you started with, so pour additional cold water through the strainer and into the holding vessel until the 1 quart level is reached.
I like to just use glass Ball or Mason jars to store and mix herbs. They are easy to find, safe, and inexpensive.

Decoctions are different chemically than standard infusions of an herb which is why you might consider making them. Different nutritive healing properties will be released when a decoction is made than will be released through a standard infusion. In future herb posts, I will try to point out which herbs are good for making a standard decoction and what you can expect from them.


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