Herbal teas are easy to prepare and are quickly absorbed by the body. Most herbs can be made into teas by steeping the leaves in hot water. Herbal teas can be purchased already bagged or in loose-leaf form. The herbs for making tea can be grown, harvested, dried, and stored for winter use. They may also be harvested in the wild. Always use a glass, enameled, or stainless steel pot when making tea. Never make herbal teas in an aluminum container.
Herbs can bring great healing and tea is an easy way to get the healing properties into your body. To make herbal tea, bring water to a boil, add leaves, turn heat to low and simmer for one to ten minutes. Use a tight fitting lid on the pot so essential oils don’t escape. Fragile flowers like chamomile, rose, and calendula petals should NOT be simmered. Pour boiling water over the plant material and steep for five or ten minutes. Strain into a cup and sip slowly while inhaling the aroma.
Herbal infusions contain healing properties and also work to flush toxins from the body. Prepare green leaves for tea by tearing instead of cutting with a knife or scissors. Scissors cut across cell membranes and destroy some of the plant's special properties. Cutting with sharp edges causes unnatural facets, loss of volatile essential oils, and reduced healing properties. Tear by hand instead of cutting or chopping. Dry leaves can be crumbled.
Herbs that are suitable for infusions include catnip, feverfew, borage, comfrey, dill, mullein, horehound, corn silk, mint, red clover, rosemary, sage, thyme, plantain, chickweed, cleavers, licorice, and bee balm. Even tasty herbs like chamomile can become bitter if prepared at too high of a temperature. Treat herbal plant material gently.
Sometimes herbal teas are the only way to get the benefits of herbs into a patient's weakened body. At first, give only a few sips at a time then gradually increase amount. If someone is too weak to drink water or tea and you don't know why, seek emergency help as soon as possible.
Woody stems, roots, dried berries, seeds, and bark teas are called decoctions. Decoctions require a more vigorous method to extract the medicinal properties (higher heat and longer cooking time). Plant material should be crushed, mashed, or broken into small pieces. Boil for a few minutes and then simmer for up to 15 minutes. Some decoctions will be ready in five minutes depending on desired strength. Water will change color as decoction simmers. Make sure the pot is not aluminum and has a tight fitting lid. Strain into a pitcher or tea cup. Press plant material with the back of a spoon to extract more of the liquid.
Add mint, lemon peel, spices, stevia, licorice, or honey if desired. Quart batches may be prepared and then taken over a period of days. Many herbalists insist on reheating in a pan because they believe microwaves destroy healing properties. Sometimes herbal teas and decoctions are served cool or over ice. They are still potent. All infusions and decoctions should be discarded after 48 hours when liquid starts to loose its potency.
There are many ways to deliver herbs to the body. Teas, decoctions, extracts, syrups, tinctures, infused oils, infused wine, inhalants, poultices, plasters, compresses, ointments, creams, lotions, liniments, baths, capsules, tablets, powders, lozenges, enemas, suppositories, astringents, gargles, washes, and rinses all have a purpose in herbal medicine.
* Herbs work with other medicines to boost their potency so always consult with your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.
"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling, herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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