In our herbal infusion post we wrote about how to make an herbal beverage (tea) with leaves, stems, and flowers - the lighter parts of plants. In this post we want to talk about the DECOCTION method that is used when brewing the harder, more dense part of plants such as the roots and barks! The roots and barks need more heat and pressure to properly break through the cell walls and extract the medicine. I like to think of making decoctions as making herbal "soups" and there a couple of ways to go about this.
One way is to add your plant material to the pot you are using, add your water, and then bring the water to a boil with the plant material inside. Once the pot is boiling you can then turn the heat to a low simmer for the suggested amount of time. All herbs are different and may require a different time, but I usually allow it to simmer for 25-30 minutes (with or without a cap) which is suitable for many roots and barks. Mushrooms on the other hand need to simmer for at least 2 hours to extract the medicine from them.
I make STRONG brews and can usually use the same herbs 2-3 times before adding them to my compost.
Another way to use the decoction method is to use a crock pot - usually over night. You add the herbs and the water and then set the crockpot on low for 8-12 hours unless otherwise suggested or decided. You can even reuse the herbs the following night with half as much water used before - it won't be as strong as the first batch but you will get the most out of your herbs this way.
Pictured above is one of my favorite decoction blends I made this morning. This blend includes astragalus root, burdock root, elderberries, licorice root, albizia bark, wild yam root, and sarsaparilla. I like to strengthen my organs, nourish my adrenals, build my blood, and support my immune system with this blend - just a few of several benefits received from this blend.
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