Healing with herbs, PART 7
GUIDELINES FOR BREWING A HERB INFUSION OR A HERB TISANE
Natural food stores and even many grocery stores today sell all sorts of ready- made herbal medicines. Still, it is far less costly and more satisfying to make your own remedies with homegrown herbs picked right from your garden. You can combine herbs to fit your own needs and tastes and make just the amounts you need. Furthermore, one can guarantee the purity of the herbs since you would know they had not been treated with any toxic chemicals.
CAUTION: Keep in mind that many herbs have toxic properties, and some are absolutely poisonous. Take care to identify plants accurately and if you are not sure of one, then do not use it. The standard rule is: Use all plants judiciously; use some plants not at all. Remember that medicines that are healthful when taken in small quantities can be harmful in large doses. Of course, do not self medicate for ailments which have not been previously diagnosed by a licensed physician or other qualified health professional. Certain herbal medications may not work well in conjunction with other drugs you may be taking.
The following are standard guidelines for brewing herb infusions and tisanes:
1) Use a glass or ceramic container: Aluminum, iron, tin, or other metals will leach into the tea, so do not use pots made from these metals. Although copper and stainless steel may be okay, herbalists recommend you stay with a clean glass, ceramic, pottery or an unchipped ceramic pot.
2) Use pure water: Do not pollute our tea with chlorine or other chemicals in the water you use. Fresh spring water or distilled water is best for making medicinal teas.
3) Used boiled- not boiling- water: Boil your water first, then remove it from the heat and add the herb.
4) Use the proper proportions: A typical medicinal tea requires 1 ounce of dried herb (about 2 handfuls) to 2 cups of water, or 2 ounces of fresh herb to 2 cups of water. Let the infusion steep for 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the herb’s potency and how strong a tea you wish to make. The herb will soak up about 1/2 cup of the water, leaving you with roughly 1 1/2 cups of beverage.
5) Cover the pot tightly: If you smell the aroma of the brewing tea, the herb’s essential oils are escaping into the air, rather than being retained in the liquid.
6) Strain the finished infusion before capping and storing.
Cathleen V. Carr, JD, PhD is the editor of The Best Natural Health Directory and Natural Medicine Ink.