Infusing herbs in water is one of the most ancient forms of making plant medicine. And it's also one of the most overlooked.
So many folks take their herbs in capsules or tinctures, or fancy preparations made by medicine makers, sometimes quite delicious, but more complicated nevertheless.
But teas are an incredibly accessible form of extracting medicinal compounds from herbs, and if you look at ancient traditional systems of medicine, indigenous cultural traditions, TCM, Ayurveda, you’ll find teas as a mainstay of their practices even still.
And while not all plant constituents are extracted effectively into water, many are.
To really get medicinal benefit from teas, you want to consider your dosing. For basic infusions, you’ll want to drink 3-4 cups/day throughout the day for most benefit.
So you can make a larger batch for a day or two and then refrigerate and reheat during the day.
Herbal dosage can be different for every plant… but many tea herbs are quite safe, and you’d often have to drink an unbearable amount of tea to have any adverse effects. It's much more likely to underdose with teas, honestly.
Basic beverage-level infusions
Typically you'll work with flowers and leaves, or bagged teas you find in stores.
The amount varies, but is usually about 1 tsp (or 1 teabag) per cup of boiled water.
They can be steeped covered or not, for 3-10 minutes. They are casual, beverage teas.
For anxiety, mood irritability, or to support sleep anytime in your cycle, try a simple chamomile, lavender, lemon balm (equal parts) blend with a *tiny* pinch of licorice if you have it.
Note: Licorice is contraindicated in pregnancy and also with hypertension. The other herbs can be safely drank as tea in pregnancy, though always good to avoid herbs in first trimester unless needed.
Again, you'll usually be working with flowers and leaves, with some exceptions (eg powdered roots/seeds or marshmallow or licorice).
This is a stronger and more medicinal-level herbal infusion.
The amounts can differ depending on the herbs, but often you'll want 2-3 tsp of herb per cup of hot water, steeped covered for 15-30 minutes.
Covering helps to retain more of the aromatics, which is often part of the desired medicine.
This is a wonderful method for most medicinal herbal leaf and flower teas.
A favorite tea blend for for everyday uplifting, heart support on physical and emotional levels is linden, hawthorne, tulsi, rose, licorice.
This tea may also be helpful for anxiety, depression, and reducing stress levels... which of course plays a significant role in hormonal health.
If you wish to add in a little direction to the uterus, you can add some raspberry leaf.
Commonly used for extracting mucilage - which is the gooey factor, but these are also a great way to retain aromatics.
Usually, a few tablespoons of dried herb in a quart of water, or a handful or two of fresh herb in the cart of cold water, steeped covered for 1-4 hours.
My favorite cold infusion for soothing and moistening tissues is a marshmallow - cinnamon combination.
For aromatic cold infusions, you can try fresh or dried peppermint, lemon balm, rose, anise hyssop, tulsi, or even hibiscus.
There’s a theory about how dry tissues might actually have a reflex response in the body. So let’s say you’ve got dry vaginal tissue, actually regularly drinking a marshmallow, cinnamon cold infusion on a daily basis may be helpful not only for the kind of dry stagnant constipation, decreasing inflammation in the digestive tract, soothing urinary tract tissues, but may also have a capacity to encourage moistening of vaginal tissue, dry skin, etc…
These are long steeped nutritive teas, including red raspberry, nettles, oatstraw, alfalfa, red clover.
Pour just boiled hot water over a handful of herbs in a quart jar, and steep covered at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
These can be combined or taken separately.
I love alternating days with different nourishing infusions. Raspberry is very specific as a uterine tonic, and nettles is a close second.
Simmered teas which are usually reserved for roots, barks, berries and seeds, but Phyllis D. Light also decocts some leafy herbs, which brings out more minerals, and a deeper nutritive taste.
Decoctions are typically tea blends simmered for 15-30 minutes, strained and drank.
One of my favorite decoctions is chai.
Try the dandelion chai recipe found in the Dandelion Love Recipe Collection, which of course can be supportive for digestion (the combo of bitter dandelion with warming spices is wonderful to get juices going and calm gas and bloating) and a mild aperient (gentle laxative action).
But it also encourages detoxification especially for hormonal imbalance, whether that’s in the form of moods, fibroids, breast tenderness, etc.
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