HOW TO PREPARE
"A decoction is a method of extraction by boiling of dissolved chemicals, or herbal or plant material, which may include stems, roots, bark or leaf. In herbalism, decoctions are usually made to extract fluids from hard plant materials such as roots and bark. To achieve this, the plant material is usually boiled for 08 -12 minutes in water. It is then strained. Whenever the herb to be used is hard and woody, it is better to make a decoction rather than an infusion to ensure that the soluble contents of the herbs actually reach the water.
Roots, rhizomes, wood, bark, nuts and some seeds are hard and their cell walls are very strong, so to ensure that the active constituents are transferred to the water, more heat is needed than for infusions and the herb has to be boiled in the water.
When preparing a mixture containing soft and woody herbs, it is best to prepare an infusion and a decoction separately to ensure that the more sensitive herbs are treated accordingly.
When using a woody herb which contains a lot of volatile oils, it is best to make sure that it is powdered as finely as possible and then used in an infusion rather than a decoction, to ensure that the oils do not boil away.
A decoction can be used in the same way as an infusion. Women of childbearing age should always make sure the herbs they are using are safe during pregnancy.
Here's how to make a decoction:
1. Use a glass, ceramic or earthenware container. If metal it should be enameled. Never use aluminum.
2. Put one teaspoonful of herb for each cup of water into the pot.
3. Add the water to the herbs in the pot.
4. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.
5. The usual dosage is 1 cup three times a day.
If the herb is very bitter or strong, use 4 teaspoons three times a day.
Prepare no more than 24 hours in advance."
A standard infusion is prepared by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb (or 2 to 4 teaspoons of fresh herb) to a cup of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes before straining. If the herb is left too long, the infusion will become bitter. It's best to use a ceramic pot with a lid.
A tincture is an alcoholic extraction of herb. Alcohol dissolves the active constituents out of the plant matter and acts as a preservative, allowing the tincture to retain its effectiveness for up to 2 years. In Brazilian traditional herbal medicine tinctures are usually made with aguardente, cachaca (Brazilian rum) or vodka. Any part of the plant may be used.
Use a sweet red wine with an alcohol content of at least 12%. Cover four ounces of herb with three cups of wine. Leave for a week before straining. Take four teaspoons one or two times daily. Herbal wine is best used within a month.
Sugar is a good preservative and is ideal for cough mixtures, especially since some herbs for cough are very bitter. Prepare two cups of an infusion or decoction of the required herb. Strain and add 1¾ cup brown sugar or a honey and sugar mixture. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a clean glass bottle and seal. Store in the refrigerator. The Standard dosage is one teaspoon three times a day.
Soak a cloth in a hot decoction of herb, squeeze most of the liquid out and apply the hot cloth to the affected area. Once it has cooled, repeat the process. Tinctures of other herbs and essential oils can be added to the liquid.
Poultices are effective for boils, abscesses, chest infections and sprains. Mix chopped herb or powdered seeds with boiling water to make a pulp. Place the pulp in a piece of cloth and apply to the affected area while hot. It should be replaced when cool. A thin layer of calendula cream will protect the skin and prevent the poultice from sticking.
Maceration, in chemistry, the preparation of an extract by soaking material (such as parts of fibrous plants) in water, alcohol, vegetable oil or some organic solvent. The word may also refer to the same process when used to produce perfume stock.
HERBS AND PREGNANCY
Many herbs are unsafe for women who are pregnant. Therefore, many other herbs are known to be helpful during pregnancy and after delivery. Some are also good for the baby, such as calendula cream for diaper rash and fennel for colic. Parsley, Celery, Land Cress, Rocket Taken for vitamins and minerals. Do not use the seeds.
Raspberry Leaf Used to tone the uterus.
Chamomile (infusion 1 cup before rising)
Ginger (tincture-up to 1ml/day, 2-3 drops at a time)
Peppermint (tincture-2 ml in hot water 3x daily)
Black Horehound (tincture-2 ml in hot water 3x daily) Taken for morning sickness.
Goldenseal Taken during labor to assist the uterus. Never take during pregnancy.
St. John's Wort (apply an oil infusion to the area, or add a strong infusion to a hip bath)
Use the oil with added lavender to heal the perineum after birth.
Oats Prepare a tincture to use for postpartum depression.
Fenugreek, Fennel, Caraway, Milk Thistle - After delivery, these herbs can be used to promote milk production.
Sage Used to reduce milk production when weaning.
Fennel For baby's colic.
Cabbage Leaves, Echinacea Bruise and apply externally for relief of mastitis.
Borage An infusion will aid in mild production in breastfeeding mothers.
Calendula Cream Prepare a cream to use for diaper rash and cracked nipples.
Caraway As a tincture or infusion, can help ease labor pains and stimulate the flow of breast milk."
The information contained on these pages is continuously revised and updated and each entry is verified by several sources, however it is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. If irritations result from the use of herbal remedies, discontinue.
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