The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.
How do you harness the healing potential from botanicals, without destroying the delicate material?
By creating an infusion, which is simple and easy to do much like making a cup of tea.
If you pour boiling water over herbs and leave them to steep, you begin to unlock their valuable properties.
Infusions are really versatile; you can drink them, inhale them or even use them topically in a compress.
If you simply want to make a brew, check out my article on Herbal Tea Recipes.
MAKING A MEDICINAL INFUSION
When considering types of herbs and their uses, chopped, crushed, powdered or bruised herbs, will float to the top and infuse unevenly.
So crumbling the herbs to the size of ordinary tea leaves, will help you achieve the perfect brew.
HERBS IN INFUSIONS
It goes without saying, some herbs are very strong.
Teas can be diluted by adding extra water or juice, an infusion of honey will also help.
Certain leaves do contain volatile oils such as Mentha Piperita, these herbs are generally infused for less time.
Tougher materials like Gingko leaves can be infused up to 4 hours for maximum benefit.
What are the right quantities?
The British Pharmacopeia (1914), gives a measurement of one oz. to one pint of water, for a hot medicinal infusion
- For a large compress, try adding 60g fresh herbs to 600ml boiling water; or one part water to ten parts water. This is a large amount, yielding more than three 250 ml cups, but it’s a great way to prepare infusions for external use
- As a rule of thumb, the longer you allow your herbs to steep the stronger the infusion will be
- Work on three hours as a maximum time, to fully extract the herbs potent properties, and fifteen minutes as a minimum
It is important to note that you should keep herbs well covered, this will help to preserve any volatile oils and once infused, simply strain off the water.
For best results for cold infusions, follow the instructions below:
- Chop the herbs, then place them into a glass preserving jar
- Next, crush them with a wooden spoon before adding water
- Then cover the jar and give it a good shake
- Leave the infusion to soak for anywhere between 6 to 12 hours, ideally the longer the better
Cold water extracts take longer to infuse than hot water infusions; however it is a really useful way of getting the most out of your delicate herbs.
Only use glass or stainless steel pots, ideally you want to avoid using aluminium or Teflon, which can leak into the infusion.