How to Use Herbs

This article looks at how to use herbs, in decoctions and infusions.

Most herbs will release their active properties in water or alcohol.

There are two techniques of water release; this is known as an INFUSION or DECOCTION.

Advantages of decoctions and infusions:

  • They are safe and cheap to use, especially if you grow your own herbs
  • They allow the herb to be easily absorbed
  • Many herbs have good nutritional content
  • They provide an alternative to tea and coffee
  • It’s the best way to harness the herbs potent properties

Join me here for tips on how to prepare a herbal infusion……


This method involves boiling the roots, seeds and bark, which helps to release the active properties of the herbs.

As a general rule, a decoction usually consists of 30 g chopped and dried woody herbs.

Ideally, you should be looking to use one part herb to 30 parts water:

  • First crush or bruise the herbs
  • Next place them in a saucepan and cover with boiling or cold water
  • Place a lid on the saucepan and let everything steep overnight
  • The following morning, bring the mixture slowly to the boil
  • Then let everything simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to around 600 ml
  • Next strain the decoction through a fine sieve, or a piece of muslin and measure. If you have a ratio of less than 1:20, you can pour hot water through the muslin, to make it up to the right quantity

How to Use Herbs as a Tincture

Unfortunately, many herbs don’t release their active properties in water, they only become active in alcohol, which is where a tincture is more useful:

  • Next seal the tincture, in a container with a tight lid
  • Let the tincture stand in a sunny area, where it can get full benefit from the sun.
  • Steep for around a week and strain
  • After a week, pour off the liquid through a nylon cheese cloth strainer
  • You will know when the extract is effective, because the alcohol retains the character and smell of the herb
  • Add 1% Vitamin E, to make the herb last longer

Use one ounce of crushed or powdered herbs, diluted in 12 ounces of alcohol and 4 ounces of water

2 thoughts on “How to Use Herbs

  1. Lewis Nicholson says:

    Greetings Samantha, can you tell me the name of a reputable supplier of organic macadamian oil, I’m a grower of very pure macadamians situated in a remote part of New Zealand, my reason for asking you about the oil is I’m going to start pressing my entire crop into oil and need to build up my knowledge of that side of the industry any advice you could impart would be gratefully received
    Kind regards

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Lewis, thanks for reaching out.
      Have you tried, they specialise in selling high quality oils, I find them really helpful.
      there is also a company called pure nature on the North island, they are a new company, which may also offer you some advise
      Hope that helps

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