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Herbal Preparations

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Herbal Preparations

Herbal Preparations with Aron

So you’ve done your research. Bought your herbs. Have all the materials. What now? This is a common frustration amongst many individuals diving into the world of herbalism. The role of education falls on the responsibility of the herbalist and is something I believe needs to be further emphasized. In this article, I hope to offer additional resources on how to better prepare herbs yourself.

Lets first divide herbs into two operational categories:

Infusions– leaves, flowers, and stems. Infusions deal with plant material that is more fragile. This means that extreme heat or agitation can harm compounds found within this plant structure. When preparing these herbs, add desired amount of water to a pot. Turn on heat and allow water to come to a boil. Once boiling, immediately turn off the heat. Place your herbs in the hot water and allow to steep for a minimum of 10 minutes. After 10mins, strain your herbs and enjoy your beverage.

Decoctions– berries, roots, barks, and mushrooms. Decoctions involve preparing plant matter that is thicker. This means to extract the beneficial components within, you will have to offer additional heat and agitation. Begin by adding desired amount of water to a pot. Turn on the heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down low enough so that the water is simmering. Next, add in your herbs and allow to simmer for a minimum of 10mins. The key here is to make sure that the plant material is moving around (simmering) while in the pot. After 10mins, strain the material and enjoy.

At home, this process is made easier if you have a pot, lid, strainer, and measuring cup. The lid for the pot plays importance when the aromatics of the plant play are necessary. For example, if I’m making a cup of peppermint tea to help my digestion, the aromatics of the plant play an important role here. The cooling and stimulating properties of peppermint are necessary in order to impart the medicinal value I am seeking. In order to trap the aromatics, placing a lid on top is necessary so the aromatics don’t precipitate out. This is an additional step to remember when considering how to best prepare herbs at home.

The last topic I will cover is the capacity for you to combine multiple herbs into a tea at once. Lets say you want to include dandelion leaf and root together in a tea but wanted to pull out all of the constituents from each part. How would we do this?

          1. Start by preparing decoction first. Bring desired amount of water to a boil.

          2. Once boiling, turn heat down to a low simmer.

          3. Add in dandelion root and allow to simmer for at least 10mins.

          4. After 10 mins, turn of the heat.

          5. Add in dandelion leaf and allow mixture to sit for another 10mins.

          6. Strain herbs and enjoy.

Not only are all of the constituents in the root and leaf extracted, but both plant parts are not damaged. Keep this procedure in mind if you would like to begin learning how to combine herbs and make your own tea blends.

I hope this material has been helpful for many. It is in my opinion that the herbal community needs to provide further education on preparation to consumers in order to make the task of using herbs not so daunting.

Check out Good Earth’s bulk herbs available here!

Thanks for reading,

Aron McNicholas

Community Herbalism

If interested in learning more or working with an herbal practitioner, feel free to contact Aron (aron@good-earth.com) for scheduled classes, consults, or questions.