Mother Earth Living

Herbal Apothecary 101: Herbal Decoction

By Susan Belsinger and Tina Marie Wilcox
June/July 2009
Add to My MSN

Health made simple: A few herbs and you in your kitchen, preparing medicines with simple techniques as ancient as time.
iStockphoto.com/Mona Makela


Content Tools

Related Content

Learn to Meditate Part 3: Establishing a Daily Meditation

Learn how to establish a daily meditation schedule with these helpful tips.

Herbal Rinses for Natural Hair Care

Our standard shampooing practices often leave hair dull and damaged. Benefit from our botanical alli...

Herbal Syrup: Fight Off Colds with an Herbal Arsenal

Herbal syrups are a wonderful vehicle for immune-boosting, antiviral and antibiotic herbs for use an...

Herbal Apothecary 101: 12 Essential Herbs in Our Apothecary

Find out ore about our 12 essential herbs, including some of their uses and guidelines to get starte...

Makes about 1 quart

The amount of plant material will vary depending upon which plant you are decocting. Usually, the proportion is 5 parts medicinal herb to 100 parts water, but the amount of herb varies based on what form it takes. Dried seeds generally are rich in essential oil, so you need about 2 tablespoons. (An example is fennel seed, which would require 2 to 4 tablespoons per quart of water.) When dealing with roots, on the other hand (an example is gingerroot “coins”) you would want about 1 cup. Another factor is volume; some herbs need more like 2 cups. Rosehips, for example, need about 2 cups because they are hard-skinned and full of seeds. 

If this sounds like it involves some guesswork, that’s probably accurate. You might have to experiment a little to find just the right combination. But playing in the kitchen is half the fun.

• Generous 2 tablespoons to about 2 cup roots, bark, berries or seeds
• 1 quart water

1. Prepare roots, bark, berries or seeds as necessary. For instance, if using fresh gingerroot, peel the root and slice it crosswise into thin “coins.” Rinse any gritty or dirty plant material before using. If using bark or hard, dried root, it is easier to get the medicinal virtues from the material if it is cut or pounded into smaller pieces.

2. Bring water barely to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan and add the prepared plant material. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. For really hard plant parts, you may need to simmer for up to 1 hour. Keep an eye on the water; you may need to add more if it is reducing considerably.

3. For a hot beverage, strain if necessary, taste it for desired strength and serve; sweeten if desired. If using for a compress, you will most likely want to strain it and keep it warm as needed.


Susan Belsinger and Tina Marie Wilcox use herbs every day in and around their homes and greenhouses. Some of this article’s information and recipes are from their book The Creative Herbal Home (Herbspirit, 2007). 

Click here for the original article,  Herbal Apothecary 101 .








Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.