Herb Basics

A Place to Start

| September/October 2006


Herbal teas are an easy and inexpensive way to take your herbs. You can grow, harvest and dry your own tea herbs and make your own blends, or you easily can find both individual herbs and tea blends in bulk at health-food stores. To keep teas fresh as long as possible, store them away from direct sunlight, preferably in dark glass containers with tight-fitting lids.

To make a tea, place 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb leaves, flowers and/or stems (if using fresh herbs, double that amount) in a cup. Pour 1 cup boiling water over the herbs, and let the tea steep for 10 minutes, or until it reaches the desired strength. Strain, then sip.

Infusions are stronger than teas but are prepared similarly — just let the herbs steep for twice as long. A standard dose of an infusion is 1 cup three times daily.

Decoctions, which are stronger than infusions, require that your boil (rather than steep) the herbs. Decoctions are made from roots, rhizomes and barks — plant parts whose active constituents are more difficult to extract than those of flowers, leaves or stems. To make a decoction, use 1 teaspoon of the dried herb, broken into pieces or powdered (or 1 tablespoon of fresh herb in small pieces) per cup of water. Place the herb in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 20 to 40 minutes. Strain the decoction while it’s still hot. The standard dose is 1 cup twice daily.


The unpleasant sensation of heartburn is caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. This can be caused by a relaxed or damaged valve between the esophagus and the stomach.

Most people experience occasional heartburn from eating spicy foods. Problems arise, however, when the condition becomes chronic. The lining of the esophagus is not protected from acid like the stomach, and it can become inflamed, especially with continued irritation over time.

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