Lately I’ve been posting about my herbal infusions on my personal Facebook page and I’ve been getting a lot of questions. What is an herbal infusion? How do you make one and what are they for? I thought it would be easier to write an article than to respond to each person individually, so I hope this is helpful to everyone.
What Is an Herbal Infusion?
An herbal infusion is sort of like a really potent herbal tea. Instead of steeping for five or ten minutes, you steep it for four hours or longer. The basic formula is to take one ounce of dried herbs and put it into a quart jar. Then pour boiled water over the herbs, stir them around a bit and cap it up. Allow this to sit for four hours or overnight. Then strain out the herbs and drink the infusion. If you aren’t going to drink all of in within a couple of hours, refrigerate it so it doesn’t spoil. Use it up within two or three days. I always drink mine in a day and have a new one the next day.
You can drink your infusions hot (heated on the stove please, not in the microwave) or cold. You can sweeten with honey, stevia or even a little peppermint. Or you may prefer it with salt or miso added. It’s really up to you. You can even use them as a base for smoothies, in soups or in a variety of other ways.
According to herbalist Susun Weed, “An infusion extracts more nutrients than a tincture and more medicinal qualities than a tea.” This makes infusions a perfect way to nourish and heal your body, creating balance. Drinking infusions every day is way easier than popping vitamins every day, and it’s actually cheaper. It’s also more effective because those vitamins and minerals are coming from a natural source – food. Your body can use nutrients easier when received this way, so they are more likely to give you the healing you need.
What Herbs Should You Use?
Herbs are rich in nutrients, but they are also helpful for managing countless health issues. While I choose herbs that will offer me a nutritional balance, I also choose herbs that will help me with my pain issues, among other things. For example, yesterday I made a linden infusion. Linden is calming, it helps with pain because it is anti-inflammatory, and it’s even good for kids with ADHD because it naturally calms them.
For a linden infusion, it might be better to use a half ounce of dried linden instead of a full ounce, because linden has mucilage which can have a thick or slimy feel. Linden is one herb you can use twice for your infusions, so after you strain it, put the linden in a pan with two cups of cold water and bring that to a boil. Put a lid on it, then turn the heat off and let that sit for at least two hours. You’ll see that the second brew will be much more slippery. That’s the mucilage, which is what helps it to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Linden is high in phytonutrients, flavonoids, and other diaphoretic substances. It’s good for anxiety, detoxifying, and fighting free radicals. It’s also good for migraines and safe for kids.
Sore throats and coughs are soothed with linden, and it also helps eliminate congestion and fights/prevents colds and flu. It lowers blood pressure and inflammation making it good for tension headaches, arthritis, etc.(pain in general)
It’s also helpful if you have a yucky stomach (indigestion, constipation, etc.). Keep in mind, as with anything, allergies are possible so if you order some, start with a small bag. I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Another favorite herb that I use is stinging nettle. If you are only familiar with the stinging part, you might think I’m crazy to call this a favorite. But that’s okay; you just need to get to know her.
Nettles is one of the finest nourishing herbs you can find according to Susun Weed. She states that nettles contain nearly every vitamin and mineral known to be necessary for human health and growth. That’s pretty impressive. And once you strain out the nettles from your infusion, you can add them to soups and stews, in your scrambled eggs or even in a green smoothie in place of spinach or whatever other green you’re using.
Some of the many, many benefits of nettles include:
- Aiding kidney health
- Increasing fertility (men and women)
- Less pain during and after birth
- Increasing breast milk
- Soothing leg cramps
- Increased energy
- Fights allergies and hay fever
- Eases osteoarthritis and joint pain
- Stimulates hair growth
- Reduces menstrual bleeding
- Helps to heal eczema (when taken internally and used as a cream, together)
There are probably tons of benefits I’m missing, but you get the picture.
If you would like to try fresh nettles, be sure to wear gloves when harvesting, washing and chopping. Once cooked, they loose their sting so you don’t have to be afraid to enjoy them as you would other greens in your meals. That being said, some people feel it’s just easier to buy it dried. I use both. Dried nettles are for infusions and I harvest fresh for eating, because I have a ton of them growing here. Might as well take advantage of what Mother gives us for free!
Red clover is considered an excellent “women’s herb” because it is so rich in vitamins including vitamin C, calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine. It also offers folic acid, and minerals needed for conception, child birth and the reproductive system in general. If you have issues with infertility, I suggest giving this herb a try. I have no interest in getting pregnant, but I do want hormonal balance, so I have this on a weekly basis. It’s also one of the richest sources of isoflavones, so it’s useful for treating hot flashes and PMS and also good for breast health. Red clover is also considered a cancer fighting herb as well as a good herb for cardiovascular, so it’s good for some extra protection.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, red clover is considered a blood purifier and for this reason, it has also been used to treat skin issues like eczema and psoriasis, as well as respiratory problems.
Another women’s herb, red raspberry leaf is considered a tonic for pregnancy and uterine health. It can also help prevent morning sickness, miscarriage, and hemorrhage. Red raspberry leaf helps to tone the muscles used during labor and delivery, therefore making the birth process less painful. However, this isn’t only a women’s herb. Red raspberry leaf increases fertility in both men and women, especially when used alongside red clover.
This is probably my favorite infusion, just because I really like how it tastes (though linden comes in at a very close second place). According to Susun Weed, oat straw infusion “restores nervous system integrity, emotional flexibility, and sexual flow. Oats and oat straw are exceptionally good at nourishing heart health and moderating cholesterol.” It’s rich in protein, macro- and trace minerals and B vitamins (except B12). Just one cup has 300mg of calcium!
Oat straw helps ease stress and anxiety and can even help with depression. It’s also a great rinse for your hair and eases skin irritations when used in a bath.
While these are my favorite herbal infusions, there are plenty of others as well. I find that these herbs offer a great nutritional balance and set a strong foundation for other natural methods of healing. When your body has what it needs, it starts to heal itself. Let me know if you have any questions.