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Herbal Teas and Infusions

People have been consuming herbal teas for as long and they have known to heat water - since well before recorded history. Unlike green, black, and oolong teas, herbal teas can be made from virtually any plant, and from any part of the plant, including the roots, flowers, seeds, berries, or bark, although there are some herbs, such as echinacea, gingko leaf, saw palmetto, and milk thistle, that are not effective as healing when taken in tea form because their active components are not water soluable, and the concentration needed for medicinal potency is so high it can be obtained only from an extract, pill or capsule.

Different herbal teas, which sometimes contain thousands of beneficial active compounds, have their own distinctive healing uses. According to Varro Tyler, Ph.D., distinguished professor emeritus of pharmacognosy(the study of natural drug properties) at Purdue University, herbal teas are very good for relieving mild to moderate ailments such as upset stomach, sore throat, coughs, stuffy nose, and insomnia.

Many herbal teas are available in bag form. They can also be prepared from raw herb. To make an herbal tea, gently crumble leaves and flowers and break roots and barks into pieces (cutting the herbs cause the essential oils to dissipate) and place them in a ceramic or glass container. Cover the herb parts with boiling water (do not bring the herbs themselves to a boil), and allow them to steep. Most herbs should be steeped for four to six minutes, although some herbal teas, such as chamomile, need to be steeped for for fifteen to twenty minutes in a covered container in order to deliver their full therapeutic effect. Other herbs, such as ginseng roots, can be boiled. Astragalus can be lightly simmered for several hours. In fact, in Asia, ginseng root, astragalus, dong quai, and other herbs are added to chicken broth to make a tonic soup that is both food and medicine.

Infusion is simply another term for tea. This is the easiest way to take herbal remedies. To make an infusion, you simply boil water and add leaves, stems, flowers, and powdered herbs-material whose active ingredients dissolve readily in hot water -then steep, strain, and drink the mixture as tea.

A decoction is a tea made from thicker plant parts, such as bark, roots, seeds, or berries. These also contain lignin, a substance that is difficult to dissolve in water. Thus, decoctions require a more vigorous method than infusions.

Source: "Prescription for Nutritional Healing 3rd Edition" - James Balch M.D. & Phyllis Balch CNC