Nourishing Herbal Infusions

I crave my daily herbal infusion. I know my husband does, too. Considering they are vitamin, mineral, and protein powerhouses it’s no wonder! The Mister loves his daily infusions as does our youngest daughter. She’s been drinking them for many years, too. They’re not just for women. They’re for babies, toddler, youths, adults. In other words, EVERYONE. They are food. This is not tea.

What is an infusion? How is it different from a cup of tea?

An infusion is a very strong liquid, tea-like, made with one ounce of herb and allowed to sit in hot water for 4 hours or more. A tea is made from a small amount of herbs or tea leaves, typically 1-3 teaspoons, and steeped in hot water for up to 10 minutes. A tea does not impart the amount of health-giving properties of an infusion, although a cuppa tea can be very enjoyable. I drink a few cups of strong Irish tea every day!

These are the 5 main herbs I make infusions from: organic Red Clover blossoms, organic Nettle, organic Oatstraw, organic Linden, and organic Comfrey leaf. Behind the front row is Hawthorn leaf and flower, Holy Basil, Raspberry Leaf, Uva Ursi, and Yarrow.

Red clover is hands down my absolute favorite infusion. I’m 52 and haven’t experienced one hot flash, I have strong bones, a flexible spine, and supple skin. Yes, you read that right. Not one hot flash. I thought I was having one a couple weeks ago but my husband reminded me I had a been out in the sun all day and it was 90 degrees out. So no hot flash! Red clover helps our bodies balance out hormones (for men, too) and provides minerals, vitamins, and protective phytosterols.

We all want good health. We all want to age gracefully. I know I want to ease into my second half of life with as much of health and vitality as I can build. I credit my easy transition to crone status with nourishing herbal infusions, eating a varied diet that includes local, pasture raised meats, lots of natural fats (butter, lard, olive oil) and full fat organic dairy foods.

If you only do one thing for yourself this month, this year, or today, add nourishing herbal infusions to your diet. Why drink plain water when you can replace it with a nourishing herbal infusion? Plain water offers you nothing nutritionally and flushes minerals and vitamins from your body if you drink too much. Hydrate and add those proteins, minerals, and vitamins back with a nourishing herbal infusion.

Where do I get my herbs for infusions?

Frontier and Mountain Rose Herbs sells organic herbs by the pound as well as most small health food stores. If you become a member of United Plant Savers you will receive a membership perk of a 20% discount to Mountain Rose Herbs! I am also a wholesale member of Frontier. If you’re interested in a wholesale account, click here.

All you need are giant Mason jars (I use half gallon sizes) to store the herbs in your cabinets, an inexpensive food scale, a quart jar with tight-fitting lid, and 5 minutes of time to boil water and weigh out the herb. I make infusions for us in the evening, let them sit overnight, strain them in the morning, and then we drink them during the day.

We rotate through 5-7 different herbs over the course of the week, drinking one infusion a day. We do not mix them together. Our favorites are Nettle, Oatstraw, Comfrey, Red Clover, Linden, and sometimes Hawthorn and Raspberry leaf infusions. When our Lab had a uti I made her rotating infusions of Uva Ursi and Yarrow to help her fight it off. Nettle isn’t my favorite infusion but I know it’s incredibly nutritious so instead of leaving it out of the rotation I’ll add a pinch of Holy Basil to change the taste to my liking. Also, I noticed that if my infusions are very cold they taste so much better.

Take care of your body now. It’s never too late to build health. Infusions are easy to make. Below are pics of my 5 minute routine. I prefer to make them at night so they can steep and be ready to strain and refrigerate in the morning. Infusions only need 4 hours to steep so if it’s easier for you to do it in the morning, go for it! Note: This is NOT a tea.

How do I make a nourishing herbal infusion?

Step 1. Put kettle on the fire.
Step 2. Gather your herb, scale, jar, and funnel. Always use a scale. One ounce of nettle looks very different than one ounce of comfrey!
Step 3. Tare the scale to 0.00 oz. and weigh out one ounce of herb.
Step 4. Fill jar to the near top with boiling water and using a wooden spoon stir the herb and water. Wait a few seconds to let the herb absorb some water then top it off. Screw the lid on (don’t do it too tight) and let it sit for 4 hours or overnight.
Step 5. Strain and compost the plant material if you can. At this point you can refrigerate or drink directly. I prefer them COLD.
Enjoy!

Read more about Nourishing Herbal Infusions from Susun Weed here.

My First Herbal Remedy

I decided to make an Echinacea tincture as my first herbal project for Herbal Academy of New England. I’m enrolled in their Intermediate Herbal Course and one of my assignments was to make an herbal recipe and write about it. It’s not chance that I chose Echinacea. We are smack-dab in the middle of cold and flu season, and many of my Kindergarten students are presently fighting off colds. Echinacea tincture is the perfect and practical choice. I purchased one pound of organic Echinacea purpurea root  and two large bottles of brandy. I chose brandy over vodka because brandy seems more soothing when you have a cold. Who wouldn’t like a brandy (or whiskey with lemon) by the fire when they’re feeling under the weather?

After a bit of searching the basement shelves, I found my large two-gallon jar. I cleaned it and dried it thoroughly. I put the dried Echinacea purpurea root in the jar and then covered it with the brandy in stages, stirring in between pours to make sure that all the herb was covered by the brandy. I put it in one of my kitchen cabinets to “rest.” Every so often I gave the giant jar a hearty shake. After a few days, I could see that the echinacea root was absorbing the brandy and the liquid wasn’t fully covering the herb anymore (and it should be) so I added additional brandy. After waiting almost four weeks (tinctures can “rest” three to six weeks) , I got impatient. Using a fine mesh strainer, I strained the tincture into sixteen amber glass 4 oz. bottles.

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Just as I feared, two days ago, I started to feel sick: sore throat, brain fogginess, sinus pressure, and headache. I have been using the tincture for two days.  To take the medicine, I squeeze the dropper and draw the tincture into the glass tube and drop it into my mouth. I do this twice. I prefer to take it  this way rather than mixing it with water. Admittedly, it takes a little getting used to the earthy taste. I can happily say that the tincture is helping me fight the virus.

About Echinacea:

There are nine species in the genus Echinacea. Echinacea is a perennial. You may have some of these beautiful plants in your gardens already. I have the Purple Coneflower, aka Echincacea Purpurea, in my gardens. The pollinators love them. In fact, that’s the reason why I planted them last year. They feed my honey bees and many beautiful butterflies, and when the season is over the center cone provides food for the birds. The flowers, leaves, and roots can’t be harvested until the plant is at least three years old. Harvesting is done in the fall after the first frost when the leaves and flowers have browned.

Echinacea works as immune stimulant. If it is taken at the onset of cold, it can shorten and lessen the severity of illness. It should not be taken on a regular basis longer than six to eight weeks. If you take it to help you get through cold season it is best take it for a couple weeks, then take a week off, then resume. Always consult your health professional before taking Echinacea with other prescribed medications. As with any medication, drug interactions can occur.

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(photo from the web)