What Is A Decoction…And Why Would I Want To Use One?
A decoction is an extract of herbs produced by simmering the herb in water. It is used on roots, barks, and berries. It is used to remove the minerals, bitters, and other natural chemicals from the plant. These herbs need a low boil for at least 10 minutes to allow the medicine of the herb to come out. Then, they are steeped for several hours.It is considered an herbal medicine. A decoction is taken like a tea, only using roots and barks. The roots and bark require a bit more coaxing to get the medicinal benefits from the herb.
A decoction can also be used make extracts. Most extracts are made using alcohol, but if they are to be used in a short time from, a water extract works well. They can also be made into a syrup using vegetable glycerin or honey. Decoctions also make a great poultice or are added to creams.
Methods of Decoctions
Medicinal teas will only last in the refrigerator for a week. Kept any longer, and they lose their medicinal properties. To keep them longer, you can freeze in an ice cube tray. Pour decoction into ice cube trays freeze. Be sure to cover them or place them in a plastic bag. This keeps them free of other odors. They can be frozen for about 3-4 months. Elderberry ice cubes are wonderful for soothing for sore throats in children.
A light decoction is used for the smaller barks such as cinnamon. It is also used on hard leaved plants like horehound. To make a light decoction, simmer the herbs gently on low heat. Be sure to keep the pan covered to prevent the escape of the essential oils. Turn off heat. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Strain mixture. You may drink it or keep for later use. Be sure to store in refrigerator.
This method of decocting is mostly used for the very expensive roots, and barks. When you are done with the first simmer, strain the herbs and set aside the liquid. Add about cup of water to the herbs. Simmer this time for 25 minutes. Let it cool, and then strain. Be sure to squeeze out all the liquid. Blend the two liquid extractions together.
A maceration is a method used when heat will destroy the active compounds of the herb. In this case, a cold maceration is used. To make a maceration, take 25 grams of the herb. Crush or chop herb and mix it with 16 ounces of cold water. Be sure the water is free of chemicals like chlorine. Pour the water over the herb and let stand overnight. Strain and use like a decoction.
How To Make A Decoction
Get a bowl, or if you have one a mortar and pestle that works well. You need to crush and bruise the roots. If you have a food processor, you can use this.
Pour 2 cups water into a non metallic or glass pan. Add a total of on cup of roots or bark. Simmer on very low for about 10 – 15 minutes. Allow the herb to cool in the pan for at least 12 hours. Overnight is better.
Put the herb back on very low heat. Add more water if necessary to bring it back up to 2 cups. Remove from heat and strain through a fine cloth strainer. Toss the herb, or put it in your compost. The decoction will keep for two or three days in the fridge.
This is the concentrated formula. To drink, you will have to add more water. Mix 1/2 of a cup of decoction with 1/2 cup of water. Drink 2-3 times a day. This of course will depend on what you are drinking, and what you are treating.