How To Brew a Mineral-Rich Herbal Infusion Overnight in Your Kitchen
- Published on: 26 November, 2017
- Last update: 15 December, 2017
Hey guys! I’m back for Part 2 of my series on nourishing herbs (and how we can use them in our daily lives to prevent disease, rather than only reaching for herbal remedies when we’re sick and tired!) Click here to read Part 1 where I detail the individual benefits of my top 6 favorites that I rotate and incorporate daily. Today I’ll be talking about how to prepare those herbs via overnight infusion so you can reap the maximum benefits.
As I mentioned in Part 1, nourishing mineral-rich herbs are pretty special — which means we have to consume them in a special way.
If you’re an avid holistic health geek like me, you’ve probably purchased countless herbal products online. Some may have been powders, others tinctures, and of course there are the classic capsules. Do these various forms make a difference? Are some better than others? The answer is, it totally depends on which herb you’re using and the effect you’re trying to achieve. To explain further, let’s go over the different ways we can prepare and consume herbs.
THE BASIC METHODS OF CONSUMING HERBAL MEDICINE:
- Tincture – This is a powerful, concentrated extract of plant material in a base of alcohol (most common) or glycerin (tastes better, but doesn’t last as long). Tinctures are the fastest and most effective way to absorb the medicinal plant chemicals within herbs, as the liquid comes in direct contact with your digestive system once it goes down the hatch. The alcohol does an excellent job of extracting those medicinal compounds (such as the curcumin found in turmeric), but it doesn’t fare so well with extracting the minerals from plants and leaves. Therefore, you should use tinctures when you’re choosing a plant for its active ingredients, especially in acute situations. For example, I always use turmeric in tincture form when I experience inflammation from airplane travel. I also use tinctures when I’m getting a cold (rotated with my Immune Shroom) because I’m looking for the pathogen-fighting chemistry within the antibacterial herbs – NOT their mineral or nutritive content. Lastly, I prefer tinctures with herbs that you must TASTE in order to receive the full benefits, especially bitter herbs when I’m looking to improve someone’s digestion. Why? Because your tongue has specific receptors for the bitter notes. When those light up, your vagus nerve is stimulated & the digestive juices start to flooow! Taking digestive bitters in capsule form just wouldn’t be the same because your tongue doesn’t give your body that first signal. (If you’re interested in something like this, try Urban Moonshine Bitters. Yes, it tastes bad! But it also gives us a flavor that our bodies need in order to produce adequate bile + HCL. Bitter foods are all too often missing from our modern diets, which many people believe contributes to our modern diseases.)
- Capsules – Capsules are wonderful because they make herbal medicine much more approachable for those who are sensitive to strong flavors. My teachers always tell us that client compliance is the most difficult aspect of practicing herbalism, because most people just won’t drink a disgusting liquid 3 times a day even if it’s magical unicorn juice that will allow you to eat 3827923875 cookies and look like a supermodel. (Okay, actually — most people would drink that. Myself included. But you get my point, right?!) Capsules involve grinding down dried herbs into a fine powder so that it is easily assimilated by the body once the capsule casing dissolves. Although this doesn’t happen as quickly as it does with tinctures, you’re still ingesting whole plant material with all of its compounds in tact. A LOT of the herb’s surface area is exposed since it’s so finely ground, which helps with absorption. I take capsules when I want to consume ‘food as medicine’ (like the Immune Shroom mushroom capsules I mentioned earlier). I also love to use capsules for chronic conditions and extended herbal regimens, like my 45 day ParaPro parasite cleanse. Capsules makes the process much easier without sacrificing medicinal value, as long as your ground herbs are high quality & dried fresh. I would use capsules for someone who has chronic Lyme disease, for example, because they may be on antibiotic herbs for months and months at a time.
- Hot Tea/”Short Infusion” – This is best for gentle herbs that are designed to be consumed in smaller doses slowly over time. Herbs that are high in volatile oils (such as chamomile, lavender, or rose) make excellent candidates for a quick brew tea. You’re not looking for too much of a ‘medicinal’ effect here, but rather a weaker extract that is calming, nutritive, and balancing.
- Room Temperature Tea/”Cold Infusion” – This method is particularly indicated for extracting mucilage rich herbs, such as marshmallow root. Marshmallow roots are high in polysaccharides and starches, and by using a cold infusion, you extract mainly the mucilaginous polysaccharides. The result is a slimy tea that coats and soothes the mucus membranes of the body. All you have to do here is the cover the herb with room temp water and seal in a mason jar for anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.
- Decoction – This is a long, low simmer method that is indicated for hard plant material such as roots, barks, seeds, and resinous plants. The long simmering helps to soften and extract the plant’s goodness, and the cover is kept on to keep volatile oils from escaping. The result will be a dark, earthy tea that has texture and richness.
- Overnight/”Long Infusion” – You know how you eat leafy greens in salads to get the benefits of their mineral content? Think about all the other plants and herbs in the world that have leaves and minerals. Ya… there’s a lot of them! This means that you don’t have to only eat salads to consume your daily nutrients – you can actually extract them into hot water from the same leafy greens you know and love. The longer the water has contact with the herb, the more minerals it can extract from the plant. Mineral rich herbs such as nettle leaf and horsetail (though most herbs are mineral rich) benefit from long infusions (overnight or a full day). Use this method when you’re making a ‘multi-vitamin tea’ to sip throughout the day. This is what we’ll be doing today!
HOW TO MAKE AN OVERNIGHT MINERAL-RICH INFUSION
“Because minerals are rock-like, we need to break open cell walls to get at them. To extract minerals, we need heat, time, and generous quantities of plant material.” – Herbalist Susun Weed
- a 32 oz. mason jar with lid
- dried herb(s) of your choice
- boiling water
1. First things first, decide which nourishing plant material you plan to use. I like to choose a maximum of (2) herbs at a time from the list below. Click on each one to see the brands that I prefer.
Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica): nourishes and rebuilds the adrenals, kidneys, blood vessels, skin and hair
Oatstraw (Avena sativa): longevity tonic, rebuilds nerves, increases libido and balances mood
Red Clover Blossoms (Trifolium pratense): an anti-cancer ally, rich in calcium and phytoestrogens for hormone health
Linden Flowers (Tillia americana): anti-flu, anti-cold, builds the immune system, soothes the lungs and gut
Comfrey Leaf (Symphytum officinale): heals and nourishes the brain, bones, mucus membranes and skin
Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) : rich in minerals with an affinity for the reproductive system, tones and strengthens the uterus + pelvic muscles
2. Make your infusion at night before you go to bed so that it’s ready in the morning. Clean your jar thoroughly and put water on the stove to boil.
3. As the water is heating, pack your jar one-third to halfway full with plant material. Remember, this is like getting minerals from a salad! You want a lot more than just a tablespoon.
4. Pour the boiling water up to the rim of the jar, screw on a tight lid, and go to bed.
5. In the morning, strain the plant material out (squeezing it well). Here you can either: a) put the strained tea right back into the mason jar and drink it room temperature throughout the day, b) reheat it on the stove so that your tea is hot, c) add ice, d) add honey, etc. Get creative and find out what tastes best to you. Drink before the day is over and make a new one for the next morning.
Till next time… XOXO, Organic Olivia