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Herbal Infusions – Homemade vitamin water!

Herbal Infusions – Homemade vitamin water!

An herbal infusion is basically an extra strong herbal tea that you steep for a very long time.  The long steeping time (usually 4-10 hours) extracts far more nutrients than tea can and results in a brew rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Drinking a daily infusion is like taking a multi vitamin that’s easily absorbed by the body and pleasant to drink.  When choosing herb(s) to use for your herbal infusions you want to to choose a nourishing or tonic herb.  These are among the safest herbs and can be taken over extended periods of time.  In fact their healing power is cumulative and they’re most effective when used regularly.  Many herbs fit this description and I describe my favorites below.

How to make an herbal infusion

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of dried herb (see below for recommendations)
  • 4 cups of boiling water

Supplies:

  • 1 quart mason jar

Directions:

  • Boil water
  • Put your dried herb into your mason jar
  • Fill mason jar to the top with boiling water, cap and let steep at room temperature for 4-10 hours (I make mine at night before bed and let it steep on the counter overnight).
  • Strain out the herbs and keep the remaining liquid in the fridge.
  • Drink 1-2 cups per day.  Drink within 2 days for the most benefits/freshness.
Notes:
  • I recommend using tonic herbs (sometime called nourishing) for herbal infusions because they are safe to consume in quantity over a long period of time.  Other herbs such as those classified as tonifying may also be appropriate but typically in smaller amounts and/or for a shorter amount of time.  My favorite herbs include:
    • Nettle (leaf and stalk): Nettle infusion is an energizing brew.  It helps build energy and stamina making it particularly good for people who are chronically tired.  It can also help to relieve anxiety, nourish your kidneys and adrenal glands, improve your skin and hair and support your immune system.  Nettle is often used during the last trimester of pregnancy because it increases your blood’s iron and vitamin K content which reduces your chance of hemorrhage during childbirth.  Nettle is also helpful after birth for increasing milk supply.  It’s full of vitamins, minerals and protein.  Nettle infusion has a somewhat grassy flavor, many people enjoy it salted as opposed to sweetened (I like it chilled with no additives).  It can also be used to make a very healthy and tasty soup base.
    • Oatstraw: Oatstraw is a gentle tonic that strengthens the nervous system and can help reduce anxiety, stabilize mood and even boost libido.  It nourishes the heart, pancreas and liver and can help moderate cholesterol and improve digestion.  It has also been reported to reduce leg cramps due to its high mineral content.  Oatstraw contains minerals (including a high amount of calcium), plentiful B vitamins and protein.  Its flavor is mild and pleasant.  It’s particularly good warmed and sweetened with a spoonful of honey.
    • Red Clover (blossoms, leaves and stems): Red clover is a well-known fertility booster for both mom and dad.  It’s an excellent infusion to drink while trying to conceive – especially when combined with red raspberry leaf.  It’s also believed to have cancer preventative properties.  Red clover is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.  I enjoy its mild, tea like flavor all by itself.  It also combines well with mint and citrus if you want to boost the flavor.
    • Red Raspberry Leaf: This is one of the safest and most widely used herbs for fertility and pregnancy.  It is known to increase fertility in men and women (especially when combined with Red Clover).  It tones the uterus and helps it work more effectively, it reduces likelihood of miscarriage and hemorrhage, eases morning sickness and increases breast milk supply.  It’s also a good infusion to combat diarrhea.  Red raspberry is rich in vitamins and minerals especially vitamin C, E and highly absorbable forms of calcium and iron.  It’s flavor is a little bland but pleasant.  I like it chilled with a squirt of honey.  I frequently drank infusions of Red Raspberry Leaf combined with equal parts of Red Clover prior to conception.  During pregnancy I switched to just Red Raspberry and in the last trimester I added nettle infusions once or twice a week.
  • There are herbs that support just about every condition imaginable.  If you’re looking for herbs to serve different functions than those listed above, there is a wealth of information on the web.  Before trying a new herb I always search for its benefits as well as its possible side affects and contraindications.
  • One of the biggest modern proponents of beneficial herbs is an herbalist named Susun Weed.  She has a helpful article on how to safely use herbs: http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/Weed_letter_Nov-01.htm#article

Photo Credit: Iced Tea, a photo by TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.

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