Drinking herbal tea is all the rage. Entire tea companies (think Celestial Seasonings) have cashed in on the herbal tea phenomenon. And while that is a wonderful and relaxing way to experience the flavor and many beneficial aspects of the featured herb, you may be interested to learn of another preparation that is just as easy but provides far more of the herb’s health benefits: infusions. Or, as well-known (and local – just down in the Catskills) herbalist Susun Weed calls them, nourishing herbal infusions.
An infusion is made by simply steeping plant material in water for longer than the time it takes to brew a pot of tea, ideally about 4-8 hours. This allows time for water-soluble plants to release their beneficial constituents. For example, drinking a cup of nettle tea would provide 5-10mg of calcium. But drinking an infusion could increase that by 100 times – providing as much as 500mg of calcium! Infusions unlock an amazing array of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and minerals. Some choose herbal infusions over purchasing vitamin supplements, because of the bioavailability that vitamins in plant form provide.
There are some herbs that pair best with an infusion rather than a tea. Susun Weed’s primary herb recommendations include nettle, oatstraw, red clover, linden and comfrey leaf* for nourishing herbal infusions. Other herbs that have a high amount of volatile oils (think fragrant flowering herbs like chamomile) are best used as a tea and not an infusion.
Here is a very brief but far from complete list of the benefits of several readily available herbs:
- nettle strengthens and restores adrenals and kidneys;
- oatstraw is calming to the nerves and high in B vitamins;
- red clover is considered an anti-cancer herb, high in protein and trace minerals;
- linden is anti-viral and soothes the lungs; and
- comfrey leaf* nourishes bones, skin and ligaments.
Honest Weight has all of these herbs available in their bulk herbs and spices aisle. You can even place an order for larger quantities of these herbs, if desired.
*Readers should know there is some controversy about comfrey taken internally. Susun Weed holds firm that it is the root that is the concern (for the liver primarily, because of the alkaloid pyrrolizidine), not the leaf. Use your discretion on whether or not to use this particular herb. But the other herbs mentioned here are incredibly safe and can be used regularly.
Infusion preparation is so simple. You will want to use a glass container than can take boiling water without cracking—mason jars work best. Simply fill a quart-sized jar with about 1 oz. of the herb (approximately 1 cup by volume). I rarely weigh it and instead I toss in just under a cup of the dried herb.
I usually run the outside of the jar under hot water before pouring the boiling water in, just to bring up the jar’s temperature and reduce the risk of the glass cracking. Then pour boiling water over the herb and fill the jar all the way to the top. Cover and let sit 4-8 hours.
I usually make mine in the evening and then drink it throughout the next day. Simply strain and enjoy! Some people like to have them as an iced drink. I do not mind mine at room temperature. Also, some choose to add honey or perhaps a bit of mint to add pleasant flavor. I enjoy them just as they are. Sometimes I will mix two together (oatstraw and nettle are a favorite combination). They are also completely safe and incredibly nutritious for children. Many of my kids LOVE them. (Like all things with kids, if it is encouraged too much they may shy away, so I prepare them for myself and quite often I will notice them sneak sips of mine throughout the day!)
What a wonderful way to nourish oneself with the power of plant medicine. And it’s so simple! Plan ahead and make your nourishing herbal infusion tonight so you can start your day tomorrow feeling nourished and ready for whatever the day may hold.