Making herbal preparations

Published 12:21 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herbs for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth. (Psalm 104:14)

Hello, friends! Springtime is in the air and plants and herbs are beginning to grow again. It’s a good time to give my readers some information on using these plants to our benefit. The following information comes from herbalist Dr. Richard Schulze, taught under the late Dr. Christopher, who is renowned for helping countless people get well using plants and herbs. I spoke about him last year in the first column writing.


When we speak of infusions, we mean making a common tea. Take an amount of herb, pour boiling water over it and let it steep. An infusion can be made with cold water, as a sun tea or by using boiling water.

A basic formula for making an infusion is to use one teaspoonful of dried herb or two teaspoons of fresh herb to the cup of water. Pour the boiling water into a cup with the herbs (a tea ball may be used), cover and let steep for 15-30 minutes. When making a cold infusion or sun tea, let the herbs remain in the water one to four hours before straining. We use infusions with herb parts out of which the medicinal qualities are easy to extract, such as leaves and flowers (example: peppermint leaves or chamomile flowers). If we were to simmer or boil these sensitive parts of herbs, we would have their valuable healing chemical in the air of our kitchen, but not in our cup of tea. When we want to make a tea out of the harder parts of plants, such as the twigs, branches, barks and roots, then we make a decoction.


A decoction is also an herbal tea, but it is designed for the harder parts of herbs such as the barks, roots, twigs, berries, fruit, nuts, etc. With these parts of herbs, an infusion may not extract all the medicinal properties; they are locked into the harder parts of the plants. Therefore, we need to apply more heat for a longer period of time. A basic decoction is made by adding 1/2 to 1 ounce (1-4 tablespoons) of dried herb to 1 1/2 pints of cold water (the extra 1/2 pint covers the evaporation in boiling). It is best to let the herbs soak and re-hydrate in the water up to 12 hours if you have the time, then slowly bring it up to a boil. Let it simmer between 10 and 30 minutes.

For infusions, decoctions and any other herbal preparations you make that require water, your first choice would be distilled water. A very close second would be reverse osmosis, and then filtered water.

I hope this has been as helpful to my readers as it has to me. Until next time!

Alice Russell, also known as “Me Me,” resides in the Randolph/Saxe area. Her email address is

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