A herbal infusion is basically tea on steroids. With regular tea, you steep for a couple of minutes, but with an infusion, the soak is more around the 10-12 hour mark. Letting it infuse for hours really harnesses the nutrients of the herbs used, like vitamins, minerals, proteins, polyphenols, antioxidants. Benefits including detox, reduced inflammation, supports longevity (anti-aging), aids digestion, strengthens cell tissue. It's like super charging your water! Herbal infusions are a powerful way to support your immune system, balance your hormones, deeply hydrate your cells, and nourish your body with wide ranging benefits found in the vast plant kingdom.
There are SO many potential flowers, roots/ barks, leaves, seeds, and berries you can use, some of my favourites are: stinging nettle, oat straw, euccomia bark, raspberry leaf, ginger, red clover leaf, dandelion leaf and root, milk thistle, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, burdock, cat's claw, pau d'arco, and peppermint.
Make sure you investigate the effects of a herb before blindly taking it; although they have benefits, each herb is a powerful medicine- and not every herb is suited for every body.. and infusions are potent!
The minerals and other phytochemicals in nourishing herbs becoming more bioavailable after being dried, and so dried herbs are considered best for infusions (although fresh herbs are also OK). To start off you can use tea bags (I actually did for this batch) but after you get hooked on herbal infusions, check out your local health store and try buying in bulk. Not only will it be significantly less expensive (and less wasteful), but you'll have access to a much wider range of ingredients. Opt for organic or even better, wild-crafted herbs.
A general rule of thumb for time frame for necessary soak-time goes like:
Roots/ barks: 8 hours minimum
Leaves: 4 hours minimum
Flowers: 2 hours minimum
Seeds and berries: 30 minutes minimim
This particular recipe is one of my go-to's, and is especially good for the 2nd half of your luteal phase as your body is going through a big hormonal shift, and throughout your menstrual phase as your hormones kind-of "reset" themselves going into a new cycle. The ingredients synergistically help your body detox (support your organs as they process out the excess hormones in this menstrual phase), and help tone and strengthen your uterus- which means happier hormones and an easier period.
- 3-4L of clean water (filtered, spring, or distilled)
- 1 tbsp raspberry leaf
- 1/2 tbsp stinging nettle leaf
- 1/2 tbsp milk thistle
- 1/2 tbsp dandelion leaf
1. Soak the herbs in room temperature water for 20-30 minutes (this step is optional, but recommended).
2. Bring water to a boil and simmer with herbs for 20-30 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and transfer into a glass jar(s), herbs included.
4. Keep refrigerated for 10 hours, strain, and then consume within 1-2 days.
1. It's advised to consume herbal infusions within 24-36 hours to get maximum nutritional benefits. It definitely won't kill you to consume later than that- but other options after about 2 days is using the infusion to water plants or use as a herbal hair rinse.
2. The quality of the water is super important (always), but especially when infusing! The water particles ability to absorb the nutritional benefits of the plant matter relies on good quality water. Using distilled water is a powerful way to really pull the nutrients out of the herbs, but simple clean water will do. If your water is tap water (for example) not only will you be drinking the harmful chemicals and additives found in tap water, but the water cell is already full of these contaminants- leaving little room to soak in the benefits of the infusion.
3. You can drink herbal infusions by themselves (hot or cold) or use them as the base for a tonic!
4. Some of the chemicals in the herbs can interact with metal pots, so if metal is your only option, use stainless steel but avoid using aluminum, copper, or cast iron. But optimally you would use glass or ceramic. I use my slow cooker to simmer the herbs (ceramic) and then store the infusion in a big glass jar.
5. Know that herbs, although natural, have potent medicinal properties. Consuming them in high quantities or regularly will impact your body, so it's important to chose wisely. Not every herb is suited for every person- investigate the properties/ benefits/ effects of herbs, or seek guidance from a specialist (like a TCM practitioner or naturopath).