Making Herbal Decoctions & Infusions

Updated: May 24, 2020

Infusions are simple water-based herbal preparations and the most simple form of an infusion is a simple cup of tea! The leaves and flowers are placed in boiling water and allowed to steep while the water leeches the plant constituents into the water; you can then drink the healing properties. The longer you steep your herbs and the darker the colour, the more healing properties you will have.


Decoctions are pretty much the same as infusions but for our more sturdy herbal bits such as roots, berries or barks; they often require a longer and prolonged heat source for leaching to occur and why we sometimes simmer them in a pan of boiling water. As always, there are exceptions to the rules, for example with demulcent herbs you can simply place in cold water and leave covered overnight. Please follow the rules as given with your order however some general rules are as follows:


1) Cold infusion - add cold water and steep overnight, covered.

2) Gentle infusion - add just boiled water and steep for 15 - 20 minutes, covered.

3) Strong infusion - add just boiled water and steep for 1 - 4 hours, covered.

4) Decoction - in a double water bath, simmer for 20-40 minutes or until the roots soften.

5) Roots & leaves - decoct robust herbal parts first as in No.4 and then add the leaves or flowers at the end and steep for a further 10 - 20 minutes to complete the infusion.


If decocting is an inconvenience, you can simply add boiling water and leave for up to four hours or until the water darkens; crushing or chopping the roots, berries or bark will create more leeching potential.Once you have left the herb to infuse for the designated length of time you can then strain the herb (I use a muslin cloth). Add the infusion to a clean airtight jar, store in the fridge ready for use internally throughout the day.


Herbal Help


Usually, 1 tsp of herb 1 cup of water (around 200ml water) as a general measure.


Always infuse or decoct in ceramic or glassware to avoid the leeching of metals and use clean and dry utensils / jars for hygiene and consider using clean water sources such as filtered or bottled water.


Prepare as needed. While infusions and decoctions will last overnight in an airtight jar and a day or two in the refrigerator the best results are to make them freshly.


Always cover the infusion while steeping to reduce the evaporation of volatile oils.


Taste herbs first to see if they are palatable - some can be very bitter which isn't a problem for humans but dogs can refuse bitter herbs.


For dogs, you can add to food or simply provide the infusion. If you wish to add it to a water source, always have a secondary pure water source to prevent dehydration should your dog refuse to drink the infused water.


If you are wanting to create a poultice with your infusion simply place the herbs between a muslin cloth and place directly on to the affected area, this is best done as warm as possible (and at a safe and comfortable level of heat).

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Dosage:

Dogs: 1/8th - 1/4 cup per 10kg a day.

Humans: 1 cup up to three times a day.

Always be moderate, increase dosage slowly until you notice an alleviation of symptoms and never give/take more than you need.


You should always seek advice before taking herbs; herbs are not synonymous with safe and they should be used responsibly! Herbs can range from safe to toxic, some herbs have contraindications and allergenic reactions can occur. You should speak with your doctor before taking any herbs, especially if you are on medication or suffering from a medical condition.This article is a guide and for information purposes for those interested in herbalism.


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