In order to make your own medicinal teas, you must first determine which part of the plant is medicinal.
- Leaf: the medicinal part of sage, peppermint and thyme are their leaves.
- Flower: the medicinal part of lavender, chamomile and calendula are their flowers.
- Root: the medicinal part of licorice, ginger and withania are their roots.
- Berry: the medicinal part of black elderberry, bilberry and hawthorn are their berries.
- Bark: the medicinal part of willow, cramp bark and cinnamon are their barks.
- Seed: the medicinal part of milk thistle, fenugreek and horse chestnut are their seeds
Keep in mind that some plants have more than one part used for medicine. For example, the berries, flowers and leaves of hawthorn are all used medicinally.
After the plant part is determined, you can then make either a medicinal infusion or decoction.
- Infusion: infusions require the leaf and flower of medicinal plants. These parts are placed in hot water for 15-20 minutes for the medicinal constituents of the leaves and flowers to be pulled into the water. The optimal ratio is usually 1 tsp dried herb or a small handful of fresh herb per 1 cup hot water. After 15-20 mins, strain out the leaves and flowers, let cool, and enjoy.
- Decoction: decoctions require the root, berry, seed and bark of medicinal plants. These parts are placed in cool water and brought to a mild boil on the stovetop for 20 minutes. You need higher heat with these plants because they are a tougher plant material and require more heat to extract the medicinal constituents. The optimal ratio is 1 tsp per 1 cup water. Once boiled, strain out the plant material, let cool and enjoy.
If the combination of herbs you want to use contains all parts of a plant, then you can either separate the plants into a leaf & flower group for infusion and bark, root, seed & berry group for decoction and combine afterwards, or you can make a decoction of all the parts and sacrifice the risk of “over cooking” your leaves and flowers.
Some Easy Teas to Start With
- Peppermint: use the leaves of peppermint to ease gas, bloating or indigestion after a meal or as a gentle morning tea to wake you up and get the day started. Do not use peppermint if you have acid reflux.
- Lemon balm: Lemon balm is in the mint family, you can use the leaves of lemon balm to also ease digestion, and lemon balm is great to calm the nerves if you’re experience some stress or anxiety.
- Ginger: use ginger root to warm the body on a cool day, to enhance circulation and to ease nausea or cramping. Ginger is also a wonderful tea for period cramps!
- Chamomile: The flowers of chamomile are bitter to help with digestion, anti-inflammatory to help with skin hives and gut inflammation, and its mild sedative effect helps with sleep.
- Milk Thistle: the seeds of milk thistle are used to support and protect liver function. It can be used to assist a detox and can also be used for liver diseases such as hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver as an adjunct to other therapies. Do not use milk thistle if you are pregnant.