Herbal infusion study group- updated with links in OP - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are exploring Herbal Infusions one by one.
Nettles
Oatstraw
*Red Clover
*Comfrey

* NOT during pregnancy.

Help. I'm considering adding kudzu vine root to my list of infusions. I've embraced Milk Thistle. : And am going to give Nettles and Chickweed a go after researching off and on for over a year. I keep hearing about Burdock root and Blessed Thistle. But, am clueless.

Anyone want to mentor me (and everyone interested) about herbal infusions? I'm a whole foods gal and herb-phobic. But, want to appease my ignorance (fears) with information. I'm not interested in supplements, capsules, pills, tinctures, or other manufactured modalities of administration. I want the Whole Thing. Where could I learn more? Which are ok for a nursing mama? What are the benefits, risks, concerns, sources?

Maybe a top 10 Herbs you can't live without? Or top 10 medicinal herbs to have on hand for emergencies and illness? Which herbal infusions are your favorites, and why/what for?


Thanks!

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#8 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 04:58 PM
 
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I can ask questions...

Why make herbal infusions? For nutrition? Herb-specific properties?

How do you make an infusion?

How do you drink one? Instead of water? Instead of something like hot tea? Cook it into stuff? Can you add anything, like honey or lemon?

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#9 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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Gosh, I am by no means an expert, but I do use nettle infusion regularly, do RRL infusion since I've been pregnant, and have skullcap on hand for infusion-making in case blood pressure were to become a problem. And I'm considering plantain infusion for gut healing and support, but haven't researched it fully.

Bluebirdmama might stop by, and I think she has lots of experience with infusions and has emailed back and forth alot with Susun Weed. She also uses herbal vinegars with great success, which interests me. Sort of a combo of infusion and beneficial bacteria, seems to me.

Nettle infusion was one of my "big three" healers when I did some significant adrenal healing. That and organ meats and coconut oil brought me out of the woods, adrenal-wise. But I discovered nettle infusion first, and it alone would sometimes do the trick on a bad adrenal day. Nettle infusion also did wonders for my ability to sleep, even when I was being woken frequently by a nursing toddler.

Susun Weed is a great resource, although her website is a little hard to wade through. But there's so much info there: http://www.susunweed.com/

Here's her beginning article about infusions:
http://www.susunweed.com/How_to_make_Infusions.htm

Here's a quick summary of the benefits of four herbs she recommends most often for infusions:
Quote:
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) builds energy, strengthens the adrenals, and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, and K. For flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy, make friends with sister stinging nettle. It may make you feel so good you'll jump up and exercise.

Oatstraw (Avena sativa) reduces high cholesterol, increases libido, and strengthens the nerves. A cup of oatstraw infusion contains more than 300 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of many other minerals. Its steroidal saponins nourish the pancreas and liver, improving digestion and stabilizing moods. Oatstraw is best known however for its ability to enhance libido and mellow the mood. Do be careful whom you share it with, or you may find yourself sowing some wild oats. In Auryuvedic medicine, oatstraw is considered the finest of all longevity tonics.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is better in every way than its cousin soy. It contains four phytoestrogens; soy has only one (isoflavone). Red clover infusion has ten times more phytoestrogens than soy "milk," fewer calories, more calcium, and no added sugars. Red clover is the world's leading anti-cancer herb; soy isoflavone encourages the growth of breast cancer cells in the lab. Red clover improves the memory; Japanese men who ate tofu twice a week doubled their risk of Alzheimer's disease. Soy beverage can contain up to 1000 times more aluminum than milk, according to Sally Fallon, lipid researcher and fat specialist. She believes that "the highly processed soy foods of today are perpetuating . . . nutrient deficiencies. . . ."

Comfrey (Symphytum) leaf is free of the compounds (PAs) found in the root that can damage the liver. I have used comfrey leaf infusion regularly for decades with no liver problems, ditto for the group of people at the Henry Doubleday Research Foundation who have eaten cooked comfrey leaves as a vegetable for four generations. Comfrey is also known as "knitbone," and no better ally for the woman with thin bones can be found. And, don't forget, comfrey contains special proteins used in the formation of short-term memory cells. Its soothing mucilage adds flexibility to joints, eyes, vagina, and lungs.
And here's another great site with great folks and info: http://www.sacredplanttraditions.com/index.shtml

Hope this helps! I love this topic. If I learn more about plantain infusion, I'll share.

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#10 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 05:09 PM
 
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#11 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 05:12 PM
 
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Pat, this article might help with safety concerns, as well as how to assess what kind of herbal preparation you want:
http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezin...01.htm#article

And Mountain Rose Herbs and Frontier Co-op are both great sources for high-quality herbs.

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#12 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 05:24 PM
 
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Why make herbal infusions? For nutrition? Herb-specific properties?
For me, infusions have been both a source of nutrition as well as a solution for some specific issues. Nettle infusion's nutrient profile is just astounding, and really helps with minerals and energy in general because of that. But it's also a real kidney and adrenal strengthener -- so much so that one woman used nettle infusion to successfully avoid dialysis! My experience is that it would really raise and stabilize my energy levels, and help me just feel better, stronger, more steady. It would also head off an adrenal-dehydration attack if I caught it early enough (when I was very adrenally depleted, even just gardening lightly on a hot day would send me into intense dehydration, with throwing up and GI issues and severe headache).

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How do you make an infusion?
Different herbs need different soaking times, but general instructions are about a cup of the dried herb to about a quart of boiling water, and then let steep, covered, for anywhere from 2-8 hours, depending on the herb. The link above in my last post has more info on specific times for specific herbs. The difference between an infusion and a tea is the ratio of herb and the length of soaking time.

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How do you drink one? Instead of water? Instead of something like hot tea? Cook it into stuff? Can you add anything, like honey or lemon?
I drink mine in addition to water, although I don't need as much water when I'm drinking lots of infusion. Most people don't drink a quart a day, so you'll need to refrigerate the leftovers for the next day. You can add sweeteners, but lots of folks find that adding some sort of mint (peppermint, spearmint) is more effective if the taste of the straight infusion is not attractive to you.

HTH!

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#13 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 05:48 PM
 
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Ok, you guys talked me into it... I just put some nettles and water into a jar and set it out back in the sunshine.

Which leads me to another question- mbravebird, you said to add the herbs to boiling water, but I've read elsewhere that boiling water will basically kill the nutrients, and that you should never use above warm water. I just put mine into room temp water and then into the sunshine... we'll see how it comes out. Any other thoughts on water temp?

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#14 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 06:05 PM
 
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Different herbs need different soaking times, but general instructions are about a cup of the dried herb to about a quart of boiling water, and then let steep, covered, for anywhere from 2-8 hours, depending on the herb. The link above in my last post has more info on specific times for specific herbs. The difference between an infusion and a tea is the ratio of herb and the length of soaking time.
So then if you were to do an infusion with a mix of herbs (people do that, right?) then do you do each herb separately and mix the liquids? Or just soak them all for the longest time?

Is there any danger in oversoaking, besides if to goes so long it gets moldy? Do they get bitter?

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#15 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 06:13 PM
 
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Okay, since you're selling us all on nettles

I have Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pedersen. It has nutrient information for a bunch of herbs. You say one cup of nettles infusion has 500mg calcium, and I feel like I've seen that number before, too. He says 100g dry herb has 2900mg calcium. So how many grams in a cup of dry nettles? Do the numbers work out? Cause that really is a lot of calcium. I'm also curious how oxalates factor in to the equation, and how bioavailable that calcium is.

How do infusions compare to eating the fresh herb and/or juicing?

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#16 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 06:45 PM
 
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How do infusions compare to eating the fresh herb and/or juicing?
Good question. I asked an ND once about the calcium in nettle infusions, because I had also seen those numbers (from Susan Weed, right?), and she told me that there was no way that you would get that much calcium from an infusion. Basically, you would have to eat the nettles to get the full calcium from them.

I tried to research this, but couldn't find anything besides the Susan Weed stuff that has information about the nutrient content and infusions.

Would love to know more. Hey- didn't you test your bone broth for something (was it calcium??) Maybe we should run some tests on a nettle infusion.

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#17 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 06:50 PM
 
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Good question. I asked an ND once about the calcium in nettle infusions, because I had also seen those numbers (from Susan Weed, right?), and she told me that there was no way that you would get that much calcium from an infusion. Basically, you would have to eat the nettles to get the full calcium from them.

I tried to research this, but couldn't find anything besides the Susan Weed stuff that has information about the nutrient content and infusions.

Would love to know more. Hey- didn't you test your bone broth for something (was it calcium??) Maybe we should run some tests on a nettle infusion.
Yeah, I used an aquarium kit to test my bone broth. It was tough to see the color change, though - it's supposed to turn dark blue from pink. Mine was turning dark blue from light/med blue. If the nettles infusion is green to begin with, it'd be even tougher! I suppose I could try though...

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#18 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 08:17 PM
 
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Good question. I asked an ND once about the calcium in nettle infusions, because I had also seen those numbers (from Susan Weed, right?), and she told me that there was no way that you would get that much calcium from an infusion. Basically, you would have to eat the nettles to get the full calcium from them.
Running calculations...
100g dry nettles have 2900mg Ca
raw spinach is about 90% water
so...
500mg Ca would be ~17g dry nettles.
17g dry herb would be about 170g raw herb.
170g is about 6oz.

So roughly 6oz raw nettles have about 500mg Ca.

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Which leads me to another question- mbravebird, you said to add the herbs to boiling water, but I've read elsewhere that boiling water will basically kill the nutrients, and that you should never use above warm water. I just put mine into room temp water and then into the sunshine... we'll see how it comes out. Any other thoughts on water temp?
This is where I'm out of my league. I'd love to hear two herbalists discuss this. The sunshine thing makes sense to me, as does the idea that boiling water would denature the nutrients. BUT at the same time I've seen such wonderful benefits from the boiled-water infusion, as have others, that it seems like it's leaving lots of great stuff intact, obviously.

I should try the sunshine brew, to see if I feel the same effects.

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#20 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 10:08 PM
 
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So then if you were to do an infusion with a mix of herbs (people do that, right?) then do you do each herb separately and mix the liquids? Or just soak them all for the longest time?

Is there any danger in oversoaking, besides if to goes so long it gets moldy? Do they get bitter?
Some people do that, but Susun Weed and others recommend sticking with "simples", which is basically one herb at a time. Practically, some herbs will get really bitter by four hours, where as others can do a long soak without any more bitterness. I often do my nettle infusion overnight, which ends up being about ten hours, and it's fine.

And if you use a quart-size canning jar, it sort of self-seals the lid from the heat of the water -- I've never seen it mold.

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#21 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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i do the infusions alot. i kinda skipped the last couple of weeks, which hasnt been great for me. back on tomorrow tho. i love infusions. i love herbs in general.

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#22 of 165 Old 05-29-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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Okay, since you're selling us all on nettles

I have Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pedersen. It has nutrient information for a bunch of herbs. You say one cup of nettles infusion has 500mg calcium, and I feel like I've seen that number before, too. He says 100g dry herb has 2900mg calcium. So how many grams in a cup of dry nettles? Do the numbers work out? Cause that really is a lot of calcium. I'm also curious how oxalates factor in to the equation, and how bioavailable that calcium is.

How do infusions compare to eating the fresh herb and/or juicing?
I'm out of my league again on the calcium amounts, bioavailablity, etc. I can just get anecdotal again on you there, saying I've felt such benefits with sleep that I assume that I'm absorbing some good minerals from the stuff. But the improved sleep could also be related to adrenal support, or some of the other goodies in the brew, like chlorophyll. I really couldn't gander a guess here, just tell you my experience.

Fresh nettle juice, though, is supposed to be pretty miraculous at stopping bleeding, where as the dried stuff is less effective at that. Also, fresh nettle is supposed to be better at fighting allergies than the dried -- some people take capsules of freeze-dried nettle for that reason. Whatever it is that stings in the fresh nettle is said to be particularly effective against histamines. It does sting, though! That's partly why plantain grows close by nettle. Get stung by the nettle, apply the plantain .

Finally, I think the thing that's missing from our conversation thus far is the relationship with the plant, the green world, and the "whole gestalt" idea, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Many, many herbalists take this approach, and I trust it -- the approach that we are in relationship with these plants, a sacred relationship. I think that's an important part of any herbal healing discussion.

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I am a huge fan of Susun Weed. Out of all the herbal books on my bookshelf she is the one I reach for first,always. The wisewoman tradition is as old as mother earth herself.
My favorite infusion is nettle/lemon balm. I bring water to just a boil,throw a big handful of each into the quart jar,pour water,put lid on and let sit for 4 hours or more.
I drink a quart a day when my body wants it. It will stay good for about 45-48 hours in the fridge. Sometimes I sweeten with agave,sometimes I don't. I really just listen to what my body wants.
She is on youtube too. If I could have only one herbalist author on my shelves it would be Susun.
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I'm drinking a nettle/rrl infusion right now. I take at least one cup a day. How ever much my body tells me to take.

Could someone talk to me about lemon thyme. I think that's what I've got growing...I'd love to know more about it.

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#25 of 165 Old 05-30-2009, 08:16 PM
 
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I'm also no "expert" but I have been drinking infusions for 13 years and took a correspondence class with Susun Weed and my mother studied with her before I did. I would highly recommend to any and all of you to take a correspondence class with her, I forget the cost, but it's a fabulous way to learn.

The reason you take infusions is for the minerals. Plant cells walls are tough. You cannot open them up fresh through chewing or juicing. That's why you use dried plant material for infusions. The cell wall breaks down, and makes minerals available for you.
Minerals do not get destroyed through heat. The way scientists test for minerals is to burn whatever they are testing to ash and test the ash. Some vitamins get diminished through heat, but you're not taking infusions for vitamins.

Susun talks about minerals like rocks, because, they are rocks. All our rocks are made out of minerals. If you want a large amount of minerals, will the size of a pill or tincture dropper give you a lot? How do you compress rocks? You don't. You need bulk and you need time. If you put a rock in a glass of water will it dissolve quickly? No. It will dissolve, but over time. Add heat, and it happens faster. Break down the cell walls, to allow escape, and add hot water and let it do its thing. I'm not saying that tinctures are bad, they just don't give you large amounts of minerals.

She recommends one ounce by weight of dried herb to 1 quart of boiling water. If you used bought cut and sifted herb, that's usually and handful or two. Put it into a one quart canning jar, fill to top with boiling water, cap it and let it stand. Strain, giving your leftover herb to the earth somehow. Then reheat or drink room temp or ice. Refrigerate what you don't use. It might feel like complicated at first, but once you get started it's really quite fun and exciting and easy to do.

Eating raw or juiced weeds or anything gets you vitamins, enzymes, fiber, and a lovely texture. If you have an abundance of fresh weeds and want them now, the cook them. Cook them thoroughly, for about 45 minutes to an hour. You want significant texture change to know that the minerals are now in your broth. Eat the greens and drink the broth.

My top 9 are:
Nettles
Oatstraw
red raspberry leaf
red clover blossom
skullcap
comfrey leaf
dandelion root
dandelion leaf
violet leaf

I couldn't think of 10. That's pretty much what I have used for the last 13 years. I buy some, and forage some.

Susun highly believes in simples, for many reasons. But you could add a pinch of mint to any of them for flavor or horsetail for mouth care.
Simples help you to notice the changes in your body. They help you to listen to what you body is craving. They are good for simplifying your life somewhere!

I highly recommend getting Susun's book Healing Wise. It's the green book and easy and fun to read and follow. It's a superb book for explanations and a new way of thinking. I have reread it dozens of times. All her books are wonderful and helpful, but I would start with Healing Wise.

Infusions changed my life. They are highly supportive. Energy giving. Satisfying. I drink less water when I drink them. I pretty much only drink water, infusion, raw milk and kefir. I drink the occasional cup of herbal tea for fun, but not for minerals.

I drink them usually room temp. RRL and Red Clover tasted so much like tea that I make them and ice them like iced tea over the summer with stevia if I want sweetness.

You will figure out how you like them. With salt or sweetener. Cold or hot.
Weeds are good at getting out of the earth what we need. That's what makes them good weeds. :
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#26 of 165 Old 05-30-2009, 08:55 PM
 
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I loved my nettle infusions but right now I am nursing a 3 month year old and I am having a hard time with oversupply. Does anyone know of any infusions that won't increase my suppy?
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I loved my nettle infusions but right now I am nursing a 3 month year old and I am having a hard time with oversupply. Does anyone know of any infusions that won't increase my suppy?
Red Raspberry Leaf infusion, while great for nursing in small amounts, may decrease milk amounts in some women when drunk often or in large amounts.

Rosewater, what a great post that was! Very clarifying. Thank you so much.

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#28 of 165 Old 05-30-2009, 10:38 PM
 
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Rosewater, what a great post that was! Very clarifying. Thank you so much.
You're welcome. It's my passion....can you tell?
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#29 of 165 Old 05-30-2009, 10:53 PM
 
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#30 of 165 Old 05-31-2009, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Could I toss the used strained herbs into the freezer to use making my bone broths later? (I simmer the broth for 48 hours, usually).


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