Nourishing Herbal Infusions
When people hear or think about herbs they most often think about using culinary herbs in cooking to flavor and spice their foods or to use the herbs medicinally as a replacement for modern medicines. Both of these practices, the culinary and medicinal use of herbs, are becoming more widely accepted in mainstream society and each have entire professional disciplines dedicated to their study.
One area that need not be overlooked in learning about herbs is using some specific herbs for their nutritive value. In my own experience and opinion, I have found that this is the ideal starting place when introducing herbs into your life. The idea of food as medicine is not a new concept. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” When we are properly nourished, our bodies function at their best and are balanced, thus we experience less illness and disease.
Finding and incorporating quality foods into our diet seems to be quite a challenge these days for many people. Whether it is due to the problem of finding properly raised foods that are full of vitamin and minerals and raised without chemicals and antibiotics or simply just finding the time to cook. Making the time and effort to nourish ourselves seems to be overwhelming to most people.
When my children were young, I heard Susun Weed, an herbalist, talk about Nourishing Herbal Infusions and it was a great answer for my family to easily add more nutrition into our diets in an easy and inexpensive way through a simple herbal drink. Not long after that, I discovered a book called Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pedersen that opened my eyes to the nutritional value of certain vitamin and mineral accumulating plants. I also became aware that many of these plants were wild “weeds” growing right outside my door and were free or could be easily cultivated in my own garden. Our family made immediate changes adding these nutrient dense herbs into our diet just through nourishing long steeped teas (Nourishing Herbal Infusions) and incorporating them into our everyday cooking of simple recipes. We saw almost immediate changes in our family’s health and energy levels.
Since those early years, our family has made it our mission to spread the word about how important it is to add herbs into your life for health and overall wellbeing. We now farm full time and we specialize in providing products and education for “Whole Living”. Herbs are the largest component of our farming, teaching and lifestyle. Who would thought that one simple herbal drink could entirely change your life!
Through our families, friends, and customers we have seen that just by adding the nourishing herbs into diet alone many health problems can be alleviated.
Nutritive herbs are plants that provide “all the good stuff,” such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals necessary for general nutrition and health. These nutritive herbs provide the body with a source of easily assimilated nutrients to make us feel stronger, more energetic, and help prevent diseases. Nutritive herbs and quality foods can easily be added to any diet instead of taking multiple costly vitamins and supplements. These vitamin/supplement pills only contain a simplified version of complex substances (vitamins and minerals) that nature offers us through foods and herbs.
NOURISHING HERBAL TEAS OR INFUSIONS
Nourishing Herbal Infusions (NHI) are stronger than regular steeped herbal teas. They are made from nutrient dense herbs that are always dried and steeped for a long period of time – usually at least four hours. The NHI’s also use a large quantity of dried plant material to give us a vitamin and mineral packed drink.
BENEFITS OF NOURISHING HERBAL INFUSIONS
- NHI’s ARE VERY HIGH IN NUTRITION.
- The long steep draws out maximum nutrients, such as, vitamins, minerals and even proteins.
- When making an infusion of leaves, all the chlorophyll, a very potent healer, is thoroughly extracted.
- It is easy and tastes good.
- It has very few side effects because it does not contain bitter oils, esters, or resins that you may find in more medicinal herbs and spices.
PLANTS FOR NOURISHING HEBRAL INFUSIONS
Part Used – dried young leaves, before the plant flowers
Nutrients – calcium, potassium, protein, betacarotene, chlorophyll, trace minerals, iron, vitamins A, C, D, and K
Special Notes– Nettle is one of the best overall tonics for the body. It is very beneficial to the kidneys, lungs, intestine, arteries, hair, and skin when taken over a long period of time. It is high in both calcium and magnesium that is easily absorbed by the body. It has some natural antihistamine properties and the high nutrition strengthens all our body systems, so it works well for allergies. If you try just one type of herb, nettle is best well rounded herb to benefit the entire body.
OATSTRAW (Avena sativa)
Part Used – dried oat tops and some oat straw
Nutrients – calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, and amino acids
Special Notes– Oatstraw acts as an anti-depressant and restorative nerve tonic. Regular use has been seen to ease inflammation in the body, which is beneficial for people Crohn’s disease, lupus, or other autoimmune diseases. It is a great source of calcium and if you add a pinch of horsetail with it in your infusion you can meet the daily calcium needed. Overall, it is good for anyone that has experienced grief or trauma or is just worn out from a heavy stress load.
Part Used – dried leaves
Nutrients – vitamins C, E, B2, B3, calcium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron
Special Notes – Usually considered a woman’s tonic herb. Used during pregnancy it eases nausea, and is scientifically proven to ease uterine and intestinal spasms, as well as strengthening the uterine wall. It is beneficial to both sexes in promoting healthy bones, nails, teeth, and skin. Combined with red clover it is an excellent fertility herbal tonic for both men and women.
RED CLOVER (Trifolium pratense)
Part Used – dried flower tops
Nutrients – calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B3, C, and E
Special Notes – Red clover is a blood purifier and lymphatic mover. High in phytosterols, it nourishes hormones making it a good choice for women in menopause, as well as those wanting to increase fertility. Externally an infusion can be used as a soother and treatment for eczema and psoriasis. Also take internally at the same time for overall skin treatment.
Part Used – dried above ground parts
Nutrients – silica, calcium, magnesium
Special Notes – Add a pinch to infusions for bone health. Silica helps balance the calcium and magnesium in the body for uptake. It helps assimilate phosphorous. It improves skin, hair and nails because it helps support healthy connective tissue and collagen.
PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita)
Part Used – dried leaf
Special Notes – Peppermint should only be added in small amounts due to its high essential oil content. Peppermint adds a mild mint flavor for those seeking a better taste. There is also the digestive benefit that peppermint helps with cramping, heartburn, gas, and nausea.
The herbs listed above are the herbs that comprise our Daily Wellness Tea that we have formulated for the best nutrients and taste. Originally we created this formula for our family to “keep it simple” and we have found that it now helps our customers take the guess work out of deciding how to formulate and rotate their nourishing herbs. We sell our Daily Wellness Tea in a seven day supply of NHIs and due to popular demand we have created big bags that have a 35 day supply of NHIs.
ADDITIONS TO NOURISHING HERBAL INFUSIONS
Herbs to include for extra support, when needed. Add 1 tablespoon of the dried herb to 4 cups of NHI.
Part Used – dried root
Nutrients – amino acids, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C.
Special Notes – Burdock is a grounding herb that strengthens the immune system, kidneys, and liver. It is especially useful for those with skin problems, from blemishes, boils, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and acne. Since it is high in inulin it is a good herb to use after finishing antibiotics as it nourishes the intestinal flora.
CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis)
Part Used – flowers
Nutrients –very high in carotenoids (including lutein and beta-carotene), antioxidants, oleanolic acid (which has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties).
Special Notes – calendula is soothing, healing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, moves lymph (detoxification). It helps soothe and heal the gut, helps drain toxins via lymph, can benefit those with excess yeast or fungal issues and can aid eye health.
DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale)
Part Used – dried leaves and root (the leaves contain more iron and calcium)
Nutrients – Vitamins A, C, & D, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, thiamine, niacin, manganese, magnesium, silica.
Special Notes – dandelion can be very bitter so it is best combined with some other herbs for a tastier blend. This bitter taste stimulates all aspects of digestive function and some detoxification of the liver. Dandelion is also a natural diuretic that contains a lot of potassium.
LINDEN (Tilia cordata) (aka lime tree)
Part used – dried flowers and leaves (Note the flowers are hard to distinguish. Watch for lots of bees and pollinators to be buzzing around the tree and then you will notice the blooms.)
Nutrients – cobalt, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins A and C, flavonoids, glycosides
Special Notes – Linden is a cooling and moistening herb that is good for helping one relax and deal with stress. Use for times when your skin is dry and you feel parched, such as, dehydration from summer, illness or menopausal dryness. Good for times of colds, flu and sore throats. It is also a heart tonic, good for helping reduce high blood pressure, and reducing built up tensions.
Part Used – dried berry, flower, and sometimes leaves
Nutrients – antioxidants, Vitamin C, chromium, selenium, potassium, calcium.
Special Notes – Hawthorne is a general cardiovascular tonic. Hawthorn berries are loaded with tannins and flavonoids that function as powerful antioxidants, and are rich in polyphenols that are known to inhibit plaque-forming cholesterol and significantly reduce free radicals in the body. I like to add a few dried berries daily to my infusion.
Part Used – dried leaves
Nutrients – aluminum, iron, calcium, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, silicon, vitamins A and C.
Special Notes – Mullein is a great tonic for those with asthma or lung conditions such as croup, bronchitis, chronic cough. It strengthens the lungs with long term use as well as working quickly on acute lung problems.
LADY’S MANTLE (Alchemilla vulgaris)
Part Used – dried leaves
Special Notes – Lady’s Mantle is a wonderful female tonic! It helps to ease heavy menstrual flow and cramping with regular use.
MARSHMALLOW ROOT (Althea officinalis)
Part Used – dried root
Special Notes – Marshmallow has a high mucilage content. It coats and soothes inflamed or damaged tissue, creating a temporary mucus like lining that promotes healing. Thus making it a good demulcent for bronchitis, coughs, and even menopausal dryness. It is soothing to digestion, stimulates the immune system and helps repair ulcerations of the gastric mucosa and duodenum.
ROSEHIPS (Rosa spp.)
Part Used – dried hip (fruit of the rose)
Nutrients – Rose hips are very high in vitamin C. They are also high in calcium, chromium, fiber, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A & zinc
Special Notes – Rosehips are cooling and a great source of vitamin C. They add a sweet tart flavor to an infusion. Rosehips also contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Add a few dried rose hips to an infusion for flavor and nutrients.
HOW TO MAKE NOURISHING HERBAL INFUSIONS (NHI)
NHI are similar to teas but they use more plant material (always dried) and they infuse MUCH longer. Thus, making them stronger, darker, and providing you with more nutrition from the herbs. Typically, one would drink one quart (4 cups) of NHI a day as described below.
1. Place four tablespoons (or one tablespoon for every cup) of dried plant material in a canning jar or French Coffee Press.
2. Pour one quart (4 cups) of boiling water over the herbs, cover with the coffee press or canning jar lid.
3. Let this steep for 4 hours or overnight. If you prepare your infusion before bedtime your NHI will be ready in the morning. Conversely, you can make in the morning and have it ready to drink in the evening.
4. After steeping, strain off the herb and drink throughout the day. Ideally, an adult would drink one quart (4 cups) of NHI a day. Children age ten and under would drink 2 cups a day.
5. PLEASE NOTE: NHI’s have a short shelf life (due to the high proteins) and should be used within 48 hours. Refrigerate when not using to obtain the freshest quality. If you forget to drink your NHI within the 48 hours, you can use them to water your house plants to nourish them. 😉
If you have a hard time with the taste of the infusion you may try a few things to see if you can make it better suit your tastes.
- Add a pinch of mint, lemon balm, or stevia to flavor the infusion
- A pinch of salt can reduce bitterness, if that is bothering you.
- Decrease the herb amount that you use and make a weak infusion until you build up taste for it.
- Add some honey if you prefer it to be sweeter.
- Dilute the infusion in your favorite drink for a while until you develop a taste for it. Works well combining with black or green tea.
NHI are great for nourishing the body and after a while of taking them your tastes and habits will change. So if you use any of the “helps” above at some point ease out of them and try your NHI alone. Many people find that they lose their addiction to caffeine, sugar, and sodas once they have been drinking NHI’s for a while. It basically nourishes the body getting it back in balance with the good foods that nature provides for us.