My sweetie and I have recently started drinking herbal infusions daily after my quest to remove all supplements from my life began. I stumbled upon a fantastic (and FREE!) online class by one of my favorite herbalists, Susun Weed, that teaches you the basics of making herbal infusions. Not only is it super simple and inexpensive, but they are packed full of amino acids, vitamins, proteins and essential trace minerals... bye bye expensive multi-vitamin and amino acid supplements!
So here's the skinny.... An infusion is a large amount of herb brewed for a long time. Typically, one ounce by weight (about a cup by volume) of dried herb is placed in a quart jar which is then filled to the top with boiling water, tightly lidded and allowed to steep for 4-10 hours. After straining, a cup or more is consumed, and the remainder chilled to slow spoilage. Drinking 2-4 cups a day is usual. Since the minerals and other phytochemicals in nourishing herbs are made more accessible by drying, dried herbs are considered best for infusions. I order my organic dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.
We rotate 4 herbal infusions throughout the week... stinging nettle, comfrey, oatstraw and red clover. Each herb offers its own special characteristics and comfort. Honestly, I admit I am always a bit hesitant at adding a new herb to my life, as my system seems to be very sensitive and if there's a side effect, I'm going to feel it. However, I quickly learned that these 4 herbs (along with many others) are nourishing herbs, meaning they are a food. You cannot over consume a nourishing herb. There are no side effect and you can drink them everyday for the rest of your life. Would you ever worry about eating too much spinach? No! So I like to think of nettle as the new spinach ;-) Keep reading for all the amazing benefits...
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) strengthens the kidneys and adrenals, it builds powerful energy from the inside out, and gives one amazing stamina. Stinging nettle infusion strengthens the adrenals: relieving anxiety and building focused energy. Depleted adrenals often over-react, giving rise to sudden sensations of anxiety, fear, and nervousness. If you drink 4-5 quarts of nettle infusion weekly, you can expect to see results within 3-6 weeks. There are no contraindications to the use of stinging nettle infusion. Side effects may include: thicker hair, softer skin, stronger veins, and greater delight in life. Nettle infusion is the energy of the Earth. Nettle rebuilds the adrenals and the kidneys, keeps the blood vessels flexible, shines up the hair, improves skin tone, nourishes the immune system, and moderates or eliminates most allergies. Nettle infusion (not tea, not tincture, not capsules) provides lavish amounts of protein, all macro- and trace-minerals in excellent amounts, and every vitamin we need - excepting vitamin B12. Nettle is considered an anti-cancer herb in South America.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a superb anti-cancer and cancer-preventative herb. It is also considered the herb of fertility. An infusion (not tea, not tincture, not capsules) of red clover blossoms, leaves, and stems is not only very high in protein, macro- and trace-minerals, and vitamins (except B12), it is an excellent source of phytosterols. Phytosterols are hormone-like substances found in many plants that can be bio-converted in the human gut into active anti-cancer estrogens and other helpful anti-stress hormones. It is especially helpful if there is scarring of the fallopian tubes, irregular menses, abnormal cells in the reproductive tract, or "unexplained" infertility. It may take several months for the full effect of this herb to come on and pregnancy may not occurs until you have used it for a year or two. The taste can be improved by including some dried peppermint (a spoonful or two) along with the dried clover blossoms when making your infusion. Treat the father of the child-to-be to some red clover infusion, too!
Oatstraw (Avena sativa) is the herb of longevity in the Auryuvedic system of India. It restores nervous system integrity, emotional flexibility, and sexual flow. Oats and oatstraw are exceptionally good at nourishing heart health and moderating cholesterol. Oatstraw infusion (not tea, not tincture, not capsules) provides lots of protein, all macro- and trace-mineral in high amounts, and very high amounts of B vitamins - excepting vitamin B12. 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. Oatstraw infusion is another favorite of those who want to feel less anxious. Preparation is the same as for nettle infusion; remember to avoid tea bags and capsules. The taste of oatstraw is softer and more mellow; you will enjoy it warm with a little honey. It is especially useful for those whose anxiety is combined with excessive nervous energy. Oatstraw infusion builds deep energy for the next day, especially when you have been riding an emotional roller coaster. Oatstraw nourishes the nerves, easing anxiety and improving our ability to live with uncertainty.
Comfrey leaf, also known as knit-bone, strengthens and heals the bones, the skin, the ligaments, the tendons, and the mucus surfaces of the intestines, the lungs, the sinuses, the throat, the vagina, and the anus. It contains two alkaloid groups: alantoin and PAs. Alantoin is responsible for comfrey's ability to heal any injury - from bedsores to vaginal tears, from lacerations to piercings, from abrasions to severe burns - quickly and thoroughly. Comfrey leaf infusion (not tea, not tincture, not capsules) is very high in protein, macro- and trace-minerals, and every vitamin needed for good health - with the exception of vitamin B12. Comfrey keeps bones strong and flexible, strengthens digestion and elimination, and keeps the lungs and respiratory tract healthy. It keeps your face wrinkle-free and skin and scalp supple. Comfrey contains special proteins needed for the formation of short-term memory cells. Comfrey (Symphytum) leaf is free of the compounds (PAs) found in the root that can damage the liver. Comfrey leaves are not only rich in proteins, they are a great source of folic acid, many vitamins, and every mineral and trace mineral we need for a strong immune system, a calm nervous system, and a happy hormone system.
Sounds too good to be true? That's what I thought until we started drinking daily herbal infusions. They have helped me quit my off again on again coffee habit without the headache and are slowly calming my underlying feelings of anxiousness that seem to pop up out of the blue some days. I have more steady energy, not nervous energy that I experience from caffeine. My skin cleared up and I got comments yesterday on my shiny hair!
Warning: you will have tons of leftover plant material from your infusions... Simply compost, or I like to spread it around my herb garden.
Equally exciting is the healing that infusions have offered plants on our organic farm. We spray our crops with a weekly dose of nettle/comfrey infusion and watch diseases disappear and the plants become stronger and more resilient to weather changes and pests.
So, drink up, enjoy and spread the herb! ~Jeni
Some information cited from www.nourishingherbalinfusions.com