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Instructions for the main preparation methods used in the reference guides and in the main plant section are as follows.


Decoctions are usually the method of choice when working with tougher and more fibrous plants, barks and roots (and which have water soluble chemicals). Instead of just steeping it in hot water, the plant material is boiled for a longer period of time to soften the harder woody material and release its active constituents.

If using cut herbs, strain the mixture through a tea strainer into a teacup. When straining, make sure to press on the cut herb pieces in the strainer to get as much liquid/decoction out of the herb pieces as possible. If using powdered herb, allow the powder to settle to the bottom of the pot and then pour off the decoction from the top into a teacup (any sediment missed will settle to the bottom of the teacup). Standard dosages for decoction are generally one-half to one cup, two or three times daily. Again, the entire day's dosage can be prepared in the morning (2-3 cups at one time), and the remainder refrigerated until ready to use later in the day.


Infusions are typically used for delicate herbs, leaves and fresh tender plants. Preparing an infusion is much like making a cup of tea. Water is brought just to a boil and then poured over an herb (or combination of herbs), it is covered and allowed to sit/steep for 10-15 minutes or so. Infusions are best prepared as needed and taken the same day it was prepared and can be taken hot, warm, or cold. Standard dosages of infusions are generally one teacup (6-8 ounces), two or three times daily. The entire day's dosage can be prepared in the morning (2-3 cups at one time), and the remainder refrigerated until ready to use. The exceptions are the more aromatic plants with active essential oils. These are best prepared in single dosages (by the cupful) as needed and taken immediately (and while still hot/warm).

Tea bags

For each cup use a tea bag. Add boiling water and let stand for 3-5 minutes. You may want to add sugar, honey or lemon. Enjoy a delicious, healthy and aromatic beverage.


Place the filter in the coffee machine, use one full teaspoon of the herb in the filter cup for each beverage. Put as many cups of water you need for your drinks and switch on the coffee machine.


This method of preparation is certainly the easiest. The fresh or dried plant material is simply covered in cool water and soaked overnight. The herb is strained out and the liquid is taken.

Normally this is used for very tender plants and/or fresh plants, or those with delicate chemicals that might be harmed by heating or which might be degraded in strong alcohol. This is also the easiest to adapt to western methods, since tablets or capsules can be used instead. Alternatively, just stir the ground plant powder into juice, water or smoothies and drink.


A tincture is an alcohol and water extract which is used when plants have active chemicals that are not very soluble in water, and/or when a larger quantity is prepared for convenience and wanted for longer term storage. Many properly prepared plant tinctures can last several years or more without losing potency. The percentage of alcohol usually helps determine its shelf-life: the more alcohol used, the longer the shelf life. Sometimes the percentage of alcohol and water is unique to the herbs that are used as some active ingredients are more soluble in alcohol and others more soluble in water.

Dosages needed for tinctures are usually much less than infusions and decoctions. Average dosages for tinctures are about 1-2 milliliters (about 30 to 60 drops) two to three times daily. The tincture can be placed directly in the mouth for immediate absorption, or placed in a small amount of water or juice. If you dislike the alcohol content (or want to give the remedy to a child), place the dosage in about 1-2 ounces of very hot water and most of the alcohol will be evaporated in the hot water in a minute or two. (Let cool before taking). Store the tincture at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.

Poultices and Compresses

Many herbal remedies are applied directly to the skin as poultices - usually on rashes and wounds and as topical pain-relieving remedies. Poultices are prepared by mashing up fresh leaves or roots by hand or with a mortar and pestle. Sometimes just enough hot water is poured over dried or fresh plant material to soften them. Then the wet herbs are placed directly on the skin or between two pieces of cloth and laid on the skin. A light cotton bandage to bind the poultice to the area is generally used. Compresses are simply soaking a cloth in a prepared infusion, tincture or decoction and laying the cloth onto the affected part of the body/skin.

Baths and Bathing Remedies

Vapor baths: medicinal plants are added to bath water and the patient is soaked in it. This method is not unlike some of the currently evolving dermal delivery systems for drug absorption being employed in conventional medicine. The skin is a wonderful organ capable of absorbing plant chemicals (and even synthetic chemicals) directly thru the skin, and into the underlying fat tissue, then into the bloodstream. Since fresh plants are generally used for bathing remedies (chopped or crushed first before adding to the bath water), western adaptations are not always possible when only dried plant materials are available here. In the alternative, try 20 to 30 ounces of a strong decoction or infusion added to your bath water and soak in it for at least 10 minutes.


The extract of medicinal plants is added to a basic syrup (e.g. simple syrup), which is sugar dissolve in hot water.

Fresh Juice

The fresh juice is made with fresh plants cut and pressed. The juice is placed in a cold place for a day to settle and then filtered.

Tips: If you don't plan on using the plant(s) immediately, it's best to keep them unopened, in their original packaging, and away from direct sunlight (just put them in a closed cupboard/cabinet). Many plants will absorb moisture and humidity from the air, so if they are opened, reseal them tightly, or put them into glass jars with a tight-fitting lid (avoid metal containers).