A decoction (sometimes spelled "docoction") is similar to an infusion and necessary when using sturdy plant material like herbal roots, barks, pits, seeds, hard berries, root-barks, and stems. A decoction is the liquor that results from boiling a substance and reducing it to its essence. These parts need to have their active components extracted in a more concentrated procedure. The parts of the plant should be uniform in size, usually about 1 inch long by 1/8 inch thick.
The typical dosage range for herbs in decoctions is passed on in the Materia Medica guides. In very general terms with commonly used herbs, the range is 6-15 grams for a one day dose, with an average of about 10 grams per day. This can vary due to the nature of illness and body size. Decoctions are normally comprised of 8-16 ingredients, with an average of about 12 ingredients. Though a single herb such as Reishi Mushroom may be used. Accordingly, a decoction consists of about 120 grams of raw herbs. An example might be 12 ingredients x 10 grams/ingredient. For a one week supply of herbs, this translates to nearly two pounds (2 lbs.) of dried raw herbs.
When to Use a Decoction
In general, people only use decoctions in certain circumstances. Decoctions tend to be rather bitter and unpleasant because of the large quantity of herbal material contained within them. If you are trying to consume a large quantity of herbs quickly, a decoction is the best way to do it. "In Chinese clinical reports, decoctions may be described for treatment of chronic ailments that require a long term of therapy. These are usually used for courses of therapy lasting about one month, to be repeated as needed, typically for up to two or three months" (Institute for Traditional Medicine, 2015).
How to Make a Decoction
Making a decoction takes time and a large quantity of herbs. Follow our step-by-step process to learn how to make your own decoction!
Step 1: Gather water and herbal ingredients.
In general, you will use two to four tablespoons (2-4 tbsp.) of dried herbs for 1½ pints (3 cups) of water. Gather your herbs and the appropriate quantity of water.
Step 2: Boil the herbs.
Place the herbs in a saucepan with the water and boil the decoction. The boil should be a rolling boil, yet gentle.
Step 3: Simmer the mixture.
Simmer the mixture until the volume of the liquid has been reduced by about a half. This will take anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
Step 4: Strain the mixture.
Once the volume of the mixture has been reduced by half, strain the herbs from the liquid. Then, place strained herbs into a clean jar which has a rubber seal. Do not use a plastic jar (such as an old orange juice bottle).
Step 5: Drink your decoction.
The decoction should be used in three wineglass-sized doses throughout the day. It should be stored in the jar with the rubber lid in a cool place. The decoction can be reheated and flavored with a little honey or sugar if desired.
Below are some decoction recipes that you can make at home. You can always adjust the ingredients to your specific herbal needs; just remember to make small adjustments at a time. Be sure to check with your health care practicioner, naturopathic doctor, or physician before starting a new course of herbal treatment.
|Energy Support Decoction|
|Immunity Booster Decoction|
- The Country Almanac of Home Remedies
- Dharmananda, Subhuti (2015). "Dosage and Form of Herbs: Decoctions, Dried Decoctions, Powders, Pills." Institute of Traditional Medicine"
- Herbal Medicine Maker's Hanbook: A Home Manual
- Annie's Remedy (2015). "Decocitons: Herbal Remedies, Recipes, How to Make."
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