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What are Raw Herbal Teas and How Do I Prepare Them?

What Are Raw Herbs?

Raw herbs are dried roots, stems, leaves, seeds, or fruit of plants.  Sometimes “herbs” are sourced from animals like shells and bones. The raw herbs are harvested, dried and then ground into a powder or cut into pieces to be used for decoction (tea). It is important to let your doctor know if you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions that would prohibit you from ingesting specific herbs (ex. Vegetarian, Celiac disease, etc.).

Benefits of Taking Raw Herbs vs. Supplements or Capsules:

  1. Rapid Absorption – Raw herbs in tea form have high bioavailability. “Bioavailability” refers to the rate at which a nutrient is absorbed into the body and is available for use. It is believed that the body metabolizes raw herbs more quickly because they are not processed like capsules or tablets.
  2. Faster Effects – Because herbal teas have high bioavailability, their therapeutic effects can be felt sooner than the effects of a supplement with low bioavailability, like pills and tablets.
  3. Higher Quality – Sourcing raw herbs grown without the use of pesticides and harsh chemicals ensures that these properties will not be passed along to the body.

How To Prepare Raw Herbal Teas:

Equipment

Any ceramic, stainless steel, or glass pot will do. DO NOT cast iron or aluminum pots when decocting herbal teas. Chinese herbs can interact with these metals that may alter the therapeutic quality of the tea.

How to Decoct: Boil and Simmer

Cover the raw herbs completely with water and then add 1-2 more cups. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then turn down to simmer and cover. Do not lift the lid to look at the herbs. Essential oils will evaporate out diminishing the tea’s effectiveness. Cook herbs until 2-4 cups of liquid remains (depending on the amount of herbs being cooked). This usually takes 20-30 minutes.

The tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Drinking the Tea

Dosage for teas vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms.  It is common to drink one cup of tea twice a day (usually morning and evening), or two-thirds of a cup three times a day (in the morning, afternoon, and evening). Drinking the tea ½ hour before eating allows for maximum absorption into the body. If you are taking other prescriptions, drink the tea at least 1 hour before or after taking medication to reduce the risk of interactions.

Herbal teas are not known for being delectable and can sometimes even be downright unpleasant. Here are some tips to help you stay complaint with your prescription. Experiment with drinking the tea at different temperatures, sometimes warming the tea, or drinking it cool make getting it down, easier. Adding extra water to dilute the taste can help as can adding a natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup. None of these suggestions will lessen the effectiveness of the herbs.

Keep it Simple!

Remember, this is simply a tea that is made from dried Chinese herbs, instead of tea leaves in a packet.  The process is easy once you have a system set up and the results are powerful when you make the commitment to taking your medicine as prescribed by your acupuncturist or herbal pharmacist.

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