The best herb to use is the one you have. If you have no herbs, use water.
—Cascade Anderson-Geller, Herbalist
The best way to consume herbal medicine is to sip it continually throughout the day. If possible, consider brewing 3-4 cups (or a days-worth) at a time and carry it in a portable thermos or water bottle. For conditions of sudden onset, it is best to drink medicinal teas frequently.
One to three cups of strong tea per day in divided doses is the usual medicinal dose, but if you desire to dilute the taste of the tea with water, lemon, honey, or other herbal teas and spices, drink a correspondingly greater volume of the diluted tea to produce the desired medicinal results. (In other words, four cups of half-strength tea equals two cups strong herbal tea.)
Most medicinal teas are best served warm, although those made from roots should be allowed to cool first. It is also effective to serve herbal teas iced, if preferred. Herbal teas may also be made in batches and stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, while still maintaining their medicinal properties.
For leaves, flowers, berries, and powdered herbs:
1. Use 1 teaspoon or more of the dry herb for each cup of tea
2. Pour boiling water over the dry herb, cover and let steep for 10-20 minutes. Strain if desired and drink warm.
For stems, twigs, bark, chopped roots, and seeds:
1. Use 1 teaspoon or more of the dry herb per cup
2. Drop herb into boiling water, cover and let simmer on low for 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it steep for an additional 10-15 minutes.
For roots, nuts, and hard seeds:
1. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons herb per cup of water. Boil gently in water, covered, for 10 minutes. Let cool, covered, before straining and drinking broth.
Store dried herbs out of direct light in a cool place in airtight containers. Shelf life of dried herbs is usually one year. Label and date containers with the name of the herb and conditions for which it is used.
Medicinal teas are a gentle, caffeine-free way to use herbs as medicine throughout the day. Contact your naturopathic doctor if you’re in doubt as to which herbs are appropriate for your use.