Three Infusions

Infusions are made by soaking the leaves of an herb or plant in liquid, whether water or oil.  You can make herbal infusions to be drunk as a medicinal tea, or you can make herbally infused vinegars or oils.  The infusions written about here are water infusions.

My first infusion was the Feverfew Chrysanthemum parthenium. The dried herb smelled so sweet and grassy, I thought I was going to be in for a treat even if I had to addfeverfew shutterstock image a touch of honey. The texture is crisp and easily separated. The color is shades of gold.

I steeped ½ teaspoon (about .5 ounce or two grams of dried herb) in six ounces, or about 175 ml of boiling water, for 15 minutes. The color of the infusion was golden, like a light beer. The smell was grassy but the taste was incredibly bitter. Its consistence was very thin. I made the infusion based on knowing how to make an infusion, however, in my college textbook there was no description for making an infusion for feverfew so I wondered if this method of oral ingestion was not recommended, therefore should I bother drinking the rest of it?

I looked up the herb on the American Botanical Council and The American Herbalist’s Guild, as well as Botanical.com. Only Botanical.com offered a way to use feverfew as an infusion, however, only as a cold infusion. After allowing it to cool, sip frequently in doses of half teacupful. One may make an infusion of the flowers, but these as well should be cooled before drinking. (1) Check out making a cold infusion here: Herbal Academy

The directions for the infusion suggest using 4-6 tablespoons of the infusion 3x per day. It also recommends a cooled infusion for menstrual problems and earaches.  Feverfew’s primary uses are for infertility, anemia, cancer, the common cold, earache, and liver disease, prevention of miscarriage, muscle tension, orthopedic disorders, swollen feet, diarrhea, and dyspepsia. When taken orally, feverfew is used for fever, headache, and prevention of migraine, menstrual regulation, arthritis, psoriasis, allergies, asthma, tinnitus, vertigo, nausea and vomiting. Topically, it is used as an insecticide, antiseptic, useful with toothache, and a general stimulant. Long-term use should be avoided as incidents of “post-feverfew syndrome” which includes headaches, insomnia, and muscle joint and stiffness, have been reported. (2)

My next infusion was Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastrois. Its color is lightly golden and very pleasant to the smell. I don’t know what to compare it to, but I kept smelling the bag it was in, almost as if my body was telling me I needed to. The only other time I felt this strongly about an herb was when I smelled Chamomile Chamamshepherds purseeleum nobile, or Roman Chamomile.  Its primary uses, when taken orally, are for headache, hypotension, PMS, regulating menstruation, vomiting blood or blood in urine, diarrhea, acute catarrhal cystitis, and mild cardiac insufficiency. Topically, it is used as a styptic or astringent, such as with nosebleed or skin abrasions and superficial burns. I prepared the infusion by pouring six ounces of boiling water poured over one teaspoon (about two g) of the dried herb, then steeped it for 15 minutes. It is important to cover the cup while it is steeping so that the volatile oils do not escape in the process. The color of Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastrois was light golden. The smell was sweet, and the taste was grassy, yet sweet, and it had a thin consistency. I found it pleasant to my taste buds and I think it would make a great compliment to tea blends that may support normal blood circulation. (3)

My next infusion was Bupleurum Bupleurum chinense, however, this is a root. Roots and bark typically are prepared as a decoction, because it takes a little longer to extract the therapeutic and medicinal substances from them.  A decoction is similar to an infusion, except that with an infusion, you are steeping an herb in already boiled water, whereas in a decoction you are boiling the herb in the water and then simmering until the water is reduced by half.  bupleurum_root_800

The smell was typical of a root; earthy and grounded. The color was a lighter golden than the previous infusions. The taste was similar to Dandelion Root Taraxacum oficinale, and I’m assuming primarily because it is a root. I found the taste to be pleasant; earthy with a thin consistency.  Bupleurum’s primary uses are hepatoprotective, as well as kidney and stomach protecting, anti-inflammatory, immune system modulating, and decreasing gastric development. In Chinese Pharmacopeia, Bupluerum has been used as a liver tonic with toning properties, with fever, flu symptoms, cough, gynecological disorders and general inflammation. (3)

Reference:

(1) Grieve, M. (1931) A Modern Herbal: Volume I: Courier Corporation, 2013. Reprint

(2) Petersen, D. (2014). Herb 201. Portland: American College of Healthcare Sciences.

(3) Petersen, D. (2016). Herb 304 Herbal Materia Medica III (1st ed.). Portland: American College of Healthcare Sciences.

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