Herbal Infusions for Health and Stress Relief

By Val Silver

Strong herbal infusions are tasty, nutrition-packed beverages you can enjoy hot or cold. In this article, you will learn how to make an herbal infusion with healthy herbs to boost your health, aid healing, and protect yourself from the negative effects of stress.

A strong cup of oatstraw, nettle infusion or other nourishing herbs is a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to enjoy ´╗┐healthy herbs every day. Compared to herbal 'teas' which are prepared much like regular teas, strong herbal brews gives you a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and water-soluble constituents in a form your body can easily assimilate.

Regular strength herbal teas do have benefits, but they are much too weak to be a significant source of vitamins and minerals.

Herbal Infusion Recipe

A traditional recipe calls for one ounce of dried herb to four cups of boiling water. Infuse, or soak, your herbs in a covered jar of boiled water for at least four hours. Strain if you want and refrigerate. The infusion will keep up to three days in the refrigerator, so only make enough for that many days. Drink one to four cups a day.

Use a glass jar (at least 32 ounces) with a lid. A large coffee press or tea pot with an infuser inside makes straining convenient. After you squeeze all the goodness out of the herb, put it on your potted plants, compost it, or throw it on the lawn to return it to the earth.

Here's my favorite recipe:

Combine 2/3 cup of dried nettle leaf, 1/3 cup of oatstraw and a big pinch of licorice root to your container of choice and follow all directions as explained above. Fill your container with pure boiled water and cap tightly. Let the herbs brew for several hours before drinking. In the summer, add up to 1/4 cup of dried peppermint to taste. Cooling, yummy, and good for digestion.

Stinging nettle is credited with a plethora of health benefits including: improved lactation, improved hair growth, relief from seasonal allergies and water retention, and reduced joint pain thanks to its rich supply of nutrients and antihistamine, anti-inflammatory compounds.

Oatstraw is a rich source of calcium, silica, and several B vitamins which make it a healthy herb for skin, hair, bones, and nails. It is also credited as a stress reliever, a boon to brain and cardiac health, It is sometimes called "natural viagra" for men and women with use over time.

Licorice root adds natural sweetness and health benefits. It nourishes the adrenal glands which are taxed under stress. Note that licorice can raise blood pressure in sensitive individuals.

In the following video, herbalist Susun Weed demonstrates how to make an oatstraw herbal infusion. The process is the same for most herbal leaves, seeds and flowers.

Herbal Infusion Tips

  • Although drinking any amount of herbal infusion is better than none, you will receive the most benefit from enjoying your brew regularly for at least a few months. Aim for two cups a day, five days a week. Continue indefinitely. 
  • Infusions use a lot of herbs. It is usually much less expensive to purchase high quality organic herbs in bulk from a reliable source like Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • When consuming herbs in large quantities, make sure they are not loaded with toxic chemicals that leach into the water you will be drinking. Organic or wildcrafted herbs (those picked in the wild) that have not been sprayed or picked from polluted areas are safe choices. Make sure your herbs are high quality so you get the nutritional benefit. Look for a nice bright real color and a fresh aroma.
  • If you harvest the plants yourself, dry them before infusing. This allows the nutrients to escape from the plant. If the cell walls are still intact, you won't get much benefit from infusing the herbs in water.
  • Stick with one herb for a few weeks. This really gives you the chance to experience its benefits and effects on your mind and body.
  • You might also like to rotate your nourishing herbs. Use oatstraw for a few days or weeks, then switch to nettle infusion or another favorite.
  • Another option is to combine them into one infusion.
  • Drink your brew plain or with a little sweetener or sea salt. Add more water if the taste is too strong. A spoonful of dried mint leaves or ginger helps with indigestion and adds a nice flavor.
  • Herbal infusions can be used to replace some of the liquid in soups, stews and hot cereals. Use oatstraw infusion instead of water to make oatmeal.
  • Make healthy herbs a part of your breakfast to protect yourself from the effects of the day's stress. Pack a thermos or bottle to give yourself a boost throughout the day. Sip on oatstraw infusion before bed to soothe your nerves and build energy for the next day.
  • If you are suffering from digestive upsets, incorporate tasty digestive herbs into your infusion to provide much needed nutrients and gut-healing compounds. For example: ginger is warming and anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and astringent, which is helpful for toning a leaky gut and ulcerated cells.  Peppermint, chamomile, and crushed fennel or anise seeds relieve bloating and gas. Experiment to find the most helpful herbs for you. 

If you are chronically stressed like most people in the modern world, or are just looking for a way to naturally nourish yourself, make a habit of enjoying an herbal infusion every day. Once you learn how, they are easy and fun to make and great cook with and drink.


Herbal Infusion page updated 10/2019

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