Lotus Root Acupuncture

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The Ancient Art of Decoction (Brewing Herbs)

Through the centuries, practitioners have always stressed the importance of correctly decocting an herbal tea. The effectiveness of the medicine depends not only on the ingredients of the tea, but how it is prepared. These directions to brewing herbs should be secondary to the advice of your herbalist. Certain herbs require different methods of decoction.


Traditionally, a special glazed clay herb cooker is used but any ceramic, stainless steel, or glass pot will do. Do not use a container that is made out of cast iron or aluminum. Chinese herbs can interact with these metals and cause a chemical reaction that could alter the therapeutic quality of your herbs.

Soak the Herbs

Place the herbs in your pot, fill with enough clean water to cover the herbs, and allow them to soak for 20 - 30 minutes. This will facilitate the extraction of active ingredients during the process of decoction.

Boil and Simmer, Twice

Bring the water to a rolling boil. Then, turn down the heat to a low, rolling simmer and cover. Do not lift the lid to look at the herbs too often as this will diminish the "flavor" and allow the volatile oils to evaporate out of the tea very easily. Cook herbs until about 1/3 of the liquid remains. This usually takes 30 - 60 minutes. Strain off and save the tea from this first cooking.

Barely cover the herbs with water again and cook a second time. Strain off and save the tea from this second cooking and combine with the first. Take your first dose, then refrigerate. Throw away or compost the herbs.

Drinking the Tea

½ to 1 cup of tea is to be taken twice a day (usually morning and evening), or two-thirds of a cup is taken three times a day (in the morning, afternoon, and evening). Try to drink the tea ½ hour before eating; this permits maximum absorption to occur quickly. If you are taking medication, drink the tea at least 1 hour before or after taking medication to reduce the risk of interaction.

It is common to find the taste of the tea disagreeable. Your body will get used to the taste and in some cases begin to crave a certain formula. However, if you find the taste so unpalatable that you don't drink the tea, there are measures you can take to make it more drinkable. Experiment with drinking the tea at different temperatures. Warm the tea up or drink it at room temperature. You may add natural sweetener such as honey, stevia or agave. Eating a few raisins after each swallow often helps. None of these suggestions will lessen the potency of the herbs and they will help a great deal.

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