Deep nourishment - where healing begins
Proper nourishment is essential for wellbeing and necessary for healing. Digestion is an energy-intensive process for the body, and when we are in a state of depletion or in the midst of healing into balance, it serves us to offer the body nourishment that is easily-digestible, and nutrient-dense. Nourishment that has essentially already gone through a process of “digestion” saves the body the work of extraction, making assimilation easeful. This is the case with Nourishing Herbal Infusions, where herbs are combined with hot water for a long steep, imparting the water with vital nutrients that are readily available for absorption.
The Earth has blessed us with abundant and varied nutritive herbal allies that can provide deep and lasting nourishment. Along with the spiritual nourishment that comes from establishing connected, reciprocal relationships with the plants, nourishment too is offered by our plant allies through the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals necessary for maintaining or gaining a state of vibrant health. Macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) play vital roles in the cellular function, tissue integrity, organ health, and full-body-ecosystem performance of the human organism. Ensuring that our bodies are fed with adequate concentrations of these nutrients provides us the greatest opportunity to be at and experience our peak expression of well-being.
Nourishing Herbal Infusions are uniquely suited to draw out elevated concentrations of vital nutrients, by way of a high plant-to-water ratio, and extended steeping time. And because those nutrients move into the body in an already-extracted state, they are nutrients exceedingly bioavailable.
Preparing a Nourishing herbal Infusion
Making a Nourishing Herbal Infusion is very similar to preparing a standard tea infusion. The primary differences are that you increase the amount of herbs used, and you steep your infusion much longer than you generally would a tea. Some herbs are better choices than others in Nourishing Herbal Infusion form. Herbs that most herbalists would categorize as “nutritives” serve you best, and avoiding proportionately high percentages of herbs with certain chemical constituents that may aggravate the elimination pathways of the body, such as herbs rich in volatile oils or certain alkaloids, is wise. Below, we share some of our favorite nutritive herbs with you, and detail the unique properties that make them great allies for healing. Though deeply nourishing, highly nutritive herbs are not well known for their flavor. When preparing our Nourishing Herbal Infusions, we like to add small amounts of aromatic herbs like peppermint, chamomile, lemon balm, fennel, or tulsi, to enhance and harmonize the flavor and bring pleasure to the experience of drinking your infusion. Pleasure is medicinal in and of itself!
Here’s how we go about preparing our Nourish Herbal Infusions:
Place one ounce (by weight) of dried herb in a quart jar, and fill it to the top with almost-boiling water. Carefully tighten the lid (it will be quite hot) , and allow the infusion to steep for 4-12 hours. Overnight works well. Strain and pour yourself a cup! Place the remainder in the refrigerator. Drink throughout the day or over the next few days. Add ice, flavor with sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, add milk, lemon, tamari, or any other additions that please your taste. Infusions can also be used as soup stocks, bath waters, hair rinses, and facial washes.
Because the minerals and other phytochemicals in herbs are made more accessible by drying, dried herbs are considered best for Nourishing Herbal Infusions. Most infusions will spoil in two or three days, so refrigeration after steeping is wise, as is consuming quickly. If your infusion happens to go a bit off (begins to ferment) before you drink it, consider offering it to your garden, or using it as a hair rinse.
We, personally, like to prepare our infusions before heading to bed, in a french press rather than a quart jar. This makes the pressing more tidy and efficient, and infusions are ready for consuming first thing when we awake in the morning. When steeping in a quart jar, we like to use a sprouting lid as a tool for easy straining.
Herbs well-suited for Infusions
Nettle Leaf - Urtica dioica
- Rich in nutrients: chlorophyll, Vitamin A, C, D, K, calcium, potassium, magnesium, silicon, boron, zinc, phosphorus, iron, sulfur, quercetin, rutin, terpenoids, carotenoids and fatty acids, various essential amino acids, tannins, carbohydrates, sterols, polysaccharides, and isolectins
- Herbal actions: alterative, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, astringent, galactagogue, hemostat, hypoglycemic, nutritive, trophorestorative and styptic
- Energetics: drying, cooling, stimulating, reconnecting, wholesome, clearing
- Contraindications: although rare, some are allergic to nettle. Prior to ingesting, fresh nettle leaves should be thoroughly steamed or cooked to eliminate stinging hairs. Discontinue use of nettle leaf in cases of obstructive urinary stones, edema due to impared heart or kidney function, or kidney inflammation.
Oat Straw - Avena sativa
- Rich in nutrients: calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, and amino acids
- Herbal actions: alterative, antidepressant, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antilipidemic, antipruritic, emollient, hypoglycemic, nervine tonic, sedative, thymoleptic, tonic, trophorestorative, vulnerary
- Energetics: sweet, warming, neutral, soothing
- Contraindications: some folks with sensitivities to gluten find oats (though they are gluten free), to be irritating, while others find it soothing. If you have celiac or are generally sensitive to gluten, take care and be watchful of how your body feels when you consume oats and oatstraw.
Red Raspberry Leaf - Rubus idaeus
- Rich in nutrients: vitamins C, E, B2, B3, calcium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron
- Herbal Actions: alterative, antidiarrheal, antispasmodic, astringent, galactagogue, partus preparator, parturifacient, smooth-muscle stimulant, uterine tonic
- Energetics: grounding, bitter, soothing, cooling
- Contraindications: avoid in cases of constipation, malnutrition and iron-deficiency anemia, due to high concentration of tannins
Red clover - Trifolium pratense
- Rich in nutrients: calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C, and isoflavones
- Herbal actions: alterative, anticancer, antispasmodic, expectorant, lymphatic, nutritive, estrogenic
- Energetics: cooling, sweet, salty, clearing
- Contraindications: be cautious with estrogen-dominant conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids, as well as hormone-sensitive cancers. Also use caution with those prone to heavy bleeding, as well as those on blood-thinning medications.
Linden - Tilia spp.
- Rich in nutrients: cobalt, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins A and C, flavonoids, and glycosides
- Herbal actions: nervine, diaphoretic, diuretic, demulcent, relaxant, mild astringent, hypertensive antispasmodic
- Energetics: cooling, moistening, relaxing, sweet
- Contraindications: avoid or use caution in pregnancy and lactation. Always contact a trusted healthcare provider when beginning a new herbal regimen, especially when pregnant.
We offer a Nourishing Herbal Infusion blend in our shop called Fill The Well. This blend contains many of the herbs highlighted above, and is formulated to support you in the daily ritual of deep nourishment. Nettle, Oat Straw, Red Raspberry Leaf, Linden, Rosehip and a touch of Tulsi for flavor come together to restore the vitality needed to show up in service (to yourself and those you love) and start your day in loving relationship. Learn more and shop Fill The Well here.