My girlfriend’s study of herbalism has blessed my life in many ways. From her holding the burning embers of mugwort bundles over the un-knotting muscle near my sacrum, to the elaborate tincture protocols that have reduced my average cold to a short and mild two day affair, herbs have certainly benefitted me. But none have influenced me as deeply as nourishing herbal infusions and decoctions.
An infusion or decoction, as opposed to a tea, is way of extracting a massive amount of nutrients and beneficial constituents from herbs. Herbal teas, like what is offered in any grocery store aisle, are not nourishment. They might be medicinal, and they might be lovely, but you can’t expect to draw out a meaningful amount of nutrition from a plant unless you use a substantial amount of it and steep it for a long time.
That is the beauty of decoctions and infusions: they are simmered or steeped long enough to be nutritionally potent. Infusions don’t work like drugs, and shouldn’t be used the way many herbalists prescribe herbs, that is, as a foreign chemical that affects a specific set of chemicals in your body. Because infusions are food (i.e., herbs that are safe at almost any dosage) they create change gradually. That is why when I began to incorporate infusions regularly I noticed a deeper sense of nourishment in my life. Now the practice of heating up a big pot of water and soaking or decocting the herbs overnight has become as routine as showering.
How do I choose the herbs to use? I have a close circle of herbal allies that must meet two simple criteria:1) It must be edible and 2) it must be very common. Dandelion, for example, is one of my dearest herbal allies. Any book on herbalism will give you a laundry list of beautiful attributes and effects of using dandelion, including foremost among them, the incredible effect on bile production and liver function.
Books and research are a great way to absorb human experience (to learn, in other words) but to know dandelion decoction it must be directly experienced, and regularly. After time, it became as routine to me as coffee is to many. It grounds and nourishes me beyond my need for nutrition. I feel like dandelion links me to a tradition of honoring what grows abundantly around us. I can virtually hear these plants calling to humanity, “We are here to help you. Can’t you see how closely we live to you and how diligently we seek your attention?”
In an ideal world, we’d all have enough time to build intimate relationships with the beings that nourish us, and to make infusing our bodies with nourishment as ritual as brushing our teeth. Because time and energy are often narrowly budgeted, the ideal can often only be achieved if we accept help from others. That is what the essence of a business is – to serve others and to meet a need they might not be able to on their own. That is the goal of Life Force Juice, and that is why our line of nourishing infusions are such an integral element in our nourishment strategies.
Yours in nourishment,