How To Make A Healing Herbal Infusion

By Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher, Medicine Woman + 
January 21, 2015

Before I went to Acupuncture school, and learned about meridians and Chinese Herbs, I learned about Western Herbs. I grew to have many favorites. One of them is Lemon Balm, which is such a great plant ally. From calming anxiety, helping us manage nervousness and tension, to helping us sleep better, this herb promotes the smooth flow of Qi. I often use it in herbal infusions. 

Last week, I shared with you my top 5 fave herbs for healing. Thanks to the dialogue that followed, I learned of additional herbs I want to incorporate into my diet more often!

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As I’d mentioned in the article, the best way to take your herbs is as food. And my most-loved method of enjoying herbs is through infusions. I am often spreading my love for infusions with my patients, whether their focus is on fatigue, anxiety, stress, thyroid imbalance, fertility, or the common cold.

What Is An Infusion?

Getting started – a mason jar and a bag of my dried herb of choice. Photo from my personal collection.

An infusion is basically a large of amount of dried herb that is brewed for a long period of time. Fresh herbs are nice; but, for maximum healing benefit, it’s best to use dried, chopped herbs.

Think tea has wonderful properties? It does. But, infusions are like tea on steroids! I’m not referring to the ‘roid rage, but to the intense nourishment that ensues when you give that herb time to stew and release its properties into the infused water. Technically, tea is considered an infusion of herb. But, the kind of infusion I’m referring to here is the long-brewed kind.

As I’d mentioned in my previous article, I first learned about infusions after doing a lot of research on my ancestral roots. I came upon learning about Western herbs, which turned out to be my first official dip into the ocean of all things healing. I first learned about herbal infusions from Susun Weed. I’ve adapted some of her infusion-making techniques in this how-to article, with a definite personal spin!

If you’re trying to address a specific health concern, there are certain herbs out there that you can infuse to help you address it.

An ounce of dried herb, roughly measured at a handful. Photo from my personal collection.

For instance, an infusion of nettle builds energy, strengthens adrenals and kidneys. It also supplies a healthy dose of magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, zinc, as well as Vitamins A, D, E, and K. It creates a beautiful dark green infusion. In fact, nettle is such a nourishing herbal superstar, it was at the top of my 5 fave herb list!

Likewise, an infusion of linden flowers is not only pretty to look at. It is also anti-cold, anti-flu, and is very soothing and loving towards the lungs and guts.

And, the list of herbal benefits goes on!

How To Make A Healing Herbal Infusion

  1. All you need is: your dried herb (in this case, I’m loving me a nettle infusion!), a mason jar, boiling water (ideally water that has been filtered of various metals and impurities, including fluoride), and a long-handled spoon. You can start with a quart-size mason jar with a screw-top lid, which you can get on Amazon, at The Container Store, or your local flea market. In this article, I’m using a 1.5L mason jar, which usually lasts me 2 days (I usually drink 2 cups of infusion a day.)

  2. Take an ounce of dried herb, and put it in the jar. An ounce of dried herb is roughly one handful of dried herb. It can also be measured about a cup by volume. Since my jar is larger, I place 2-3 ounces of dried herb in my jar.

  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and fill the jar of herb to the brim with water.

  4. Mix the contents of the jar with a long-handled spoon, and lid tightly. After a few minutes, you’ll hear the lid pop as the vacuum effect takes place.

  5. Let it stand overnight. This is when the magic takes place, and the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and plant energy are infusing into the water. Technically, if they’re berries or seeds, you could steep it a minimum of 30 minutes. If the herbs are flowers and leaves, you could steep it for a minimum of 2-4 hours. If they’re roots and stems, you could steep it for a minimum of 8 hours. I usually use Western herbs for infusions. But, there is some similarity when cooking Chinese herbs. This is because when you do a decoction of a raw Chinese Herbal Formula (taking the actual raw herb and cooking it in a pot) the more aromatic herbs and substances, and fresh herbs, are often added in the last 5-10 minutes, since they don’t need a long cooking time. Personally, I prefer to let infusions stand overnight for optimal effect, and also because it’s easiest when you want to make a quick yummy infusion right before going to bed. When I wake up, my fresh brew is ready to pop open and serve!

  6. In the morning, strain out the liquid – I use a tea strainer while pouring out my infusion into my cup/mug/thermos. As you get to the bottom of the jar, squeeze the herbs to get the last juicy bits. Voila! Instant nourishment straight from Mama Earth.

Tips To Optimally Enjoy Your Infusions

Place your herb in your mason jar. Photo from my personal collection.

Drink a cup or more after straining. Refrigerate after opening to keep the nutrients vital. It should last about 2 days. It may keep longer than that, but use your nose to check for spoilage after 2 days. If you think it’s on its way out, use the excess infused water to water your plants, or rinse your hair with it as a leave-on treatment. This is especially true of nettle, which helps build thick hair, when drinking it internally and using it topically.

I don’t recommend microwaving your infusion to warm it up after refrigeration, since this may kill off some of the nutrients. The same is true after decocting a Chinese Herbal formula and refrigerating it. If you like, you can leave it out and drink when it becomes room temperature. In Chinese Medicine, cold drinks can damage the Spleen, which can hinder digestion. This is why I recommend drinking your infusions at room temperature, if possible.

Fill the mason jar to the top with boiling water. Photo from my personal collection.

Some herbs, like red clover, lemon balm, oat straw, and peppermint are easiest on the palate. Herbs like nettle are very earthy, which I enjoy; but, I do realize that earthiness can be an acquired taste! If an herb is too strong a taste for your palate, try adding a dash of peppermint or bergamot to the mix (although, not too much, or else you’ll be overwhelmed with a whole lotta mint and citrus!) I don’t recommend honey to taste, but you could try a little pink himalayan salt.

Drinking 2-4 cups a day is normal. I typically get in 2 cups a day by carrying it in a thermos for easy carry to my office. I then enjoy it in between patients, and while I’m hanging out doing my patient charts.

When first making infusions, start with single herbs. This will help you get familiar with the properties of the herb, and you’ll be able to identify the benefits you can feel in your body. Later, have fun branching out and combining various herbs into a single infusion!

Mix thoroughly with a long-handled spoon to saturate the herb. Photo from my personal collection.

During summer, try pouring your strained infusions into popsicle molds, and enjoy nourishment while cooling off! This is probably the only time I’d encourage cold drinks.

I often source my herbs from 2 places: if you’re in New York City, check out Flower Power in the East Village. Lata, the owner, and her friendly, knowledgeable staff, are wonderful! If you’re not in NYC, or if you’re a busy bee and need the organic herbs delivered to your door, Mountain Rose Herbs are a great resource. Mountain Rose Herbs is also wonderful if you need herbs in bulk. Their prices are great, too. If you enjoy herbs and wellness, I guarantee that you will enter these two places (literally and virtually) and feel like a kid in a candy store!

Voila! Earth love in a jar. Photo from my personal collection.

Do you enjoy infusions?
If so, what is your favorite and why?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments, below!

In Mama Earth Love,

Margarita

Copyright © 2015 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.

How to Choose the Best Healing Crystals for Your Needs

If you're going to invest in healing crystals, you should at least know how to tap into their powers.

By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan

Healing crystals are omnipresent on the Instagram feeds of wellness influencers. These gemstones and minerals may have more power than meets the eye. In fact, I started my own crystal journey back in 2016, and I've since become so obsessed that I'm about to become a licensed crystal therapist.

But since I'm new to the game, I wanted to tap a few experienced crystal therapists to learn exactly what each crystal is said to do. And I was happy to learn that some of the prettiest stones may also be the most helpful. Hot tip: Grabbing the first crystal that catches your eye also probably has a little extra ~*magic*~ to it.

For Self-Love: Rose Quartz

Millennial pink hue aside, rose quartz is truly one of the most beautiful, feminine, and powerful healing crystals. "It's the ultimate love stone," says Audrey Kitching, a healing crystal therapist and the owner of e-boutique Crystal Cactus. "Especially self-love, though. Use this crystal to cultivate forgiveness and gentleness for your past as you work on forging a new way forward," Kitching says.

Rose quartz also works when you want to attract a new relationship or love yourself more as it emits strong vibrations from the heart, say Heather Askinosie and Timmi Jandro, owners of healing-crystal boutique Energy Muse and authors of Crystal Muse: Everyday Rituals to Tap Into the Real You. "Rose quartz helps to raise your self-esteem, restore confidence, and balance emotions."

For Stress Relief: Amethyst

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If there were ever to be just one healing crystal to be named the OG, it'd be amethyst. It not only has a litany of vibrational energies but also happens to be the mystical hue ultra-violet, the 2018 Pantone Color of the Year. "Amethyst is known to have a soothing and relaxing effect, calming fears, lifting the spirit, while also mediating anger and impatience," says Kitching.

Since it's also a natural stress reliever and sleep inducer, according to Askinosie and Jandro, keep a piece of amethyst in your bedroom to help you snooze and at your desk to manage deadline anxiety. (Also try these essential oils for anxiety and stress relief.)

For Cleansing Auras and Charging Other Healing Crystals: Selenite

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Nicknamed "Liquid Light" by the Energy Muse owners, selenite is believed to have cleansing effects. "Not only does it have its own vibrational energy," says Kitching, "but it also cleanses and charges all other healing crystals, sacred spaces, and the like the same way smudging sage or palo santo would."

Askinosie and Jandro add that it can be used to keep your personal boundaries clear, giving you the ability to unblock stagnant or negative energy. I leave a mini selenite tower in the four corners of my apartment (along with its negative-energy-busting BFF, black tourmaline) to keep bad vibes out.

For Protection and Banishing Negativity: Black Tourmaline

Known colloquially as the "Force Field Protector," black tourmaline is famous among healers and shamans for its protective, grounding qualities. "It heals physically, spiritually, and emotionally," says Kitching. "Black tourmaline is one of the most protective crystals, banishing negative energy and vibes."

I like to toss it in my gym bag for some extra focus on those not-entirely-feeling-it days. (See: The Non-Yogi's Guide to the 7 Chakras)

For Courage and Empowerment: Amber

Amber is one of the most important stones for women, despite not being one of the more famous ones, like rose quartz or amethyst. "Commonly prescribed by crystal therapists for depression and anxiety, amber helps to heal your emotions by absorbing lower energy frequencies that steal your optimism and drive for life, and replacing them with empowering, positive energy," says Kitching. (These four steps to a confident mindset can help empower you too.)

For Focus and Clarity: Rainbow Fluorite

Although I could argue I'm a relatively driven woman, placing an obelisk tower of rainbow fluorite on my desk helps me to think more clearly and focus more intently. "Fluorite possesses the magical ability to cleanse and stabilize the aura by absorbing and neutralizing lower vibrations and stress," says Kitching. "It helps to purify the mind of clutter and assist you in organizing your priorities," add Askinosie and Jandro.

For Lucid Dreams and Better Sleep: Lepidolite

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Sometimes referred to as the veritable Xanax of healing crystals, lepidolite is said to help you dream more vividly and sleep more soundly. It may also help break any negative behavioral patterns. (I've been toting it around to ensure I don't yell at anyone on the NYC subways.) "Lepidolite assists in the release and reorganization of old psychological patterns, gently inducing change. It brings deep emotional healing and soothing energies while reducing stress and depression," says Kitching. And that's specifically because, according to Askinosie and Jandro, "lepidolite naturally contains lithium, making it an anti-depression/anxiety star." I suggest putting it under your pillow (no ingesting it!), so it's closer to your third-eye and crown chakras, which are located on your forehead and top of head, respectively.

For Femininity and Fertility: Rainbow Moonstone

Channel your inner goddess with rainbow moonstone, sometimes called the "Destiny Maker," the crystal of new beginnings and fertility. "Moonstone's energy is super important for giving you the confidence to stick with new goals, missions, and paths, as well as fertility in every aspect of the word," says Kitching. "Think of fertile soil when planting a garden. Moonstone will help give you the grounding structure needed for a new start."

For Improved Body Image and General Self-Awesomeness: Tangerine Quartz

Another stone that'll make you feel sexy? Tangerine quartz, say Askinosie and Jandro. "Tangerine quartz promotes creativity, emotional balance, and sensuality. It reminds you to keep a healthy balance between the giving and receiving aspects of your relationships with friends, family, and partner." And perhaps most germane to all women is that it's a real body-image booster—carry some around when you're feeling less than stellar but need to have total game face on.

For Detoxification and EMF Protection: Shungite

"Around 2 billion years old, shungite absorbs and eliminates negative energy, say Askinosie and Jandro. Many healers make sure to carry it with them when traveling to deflect EMF rays from the X-ray machines.

For Grounding and Sexual Desire: Garnet

Garnet is the unofficial stone of sexytime—or, at least, I carry it around when I want to feel sexy. "Garnet cleanses the aura, stimulates desires, and uplifts your attitude," say Askinosie and Jandro. Kitching doubles down on that, saying that garnet is the "stone of passion and energy that ensures the smooth flow of that energy throughout the body. It helps you feel more grounded and connected to yourself in the present moment." Leaving a piece on your nightstand (again, maybe with some self-loving rose quartz) may help boost your bedroom activities.

For Communication and Compassion: Chrysocolla

Just call chrysocolla the girl power healing crystal, as it represents empowered femininity, grace, intuition, and truth. "It not only promotes clear communication and expression, but also increases your capacity to love," say Askinosie and Jandro. "Chrysocolla encourages compassion, teaching that genuine power is best expressed through gentleness." It's a great gift for the matriarchs in your life—think Mom, Grandma—as it's the stone of wise women everywhere, especially after the birth of a child when women are required to step into a new caretaking role.

For Weight Loss and Self-Control: Blue Apatite

Blue apatite, despite its similar-sounding name, actually helps to nix your appetite and governs personal willpower and healthy choices—holistic healers will often prescribe blue apatite for weight loss and/or obesity-related issues. "Blue apatite motivational and inspirational crystal ... clears your mind, strengthens your personal power, and stimulates creativity," say Askinosie and Jandro. Whenever I keep a piece of blue apatite by me during mealtimes, I find that I eat my food more mindfully. Of course, I haven't stepped on the scale to confirm any purported weight-loss benefits.