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Decoction -
How decoctions are made and how to use and store.

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Although a decoction can be made from any part of the herb it is normally reserved for roots, bark and some of the seeds (seed can mostly be ground like coffee and an infusion should then render the desired effect).

Somewhat more water is used (follow a recipe, do not experiment as it affects dosage) and the measure weight of bark and/or roots is immersed and brought to boil after which it is simmered for anything up to 30 minutes depending on the size of the pieces of herb used.

When simmering the water evaporates and the remaining liquid becomes more concentrated which could dramatically increase dosage if it is allowed to simmer until most of the water has boiled away. This can be overcome in one of two ways: either start with more water than the recipe calls for and simmer until it has reduced to the specified volume or add boiling water at the end to make up the volume needed.

Decoctions are rarely used for herbs that contain a volatile oil as the process of boiling or simmering is guaranteed to make all but traces of the oil evaporate. There are also many constituents that are altered by heating, where possible and if I am aware of it I will note so on the individual herb page.

The standard ratio is one ounce of dried herb to a pint of water and dosage is then determined by the volume of decoction taken. With decoctions dosage has to be carefully calculated on the volume of liquid left not on the volume of liquid started with as the reduction as a result of boiling concentrated the end product.

Like infusions, decoctions have a short shelf life and should be made daily.

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