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