The parts of the plant that have to be used to prepare decoctions must be hard parts, like seeds, cortex, roots and similar. This is due to the fact that, decoctions must boil for a while and the boiling parts should handle the process without losing their principle without being too fragile or light. At the same time, the boiling process is useful to abstract principles from those hard parts that would not be useful otherwise, if just put it in water without boiling all for a specific amount of time. The so called “drug” has to have specific dimensions and characteristics, in order to know how to proceed before making it “decoct”.

En décoction

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The ways of abstraction for the active principles of the vegetables, parts of the plant or simple herbs, is called decoction even though, sometimes, this can follow another procedure which is called maceration. Maceration sees the rest of the herb in a little cold water for at least two hours before they are poured into boiling water and let it boil altogether. In the other cases, you only have to mix the herbs in cold water and then put it on the fire, when it reaches the boiling state, you let it boil for a period that could go from five minutes to hours, depending on the characteristics of the plant. Just leave the fire slow otherwise you could burn it too fast.

  • Decoctions Just like teas and infusions, you have to get the water boil. Instead of turning the fire off though, you just keep it going, water boiling, spreading the herbs and stirring. You have to let the whole...

Decoctions: Webster's Timeline History, 1535 - 2007

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It is during the boiling process that the drug parts get together with the water, mixing each other and releasing elements. The following step is the decoction when the unwelcome parts get left out of the final product. Decoctions are used mostly in the popular medicine because phytotherapy is mostly concentrated on extracts and other herbal remedies. Sometimes people do a double decoction which consists in boiling for a first time the herbs, and then substituting the liquid to make the herb boil again.

Decoctions: Confusion

Do not confuse decoction with infusion or herb teas. In fact, although they are all valuable methods and procedures, they each have their own characteristics and purposes. The difference lies in the way of preparation, but also in the result that you are willing to get. Letting the water boil and pouring it into a cup leaving the herb in infusion gets a different result from boiling the water together with the herbs that have to release their active principles because they are contained in the hardest parts of the herbal plant. Just ask for help if you think you could mistake yourself.