Forms of Ingestible Herbal Remedies

Ingestible herbal remedies are taken orally. These include various forms.

  • Infusions – Infusions are the most common way that people take herbal remedies. An infusion is a preparation that uses water as a solvent to mix with crude botanicals. The mixture may start out hot or can be a cold mixture. Usually, hot water mixtures infuse the herbs more readily and are therefore made hot and then cooled down for use. The mixture is steeped, rather than boiled. That is, it is let to set in the hot water for a period of time, depending on the type of herbs that are used. Infusions are generally the weakest of the herbal preparations.
  • Decoction – A decoction is similar to an infusion because water is used. However, a decoction uses water to boil the herbs and then squeezes them into a container. That “juice” is more concentrated than an infusion and is twice as potent. In prepared decoctions, alcohol is used as a preservative. Otherwise, the decoction would spoil rapidly. Decoctions are often used as additives in prepared foods or drinks.
  • Tincture – Similar to decoctions, tinctures are prepared by allowing herbs to sit in liquids for long periods of time to solubilize them. Herbs are stored for weeks to months in dark glass containers containing an ingredient that will make them soluble. That may be water, vinegar, alcohol or glycerine. The herbs break down in the liquid and dissolve. The remaining mixture is strained or pressed. Tinctures are often used added to foods or drinks.
  • Syrup – Similar to tinctures, syrups are a thicker liquid. These are most often taken alone as a remedy. Syrups generally have higher concentrations of herbs and care should be taken to follow the directions properly.
  • Tea – There are a number of pre-made herbal teas on the market these days. There are also tea bags that come in a variety of herbal mixtures. These are so common that they are available at any regular supermarket. Tea is actually a form of infusion.
  • Capsules or Tablets- Next to infusions, capsules are the next most common way to take herbs. Supplements are available in tablet form for almost any herb known. These are ingested in the same way you take aspirin. They dissolve in the stomach and get into your body.