When it comes to herbology in Ayurveda, we tend to say that is fast acting compared to diet. The effects of herbal treatments can be immediate or prevalent within a short amount of time. They are no miracle cure however, as diet and lifestyle are still extremely important in preventative medicine. If you keep doing harm to your body, herbs can only do so much.
There are many different ways to deliver herbs into the system.
We can do juices, medicated ghee or oils, jams, tinctures, wines, pills, crushed powders…even the medium that the herbs are delivered in are considered to be an “ingredient” if you will, as they affect the potency of the medicine. But a lot of those methods can require a lot of time and skill to prepare. Teas are a wonderful and familiar way to get the benefits of medicine. Whereas people may have no idea what a Medicated Oil is or how to make it, most anyone understands what tea is.
There are two categories of teas:
Infusions – the herbs simply sit in the liquid and slowly release their ingredients into the water (kind of like steeping)
Decoctions – the herbs are boiled in water and the amount of water reduces. The potency depends on how much we reduce it (more reduction = stronger).
Most of us will probably not be brave or knowledgeable enough to try making decoctions without some level of assistance or guidance.
Infusions are simple and easy because it’s just like sticking a teabag into your water – only in order to get the full benefits of whatever tea you are ingesting, it is important to note some simple tips:
There are two types of infusions: Hot and Cold
Hot Infusions are best for Kapha and Vata dosha, who tend to be cooler. Basic preparations are 1 oz of the herb in 3 cups of hot water. Tea should be steeped for at least 30 mins to 1 hour and then strained. If you want to keep the tea warm, try using a coffee press wrapped in a towel or cozy, or keep it in a thermos.
Cold infusions are best for Pitta Dosha. Note that no liquids should really ever be taken cold as it upsets our agni (digestive fires). When we say cold, we mean room temperature as to not aggravate the already hot Pitta Dosha. These teas need to be left to steep for a minimum of 8 hours, cold. They can then be gently reheated to room temperature.
Many commercial teas we buy in teabag form actually do not have a lot of tea in them. Taking apart a whole box might provide you with 1-2 oz of herb! They really skimp on them. And yes, this means teas prepared in an Ayurvedic fashion are much stronger tasting and potent.
So if you for example have read up and learned that peppermint is great for cooling pitta and dispelling gas, then you’d want more than just a teabag in your cup. You’d need to find some fresh peppermint or dried peppermint (organic without anything else added ideally), and make a cold infusion out of it.
However, simply getting a teabag of peppermint tea won’t be the end of the world, it’s effects just won’t be as great as you might hope for. If you really want the full benefit of herbal teas, you have to try infusing them in the Ayurvedic way!
The list of herbs that help specific doshas is endless. Then there is the fact that most of us have multiple doshas out of balance, if not all three. There are so many factors to consider that it would be ridiculous for me to just start advising you to take certain herbs. Remember, you are a unique individual! You deserve to have the right treatment crafted and prepared for you specifically. Go see a CAS to get the best concoction for you. 🙂