nourishing herbal infusions


Raspberry leaf infusion

In my post on healing my rheumatoid arthritis (read it HERE), I mentioned that I boosted my iron levels without a supplement by drinking herbal infusions and taking blackstrap molasses with citrus in the morning.  Some of you asked me to expand a little more about it and share my recipe.  So here’s a little more information (you can also look in my story highlights on Instagram, I show all the steps there, too).

As part of my evening ritual, I prepare a herbal infusion concentrate to drink the next day, like a gift to my future self.  I started doing this when I was pregnant, at the recommendation of my midwife.  Since I had had anemia with my first pregnancy (on a standard american diet), she wanted to make sure my iron and calcium levels were supported.  I started drinking red raspberry leaf (fertility, calcium, magnesium, uterine toning) and nettle (adrenal and kidney support, iron, anxiety, energy, hair, skin, vein health) leaf tea daily and it definitely helped so much- a gentle way to aid my body and support it through this time.  I kept drinking it through breastfeeding as a way to get added minerals into my diet without needing to take isolated supplements.  I’ve since learned (from THIS video) to add hibiscus to it for improved flavor and a boost of antioxidants and skin support.  Of course, if you are pregnant, check with your midwife and doctor to make sure it’s right for you before starting this regimen.

On that note, as with anything you put in or on your body, please make sure to do your own research and come to your own decisions before you begin using a new to you supplement.  Herbs are powerful plant medicine and they require knowledge and respect to use them properly.  A great resource on this subject is this page which had tons of articles on herbalism for all types of ages and phases in life for women, written by herbalist Susan Weed (don’t mind the outdated website, there’s a treasure trove of info).  I’m sure you could find tons of info by googling too or searching at your library for books on the subject.

That being said, this is the tea blend I love to drink the week before, during, and after my period- so 3 weeks out of the month with a 1 week break in between where I switch to other herbs or just my turmeric latte.  I buy my organic herbs in bulk from Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco.   A good source to buy from if you don’t have access to bulk is Mountain Rose Herbs– they do come in plastic but you can buy big quantities just like they come to the bulk store in.

bulk herbs

bulk herbs

I’ve included measurements here, but honestly I never measure.  It’s much more satisfying to me to intuitively add more or less depending on what my body is feeling like.  Similarly, sometimes I’ll add or switch out the hibiscus for peppermint (digestion, inflammation, clearing skin) or ashwagandha (stress, immune, thyroid), gotu kola (circulation, memory, and mood), red clover (trace minerals, calcium, stress, fertility), oat straw (nervous system, calcium, mood calming, anxiety) or whatever other herb I’m feeling for that day.  I encourage you to do the same.  Experiment.  If you switch up the herbs, just keep in mind this general ratio: for 1 quart, use 1 ounce dried herbs of choice, and fill to the top with boiling water.  You can’t really go wrong (but avoid tea bags and get loose herbs which are fresher, more potent, and won’t leach plastic into your cup).  For example, a team bag of raspberry leaf tea provides about 5 mg calcium.  A cup of raspberry leaf infusion provides around 200 mg.  The longer soaking time means more minerals and active compounds are extracted and pulled into the water.

infusion vegan iron calcium pregnancy postpartum

hibiscus, nettle, and red raspberry leaf infusion 

hibiscus (approx 1/3 cup)

nettle (approx 1/3 cup)

raspberry leaf (approx 1/3 cup)

boiling water

quart sized mason jar with lid

Add in all the herbs to the jar.  Pour over the boiling water and place the lid on (I personally prefer to use a small plate or a Weck glass lid placed on top of the mason jar.  Mason jar lids are coated with plastic and I don’t want any leaching into my infusion).

Let sit overnight.  If it’s a full moon it can be lovely to leave it outside in the moonlight to absorb some of that energy.

Strain through a coffee/tea sock or a stainless steel mesh strainer, pressing down and squeezing to get all the goodies out.  Compost the spent herbs.

You can drink straight, sweeten it or add lemon, or ice it.  I like to pour 1/3 of the brew into another jar and dilute with some fresh hot water and drink that way throughout the day.  I usually consume the whole quart that day.

Drink within 36 hours.  After that point if you have leftovers, you can water your plants with it or use it as a hair rinse.

Enjoy!  The effects of infusions are best seen when consumed daily.