How to extract the active ingredients with Medicinal Herbs

Here’s how to extract the active ingredients with Medicinal Herbs

Use-herbal-medicinal-plant-health-cooked it we begin our column going to know what is the best way to extract the principles of herbs and benefit of their therapeutic effects.


The use of herbs and plants in the kitchen and in health, despite being an established tradition, deserves some attention to avoid that they can cause more or less serious problems to our biological balance. This requires knowing the features and how to treat them prior to their consumption.

These introductory lines they want to remember the most common techniques in home preparation of extracts for use as supplements-rebalancing and, why not, just for the pleasure of taking a nice drink.

The extraction of the active principles

The systems of extraction of the active principles are different and depend mainly on what one wants to extract and assume for a specific purpose.

The combination of the active ingredients in the various parts of the plant (leaves, stems and roots) is defined as “plant complex” and, like all chemical molecules have specific properties: some dissolve in water, alcohol and other others in oil .

Because these molecules are contained in plant cells, it is necessary that the parts to be used are put in contact with the solvent (water, alcohol, oil) for a time and at a specific temperature. The value of the temperature, and its maintenance over time is an important factor and critical because it can cause inactivation of active ingredients thus reducing the action of the extract and altering the organoleptic characteristics.

Below are the two most commonly used types of extraction with water.

Infusion – The procedure is usually used to extract the active ingredients in drugs (preparation) consists of leaves and flowers, or at least to keep parts of the plant; The solvent normally used is water.
To prepare an infusion, proceed as follows: you put the drug in a container with a lid; it is preferable to use containers made of glass or ceramic. Aside bring to the boil the water that will then poured, in well defined quantity, into the container containing the preparation. It covers the container and is left to rest for a time comprised between 10 and 20 minutes. Once cooled, the infusion should be filtered using a fine gauze or a small linen cloth. Must be consumed immediately, never hot or cold and can exceptionally be sweetened with honey.

A particular case of the herbal tea is infused.

The herbal tea  is in practice is a preparation represented by a mixture of drugs in specific ratios.

For example, green tea or chamomile are infused while a mixture of drugs consisting of green tea, lemon balm and rose hips in specific proportions is an herbal tea.

Decoction– The procedure is preferable to use it with more leathery parts of the plant (roots, woods, seeds, bark), in the case of herbs “more leathery” or for particular types of extractions.
The drug, the appropriate dose may be placed directly in cold water and heated over low heat until boiling. It will continue boiling of the mixture for a time comprised between 5 and 30 minutes (it depends on the type of extraction that is to be realized). At the end it will filter heat and cover until it reaches the proper temperature for the taking.

Also in this case you can sweeten with honey.

Infusions, decoctions and infusions are not only used to be taken as beverages but can be used for treatments to the skin, joints, or as washing of wounds, eyes, etc ..

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