Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Traditional herbal decoction method.
Decoction is the most time-tested method of extracting medicine from Chinese herbs using a double-boil cooking process.
Your herbal prescription will have the indicated dosage marked on the bag, such as: 1 bag/2 days. This indicates that one bag will cooked and the resulting decoction will be consumed over two days. It is recommended that you take the decoction twice/day. The decoction can be taken with or without food.
The amount of liquid your decoction yields will depend on how much water you add and the length of cooking time. Due to the varying volume of herbal materials, there is no way determine a set amount of water for all formulas. If you want to drink a smaller volume of herbal decoction, you can begin with less water or allow to cook down longer.
Video Demonstration of Double Boil Method
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Double Boil Method
You will need:
a stainless steel or ceramic cooking pot
your herbal prescription
mason jar or similar container
Place raw herbs into cooking pot. Cover herbs with water, approximately one inch of water above the level of herbs. Allow herbs to soak for a minimum of 30 minutes, or overnight if time allows. For acute cold and flu formulas, soak 30 minutes, cook and drink as soon as possible.
Cook, Strain, Cook Again.
Bring water to a boil and then turn back down to a light rolling boil. Keep the pot covered with a lid. Allow herbs to cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, pour liquid through strainer into storage container. The liquid is what you will drink. This is the first boil. Now return the boiled herbs to the stove, cover again with water. Bring to a boil and repeat the process, this time cooking for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat, and strain the liquid from the second boiling into the same storage container so first and second boilings are combined.
Short Cook herbs
Some herbs do not tolerate long cooking times due to delicate volatile oils. These herbs will be packaged separately. Once the first boil is completed, before straining, add the short cook herbs to the pot and stir in. Allow to steep for 3-5 minutes then strain the decoction. Short cook herbs do not need to be soaked prior to cooking.
Drink Decoction twice/day
If the dosage marked on your bag is 1 bag/ 2 days, one dose consists of 1/4 of the finished decoction.
Generally the dose is intended to be 4-8 oz taken twice a day.
If you are prescribed 1 bag per day, aim for a total volume of 8-16 oz for a total of 2 doses.
If your prescribed dose is 1 bag of herbs for 2 days, aim for a total volume of 16-32 oz which would give you 4 doses.
Store Decoction in the Refrigerator
You may cook multiple bags of herbs at the same time, and keep the decoction in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.