Herbal Preparation of Medicinal Plants


There are many ways to prepare plants in order to use them for medication, but the most common methods are to prepare an infusion or decoction. Both of these methods involve making a simple tea to be ingested or used externally. The plant material can be used either fresh or dried to make an infusion or decoction.


Step 1

Collect the plant material used in the preparation. Infusions require leaves, flowers or seeds.

Step 2

Bruise seeds in a mortar and pestle or release oils from dried or fresh leaves and flowers by crushing slightly with the back of a spoon. Chop fresh leaves and flowers with a knife.

Step 3

Place one and a half cups water into a non-aluminum pan and place on the stove. Bring it to a boil.

Step 4

Place one to two teaspoons dried plant material or two tablespoons fresh in a container with a lid. Pour a cup of boiling water over and cover the container.

Step 5

Steep the plant material in the water for 10 minutes. To make a strong infusion, steep the mixture until it cools.

Step 6

Steep the plant material in the water for 10 minutes. To make a strong infusion, steep the mixture until it cools. Place cheesecloth over the opening of a wide mouth jar and strain the loose plant material out. Strain several times until the liquid is clear. Discard the plant matter.


Step 1

Collect bark or roots to make a decoction. Clean all dirt off the roots and bark and let dry in a warm area out of the sun.

Step 2

Chop roots and bark with a sharp knife or place in a grinder. Do not grind fine leaving them slightly chunky so it will be easier to strain.

Step 3

Place plant material in a saucepan and cover it with cold water. Turn the heat on high and bring it to a boil.

Step 4

Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Steep plant material covered for about 15 minutes. To make a strong decoction, keep it covered and steeping until the mixture is cool.

Step 5

Place cheesecloth over the opening of a jar and strain the plant matter out and discard. Bark and root is sometimes hard to strain so it may have to be strained several times.

Tips and Warnings

  • Aluminum has a habit of combining with certain plant matter and will change the composition of the medication. It may not work if using aluminum.

Things You'll Need

  • Dried or fresh medicinal plants
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Grinder
  • Sharp knife
  • Non-Aluminum pans with lid
  • Glass, porcelain or earthenware containers with a covering
  • Stove or hotplate
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Cheesecloth
  • Jars or bottles


  • Easy Home Remedy: Making Herbal Preparations
  • Raintree Nutrition: Methods of Preparing Herbal Remedies
  • Annies Remedies: Herbal infusions,Medicinal Oils, Salves, Tinctures

Who Can Help

  • Healing Herbs and Natural Remedies: Herbal Tinctures and Teas
Keywords: making herbal preparations, making a decoction, making an infusion

About this Author

Deborah Harding has been writing for nine years. Beginning with cooking and gardening magazines, Harding then produced a gardening and cooking newsletter and website called Prymethyme Herbs in 1998. Published books include "Kidstuff" and "Green Guide to Herb Gardening." She has a Bachelor of Music from Youngstown State University and sings professionally.