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Ayurvedic remedies

Traditionaly ayurvedic remedies are taken as fresh juices, pastes, or purees, generally mixed with ghee or oil; as decoctions; as hot and cold infusions; or as macerations. The traditional proportion for decoctions is one part herb to 16 parts water, which is then simmered until the volume has reduced to one-quarter of the original This process takes several hours to complete. Hot infusions use the proportion of one part herb to eight parts boiling water, with the infusion being left for up to 12 hours, rather than the 10-15 minutes that are generally allowed in the West. Some ayurvedic practitioners In the West recommend increasing the dosage and cutting the simmering or infusion time to Western proportions in order to make the preparation more compatible with Western lifestyles. Decoctions can be simmered until three-quarters of the water is left and dosages doubled or trebled, with a similar increase in dosages for a minimum hot-infusion time of 30 minutes. Milk decoctions are made from one part herb to eight parts milk and 32 parts water. They are then simmered until all the water has evaporated. Using herbal powders with milk and omitting all the water is another shortcut that can be made.


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Some herbs, such as Valerian and marshmallow root, are best macerated in cold water. Use the same proportions as for an infusion and simply leave the mixture in a cool place overnight. In the morning, strain the mixture and use as an infusion.

Chinese decoctions

Chinese remedies are generally dispensed by practitioners in separate bags containing enough dried herb for each dose. This is traditionally boiled in three cups of water in an earthenware or ceramic pot for 25-30 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half. The mix is then strained and taken in a single dose on an empty stomach in the morning. Sometimes the herbs need to be reheated in fresh water and then the two extractions are combined. The same herbs might be used for the following day's brew, depending on the exact mix: if it contains soluble ingredients, such as certain mineral salts, then a fresh prescription will be needed each day. The decoction (known as Tang (soup) ) is generally extremely dark brown and very strongly flavored. Chinese doses are much larger than those used by Western herbalists (often up to 3 1/2 Oz/90g ) and the resulting mix is usually rather unpleasant for Western palates.