How to Prepare a Chinese Herb Decoction
By 藥劑部 Pharmacy | January, 2023
Soak the Chinese herbal medicines
- Soaked in water for 20~30 minutes makes the Chinese herbal medicines become soft. This also allows the plant cells to expand, which makes the active ingredient easily to be released during decoction.
- Do not flush the Chinese herbal medicine with water, because it may flush away the therapeutic constituents of the herbs. However, some herbs with high soil content such as Spreading Hedyotis Herb (Bai Hua She She Cao), Capillary Wormwood Herb (Yin Chen) and Yerbadetajo Herb (Han Lian Cao) are recommended for water rinsing.
The Soaking Time
- Flowers, leaves or stems such as Chrysanthemum Flower (Ju Hua), Mulberry Leaf (Sang Ye), Folium Perillae (Zi Su Ye) and Ephedra Herb (Ma Huang) are suggested to be soaked for 20 minutes.
- Roots, seeds or fruits such as Boat-fruited Sterculia Seed (Pang Da Hai), Fructus Momordicae (Luo Han Guo), Fructus Jujubae (Da Zao) and Herba Ocimi Basilici Root (Jiu Ceng Ta Gen) are recommended to be soaked for 30~60 minutes.
- The soaking time is recommended to be shorter for the pathogen-eliminating medicines to relieve exterior syndromes and longer for the nourishing medicines.
The Decocting Container
- Pottery containers or casseroles are favored.
- Do NOT use iron kettles or copper pots.
Decocting Heat and Time
- Boiling the herbs with strong heat to quickly evaporate the water.
- Then, use gentle heat to decoct the herbs slowly for 15~20 minutes.
- Strong heat is usually used to decoct the exterior-syndromes-relieving medicines and gentle heat for the nourishing medicine.
- We use strong heat to decoct the aromatic and highly volatile leaves or flowery herbs and to boil it once or twice. Decocting for too long can lead to the loss of efficacy.
- We generally use gentle heat to thoroughly decoct roots and stems of all kinds of medicinal plants. Anticipated therapeutic effects can only be achieved if the plants are well decocted.
The Volume of Water
- A dose of Chinese herbal medicine is recommended to decoct 2 times separately. Mix well the two decoctions and follow physician’s instruction to take the medicine two times or three times a day.
- The first decoction: Thoroughly soak the Chinese herbal medicines in a pot and add water until it is approximately 3cm above the medicine. Then, decoct the medicine for 1~1.5 hour.
- The second decoction: Due to most water being absorbed by the medicine during the first decoction, only little amount of water is needed for the second decoction. Add water until it covers the medicine and keep simmering for 2/3~1 hour.
- Due to variety of constitution of different people, we recommend that one should consult his or her doctor of Chinese Medicine before consuming the herbal medicine.
- For your own safety, please contact your physician or health providers anytime you have a question.