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  How to Decoct Chinese Herbal Medicine




Place the herbs in the pot, add cold water just enough to cover all the herbs and then add one more cup, so that the water will be about half an inch higher than the herbs.



Stir a little bit and let the herbs soak in the water for about 15-20 minutes to make them soft and moist, the same water should be used for decoction to prevent any loss of the herbs' potency.



Then bring the water to boil; as soon as the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, both to keep the water from overflowing and to prevent its premature exhaustion. During the course of decoction, the pot should be covered and not opened too frequently in order to retain the volatile constituents of some herbs.



The total decoction time depends upon the herbs being decocted. For instance, herbs for inducing perspiration can be decocted over high heat for less than 10 minutes after the water starts boiling and herbs for strengthening the body, traditionally called tonics, can be decocted for as long as an hour over low heat. However, the total decoction time will be about 20-30 minutes in general when the water begins to boil.



After decoction, the herbs are filtered and the liquid is ready for oral administration. Normally, each decoction is to be taken all at once as one dosage, and usually two dosages are taken a day.



Usually, one bag of herbs is two dosages for a day. The same bag of herbs can be decocted in the morning and then again in the late afternoon.



Sometimes it may be necessary to decoct the heavy or hard herbs, like wood or roots, over low heat for 10 to 20 minutes first, so that their constituents will become fully soluble in boiling water. The clerk at our clinic will wrap up the herbs in small paper bags and give instructions for each bag to be decocted.

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