All decoctions are concoctions, but not all concoctions are decoctions.
Actually a decoction is like a tea, but steeped/simmered for a much longer time. Medicinal roots and mushrooms are generally best prepared this way, as their medicine takes a while to infuse.
This is an earthy mixture of burdock, dandelion root, and turkey tail mushroom. It’s slightly bitter, but pleasant, and a with little drop of honey stirred in, the slow days of autumn turning toward winter become a time of inward attention. This immune building, liver detoxifying, intestinal flora balancing, warm root decoction will always send me into a nice wave of cozy nostalgia for all the autumns past, and how dear it is to come back to this season again.
Throughout the open woods of Robinwood and edges of the meadow, grows a giant leafed plant called burdock. A biennial, that flowers on it’s second year, and has some mean, (I mean real mean) burrs. Often Doug will come to me, his fur all bound up in the nasty things. But we love this plant! It has these massive tap roots that dive deep into the earth pulling all sort of nutrients from the depths. It’s these roots that we dig up in the fall, and are wonderful to prepare as food (burdock has long been a staple in Asian and European cuisine), or dry for medicinal decoctions. Similar to dandelion root, Burdock is full of inulin, which is a fiber that feeds our intestinal flora; a prebiotic. Burdock is traditionally a liver cleansing, or detoxification medicine, great for conditions of the skin like eczema, acne and psoriasis.
Dandelion; perhaps one of the most well-known weeds there is, don’t you think? Except here at Robinwood we don’t think of dandelion as a weed at all. It is a gorgeous blanket of yellow stars spreading over the meadow in April, wind dancing seeds flying though the air in May, succulent and nutritious bitter leaves for salad greens and tea, medicinal roots in the fall. I adore dandelions, and I revel in their appearance in the spring. The list of benefits is long and impressive. If you are still scoffing at the golden flowers growing all around you, I would encourage you to do some research into the many uses of this wonderful plant; full of iron, riboflavin, Vitamin E, fiber, beta carotene, calcium, copper, and manganese. Dandelion root, when harvested in the fall, is full of inulin, which is a prebiotic that feeds our intestinal flora. It supports the liver, and is helpful in cases of eczema, psoriasis, and arthritic conditions, as it aids in excretion.
Herbal actions (Root):
- Gentle laxative
Turkey Tail is a very common foraging find here in the damp and rotting forests of the west coast. It is a small polypore that grows in clusters on rotting alder, mostly. And it sure is pretty. Perhaps it has gone by unnoticed, but once you understand the medicinal benefits of this fungus, it shines in the woods like the powerful gift it is. Turkey tail mushrooms, are full of polysaccharides, proteins and minerals, vitamins B and D, and anti-microbials. It also contains anti-oxidants, including phenols and flavonoids, namely quercetin and baicalein, which reduce inflammation and stimulate protective compounds. It is an effective immune modulator that boosts immune function and can balance an overactive or underactive immune system. It is also being noted, and well studied for its cancer fighting abilities, and anti-tumor properties. It has shown to support patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. It has also been shown to aid in digestion by feeding the beneficial gut bacteria, prevent and treat colds and flu, HPV and other infections, and even offer support for HIV/Aids patients because of its strong antiviral actions.
- Immune stimulator
- Immune modulator