Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ginger Spice Decoction

I purposefully have delayed writing this post simply because I was so excited about it.

Huh?

Yeah... because it seemed too good to be true. A friend shared the recipe with me and RAVED about it for half an hour, expounding on the benefits and how it had helped her family...

I've heard lots of stories like this one. Haven't you? I politely tucked the recipe in my purse and eventually put it somewhere on my desk where it sat for months.

Then there was that day during the bleak part of winter, early in January when I was feeling blah, cold to the bone, tired, and my digestive system was irritated beyond belief from all the holiday foods I had enjoyed for their "momentary pleasures". What could it hurt to try her brew? After all, it was just normal kitchen stuff I had on hand.


I made a batch and took my first sip...

Hmmm... it burned a bit going down. My esophagus was definitely inflamed. Sigh...

The second sip was a bit better and soon I had finished the cup of "tea". And it tasted really pretty good. I admit... I was surprised. Especially since I don't like ginger tea all that much. Love ginger ale; hate ginger tea. Go figure.

Anyway, by mid afternoon, I kind of wanted more, so I had a second cup. By this time, I'm thinking to myself "This stuff is pretty good!". But the real surprise came that night.

You see, I have had trouble swallowing for six years... any time I lay down or bend over. Hiatal hernia. Confirmed with an endoscopy. No doubt about it. The doctor's solution? Prescription and antacids for the rest of my life. NOT what I wanted to hear. And after reading books on the subject, I wasn't sure I WANTED to take them for an extended period of time. (Please know I'm well aware of the seriousness of acid on the esophagus... Barrett's Disease, cancer. Definitely bad stuff.)

I do NOT know how to explain this, but that night, when I laid down, I actually was able to swallow for the first time in YEARS! I tried not to get too excited. Just a fluke I thought. But three days later, I'm running "tests" on myself... bend over, stand up, swallow. I can do it!! Now bend over, swallow, THEN stand up... I can still do it!! I literally broke down and cried.

I honestly can not fully explain this, but in researching each of the ingredients, I found that they ALL help with digestive issues (besides other things). Now I realize I still have a Hiatal Hernia and it hasn't gone away, but I'm assuming the decoction has benefited me by allowing my gut to process food quicker and more thoroughly. But it does even more.

The bay leaves, cinnamon, and cloves also have tannins that give it astringent qualities which tighten, heal, and have a drying effect and thus reduce irritation and inflammation (like in my esophagus). Typically with acid reflux you want to AVOID tannins, but for some reason, these spices seem to be reducing some of the inflammation without causing the irritation that I've experienced from other non-conventional remedies. And it also seems to work a lot better than the prescriptions, which only kept it from being totally out of control.

Even though I had been tested for H. Pylori, twice... the tests were always negative. Since this decoction seems to have worked on my system so well, I'm guessing I must have been borderline for the bacteria. Apparently the cinnamon acts against H. Pylori and helps counter stomach ulcers that result from the bacteria.
  

You may be thinking, "I don't have acid reflux, so this won't benefit me. Well, the gal that shared it with me didn't have an acid reflux problem either. It benefited her in other ways. After a while, her skin cleared up and she lost weight. Lots of weight! And she didn't change anything else in her diet (according to her testimony). She also felt it had helped her husband during his recovery from cancer and the treatment he underwent.

If you do your own research, you'll find that these spices may help with various aliments such as colds, flu, infection, coughs, ulcers, nausea, indigestion, gas, bloating, gastroenteritis, diarrhea, infection, IBS,  toothaches (oh, it helped me with that, too), poor circulation, and inflammation. And I suspect it does more that we don't realize. Besides... this just tastes good and all the ingredients are safe to consume. (If you have any health issues, take the recipe to your doctor and ask if he/she feels it would be a problem for you to consume the decoction.)

So enough background on it. Let's talk about the recipe!

Ginger Spice Decoction

40 whole cloves
20 bay leaves (MUST be Laurus nobilis - any others are not considered safe to consume)
2 cinnamon sticks (about 3-4 inches long each)
1 ginger root (about 4-5 inches long - longer if thin, shorter if fat)
4-5 quarts water


Just a word about the ginger. I mentioned it should be about 4 inches long. This is not an EXACT recipe. If you find the ginger is too strong, cut back. I was using about twice this amount and it may have been too much for my intestines. So I cut back on the amount I put in the pot. Once I tried a 3rd stick of cinnamon and it overwhelmed the drink with cinnamon flavor to the point of being unappealing, so I would stick to just the two sticks.



Also, make sure you use fresh ginger that is in good condition.


Not moldy like in the photo below. I buy just a little at a time so it doesn't go bad on me.


Place all ingredients along with the water in a crock pot that doesn't get too hot. I found the Rival crock pots cook higher on the "low" setting as opposed to the Hamilton Beach, which I picked up for around $20 and dedicated to just making this decoction and other herbal brews. I can also strain the ingredients and keep them on warm instead of cooking constantly.




Let the brew cook on low for several hours. I typically make it before I go to bed and it's ready the next morning, but occasionally I'll make a batch in the morning and it's ready by late afternoon or early evening.

Leave the ingredients in the pot to continue brewing and take out what you plan to drink. Add the same amount of water BACK into the pot so that it replenishes the liquid to the original level. Continue this for a couple of days and then strain and discard the ingredients, leaving just the liquid. At this point, I tend to leave it on warm and use as needed, but I don't continue to add water into the pot since it would dilute it.

The decoction may be taken hot or cold, but being that it's winter right now, I tend to drink it hot along with a bit of honey. I also like to dilute it further with some hot water, however, my husband drinks it straight from the crock pot. He LOVES ginger and likes it really strong. I figure this summer, we'll try adding some ice to chill it. Might be good on a hot day while gardening.




As you can see from my photo below, I keep this brewing on top of my mini-refrigerator so that it's out of the way. A ladle and honey makes it easy to grab a cup throughout the day.



Because I'm making this every few days, I purchased the ingredients in bulk from Azure Standard. It cost me about $25 for all three ingredients (minus the ginger root) and it makes a ton of decoction! I've lost count of how many pots I've already made. You could also find the ingredients through any reputable bulk herb supplier such as Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herb Store.

I can't tell you how excited I've been over using herbs and other plants. I'm truly amazed at what I'm learning and how well they work. It encourages me to try even more!

I'd love to hear what decoctions you've experimented with, how it has helped you, and any recipes! Feel free to include a link to your recipe as well. 

Please note: I am not a medical professional nor certified in herbal remedies. My post only reflects my own experience and is not a guarantee or promise of results in any way. Herbs are powerful and should be treated with respect, so please do your own research and seek professional medical advice if you have any health concerns.



56 comments:

  1. That sounds rather yummy! I need to buy some fresh ginger. That is such a blessing that it has helped with your health problems!

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  2. That is amazing!! I love hearing about herbal remedies that work...and better than modern medicine! Thank you for sharing this recipe...:)

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  3. Im gonna try this. Sounds iffy (taste wise) but what the heck!?

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  4. Most of the time, acid reflux is caused by too much stomach acid and you need HCL to help digest your food. I struggled with esophogitus for a long time until I discovered HCL. I wrote a post about it here if you are interested ~

    http://lorialexander.blogspot.com/2012/01/cure-for-acid-reflux-or-heartburn.html

    I do want to make your tea. It sounds wonderful and anything that helps with digestion and the gut is a very good thing!

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    1. It's almost as often caused by too little stomach acid. The food is left in the stomach too long and it starts to ferment, which can cause reflux. It's a difficult situation for the body to solve by itself.

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  5. This sounds delicious, and I've been having stomachaches and feeling generally blech lately. I just happen to have a few branches of fresh bay leaves and a knob of ginger that needs to be used in the next day or so, so I went right over to my crock pot and put this together after reading this post. I'm looking forward to waking up to this tomorrow :)

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  6. That's awesome and it sounds wonderful! Do you think it would be safe for pregnant women to consume ??

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    1. Megan,
      I would research the ingredients individually to determine if they're safe for pregnancy. Some

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  7. Apart from loving the idea of having this sitting there, warm and ready for whenever I want some, I also love ginger! Ginger beer, ginger tea, the hotter the better! Can't wait to try this! A question..are the bay leafs that we buy for soup etc. the same as these? Not sure if I should be looking for something different or if what I've got is the right kind. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, they should be the same as the others are not considered "edible".

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  8. So glad to hear this is helping you, Amy!! How wonderful. We have a bay leaf tree that I use in soups and casseroles, is this the same type of bay leaf do you think?
    Lian.

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    1. Yes. If you plan to "harvest your own", you will need to research edible v. non-edible varieties.

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  9. Yes, like Sue I need to know if these are the bay leaves you buy at the store in the spice section?

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    1. Yes... for more info, please see comments above.

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  10. Wow! We are definately going to try this ! Thank you for sharing! Blessings! Gail

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  11. This sounds really good, (and probably smells wonderful!) especially since having baby #5 in August I'm still not feeling back to normal, and hey, if it helps with some weight loss... Does anybody know if it would be safe for a nursing mom, or can someone point me in the right direction to look it up? Thanks for sharing, hopefully I'll be able to use this!

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    1. Bonnie, I would highly recommend researching each of the four ingredients just to be sure. You might try looking on the Bulk Herb Store website as Shoshanna talks a lot about herbs and pregnancy.

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  12. Sounds really interesting. The benefits of this outweigh the taste I am sure...I love ginger too. I am definitely going to think about trying this one. Thanks for all the great information Amy. It is so appreciated. Blessings!

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  13. Hi Amy, I've never visited your blog before... not even quite sure how I found it today (in the sea of blogs), but am so glad that I did. I'm new to using herbs and plants for "medicinal" purposes and discovered a tip to extend the life of ginger. Freeze it! According to the original poster (can't remember who it was) it will last for months. Just grate (or chop) the amount needed for your recipe. I've tried it and it works!! In fact, my ginger is about 4 months old and still looks good! Just thought I'd share.

    Have a wonderful day!!!
    Gammy/Tammy

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    1. Welcome, Gammy Tammy! Thanks for a great tip!!!

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  14. ...btw...

    GORGEOUS blog! Gammy/Tammy

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  15. I look forward to trying this. I'm all for using herbs, spices etc. for health.

    FlowerLady

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  16. This sounds heavenly. I bet it makes your whole house smell wonderful. I keep fresh ginger in the freezer, and then if I use it in a recipe, I just grate it into the soup or sauce I'm making. Just a little tip back. I LOVE your blog, and I am a city girl that will be moving to the country in a few months…with my three hens…Can't wait.

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    1. Thanks, Karen! So glad you like the blog. :-) So nice to hear you'll be getting your hens and moving to the country. Many blessings on your new adventure!

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  17. This is a great recipie and I now have it stored.
    regarding your medical condition though. I would suggest that perhaps you never had a haitial hernia in the first place, I think their diagnosis was wrong. That you did have a bacterial invasion I think is right. There are many bacteria that can invade the stomach aside from H-pylori in my opinion. Its just that that is the only one they can find. What you did have was low stomach acid. These herbs will increse stomach acid, which will reduce bacteria and hence reduce pressure on your esophegeal sphincter. If you do actually have a hernia the reduction of pressure though improved digestive ability will alleviate the symptoms this type of hernia can produce. Many people are born with hiatial hernias but do not suffer until their stomach becomes sick and stops producing sufficient acid. Hiatial hernia can also start causing symptoms due either to weight gain or significant weight loss.

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    1. Arrow Durfee... thanks for an excellent comment! I'm really hoping you're right on this issue. I really want to resolve the problem once and for all and I'm definitely hoping they got the diagnosis wrong.

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  18. Thanks for the recipe. Can't wait to try it. It just sounds good for you. I've been reading how good cinnamon is for you. The Bulk Herb store has a great cinnamon tea (Dr. Cinnamon) I've been drinking. I'll add this one to my teas that I'm using to replace (part of my) coffee.

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  19. I'm so happy you posted this - can't wait to try it!

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  20. I am going to print this off for my husband to look at. He had stage 4 head and neck cancer surgery (10 hours) Jan 2006 and has trouble swallowing. They will do swallow study again on May 2nd. He also has Barrets Esophagus, H Hernia and his teeth are falling out from the radiation. This totally stinks and I am to the point of trying anything to help him. Also has thrush every time we turn around. Your timing couldn't have been better.

    Thank you so much!
    Charlotte

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    1. Charlotte,
      I am so sorry to hear that he is going through this! If you have any concerns, run the recipe by his doctor first. And do let me know if it helps! I am really curious if it will help alleviate some of his complications from the cancer and treatments as well as the Thrush.
      Wishing you both the best and hoping for an amazing recovery!
      Amy

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  21. WOW AMY! I am so happy for you! Going to save this one for sure!!

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  22. This sounds wonderful! Now if only I could figure out a way to make a super concentrate to take when we travel abroad in a couple of weeks.... one way or the other I'll definitely be making it once we get back from France.

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  23. I only found one kind of bay leaves at ALL on Azure-- the Oregon Spice Bay Leaves brand. They don't specify what type of Bay they are, but I'm guessing that if you got your ingredients from Azure and they only have one type of bay, then that type is fine? I've always removed bay leaves from soup before consuming, so I'm not sure if you mean safe to ingest or simply safe to cook with but not ingest when you say safe to consume. :-) Thanks!

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    1. Yes... that's the same bay leaves I used. If you buy them from a food source, it's fine. if you harvest you're own bay leaves, then you need to do some research as to which are edible (meaning... can be used in foods).

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  24. I love ginger tea and drink it all year. I just learned from a friend of mine that ginger is a "warming root" and if it is used in warmer weather will create too much sweating. Be careful.

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  25. Thanks for the information on warming root. I'll keep that in mind for the summer. - Amy

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  26. Did you mean 4-5 qts water or cups? That seems like a lot of water, I don"t think it will all fit in my crock pot. Thank you.

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    1. My crock pot is a 4 quart and I just fill it as full as possible. So, yes... QUARTS, not cups.

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  27. I am so excited to find this. I have the same thing as you and do rely on meds just to feel okay. I admit I will be very nervous to try this as normally these ingredients irritate me so badly. Do you still take your meds when you try this? Do I need to skip them when I start. Also just making sure, you leave the crockpot on for days? Can you store some in fridge once you make it and then drink it? Thanks so much.

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    1. Hi Elaine, I'm sorry anyone has this issue. It's not fun. Guess there are worse thing to have, but it's that lingering feeling of not knowing how bad the esophagus is on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, I cannot advise you as to taking your medication or not. What I have done may not be the best protocol for another person. However, I think you'll have a good indication after a couple of days if the tea is making things worse or better. And yes, I leave the crockpot on for a couple of days. You can also make it and store it in the refrigerator; at least I assume so. I've not tried it yet, but I have turned off the crock pot and let it sit for a few hours and then drank some. I just heat up some water to dilute it and it's warm again.

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  28. Oh Amy, I'm SO HAPPY for you that you have found something that has brought such incredible relief to you!! I hope this recipe continues to bring your throat relief. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. I'll be sure to write it down :)

    Blessings!

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  29. This is heating on the stove right now (on top of a flame tamer) as my crockpot is in use and I didn't want to wait. My home smells amazing! can't wait to drink it tomorrow! Blessings, Laura

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  30. Hi Amy! have been following you for awhile and love what your teaching us! I have just finished my 2nd crock pot full of the ginger spice. And Love It!!!! It took a little getting use to. I have arthritis and it is really helping! I have also lost 3 lbs. Not really trying (but I need to) and its working! Thanks for the recipe!!

    Sue G.

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  31. I've made this recipe twice and mine is somewhat weak. Do I need to reduce the 4 - 5 quarts of water? I drank quite a few cups and put it in the fridge. Then the next day I brought it out, heated it up and it had more flavor without so much water. Are you sure the 4 - 5 quarts of water is correct? Thank you.

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    1. Ava Louise, I'll double check when I make the next batch, but I'm pretty sure it's 4-5 quarts. It does get stronger the longer it let it simmer in the crock pot.

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    2. I really like this brew. It's not the taste as much as it is the other stuff it seems to do for you. I notice that I don't have the evening sweet / carb craving when I drink this tea and seems like I've lost a few pounds. I was also having some digestive issues that it seems to have taken care of. I made it again and used a lot less water. It may just be personal preference for how strong a person likes their tea / coffee. Thanks again for the recipe.

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  32. How often do you have this throughout the day? I like my water to only have a passing acquaintance with tea, so I've been diluting one cup of the tea out of the crock-pot with one cup of water/ice. I have one serving after breakfast, and one after dinner, but have been adding one at lunch. I just don't want to unknowingly over do it. Thanks!

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    1. Usually a couple of cups of diluted per day. I do not know what would be "too much"... my friend drinks a bit more than I do, but everyone is different, too. Just be sure to watch and note how you feel. If you have any concerns, take a break for a few days. I do this periodically just to give my body a rest.

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  33. I want to sincerely thank you for posting this recipe. I've already made it a few times and my husband now calls it "magic juice".

    He suffers from acid reflux on a regular basis and this has made a huge difference. He's been telling his coworkers about it too. His favourite way to enjoy it is with honey and a little milk, it's a bit like chai tea.

    I also have been drinking it in small amounts to help with morning sickness :)

    Thank you again!
    Kirsten

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  34. Hi Amy!! Coming back to let you know that I have made about 6 crock pots full of tea. I get about 2 days out of it. I drink it all day long. My body does feel different from drinking this. I did lose 3 three pounds but no more. Had stopped drinking for 4 days(business trip) and I did feel a difference. Back to it I went. Have also passed on the recipe to a few friends who now are believers too!!

    A side note...I'm getting over a very bad head cold. This tea really helps with a sore throat.

    Thanks again!!!

    Sue G.

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  35. Hi Amy, just read this and it sounds amazing, I'm super keen to try it. Only thing is, I don't actually own a crockpot (yet - my partner is not entirely convinced we need one). So is there another way to make this, like on a stove top? Thanks :)

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    1. Yes, you could do this on the stove top... most decoctions are gently boiled for about 20 minutes and then strained. However, if I were going to make this on the stove top, I would use a simmer plate (since I have a gas stove top) and keep the burner on the lowest setting and just leave it. I do this when I make chicken broth minus the simmer plate.

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  36. I bet it made your house smell wonderful! :) I'm excited to give this a try in the future!

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  37. Just made this but used cardamom instead of bay leaves ... didn't have bay leaves. Very chai like, and I FINALLY warmed up after the first "cold" spell of the year. And the health benefits? I don't EVEN think about how great it is for me! :-) Nita: good2bchemicalfree

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