Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ginger Spice Decoction

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


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.


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