I’ll Drink to That! The Benefits of Tonic Herbs

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I’ll Drink to That! The Benefits of Tonic Herbs

tonic herbs

When consumed daily, tonic herbs can balance and tone most body systems. They often strengthen immunity, reduce inflammation and restore overall wellness. While used for centuries in Eastern and Western herbalism traditions, recent research has elucidated that many of their active chemical constituents reduce inflammation, oxidative stress and promote health(1,2,3).

Some of these tonic herbs are also called adaptogens, meaning they help the body adapt to stress, reducing cortisol levels and restoring vitality (5). Some common tonic herbs are commonly used in our cooking- sweet basil, sage, coriander, parsley, oregano, rosemary, mint, thyme, marjoram, dill, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, licorice, ginger, etc. Others like holy basil (tulsi), dandelion root, red clover, skullcap, rhodiola, marshmallow root, burdock root, and alfala are thought to be restorative tonics. Many of these herbs may support the liver’s detoxifixation pathways, likely due to their nutritive qualities and bioactive compounds.

An excellent way to reduce inflammation, increase nutrition and promote overall health is to drink a variety of tonic herbs as infusions on a regular basis. Below is a chart of different forms of herbs and their optimal ratios for steeping. There are some exceptions to this chart, so you can always look up the individual herb’s recommendations (Rosemary Gladstar’s books are a great resource). With longer infusions (4+ hrs), you can get more vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other active plant chemicals from these herbs. For herbal teas, a minimum of 10 minutes is recommended to allow the medicinal properties to infuse in water. Depending on the herb, longer times may be recommended to maximize nutrition and active constituents. For example, some barks require a 30 min low boil, or decoction, while other leafy herbs like oatstraw and nettles are most nutritious when steeped overnight (6-12 hrs). Use the chart below as a general guide.




  • 4-6 tbsp dried herbs
  • 1 quart filtered water


  1. Add dried herbs into a glass quart jar.
  2. Pour boiling, or near boiling, water over the herbs and let it steep 30-45 min. Most herbs require at least 10 min for enough of the medicinal properties to infuse in the water. (Depending on the tea, different steeping times are recommended)
  3. Strain and drink right away or refrigerate. Keeps for 1-2 days

• Good herbs for infusions: nettles, rosehip, oatstraw, red clover, reishi, mint, fennel, turmeric etc


Caution: Please consult a medical practitioner before you begin consuming herbs, especially if you are taking any medications. Many herbs can interact with drugs or other herbs.

– Vanessa Berenstein, M.A., R.D.

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