REID encourages the use of herbals (culinary and otherwise) to help balance the microbiome and treat sources of underlying inflammation and infection. Immune dysfunction due to underlying infections and imbalances is one of the most prominent reasons for elevated glutamate levels. Herbs are used to help combat underlying infections, intestinal overgrowth, pathogens, calm microglial activation, and restore proper gut and neurological function. Many REID families start with culinary herbs, slowly work to incorporate healing herbal teas and build up from there (powders, tinctures, etc), based on their individual need. We’ve personally found the most benefit from herbs by introducing one at a time, going low and slow (you don’t want to continually induce the cell danger response), and ultimately incorporating/pulsing a variety of herbals. Remember, like other foods, herbs carry similar risk and careful selection should be considered when dealing with sensitivities- histamine, phenol, oxalate, etc.
Tips on Incorporating Herbs
- Consider growing your own herb garden with a few of the basics, incorporate them seasonally when most abundant.
- Herbal tea/infusions/decoctions can be served warm or over ice with a splash of honey, licorice root, and/or stevia leaf to slightly sweeten. Our son calls this “honey tea”
- Adding hibiscus to herbal infusions will turn the infusions a fun kid-friendly pink color, reminiscent of kool-aid
- Infuse herbs into oils, syrup, honey, ghee, etc.
- Herbal teas/infusions and even dried herbs (if needing stronger more medicinal properties) can be added to smoothies and/or frozen into herbal popsicles
- Don’t be afraid to add herbs to you baked goods.
- If bitter herbal infusions are hard to get in, try using a spray bottle and spray the mouth with infusion 30 minutes prior to meals. They are great digestive bitters and will help with absorption, bile production, etc..
- To lower glutamate risk, many REID families grind their own herbal powders with coffee grinders, if they choose to use herbal powders. Herbal powders can be mixed with nut/seed butter or apple sauce to help hide any overpowering flavors. Consuming dried herbs and powders would be much stronger than a tea/infusion.
- When confused with dosing, we’ve followed Dr. Stephen Buhners suggestion by dividing by weight by 160 (i.e. if 40lbs, give 1/4 the recommended dose or less).
- If you choose to use tinctures, try to source it with grain-free alcohol (cane isn’t ideal but would be lower glutamate than grain) or make your own with potato vodka.
How We Make Herbal Teas/Infusions
We are personally very relaxed with herbs, but I know others are not, and therefore I’ve always hesitated in sharing how we use them. We play around with them and vary how much/how little is used based on our current issues and mood. Depending on your desired strength, there are different methods for herbal preparations; teas, infusions, decoctions, straight consumption of powders and tinctures. Admittedly, we would once simply toss all dried herbs into a pot of water, cover and simmer until a nice rich color. We now know to maximize the strength and medicinal properties, you can utilize any of the herbal preparation options to fit your best needs. Out of pure convenience, we prepare a sort of blend between a tea, infusion, and a decoction. In general, the richer the color, the stronger the herbal preparation will be.
- Choose approximately 4-6 tbsps of whole dried herbs (not in the ground powder form). Separate hard (roots, barks, seeds) and soft herbs (leaves, flowers, stems, etc.). When trying to decipher which herbs are hard and which are soft, most soft herbs should be able to crumble with a good squeeze.
- Use 8 cups of water (2 quarts)
- Combine hard herbs and water in a large pot with the lid on
- Heat water until it becomes a medium simmer. Remain here for about 20 min
- Turn heat off, add remaining soft herbs, and cover. Allow for soft herbs to infuse for another 15 minutes or so.
- Strain herbs and pour the infusion into a glass container (add honey or sweetener at this time if preferred)
- Store in the refrigerator for a few days or up to one week.
Some of our Favorite Places to Source Herbs
Some of Our Favorite Places to Learn About Herbs
See Resources Some of Our Favorite Herbal Books