In our house, part of our medicine cabinet is my tea drawer and it is fairly well stocked with a variety of herbs. I have always found herbal medicine fascinating because it is so accessible and a great way to not only prevent illness but keep the body in good condition.
Herbal teas are great for the whole family too. Ethan and Ryan drink it regularly.
Following on from last weeks Kombucha post, you can also use herbs to flavour your kombucha during the second ferment and gain the benefits of them when you drink it.
Herbs can be grown or purchased very easily in dried form. I even manage to keep a number of them alive and that is saying something because my passion for gardening definitely comes in spurts. A lot of the time my plants have to fend for themselves.
At the moment, in our garden we have Echinaccea, marshmallow root, coltsfoot, peppermint, gotu kola, mother of herb, vervain, agrimony and a host of more palatable herbs that I use in cooking. The medicinal herbs are gentle, mostly taste great or can be made to taste good with the right combinations.
Herbal tinctures are great for more serious issues but I tend to stick to using herbs as a tea. They taste a lot better and if you use them as preventative medicine, then hopefully you won’t often need to use a stronger tincture. It is great to educate yourself on the various benefits of different herbs so that you can enjoy a variety of herbal mixtures that will aid you to stay healthy.
One important thing to note about herbs and herbal medicine. They don’t cure anyone of anything. What they do is support the body to heal itself. They aid detoxification and immunity. That’s what I love about them because ultimately, we have the power within our amazing bodies to self-heal.
Below is a recipe for one of our favourites; Digestive Tea. You don’t have to be ailing in any way to drink this one as it is a tonic for the digestive system. The herbs contained in the recipe are great for a variety of other body systems as well. That’s the thing about herbs; unlike medicines created by man, they are often multi-functional. For example marshmallow root is great for the digestive system because it is soothing and clears mucous from the body (which believe it or not can found in the intestines when they are unhappy). However it is also great for the immune system, the lungs, sinuses, kidneys and bladder. Here is some information on the benefits of the specific herbs used in my recipe:
Liquorice Root – Soothing to digestion, great tonic for lungs and throat, assists liver to neutralise toxins, nourishes the brain, strengthens immune system, nourishes the adrenal glands, normalises oestrogen levels, great for kidney and bladder ailments, menstrual problems, headaches and epilepsy. This ingredient is also a great sweetener for herbal teas. It does not affect the blood sugar or rot the teeth. In fact it is very good for the gums. Avoid overuse of liquorice root if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant.
Marshmallow Root – Clears mucous and toxins from the body, immune strengthener, soothes respiratory system, great for indigestion and nausea, kidney and bladder problems, strengthens lymphatic system, all over body tonic for longevity.
Chamomile – Relaxant, good for sleep, great for digestion; especially IBS, helps clear sinuses, clears fluid retention, nourishes the kidney, spleen, liver and gallbladder, helps clear kidney stones, great for headaches and good circulation.
Fennel Seeds – Great for digestive problems, strength and endurance, calming, a blood cleanser, good for colds and flus, cleanses the liver and gallbladder, relieves menopausal discomforts, stimulates metabolism.
Cinnamon chips or bark – Kills bacteria, viruses and fungi, prevents infections, kills intestinal parasites, prepares gut for digestion, great for circulation, helps with nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, lowers blood pressure.
Peppermint – Digestive aid, helps with nausea, menstrual cramps, headaches, colds and coughs and nervous tension.
Other herbs that are great for the digestive system: Dandelion leaves, sarsaparilla root, elderberries, lemon balm, caraway seeds, yarrow (bitter herb) and greater celandine (very bitter).
Tips for tea making
- If your teapot does not contain a mesh basket, buy yourself a separate one that can be placed inside the pot. It is a lot easier than having to strain your tea each time you pour.
- Always allow the water to come off the boil. Whilst some herbs retain medicinal benefits after being boiled, others are more sensitive. Cooler water with a longer steeping time covers them all.
- Either use a good teapot cosy or a thick towel to cover your teapot so that your tea is still hot after the steeping time.
- When re-heating tea, place into a saucepan over gentle heat and don’t allow it to boil.
- Use organic herbs and filtered water.
- When buying herbs, it is great to find friends who are interested in buying the same ones. I found a great place to buy them in Australia. The prices are great and they have lots of organic. It is always cheaper to buy in bulk, thus the suggestion to find like-minded friends. http://www.australherbs.com.au/
- Always check the contra-indications of each herb you use; especially during pregnancy.
How can I use herbs in my daily life – Isabell Shipard
How to be your own Herbal Pharmacist – Linda Rector-Page N.D, Ph.D.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing – Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
Photography for this post by Ethan Stafford
This digestive tea is calming for the digestive system. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and great for optimal digestion. The great thing is it also tastes wonderful. The flavours of liquorice, mint and cinnamon create a lovely balance. The quantities below are for a 1 litre (4 cup) tea pot. I mostly use dried herbs but if you have access to fresh ones, use about 1 tbsp chopped fresh herb instead of one tsp dried. This drink may be enjoyed during or after a meal.
- Put kettle on to boil.
- Place all herbs directly into the tea pot or into a mesh basket which can be placed into a tea pot.
- Let water come off the boil (1-2 minutes) then fill the pot and cover with a towel or cosy.
- Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes and drink.