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THERAPEUTIC HERBAL TEAS


As far back as 5,000 years ago there is evidence of the Chinese using specially blended teas for their therapeutic medicinal properties. There are a few simple rules to adhere to when considering making your own therapeutic teas in order to not overdo it, as they can have a toxic effect, and do not take consistently at a therapeutic dose for more than 3 to 4 weeks.  A therapeutic tea differs dramatically from a herbal tea that you buy from a supermarket and drink every day simply because you enjoy the taste and flavour.  the word "therapeutic" implies that it can be used to improve your health or a specific health condition by taking strong doses over a short period of time. 

 It is not always easy to get a child to take herbal teas but if you can, then bear in mind that the dosage/strength will be different with a child under 2 years of age only needing a quarter strength, once they reach 8 to 10 years of age they can tolerate one-third to half-strengthand then from twelve years on they are considered adult dose. 

One, two or three remedies at most is all that is needed for a therapeutic tea otherwise it becomes confused and the mode of action becomes unclear.

If you don't like the taste of your therapeutic tea then try adding a herb that naturally contains volatile oils such as peppermint leaves, anise or fennel seeds as these oils are good flavour enhancers.  You might also want to consider adding either honey and or lemon to sweeten and enhance the flavour if you are still struggling.

There are a few different ways of making herbal teas with either infusing or decocting them, depending on what part of the herb is used, being the most common.

INFUSION  is the chosen method for making a tea which involves the use of delicate flowers, leaves and seeds and simply means placing one teaspoon of these plant parts in a pot and covering them with a cup of hot water and allowing it to sit and brew for 10 minutes.  this amount is per person.  *These amounts are for dried herbs, if you are using fresh herbs instead of dry, simply double the amount of herb used ie two teaspoons instead of one. 

Infusions can be drunk either at room temperature or reheated if desired warm.  If you have a head cold or flu then consider inhaling the steam vapors while your infusion is brewing as it can act as a nasal decongestant.

DECOCTION is used for harder plant parts such as wood, bark and roots and involves gently simmering these plant parts in boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes at a strength of one teaspoon of herb to a cup of water per person.

Depending on what taste you prefer you can choose from the following herb lists for different complaints and enjoy a few cups a day in order for it to be therapeutic.  You can either use them fresh from the garden or from a packet of pre-dried therapeutic herbs:

Anti-Inflammatory

Willow bark, Sarsparilla (Smilax), Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), Devils claw (Harpagophytumprocumbens), Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), Nettle (Urtica Doica)

Blood Pressure

Nettle (Urtica doica), Hibiscus flower (Sorrel), green tea which is also good for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  Hawthorn berries which would need to be simmered as a decoction are particularly good for cardiovascular health as well as helping relax and dilate blood vessels, which increases blood circulation and lessens stress on the heart.  Mistletoe is useful for maintaining normal blood pressure.

Circulation

Cayenne, Horseradish, Ginger, Ginkgo biloba, Horse chestnut

Colds and Flu

Fenugreek, Horseradish, Elderflower, Thyme, Garlic, Marshmallow root

 The volatile oils from some plants work well when placed in boiling water and then you place your head over the "steam bath", preferably with a towel draped over your head at the same time while the tea is brewing.  They allow deep and accurate penetration of medicinal agents throughout the whole respiratory system including the sinuses and middle ear.  They will clear nasal mucous congestion, soothe irritable mucous membranes and reduce some hypersensitivity reactions.  The simplest steaming herb is Chamomile (Matricaria) and other recommended steaming herbs for the volatile oil content include pine, aniseed and eucalyptus.  Lemon myrtle is a great brew due to it's tangy lemon flavour - try mixing it with Manuka honey.  Spearmint is excellent for sinus and upper respiratory conditions.  Lavender is useful for reducing body temperature during fever in both children and adults but use in combination with another tea.  Elderflower is an effective decongestant because it helps clean the nasal passages of mucous.

Constipation

Aloe vera, Senna (Cassia angustifolia), Cascara, Yellow doc (Rumex crispus), Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) also known as Frangula 

Senna and buckthorn have been traditionally used for thousands of years for their laxative action.

Detoxification and Bile flow

Tumeric, Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Milk thistle.  these all stimulate the flow of bile from the gallbladder and aid digestion.  Dandelion has an action on the liver and kidney (preferably the root) and the Milk thistle is for liver structure and function.

Diarrhoea

Cranesbill, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Slippery Elm will coat, nourish and rebuild the mucous membranes in the bowel so take some after every loose bowel movement.  The herbs Agrimony, Blackberry and Silverweed contain tannins which have unique astringent (dry the excess water in the bowel) and anti-diarrhoeal actions.

Dry Cough

Wild Cherry Bark

Fluid Retention

Lovage, Restharrow (Ononis spinosa), Celery seeds, Cornsilk, Fennel (creates the urge to urinate), Juniper (Juniper communis), Parsley, nettle (Urtica doica) has an anti-inflammatory and diuretic effect on the lower urinary tract.  Birch leaf, couch grass and golden rod all have diuretic properties, assisting kidney elimination of water and promotion of flow of urine from the urinary tract.

Galactogogue (Increase breast milk)

Fenugreek, Fennel, Nettle, Celery, Caraway, Alfalfa.  Sage is to DECREASE milk production.

Headache

Valerian, Catmint, Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), Rosemary, Lavender, Milk thistle

Lemongrass is helpful for headaches and nervous exhaustion.  Feverfew taken regularly over a few months, has been proven to reduce the frequency and symptoms of migraine headaches as well as symptomatic relief of tension headaches.

Immune System

Echinacea (I prefer the root Echinacea angustifolia but the flowers are fine if you can't get the root), Astragalis, Garlic is a good natural antibiotic, Andrographis, Lemon thyme, Sage, Rosehip tea is one of the best plant sources of Vitamin C. 

Low Energy

Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) works on the adrenal glands therefore improving stamina and endurance (you will need to decoct the root).  Parsley is naturally high in Iron.

Menopause

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), Sage tea is great for hot flushes often associated with menopause as well as being quite uplifting to our moods.  Cool Peppermint tea is also a good one when sipped for hot flushes.

Morning Sickness

Ginger, Chamomile, Fennel, Lemon, Melissa, Oat straw

Period (Menstrual) Pain

Crampbark, Blue cohosh, Chaste tree, Anise, Parsley

Prostate

Epilobium (Epilobium parviflorum), Saw Palmetto,  Damiana, Horsetail, Couch Grass

Skin Conditions

Red Clover (not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women), Calendula, borage, Turmeric, Nettles

Stomach Complaints such as indigestion, bloating, wind, IBS

Ginger, Chamomile, Peppermint, Fennel, Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Liquorice root, Aniseed, Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), Bergamont.

A combination of chamomile and fennel which has a distinctive licorice flavour, and a little honey is a particularly good combination for indigestion.  Fennel relaxes the intestinal muscles and is particularly good for constipation,colic and flatulence.  As well as being good for digestion, Ginger has been shown to soothe the digestive lining and balance gastric juices making it great for nausea, diarrhoea and cramping.  It is also a terrific circulation tonic and can help reduce stress and anxiety levels.  Make ginger tea by slicing fresh ginger root into two centimetre long slices and simmering in one cup of boiling water for five minutes.  Strain out the ginger and sip the tea slowly.  Peppermint tea is great for flatulenceand digestive problems but avoid or use with caution if you suffer from indigestion as it may aggravate your condition.  Peppermint is however great for people suffering irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and for gallstone sufferers.  Wormwood will improve appetite by stimulating the production of saliva.  It also relieves indigestion, heartburn and reflux.  Cardamon which is used a lot in Indian cooking is great for indigestion, stomach pain and relieving flatulence.

Stress & Sleep Disorders

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate), St John's Wort, Valerian, Vervain is a lovely herb for calming the nervous system therefore making it useful for anxiety and mild depression.  Lavender tea is good for promoting a feeling of calmness but don't have it on it's own ie combine it with other herbs as it's essential oil can cause cramping if too much is consumed.  A cold lemon balm teabag placed on cold sores in combination with a cup of peppermint tea is effective if you have a herpes outbreak due to stress.  Rosemary can help your muscles to relax.  Passionflower is safe for both children and adults and is non-habit forming.  It is used for nervous disorders and promotes relaxation making it an excellent choice for people finding it hard to get to sleep.

Sugar Utilization/Cravings

Cinnamon, Fenugreek, Pennywort, Basil, Gotu kola

Urinary Tract Infections & Tonic

Cornsilk (the outer silk on a cob of corn - so just get a cob of corn and simmer the outer silk), Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uvi-ursi), Couch grass, Cranberry, Nettle (Urtica doica),Hibiscus flowers are helpful for the inflammation of the mucous membranes of the urinary tract.  Juniper berries are also therapeutic for our kidneys and urinary tract and need to be simmered as a decoction.  Bearberry has astringent, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.  Cranberry tea is pleasant and easy to drink with it's action being to reduce the ability of bacteria to adhere to the bladder lining.

Uterine Tonic (not in First Trimester of Pregnancy)

Raspberry leaf is for preparing the uterus to have more effectual contractions thus resulting in a shorter labour.

Weight Loss

Green tea (green tea is steamed, rolled and dried immediately after harvest which halts the oxidation process, allowing the leaves to retain their green colour), Bladderwrack (tastes disgusting), Melissa, Mint, Peppermint

Wet Cough (Expectorant)

Coltsfoot, Marshmallow (Althea officinalis), White horehound, Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Grindelia, Iceland moss (Cetaria islandica), Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Liquorice root (Zlycyrrhiza glabra) and Fennel are expectorants which help soothe airways, relieve bronchial congestion (mucous) by helping you "bring up" the phlegm.  Thyme contains an essential oil which makes it an expectorant and anti-spasmodic.

 

 

 

 

 

Date posted: 2013-12-31 | posted by: debras




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