If you are going to take the time to make yourself some tea, you may as well get some health benefits out of it, right?. Right. Tea is one of my favourite health boosters and often one of the first recommendations I make to someone. While I was a naturopathic student, I had the opportunity to intern at two downtown Toronto health clinics serving low income populations. Loose leaf medicinal teas were one the most accessible and cost effective treatments we could offer patients. Not surprisingly, patients loved it and they felt good taking it. This might be because they knew they were doing something good for themselves or because the teas themselves were exerting an effect on their bodies. I believe it is a combination of both. When we make ourselves a tea, we first boil water, grab our favourite mug and sit down to sip the good stuff. This simple act is in itself an act of self care. Self care, in a world where we are constantly doing, rather than being, can be a powerful thing. This act says, "I am intentionally going to do something nice for myself, right now." And being nice to ourselves feels awesome.
Now, imagine that this intentional act of self care was paired with a warming substance able to make us physiologically feel better? Its a win-win! So, instead of grabbing that cup of joe, consider making a tea, or two or three. p.s. caffeine free herbal tea counts towards your daily water intake- an added bonus. The following are some of my go-to's and the times when they can really go that extra mile for you. You can drink them as single herbs or find them in many combination products
Note: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, always consult your naturopath before consuming herbal tea. Even if your not, your naturopath can help you choose which one(s) are right for you.
CHAMOMILE acts to prevent or decrease uncomfortable gas buildup in the gastrointestinal tract. Best of all, chamomile is a nervine, meaning it can help us relax which will further aid digestion and/or prepare us for sleep. If you have an allergy to ragweed, you may also react to chamomile.
FENNEL tea and PEPPERMINT are also helpful digestive aids. Fennel has a lovely licorice flavour while peppermint is refreshing. If you have reflux, stay away from peppermint.
GINGER tea made fresh from the root or dried in a tea bag can be used when we are feeling queezy and is used in pregnancy for morning sickness.
LEMON BALM, PASSIONFLOWER and VALERIAN all help us to relax in order to induce sleep. You can often find these herbs in combination along with chamomile in Night-Time tea blends such as Pukka Night Time Tea or Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night Tea. These herbs are particularly helpful when insomnia is due to anxiety.
If you are just recovering from an illness or are low in iron, NETTLE LEAF is very soothing, safe and nutritive. It can help us feel well again as a whole body tonic. Best of all, nettle leaf can be consumed in pregnancy and is great for recovery after labour and delivery.
DANDELION ROOT tea is great when we are in need of a liver cleanse or when we are craving the dark, bitter qualities of coffee. Dandelion root is often used in combination with chicory root and barley as a natural, caffeine coffee replacer (Dandy Blend is my favourite). Although this product contains barley it is rigorously filtered and tested for gluten so it is gluten free.
Put your tea to work and see the difference this small change can make.