Better living through nature
One of the most beneficial things I have done for my health in the past year is integrating daily teas and honey pastes into my diet. For the past decade, I have struggled with gastrointestinal discomfort (an ailment experienced by many), and after years of struggling I had to decide whether I was going to continue “fighting” this my entire life or embracing my body and all of its needs. As it was, I decided to stop fighting and instead began listening to my body. The plea I heard was for comfort, understanding and whole-body support.
But how was I to do these things when I’d been doing my best to ignore my disgruntled digestive system for so many years?
I needed to get back to the basics. Food is medicine, and not just for our physical selves, but our emotional and mental selves as well. My body needed kind, gentle and rejuvenating medicine after years of chronic inflammation, which had left my body susceptible to disease and illness. Here are the herbs I turned to when I began integrating daily teas and honey pastes into my diet.
Photo by Fotolia
Calendula is beautiful, delicate and lightly aromatic. I use it as a tea for its ability to move the lymph system, its ability to relax the gastrointestinal tract by reducing inflammation and getting bile and other digestive juices moving, and its whole-body detoxifying properties. I drink a couple of cups a day and really enjoy it in the late morning and early afternoon.
HOT INFUSION: Bring 6 ounces of water to a boil and steep 2 teaspoons of dried calendula flowers for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove teabag. Sweeten with honey, if desired.
ALSO GOOD FOR: Calendula also supports healthy skin and makes a fantastic compress to use on acne and cold sores. After making it into a tea, I save the teabag and use it on my face at night before going to bed.
CALENDULA’S PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, antiviral, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, bitter tonic, detoxifier, diuretic, diaphoretic, estrogenic
Chamomile is one of my favorite teas as it’s tremendously soothing for the whole body. I use it for gallbladder support, nausea relief and its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties.
HOT INFUSION: Bring 6 ounces of water to a boil and steep 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers for 10 minutes. Remove teabag. Sweeten with honey, if desired.
ALSO GOOD FOR: Chamomile has sedative properties, which make it a fantastic sleep aid. Use it to assist with relieving anxiety and settling the body. Even though I will drink it throughout the day, I always have a strong cup right before bed to help settle my body and relieve nausea that tends to pop up in the evenings.
PROPERTIES: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, bitters, prevents vomiting, sedative
Spearmint was one of the first teas I began drinking daily. It’s both invigorating and soothing at the same time. I use it for acid reflux, expelling gas and nausea relief.
HOT INFUSION: Bring 6 ounces of water to a boil and steep 1 teaspoon of dried spearmint leaves for three to five minutes. Remove teabag. Sweeten with honey, if desired.
ALSO GOOD FOR: Spearmint is a lovely herb to use in a blend. I will also use it alongside chamomile. Although the herb contains menthol, it doesn’t have nearly as much as peppermint. This is why it can relieve acid reflux rather than exacerbating it, as peppermint has been known to do.
PROPERTIES: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, digestive, stimulant, stomachic, tonic
Marshmallow Root Honey Paste
Marshmallow root was my first honey paste, and to be honest, the taste took me by surprise. It has an odd, earthy flavor. I use the root for its anti-inflammatory and mucilage properties. Considering the chronic, ongoing state of my gastrointestinal distress, I needed something that would coat my inflamed internal tissues while also repairing them—and that’s exactly what marshmallow root does!
HONEY PASTE: Mix up to 1 teaspoon of powdered marshmallow root with enough honey to make a paste. Eat it all at once.
PROPERTIES: Anti-inflammatory, diuretic, highly demulcent, highly emollient, mucilaginous, nutritive
Photos by Leslie Diane
Slippery Elm Honey Paste
Slippery elm is by far my favorite honey paste. Personally, I think it tastes like dessert. I use it to relieve acid reflux, to help resist disease and for its incredible restorative abilities.
HONEY PASTE: Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered slippery elm with enough honey to make a paste. Eat it all at once.
ALSO GOOD FOR: I will eat slippery elm three to four times daily when I have flare-ups of painful acid reflux, or when I know my immune system has been compromised. Otherwise, I eat it twice a day. I don’t always mix it with powdered marshmallow root, but when I do, I combine two parts slippery elm with one part marshmallow root.
PROPERTIES: Demulcent, detoxifier, emmolient, health tonic, laxative, mucilage, nutritive
*Note: This blog post is not intended to be used as a comprehensive list of herbal properties. Please consult your health-care practitioner or seek herbal consultation before integrating any herbs into your daily diet.
I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to leave comments below!
With a background in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a minor in English, Leslie Diane is currently studying at Prairie Wise Herbal School in Leavenworth, Kansas, with a goal of becoming a Master Herbalist. She is an avid gardener and a maker of tinctures, teas and baked goods. An aspiring author as well, she weaves tales of fantasy along with scarves, baby and pet blankets, and shawls on her table loom.