Try these easy-to-find and delicious herbal teas for 10 common health problems.
Derived from the Chinese chá, “chai” means tea in much of the world, including Asia, Eastern Europe, parts of Africa and Brazil.
Steaming, delicious herbal tea can do more for us than act as an afternoon pick-me-up. A wide variety of herbs have healing applications, and they can be administered as a lovely cup of tea. From classic calming herbs such as lavender and chamomile to garden standbys such as rosehips and sage—and even plants known as weeds such as dandelion—many herbs can help us feel better on a regular basis.
Although chamomile is a gentle healer, it’s still highly effective. This yellow daisylike flower is a popular medicine among herbalists, as it’s known to treat a variety of ailments. The flowers contain high amounts of the volatile oil azulene, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile is also a popular remedy to reduce anxiety and quiet the mind for sleep.
TO MAKE TEA: Gather 1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh chamomile flowers and steep in 1 cup boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes. The longer it steeps, the more bitter it will taste.
A beautiful and fragrant addition to any garden, lavender has profound relaxing, calming and uplifting effects. A number of studies have shown this violet beauty to help slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation and lift mood. It’s most popular as an aromatherapy aid, where it’s used in inhalation therapy to treat headaches and reduce stress, as well as a topical aid where its antifungal actions come in handy. But it also makes a wonderful healing tea.
TO MAKE TEA: Harvest lavender flowers when the buds are just starting to open for the highest quality, according to Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs. Steep 4 teaspoons fresh lavender buds in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes, then enjoy!
Renewing, refreshing and energizing peppermint is the perfect herbal pick-me-up. It’s renowned as a digestive aid—use this aromatic herb to relieve nausea and gas. Several studies have shown it to be effective at treating symptoms of indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. Its main active agent, menthol, also works as a decongestant and may help loosen phlegm and break up coughs during cold and flu season.
TO MAKE TEA: Steep 1 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink four to five times per day between meals.
We naturally associate this pungent herb with winter, thanks to its warming properties. In addition to helping boost circulation during cold weather, the fragrant root is also known to soothe upset stomachs and help ease nausea in general, especially from motion sickness. It is also known to help with the nausea pregnant women can experience.
TO MAKE TEA: Steep 3 to 5 thin slices of ginger root in boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain and enjoy. Alternatively, you can grate the ginger root into a tea ball, and steep for 3 minutes.
Raspberry leaf is naturally rich in nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, iron and B vitamins. Thanks to its unique components, it’s perfect for the female reproductive system. Use it to soothe menstrual cramps, as it can strengthen the uterus and pelvic muscles. Its astringent properties also make it wonderful for alleviating motion sickness and dispelling diarrhea. It helps “dry up” the mucous membrane of the intestine. Note: Raspberry leaf should not be taken during pregnancy.
TO MAKE TEA: Steep 1 tablespoon dried raspberry leaf in 8 ounces boiling water for at least 5 minutes. If using fresh leaves, doctor Andrew Weil suggests first picking leaves off their brambles, hanging them to dry, then steeping them in boiling water. Drink up to six cups a day for acute problems as needed.
Lemon balm is renowned for its treatment of anxiety. It is also known as a natural relaxation aid. Researchers reported finding that lemon balm helped nix anxiety in the journal Phytotherapy Research. The herb has also been shown to inhibit viruses, such as the herpes virus that causes cold sores and even the HIV virus. It also can help fight headaches and reduce insomnia.
TO MAKE TEA: Steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried lemon balm per cup of boiled water. Let steep until it’s cool enough to drink.
Basil is an excellent source of vitamins A and K, plus a good source of vitamin C and manganese. It is also rich in antioxidants and has antibacterial properties. Research showed the natural volatile oils in basil inhibited multiple drug-resistant strains of E. coli bacteria. Basil also makes an absolutely delightful breath refresher.
TO MAKE TEA: Steep 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain and sweeten, if desired.
This garden staple is easy to grow, beautiful in the garden and has the benefit of making a throat-soothing tea. Its antimicrobial properties help you fight off colds, as well as treating the accompanying symptoms such as a sore throat. Note: Avoid using sage if you have epilepsy.
TO MAKE TEA: Combine 3 teaspoons dried sage leaves or 10 fresh sage leaves and 1 cup boiling water. Let steep 5 minutes. Then strain and enjoy.
Rose bushes that are not deadheaded (removing dead flower heads to encourage more blooming) by a gardener develop rosehips, which are full of seeds and sometimes pulp. They make a wonderful source of immune-boosting vitamin C and have even been used in the past to treat scurvy. In fact, by volume, rosehips contain about 20 times the vitamin C as oranges.
TO MAKE TEA: Combine 4 tablespoons whole dried rosehips with 4 cups water in a saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Strain into a teapot, and drink when sufficiently cool.
Although it’s generally regarded as a weed, this plant is packed with essential minerals such as iron, potassium and beta-carotene, plus vitamins A, C and D. Combined with a physically active lifestyle, the powerful punch of vitamin D in dandelion tea can help build strong bones and ward off osteoporosis. (To learn more about this read How to Prevent Osteoporosis, Naturally.) The young, delicate leaves are also delicious in a salad or steamed with garlic and chili pepper flakes.
TO MAKE TEA: Boil 1 quart water. Turn off heat and add 4 tablespoons dandelion leaf. Cover and steep 30 to 60 minutes, then strain.
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