Find out more about some of the key health benefits of herbs and herbal teas from Naturopath Mim Beim.
The more common herbal tisanes, such as chamomile or peppermint, are fairly easy to find in your tea shop, health food shop or supermarket. Some other herbs are a little trickier to find. You could order them in from the health food shop or a herbalist, or over the internet. It is important to buy from a reputable source, as you need to know that the herbs are as fresh as possible. Also, the more expensive herbs sometimes can be replaced with inferior ones by unscrupulous vendors.
You can buy herbal tisanes in teabags but, as with tea, loose leaf herbs will provide you with a better brew and allow you to create your own blends.
There are thousands of herbs used by a myriad of herbalists worldwide including those in the Indian (Ayurvedic), Native American, European or Arabic traditions and in traditional Chinese medicine. All are wonderful, all are therapeutic.
The few herbs I am representing here have been chosen for a number of reasons. Most of them are reasonably accessible. They generally (with a couple of exceptions) taste quite good.
In Europe, chamomile tea is commonly sipped as a digestive aid after meals. It soothes the stomach and can be helpful for diarrhoea, nausea, reflux and abdominal cramps, including period pain. A gentle sedative, chamomile is as soothing to the mind as it is to the tummy. Children may benefit from its calming qualities. If you are an anxious type, try swapping coffee for chamomile tea.
The inner bark of a tropical Sri Lankan tree, cinnamon has a comforting aroma, reminiscent of apple pies. It is often used in baking and confectionery. Cinnamon is also a valued spice used by herbalists to improve digestive problems, particularly where there are spasms, such as colic or tummy cramps. Cinnamon is a warming tonic, wonderful for easing winter chills, and also for people who ‘feel the cold’. You only need a little cinnamon to enhance the flavour of your herbal tisane blend.
Ginger is one of those wonderful plants that doubles beautifully as medicine and food. In China, ginger is known medically as ‘king of the stomach’. It is a tummy tonic par excellence, reducing nausea and bloating and aiding digestion. Recent studies have shown that, in addition to its tummy powers, ginger helps lower cortisol in the body, reducing stress and anxiety. And if you are a cold fish, ginger is a terrific circulation tonic.
Peppermint tea is excellent for wind pains (colic) and flatulence, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, nausea, indigestion and reflux. It’s also good for snuffly colds, as the menthol released in hot peppermint tea helps clear the sinuses. As it is the peppermint oil that is most potent, it’s best to use fresh peppermint leaves, or buy the freshest dried herb you can. Peppermint is a ‘refrigerant’ which means it can cool you down. Sipping cool peppermint tea helps relieve the hot flashes of menopause.
A Mediterranean herb with an unforgettable fragrance, rosemary has a calming effect on digestion, fighting bloating and flatulence. In medieval times, Rosemary was often linked with rites of purification and the warding off of evil spirits. Rosemary has a history of use in Europe as a relaxant that improves mental alertness and memory. It’s also great for tension headaches that come from too much studying and computer gazing.
Not only a delicious culinary herb, thyme has been used medicinally for hundreds of years, particularly in England. An antiseptic and astringent herb, thyme is particularly effective for tonsillitis, laryngitis coughs, urinary tract infections and flatulence.
Mim Beim is a renowned Naturopath and has released a range of delicious Beaming With Health Herbal Teas to assist a variety of health conditions. For more info, visit beamingwithhealth.com.au