By Suzy Cohen
Dear Readers: The most wonderful thing about our planet is that it grows good medicine. Making herbal teas is one of my secret passions. You can drink teas, and in some cases apply them to your skin. I’ve been playing with herbs for years -- it’s fun and I honestly think it’s a wonderful adjunct to your other medical treatments.
Here are the basics.
Use 1 tablespoon of herbs per cup of water. Consider brew time: you will lose some health benefits over-brewing certain herbs. An “infusion” is best when using delicate parts of the plant, like the leaves, flowers and aromatic aerial portions (I’m thinking rose petals or wood betony).
Infusing means you steep the herbs in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes, as opposed to simmering them. Some herbs take a cold water infusion versus boiled water.
Roots, bark or seeds are tougher parts of the plant and therefore, require a “decoction.” You simmer them for 20 to 45 minutes in gently boiling water.
Experiment with combinations of various herbs to find the best taste and physiological effect. Herbs are medicine, so research what you learn today and make sure they are safe for you.
It’s amazing that some herbal teas improve heart rhythm, reduce blood pressure, clear brain fog or ease hormonal concerns. Most herbal teas are safe for people with kidney stones. My favorite book on teas is Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.
Health food stores sell herbs, or look online, or Google “herbal apothecary.” I insist on organic herbs. Here’s a recipe for “Tummy Tea.” I make this in bulk so “1 part” equals one cup. Mix all the herbs together in a big container.
When you actually make the tea, put one tablespoon (total herb) per 1 cup of hot water. You can make a few cups at a time, and store in the fridge.
1 part mint -- Provides awesome flavor, plus it’s carminitive, meaning it’s high in volatile oils which soothe the digestive tract; may help with gas and nausea. This is a “bitter” herb, so it stimulates bile secretion.
1 part fennel -- A warming herb good for bloating, gas and liver support. It may relieve intestinal spasms and inflammation. Stimulates milk secretion in nursing moms.
1/2 part meadowsweet -- A fabulous pain reliever, it contains salicylic acid (related to aspirin); this has anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory properties and may relieve nausea.
1/2 part chamomile -- So strong that one of its extracts “apigenin” helps with pancreatitis. It relieves intestinal inflammation, improves spasms while inducing a sense of calm.
1/4 part marshmallow root -- This is a demulcent so it adds moisture to the mucus membranes. It is cooling, and soothing to the mouth, esophagus and digestive tract; great for people with heartburn.
1/4 part calendula -- Offers lymph support. This anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic herb acts as an astringent and anti-fungal for the body. May help with leaky gut and irritable bowel.