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This tea is a blend of flavors many people associate with the holidays, or this time of year anyway…  Cinnamon, orange, clove… and a hint of sweet with stevia leaves mixed in there.  Inspired by a wonderful customer of mine at Herban Wellness, she wanted to gift a small amount of this blend to her clients this month.  Everyone knows I can’t simply write about a tea for taste, can I?  So, what can one expect to feel from this tea?  Or what are some of the potential benefits from the herbs in this blend?
Orange peel, clove, cinnamon, and cardamom all have a beneficial effect on digestion, but helping to relax, promote the flow of digestive juices in the gastrointestinal tract, and to dispel gas.  They all, but particularly clove, also have antibacterial effects.  Orange peel and cardamom also have an effect on the nervous system, helping to both uplift and invigorate, while promoting calm.  Hibiscus flowers, another addition to this tea blend, not only adds its signature rich pink color, but it has a very beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, helping to lower blood pressure and strengthen arteries and veins.  Also, interestingly enough, hibiscus is sometimes referred to as a refrigerant, meaning it has a cooling effect on the body, which is in contrast to the spices in this blend which tend to warm.
See my write-up on Cinnamon bark to understand its beneficial medicinal effects.
Stevia, other than being a hundred times sweeter than sugar without any sugars, also has been studied for its medicinal effects and seems to have a beneficial effect on blood sugar balance.  I love to blend a few stevia leaves into my teas for a subtle, completely natural, no-calorie sweetness.
Contains: orange peel, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, hibiscus, and stevia
A perfect blend for the holidays, no?  Sip while baking cookies or serve warm or cold at your holiday party in a glass pitcher.  Serve to family members when things start to get a bit snarly to soothe and brighten.

This tall plant which produces yellow flowers, is a member of the Asteraceae family.  Its Latin name is Inula helenium. A native to Europe, this plant is widely cultivated in North America, and the root is used in medicine.
Primary properties:
Lung tonic, expectorant, antitussive (cough suppressant), antibacterial, vermifuge (antiparasitic), liver & digestive stimulant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory
Primary uses: coughs, lung congestion, bronchitis, asthma, other lung issues, weak digestion, parasitic infections, edema
This is herb is strengthening and rebuilding to the lungs and digestive tract, while also being a good herb for acute lung conditions as well.  Carbohydrates in the root, including inulin, are strengthening to the immune system and used as food by the beneficial flora in our intestinal tract.  Oils and resins in the root give it aromatic, antibacterial, and antiparasitic properties.  This herb can be decocted (simmered in hot water) to prepare a tea or can be taken in the tincture (liquid extract form), which will extract more of the oils & resins from the plant.  The standard dose is 1 Tablespoon of the herb per cup (10-12 oz) of water, simmered for 15-20 minutes, consumed 2-5 times a day (taken less often if for rebuilding or a chronic condition, more often if acute).  Or take the tincture at a dose of 2-5 dropperfuls in a little water or juice every few hours for acute lung congestion/cough/bronchitis, and take 2-3 times per day for maintenance or a chronic condition.

Cardamom – this herb is possibly a familiar flavor, due to its use as a spice in Indian chai as well as pastries, particularly from Sweden where this herb is used a lot.  This herb grows well in tropical regions, and it is grown most intensively in southern Indian and Guatamala.  A member of the Zingiberacea family that turmeric and ginger both also belong to, its Latin name is Elettaria cardamomum and the part that is used is the seed, either in the pod or removed from the pod.  This herb is a warming, digestive aid with aromatic properties.

Primary properties: carminative, expectorant, lung tonic, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, antimicrobial (particularly the essential oil).
Cardamom is indicated for the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems.  For the digestive tract, this herb can help promote healthy digestion, help ease the discomfort of indigestion, and help dispel gas and bloating.  It is also useful if someone has a cool/damp digestive tract and excess mucus for its warming, drying effects.  If you don’t do well digesting raw vegetables or cold foods, chances are you have a cool/damp digestive system that thrives better on warm, soft foods.
For the lungs, cardamom can be useful for helping to relax coughs, to thin mucus, and for bronchitis for its drying, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory effects.  The essential oils has antimicrobial effects and is a strong antispasmodic.  It is also useful as a diaphoretic to help break fevers/chills during a cold/flu.
As an aphrodisiac, it may be because of its warming, circulatory stimulating effects, and the euphoric effect some people (including myself) get just by inhaling its aromatic scent.
Recipe idea: poach or back a pear, sliced in half and cored, with cardamom seeds stuck in the pear skin throughout.  Pears are a lung tonic, and can help soothe a cough and break up mucus in the lungs, so paired with cardamom, they enhance each other’s actions.  Or just eat this for dessert – yummy!
I sell cardamom only in the seed form in bulk.  I use it in my Herbal Chai Immuni-Tea blend.  Traditionally, cardamom is one of the spices used in Indian chai, simmered in milk.

Meadowsweet – a meadow plant that prefers moist areas, this plant is native to Europe and Asia, but is naturalized in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada.  Meadowsweet belongs to the Rosacea (Rose) family and its Latin name is Filipendula ulmaria. Its previous Latin genus name of Spirea is where the word aspirin was thought to originate, since this plant contains salicylates that were the basis for the drug aspirin.  From this history, one can deduce that this plant can help with inflammation and with pain.  The leaf & flower (upper part of the plant in flower) are used medicinally.
Primary properties: anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antacid, antiemetic, carminative, astringent, analgesic, antiulcer, diuretic, antimicrobial, immune modulator, diaphoretic, anticoagulant, mild bitter.
Based on its primary properties, meadowsweet is indicated in hyperacidic conditions of the stomach, such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), often experienced as “heartburn” because of the stomach acid entering the unprotected esophagus, and for helping heal ulcers and the associated pain.  It is also useful for helping to calm an upset stomach, relieve nausea and indigestion, and dispel gas and bloating.
Meadowsweet is a good anti-inflammatory, helping with inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract as well as joint and muscle inflammation and pain, including arthritis and other rheumatic pains.
As a member of the Rose family, the meadowsweet leaf has the characteristic astringent properties, toning and strengthening tissues, especially of the gastrointestinal tract.
The anti-inflammatory effect of meadowsweet is combined with its supportive, healing effect on the stomach and the anticoagulant (blood thinning) properties, therefore making this herb a potential great alternative to the “baby aspirin” a day some people choose.
The tea and tincture are most often used.  The tea is a pleasant-tasting one that can be mixed with other herbs, such as marshmallow root or slippery elm for their antacid and anti-inflammatory properties or with elder berries and Echinacea to help break a fever and boost the immune system, or taken alone.

Marshmallow – a plant that grows well in wet, marshy areas and is native to salt marshes along the ocean in Europe and western Asian, its Latin name is Althea officinalis and it is a member of the Malvaceae (Mallow) family.  The leaf and root are both used medicinally.  It is highly likely that the name of the store-bought marshmallows you are familiar with was derived from this plant.  The root is high in mucilaginous carbohydrates that can be soaked, whipped into a froth, and then sweetened – probably the origin of the marshmallow as we know it today.
Primary properties: demulcent, emollient, diuretic, anti-inflammatory
Based on the above primary properties of marshmallow, this plant can be used in to soothe and cool inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, including a sore throat, acid reflux, and in cases of gastritis or colitis in the stomach or intestines.  Both the root and leaf can be used for this purpose, although the root is more mucilaginous (slippery, mucus-forming) than the leaf.  The root and leaf both stimulate a reflex action whereby the lungs and urinary tract can also be soothed and cooled.  Therefore, marshmallow is useful in cases of dry coughs and to help soothe the burning pain of urinary tract infections.  Topically, the root or leaf can both act as an emollient, moisturizing and protecting the skin, as well as soothing and cooling a dry, hot skin condition such as a rash or burn.
The root can be taken in powder form, in which case you are consuming the whole root, by shaking in water or juice and swallowing, or by taking as a capsule.  The root and leaf can also both be used in a tea.  A “cold infusion” will get more of the cooling mucilage/carbohydrate in the tea, so you can soak the root or leaf in cold water for several hours to overnight and drink the fluid.  Tincture is the least-preferred method for using this plant, although as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory, it will still be useful.

Lemon balm – a member of the mint family, this plant grows well in the cool, temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest. Its Latin name is Melissa officinalis, and its leaves are used medicinally and are full of volatile/essential oils with a lemony scent.  As is the case with most plants that are a member of the Lamiaceae (Mint) family, this herb has an affinity for the nervous system and the digestive tract.  Because our stomach and intestines are highly innervated (surrounded with nerves), this herb can help relax the nerves and smooth muscle around the intestines, calming a nervous/anxious or tense stomach and helping to dispel gas and bloating.
Lemon balm’s primary actions in the body are: nervine, antispasmodic, carminative, antidepressant, anti-anxiety (calming), antimicrobial (including antiviral), diaphoretic, and hypotensive.
Based on these primary actions, lemon balm is indicated for both anxiety and depression and for nervous heart palpitations and digestive upset.  It is a fabulous calming herb, considered cooling and sedative, gentle enough for children to help promote restful sleep.  It is used during colds & flu for its diaphoretic action, helping to break fevers and promote rest.  Its antimicrobial properties also make it a beneficial herb or use during viral or bacterial infections, particularly as a hot tea where it can promote perspiration.
Lemon balm is also one of the few herbs that is indicated for use in hyperthyroidism.  One herbalist, Sharol Tilgner, found that the fresh juice was most helpful for this (she would press and freeze the juice in ice cube trays to be used when needed).
As a carminative, antispasmodic, and nervine, lemon balm is indicated when someone has gas, bloating, or general indigestion.  The volatile oils act locally on the smooth muscle surround the intestines to relax and promote passage of gas so there is not as much gripping and pain.
The essential oil has all of these properties, as well as being used in salves topically for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory effect for herpes/cold sores.
The fresh herb is the most flavorful, and if you have access to it in your yard or garden, use this to make a tea.  However, the dried herb will certainly suffice, using about 1 Tablespoon herb/cup of hot water and steeping approximately 10 minutes, and has a grassy, mild lemon-y flavor.  The tincture or glycerite (extract in vegetable glycerine) are also great, because they are extracts of the fresh plant.

Dandelion – a very common plant most people know for its sunny yellow flowers, its puffy seed heads that can be blown into the wind, or pulling it up in their yards when they see it as a blemish on their lawn, its Latin name is Taraxacum officinale and it is native to northern temperate zones around the globe.  The leaves and root of this plant are both used as medicine, and the leaves as food.  The leaves are best harvested fresh in the spring and can be eaten as a bitter salad green to stimulate digestive juices, as well as being an excellent diuretic.  The root can be harvested in the spring or fall and is used primarily as a digestive and liver tonic herb.
Historically, the leaves were eaten as a vegetable, the roots roasted and brewed as a coffee substitute, the root fermented into beer, and the flowers made into wine.
The leaves primary actions are: diuretic, bitter digestive, mineralizing (high in potassium in particular).
The roots primary actions are: liver tonic, liver detoxifier, digestive stimulant, diuretic, mild laxative, anti-rheumatic.
As a diuretic, the leaf is considered stronger in its action and contains enough potassium that it does not leach the body of this important mineral, as many pharmaceutical diuretics can do.  Therefore, both the leaf and root can be used to increase the flow of fluid through the kidneys, helping move kidney stones, lower blood pressure, and reduce edema (swelling due to water retention).
As a bitter digestive, the leaf is more bitter tasting, but both have this action, which is basically stimulating the flow of digestive juices through the reflex action of the bitter taste on the tongue.  They stimulate bile flow, the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestines to secrete mucus, and the pancreas to secrete enzymes.  This is useful when someone has sluggish or poor digestion and dyspepsia (digestive discomfort), particularly when taken before meals.
The root more so than the leaf, is considered a liver tonic, helping to promote liver health and to detoxify the liver through stimulating it to release toxins that can then be excreted.
This plant also has some anti-inflammatory effects, and combined with its action on the liver and digestion as well as fluid excretion, it is used for joint inflammation and other rheumatic complaints.  The root is also commonly used in formulas for skin conditions, because of its action on the liver and kidneys, two primary detoxification organs that can help take the burden off the skin to detoxify when its experiencing inflamed skin conditions such as eczema or acne.
Dandelion is also useful for overall stagnation in the body with symptoms of poor skin with a dull color, slow or poor digestion, lethargy or fatigue, swollen or inflamed tissues and organs, and poor circulation.  In these cases, dandelion works by helping to move the blood and eliminating toxins from the body
Traditionally, dandelion was not recommended in patients with liver or gallbladder disease, based on the belief that dandelion stimulates bile secretion.  Dandelion leaf and root should be used cautiously with people who have gallstones or any obstruction of the bile ducts.  Dandelion should also be used cautiously in the case of stomach ulcers or gastritis, as it may cause overproduction of stomach acid.
Dandelion root and leaf are both sold loose at Herban Wellness to be used in teas, they are also both sold in liquid extract (tincture) form, and in capsule form.  The roasted dandelion root is also sold to make into a tea that has a rich, roasted flavor.  Dandelion root is included in my Rebalancing Cleanse Support Tea, helping to promote movement of toxins out through the liver and kidneys.

Astragalus root – A medicinal plant whose use comes to us from Chinese medicine, its Latin name is Astragalus membranaceus and it is a member of the Fabaceae family, also known as the legume/pea family.  The root is the part that is used, and it is considered a quintessential immune tonic or immune modulator.  This means it can help with immune system weakness, when someone regularly gets sick with viral or bacterial infections or takes a long time to recover, or immune hyperactivity, when someone has an autoimmune illness such as rheumatoid arthritis.  In Chinese medicine, it is considered a tonic herb that can increase vitality and longevity.
Its primary actions that have been borne out in traditional use, clinical practice, and/or laboratory research are that astragalus is: immune modulating, adaptogenic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, cardiotonic, diuretic, hypotensive, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, cancer preventive, tissue regenerative, and protective against drops in white blood cell count during chemotherapy or radiation.
Based on the above actions, this herb is used in cases of immune weakness due to chronic stress, because it has a protective effect on the adrenal glands, heart, liver, and kidneys and can help decrease chances of immune weakness when under stress.  It can act as a prophylactic against the common cold, upper respiratory tract infections, and other viral infections.  It is also potentially protective against a compromised immune system during cancer treatment, and because of its antitumor, heart & liver protective effects, and its antioxidant properties, astragalus is often useful for someone diagnosed with or at risk for cancer, improving chances for recovery and longevity.  Astragalus may also be useful as a hypotensive, because of its heart tonic and diuretic actions.
Astragalus is used medicinally in a decoction, meaning that the root is cooked/simmered in water or broth for a certain length of time, usually a minimum of 20 minutes; as a tincture, or powdered in capsules.  Traditionally, the root slices were added to soups/stews in fall and winter and cooked in the broth, then removed and the soup and broth consumed.  This is a great way to get the health benefits of astragalus root into your diet.  At Herban Wellness, I sell astragalus root in shredded form for decoctions/teas and the root slices (they look like tongue depressors) for decocting or adding to soups/stews.  I also sell the powder that can be added to food.  Generally speaking, you need to consume this herb regularly for several weeks to help strengthen a weak or debilitated immune system.  The general dose is 1 Tbls or so of herb/12 oz or so of water.  Add 3-4 root slices to a pot of soup.
Because this herb seems to strengthen and tonify the immune system over time, it is generally not taken or recommended for acute infections.  It is mostly used for chronic immune and adrenal weakness and to strengthen and protect organ systems over time.

 

Nettle (Urtica dioica) may well be my favorite herb, and is certainly one of my best and most consistent sellers are Herban Wellness.  An herb high in chlorophyll, minerals and vitamins, the leaf also acts as a diuretic, helping to move fluid through the kidneys, anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine, helping to relieve the symptoms of allergies.  I have combined this nutritious and tonifying (overall strengthening) herb with lemon balm, a fantastic calming mint-family plant, spearmint, and peppermint, all of which are also high in minerals and vitamins, and have the added benefit of cooling and refreshing.  Steep this mixture overnight in hot or cold water, strain or press out the plant material, and store in the fridge or pour over ice for a hydrating, electrolyte-replenishing, and refreshing beverage.
Contains Nettle leaf, Lemon balm, Spearmint, and Peppermint

A plant that grows abundantly and well in the Pacific Northwest, many people are familiar with it only because of its sting (its other name is Stinging Nettle).  This “sting” comes from little hairs that cover the stem and much of the leaves of this plant and when brushed against or grabbed will impart formic acid to the skin, which causes a mild burning/stinging sensation that can last for hours.  When dried, it loses much or all of this property, and when cooked or made into a tea or extract, it loses this effect entirely, which is why we can use it in food and medicine.
I like to describe nettle as a “dark, leafy green.”  It can be added to soups, stir fries, baked into lasagna, made into pesto, etc. when collected (carefully) fresh.  It is very high in minerals, including calcium, iron, and magnesium, which when consumed in food or as a “long infusion”, which means soaked in either hot or cold water overnight or at least 4 hours, strained, and drank, the many minerals are in the liquid and can be readily absorbed and utilized by the body in this form.
Traditionally, the leaf has been used as a kidney tonic and diuretic, helping to move fluid, lessen edema, to break up stones, and ease discomfort in the kidneys or bladder.  It has also been used as an anti-inflammatory, by inhibiting prostaglandin formation , for helping with the pains of arthritis and other joint inflammation or injuries to tendons, ligaments, or muscle.  Nettle leaf also has an antihistamine effect, particularly when it is freeze-dried, so can help with the effects of seasonal and other air-born allergies, helping with hives and other allergic skin reactions.
Nettle leaf is considered a “tonic” herb in herbal medicine, meaning that it is strengthening and beneficial for the body over time.  It is a nutritionally-rich herb and a useful medicine.
The nettle root also has an affinity for the urinary tract, and is particularly used for its positive effect on prostate health.  It helps reduce inflammation, inhibits the growth of prostate cells, and can help with urine flow and comfort.   Nettle root appears to interfere with the formation of the stronger-acting testosterone, which is linked to prostate inflammation, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia.