Wellbeing Advisors for Weleda, the natural skin-care company, are currently running a campaign called ‘Small difference, big impact’. It’s to raise awareness about the ingredients in your shower products. When did you last check? Anyway, it’s a strapline that can equally apply to the topic of your daily cuppa. With the right choice, you have an everyday means to fortify yourself against colds and snuffles.
Most of us brew up on automatic pilot. By simply switching (or varying) standard tea and coffee for herbal or spice options instead, you can do yourself a huge health favour without much fuss or effort. Look for herbs reknown for their therapeutic effects; commercially, they are often combined with fruits or berries for mass appeal. This is fine, but avoid predominantly fruity teas which tend to be overwhelmingly synthetic. For convenience, teabags are extremely handy – and there are some splendid choices – but know that they are never as satisfying for flavour or aroma, let alone benefits as fresh whole leaves. Besides, the sheer ritual of taking time-out to prepare a pot of genuine refreshment is de-stressing in itself.
Whilst there a literally hundreds of herbs and spices which can help strengthen your immune system, they are not equally easy to get hold of, or affordable. To start you off, here are 5 of the most common, economical and palateable options to try. Take them about 3 times a day to enable them to work their magic, but as with everything, don’t overdo it. These items have active compounds so can be potent. Remember to rotate for variety, and to achieve a broad spectrum of benefits. Get started right now before the cooler weather really sets in.
- Ginger – anti-inflammatory, cleansing. When inhaled opens up the nasal cavities for breathing better.
Prepare: several thin slices, steeped in hot water for 5 mins, to which you can then add slices of lemon/lime (for vitamin C and uplifting citrus flavour). Otherwise try ginger + lemon + cayenne (aids mucus breakdown), or ginger+lemon+ squished pomegranate seeds
- Nettles – marvellous for minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium and silica amongst many others). Anti-microbial, cleans the blood, improves circulation, expectorant, loosens congestion by opening up bronchial area.
Prepare: steep in hot water 1 tsp nettle leaves, with same amount of mint leaves.
- Hibiscus – loaded with vitamin C, and supports upper respiratory areas and circulation.
Prepare: steep in hot water 1 tsp hibiscus, dozen goji berries. If you like also add a few drops of rose water. You can also try this enlivening Happiness tea recipe
- Pine needles (not yew which is poinsonous) – high in vitamin C, thins mucus, decongestant
Prepare: add boiled water to 1 tbsp chopped needles. Steep for 15 mins, give a good stir to release the aroma’s sieve if necessary, and drink.
- Elderberry – Helps break down mucus, soothes sore throats, decongestant, vitamin C
Prepare: make a cordial from fresh berries that you can store. Remove berries from stalks, put into a pan with enough water to cover, and simmer gently for 15 mins. Sieve to remove unwanted particles, then put in pan again with combination of flavours, such as, cinnamon, cloves, sta anise. Gently heat for another 10 mins. Finally, sweeten with honey, cool and bottle. Store in fridge, dilute in warm water to drink as a tea. You can add ginger or thyme at this stage, for extra umph.
- Cinnamon -anti-bacterial, pain-killer, aids circulation, relieves coughs and shivers.
Prepare: Steep in hot water 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tbsp grated ginger and 1/2 tsp cardamon seeds, slice of citrus
Other items you may wish to add include thyme leaves (decongestant for chest), cayenne (relieves fever and reduces congestion), cardamon (soothes nerves, freshens mouth), honey (anti-bacterial and can soothe sore throats and dry coughs).
The best thing is: nettles, elderberries and pine needles can all be gathered from the wild yourself. Of course, if you don’t have the opportunity, they can be bought from a reputable herbal tea company. The following are top of my list because they focus on the quality of the ingredients first:
Do you have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear what you rely on. Let me know by using the comments box, below.
Better still, join me for a Sunday morning class, Tea and more (Feb 23rd 2014)