Tisanes: Ancient Herbal Teas
Parts of plants have been brewed using the same recipe for thousands of years to make tisanes. Originally herbs were added to boiling water to make healing tonics for medicinal purposes. In 410 BC Plato recorded ptisanes in his writing. Unlike tea, tisanes, or herbal teas, are not made from the tea plant, camellia sinensis.
Many of the original tisanes are not drunk today, but a few, such as peppermint (good for digestion and nervous headache) and chamomile (a gentle sedative) have their roots in Greek and Roman ancestry. Other tisanes do not have such a long pedigree but are favored for their health benefits: rosehips contain vitamin C, rooibos is high in antioxidants as well as hibiscus and raspberry tisanes.
To fully enjoy tisanes, add water that has cooled very slightly after boiling, then allow the tisane to infuse for three to six minutes. Generally, tisanes are best served without milk or lemon or can be sweetened with a little sugar or honey.
Below are some suggestions for natural treatments:
If you are suffering from tension headaches, rosemary helps dilate blood vessels and keeps them dilated, easing the constriction that causes many headaches. Just steep one or two teaspoons of lightly crushed fresh rosemary or one teaspoon of dried rosemary in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. If you experience migraines, keep ginger tea handy or make your own by steeping fresh sliced ginger in boiling water for 10 minutes.
If you experience an upset stomach, nausea, indigestion, bloating or gas all of which we suffer from at times, a few simple sips can lessen your discomfort. Chamomile, peppermint both to calm muscle contractions in the stomach, easing cramping and pain. Ginger has been used to reduce nausea and bloating for centuries. If you have a really upset stomach, try this remedy.
Boil a quarter cup of white rice in three cups of water for 15 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, add two tablespoons of dried chamomile, a tablespoon of dried peppermint, and a teaspoon of grated ginger to the simmering pot. Strain and sweeten with a touch of honey.
Tea of any kind helps when you’re stuffed up. The warm steam from your cup opens up your nasal passages making it easier to breathe. The extra oomph try thyme tea. Thyme is a strong antiseptic and has great drying properties, helping to clear your stuffed sinuses. Peppermint contains menthol, another substance that can open up nasal passages. To clear up a stuffy nose, steep a teaspoon of thyme, either fresh or dried and two teaspoons of dried peppermint in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. In the last five minutes of steeping, add two teaspoons of green tea for an antioxidant boost. Strain, then inhale the vapors while sipping away.
When you have a raw, scratchy throat, the last thing you want to do is think about swallowing! But sipping a cup of herbal tea could ease that pain and help you recover faster. Mint helps reduce the pain that comes with a sore throat. Add some clove for additional pain relief, it has strong numbing properties. Licorice coats and soothes. It has mucilaginous properties, which means that it clings to your scratchy throat to ease irritation. Blending a tea of licorice root, elm bank and marshmallow root can be effective at easing throat pain too. Try brewing this mix next time you’re suffering from a sore throat: steep a tablespoon of dried peppermint, five or six whole cloves, a teaspoon of dried licorice root, and two teaspoons of green tea in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, then strain and sip. No licorice root on hand? Add a tablespoon of honey to coat your throat. Don’t use good green tea. Since the mixture is steeped a long time at high heat to extract the most beneficial chemicals, the taste in a delicate tea will be ruined.
Modern science has shown that many traditional herbal treatments are both safe and highly effective. Just remember that you should always check with your doctor before adding any tea or herb to your arsenal of medicinal possibilities.