Make your own herbal tea blend

Hope you’re all having a great summer – it’s been a busy one for us hence the break in posting. Most of July we spent in the Czech Republic enjoying sunshine, glorious walks in the countryside, cities and time with friends and family. On our return to Shetland we were delighted to hear our building warrant for removing faulty blocks and subsequently insulating and cladding the house with larch was approved so we started the works immediately. Busy times…

For some reason after coming back from holidays this time I’ve been struggling to get back to my normal routine of healthy eating and walking plenty but I’m hoping to find my motivation soon and get back on track.

One of my routines is to dedicate Mondays to a fasting day. I feel a one-day fast is a good way of cleansing the body, getting rid of toxins and also keeping your weight under control.

Fasting means not eating for a prolonged period of time and there are different fasting regimes available. Refraining from eating for even a day can cleanse your body and help you feel better. Many resources also state that acute illnesses respond positively to fasting. I usually stick to drinking water and herbal teas throughout the day. Sometimes evenings are difficult so if I need to ‘cheat’ I’ll have a small baked potato for dinner as potatoes are low in calories and fill up the stomach so you don’t feel hungry.

When I’m in the Czech Republic I always stock up on my favourite herbal teas by an Austrian / Czech company called Sonnentor which liteally translates as ‘sun gate’. I very much like the philosophy of the company as their emphasis is on working with small organic herb growers and farmers and respect and consideration for nature are very important to them. They have a huge selection of teas based on traditional herbal blends and my favourite is their Hildegard von Binge range. Hildegard Fasting Time is a delicious aromatic blend which helps me to get through my fasting Mondays.

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For a bit of change I’ve decided to make my own blend, using herbs from the garden or ones I’ve picked in Shetland (apart from juniper).

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My blend contains:

Nettle (Urtica Dioica): used for treatment of disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, bladder infections, skin complaints, eczema, cardio-vascular system, hemorrhage, flu, rheumatism and gout. When cooked it is rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Nettle is a powerful detoxifier and is believed to enhance immune system.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): not only it is delicious but it also calms the nervous system, soothes stomach and it is believed it relieves stress and muscular tension. Peppermint tea can act as an appetite suppressant, making it easier to stick to your healthy eating goals. Drinking a blend of peppermint tea and green tea can help increase metabolism, making it easier to shed extra pounds. Peppermint is also a natural remedy for certain stomach ailments, including bloating and gas. Having a cup of tea in the evening before bed can help soothe these problems, making it easier to digest and fall asleep.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): did you know an extremely useful natural remedy and food already grows in your garden… and you probably consider it a weed? The entire plant is used in herbal remedies: roots, leaves, and flowers. Dandelion leaves are very bitter and bitters have been used for centuries in many countries before meals as a digestive and liver stimulant. We are inundated daily with chemicals and substances that the liver must process so it deserves our support. Rough dry skin and acne, constipation, gas and bloating, frequent headaches, and premenstrual syndrome are all potential symptoms of an overburdened liver. Dandelion is also used to help purify blood and to treat infections. Dandelion leaves are also rich in minerals and vitamins, particularly calcium and vitamins A, C, K, and B2 (riboflavin).

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra): elder plant and is often overlooked for its medicinal benefits and is most frequently used for its flavouring properties and in making various foods and beverages. But in Central and Eastern Europe is commonly used to treat bronchitis, cough, upper respiratory cold infections and fever due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Elderflower also has diuretic and laxative properties and is helpful in relieving occasional constipation. It also has has antibacterial and antiviral properties and may also help alleviate some allergies and boost the functioning of the immune system.

Sage (Salvia officinalis): Salvia is derived from the Latin salvere (to save) and it has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women’s fertility, a local anesthetic and much more. In Middle Ages it was cultivated in monastery gardens and it was one of the herbs which were used to ward off the plague. In the traditional Austrian medicine sage has been used internally (as tea or directly chewed) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. Its bitter component stimulates upper digestive secretions, intestinal mobility, bile flow, and pancreatic function, while the volatile oil has a stimulating effect on the digestion.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): a powerful healing herb. In Homer’s Iliad, legendary warrior Achilles uses yarrow to treat the wounds of his fallen fellow warriors. Indeed, constituents in yarrow make it a fine herb for accelerating healing of cuts and bruises. The species name, millefolium, is Latin for “a thousand leaves,” referring to the herb’s fine feathery foliage. Yarrow is also widely used in used in herbal remedies designed to treat heavy bleeding from menstrual periods and it is often classified as a uterine tonic. Several studies have shown that yarrow can improve uterine tone, which may increase menstrual blood flow when it is irregular or scanty, and reduce uterine spasms, which reduces heavy flow in cases of abnormally heavy menstrual flow.

Juniper (Juniperus communis): not that I have seen juniper growing in Shetland but since the dried berries are included in the Sonnentor tea I have decided to add them to my blend as well as they have a lovely flavour. Juniper is used for digestion problems including upset stomach, intestinal gas, heartburn, bloating and loss of appetite, as well as gastrointestinal (GI) infections.

And Shetland rose, marigold and white clover for a bit of colour and brightness too…

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Here are some tips for a fasting day:

1. Pick a day you want to fast. Depending on your work schedule, weekends work well for some people but I prefer weekdays as I’m busy at work which helps me to keep my mind of feeling hungry and I’m generally less likely to give in to the temptation…

2. Determine how long your fast will be. If you have never fasted before you should only fast for a day to see how your body manages it. Remember, there are transition periods before and after the fast. You will want to ease yourself from a full diet and ease back onto one.

3. To get the best results, the day before you fast eat only raw vegetables, whole grains, raw fruits and drink herbal tea and water.

4. On your fasting day abstain for eating the entire day. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of herbal tea and water. Use approximately 1 tbsp. of loose dried tea herbs for every 8 oz. of water. Drink only herbal teas the day of your fast. You will want to consume approximately two litres of tea or water. You can drink it cold or hot. Do not exercise vigorously. Rest and relaxation will help your body cleanse.

5. Ideally eat only raw vegetables, fruit and whole grains and drink herbal teas and water the day after your fast. Try not fill your stomach.

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Enjoy and good luck!

 

 

 

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How to make Natural Cough Syrup

I have never been keen on standard cough mixtures from a pharmacy as to me they taste unpleasant and I think they is full of weird stuff… Since we were tiny, when ill and suffering from cough or sore throat, we were given plantain cough syrup which always seemed to do the trick. And if you make your own it’s almost free and super easy too… So start stocking up your cupboard with natural remedies in preparation for winter ailments today! m_DSC_2531 The plantain is a common broadleaf “weed” that we should eat, not kill. This perennial vegetable is free for the picking and packs an amazing amount of nutrition. Full of calcium and vitamin A, plantains also provide vitamins C & K. The plantain also has many amazing healing properties. It can heal your gut, is used as a gentle expectorant for coughs, soothes an insect bite or a rash, heals cuts and it draws toxins from the body with its astringent nature. Source: Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants There are about 200 species of plantain found all over the world, growing in many different habitats but most commonly in wet areas like seepages or bogs. They can also be found in alpine and semi-alpine or coastal areas.  m_DSC_2700 In Shetland I think I’ve seen two or three different species and they all have the same medicinal properties. For making the syrup I use ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) which frequently grows at the side of roads. It’s not a good idea picking herbs at sides of busy roads but in Shetland I think there are plenty quiet roads where the plants should be ok and not affected by pollution. m_DSC_2710 To make the syrup you need about three large handfuls of plantain, two cups of granulated sugar and a large jar. Wash the leaves and chop them finely. Put approximately 1cm of the leaves in the bottom of the jar and add the same depth of sugar and repeat. Compress the mix, seal the jar and leave it on a sunny wondowsill until it’s turned into a liquid, then strain through a muslin cloth or tea towel and store in jars or small bottles. m_DSC_2717 The syrup will keep for up to a year if stored in a cool dark place or in the fridge. When suffering from a cold or respiratory ailment take a tea spoon three times a day or you can add the syrup into your tea. m_DSC_2740

Nettles

People think nettle (Urtica dioica) is a stingy, upleasant weed that grows everywhere. But the truth is nettles are very nutritious, full of vitamins, have brilliant medicinal properties and are brilliant detoxifiers. In fact nettles are my seasonal superhero. And as long as you wear gloves nettles are easy to harvest and prepare too. And they are free… And don’t worry, they won’t sting your tongue!

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For the past couple of months I’ve been using freshly harvested raw nettles for making nettle tea and for adding in my morning smoothies almost daily. Probably most people think I’m crazy but I just can’t seem to get enough of this wonderful health-boosting herb. I wonder if it is addictive… 

Stinging nettle is: diuretic, astringent, pectoral, anodyne, tonic, rubefacient, styptic, anthelmintic, nutritive, hermetic, anti-rheumatic, anti-allergenic, decongestant, expectorant, anti-spasmodic, and anti-histamine, anti-lithic/lithotrophic, herpetic, galactagogue, and an anti-histamine… Not bad for a weed!

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Every spring my body seems to crave nettle tea. But the beginnings weren’t easy. Generally I love most herbal teas but at the beginning I really struggled with nettle. I thought it tasted like straw and if the tea went cold it would turn black and taste really unpleasant. Initially I was only interested in the detoxifying properties but there’s so much more to the humble nettle…

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In case you don’t fancy picking and drying your own nettles you can opt for the easy option – Scoop Wholefoods stocks nettle tea and so does Healthcraft.

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Nettle tea has the potential to help with the following ailments:

  • Stimulates the lymph system to boost immunity
  • Relieves arthritis symptoms
  • Promotes a release from uric acid from joints
  • Helps to support the adrenals
  • Promotes milk production in lactating women
  • Relieves menopausal symptoms
  • Helps with menstrual cramps and bloating
  • Helps with respiratory tract disease
  • Supports the kidneys
  • Helps asthma sufferers
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Minimizes skin problems
  • Lessens nausea
  • Cures the common cold

Source: http://www.consciouslifenews.com

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And if you feel tired or your body needs a boost I’d recommend trying to add nettle in you morning smoothie. It will definitely not make it look attractive but I like the taste and I think you can almost feel the energy running through your veins just smelling the mix. My favourite combination is mango, watermelon, blueberries and nettle.

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And guess what – your plants will love nettles too. To make a brilliant fertiliser with good amounts of nitrogen, iron, magnesium and sulphur simply put freshly cut nettles (remove roots) in a bucket, use a large flat stone to keep the foliage down, fill it with water and leave it to ‘brew’ for a few weeks. But I need to warn you – the solution smells really unpleasant and you certainly don’t want to get it on your hands or clothes. Alternatively you can use the plants to activate your compost. 

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– How to use it: Mix the solution with water in a proportion of 1 : 10 (one part nettle solution to ten parts water). Pour the solution directly at the base of the plants where the roots will have quick use of it.

– This “tea” is meant as a supplemental feeding for plants that have a high demand for nourishment, such as tomatoes, leeks, brassicas, cucumbers and courgettes.

There are other things that will appreciate the stinging nettle tea: fruit trees and bushes, roses, annuals and perennial flowering plants.
** It is NOT meant to supplement such plants as onions beans and peas. (source: www.gardenstew.com)