At this time of year when changing weather patterns can create physical imbalance in our bodies, my patients are always wondering how to prevent and stave off early colds, sinus infections, or the flu. My best advice is to start enhancing your immunity now, while continually nourishing yourself throughout the winter. One of the simplest and most enjoyable ways to do this is to create your own immunity tea from herbs in your backyard garden, farmers’ market, or even your local park.
This blog is full of tips and recipes to help you prepare your own immunity tea mixture at home, using wild and cultivated herbs in your homemade mixture, just like traditional Chinese doctors have done for thousands of years. By making and storing your own special immunity tea throughout the winter, you will be able to give yourself a warming nutrient boost whenever you feel the creeping chill of the cold season!
This article is a good start to making your own customized teas, but you can find more information about healing herbal teas in other resources, such as herbal guidebooks or my Natural Health Dictionary. The herbal teas in this article differ from traditional black, oolong, green, and white teas, which all come from the dried and processed leaves of Camellia sinensis. Each variety of tea is produced at a different stage of processing and will have varying health benefits. Green and white teas are the healthiest of bunch, as they have minimal caffeine and high antioxidant levels. Herbal teas, on the other hand, are infusions made from dried or fresh leaves, flowers, fruits, and herbs. Herbal teas have many medicinal properties, are caffeine-free by nature, and best of all, can be tailored to your health needs. These medicinal teas not only help you maintain your health, but can prevent illness by strengthening your immune system. Immune boost in a cup!
Many plants that are usually considered to be weeds actually have incredibly high nutrient levels, and have been used for healing in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries! Of course, if you are gathering wild, uncultivated plants, make sure you can positively identify your specimen by working with a local botanist, herbalist, or plant specialist. Be sure that any plants you gather from a wild space, or even purchase from a market or store, are grown organically, and have not been sprayed with chemical pesticides.
Bonus Tip: If you prefer tea bags, try my Autumn Protective Tea blend, which will support your health all season long.
Here are a few medicinal plants that are easy to identify in the wild, find fresh at markets, or even pick up in dried form at your local health food store. As always, be sure to work with your physician to make sure none of these herbs will adversely affect any medications you may be taking.
1. White Sage. White sage is an anti-inflammatory herb that is excellent for preventing and treating colds and sinus infections. Sweating, salivation, and mucous secretions in the sinus-throat-lung network are decreased with the help of this herb. You can find white sage throughout the Southwest, but because of its delicate flavor and intoxicating scent as incense, it is sold in dried “smudge sticks” throughout the country at health food stores, which can be made into tea. To dry a fresh pick, wrap the leaves of the plant around the stalk with a string, making sure it is bundled well. Hang in a dry place, out of direct sunlight. To make white sage tea, steep the fresh or dried leaves in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Red Raspberry Leaves. Try red raspberry leaves to alleviate the symptoms of cold, flu, or sinus infection. The leaves of the raspberry plant are invaluable for women, as they help treat menstrual disorders and tone the uterus. Other uses of red raspberry tea include soothing inflammation and water loss in the intestines; it may also be used as a natural mouthwash to soothe the mouth, tonsils, and throat from irritations. You may make your herbal infusion with fresh or dry leaves. To dry red raspberry leaves, lay them in a single layer on an elevated screen in a cool, dry place. Too much work? You can also find teabags of red raspberry leaf tea in your local health food store.
3. Mugwort. This herb may sound like it is straight out of a Harry Potter story, but it has been used as a stomach soother for centuries! Mugwort is a great aid when you have the stomach flu. The mugwort plant is a tall perennial shrub that contains beneficial essential oils and flavonoids. In traditional Chinese medicine, mugwort is used to increase and enhance mental attention and alertness, treat digestive imbalances, and is another strong aid to women, so much so that it is considered to be a “feminine” plant in traditional medicine. It is important to note that because it causes uterine contractions, mugwort should not be taken internally by pregnant women.
Be safe and enjoy your fall foraging, teas, and increased immunity!
Much of the information in this article come from The Natural Health Dictionary, a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements. Also, you can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle.
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May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.
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