7. September 2012 13:26
As more Americans become interested in a more natural and holistic lifestyle, many are turning to herbal remedies instead of pharmaceutical options for treating minor ailments. With its aromatic and health properties, as well as a pleasing flavor, peppermint is a popular and readily available herb. One of the most common preparations is peppermint tea, although peppermint tea isn’t a true tea. This herbaceous plant is completely separate from camellia sinensis, the plant that produces all varieties of true tea. The more accurate name for peppermint tea would be peppermint infusion, or peppermint tisane.
A peppermint infusion is made by steeping the dried leaves of the peppermint plant in boiling water. The essential oils in peppermint leaves provide a wealth of health benefits; for the strongest concentration of these oils in your peppermint infusion, cover the cup while it steeps. A cover traps more of the essential oils in the cup, creating a healthier and tastier infusion. These essential oils are packed with compounds that have a relaxing effect on the digestive system; the peppermint tisane is effective in, and perhaps best known for, its ability to calm an upset stomach. Regular consumption of peppermint tisane has been shown to reduce the symptoms of certain chronic digestive conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome. The analgesic properties of peppermint aid the associated discomfort, while the relaxing effect is calming and soothing. Peppermint also has some anesthetic properties that may be effective against a number of other conditions and disorders.
Menthol, a main component of peppermint, is a powerful compound with multiple benefits. Its strong and refreshing aroma has an invigorating and energizing effect; it can help to increase mental alertness and fight fatigue. The physiological impact of menthol can bring welcome relief from the symptoms of allergies and the common cold. The menthol in peppermint thins mucus; the steam from a hot peppermint tisane can be inhaled to clear the nasal passages, and ingested to break up congestion in the throat. It also acts as an expectorant, and can soothe the pain of a sore throat. In fact, frequent consumption of peppermint infusions may be more effective at easing the suffering of a cold or allergies than pharmaceutical remedies. It’s also safer, gentler, and presents with far fewer side effects.
A peppermint tisane is also a great source of antioxidants, which can keep you healthy. It’s hot and comforting in cold weather, and can be served over ice for a refreshing summer drink. If the flavor and aroma of a pure peppermint infusion is too strong for you, there are plenty of options out there. Peppermint is nicely complemented by a variety of other herbal flavors; berries, vanilla, cacao, and earthy herbs like jasmine taste great when blended with peppermint. It’s easy to find a blend from the many brands on the market, or to create your own favorite combination with loose dried herbals. Treat yourself to great flavor, energizing aroma, and countless health benefits with a refreshing and invigorating peppermint tisane.
4. September 2012 09:36
Once you try herbal tea, chances are good that you’ll like them enough to keep drinking them. Herbal tisanes are very flavorful, almost calorie-free, and packed with so many healthy compounds that many herbals are considered “super foods”. Any visit to your local supermarket or specialty foods store will most likely result in the discovery that whole aisles are dedicated to true teas and herbal tea blends. There are all sorts of interesting flavor combinations out there, and blends that combine herbals with similar effects to achieve maximum results (for example, just about every major tea manufacturer offers at least one herbal blend that is intended to soothe and relax you before you go to bed).
These pre-packaged blends are a great place to start. They give you the opportunity to try out a large variety of flavor profiles and to learn what benefits best fit your needs. But no matter how big that aisle is, eventually you’ll exhaust all the options available there. When that happens, skip the supermarket altogether and head for your local tea shop. If you’re a true fan of herbal tisanes, the tea shop will open up a whole new world of beverage opportunities. First of all, tea shops generally deal in loose teas and herbals, rather than the pre-packaged varieties. Loose herbals are much more flavorful, they are comprised of higher quality plant parts, and you have more freedom to experiment and find the perfect proportions in your steeped infusions.
You’ll also be able to experiment with new blends and adventurous flavor of tea ingredients combinations. Sure, some combinations are obvious, like lavender and vanilla bean or cardamom and cinnamon, but once you’re familiar with the flavor profiles you love, you’ll have a lot of fun mixing them to discover delicious new blends. If you’re not sure where to start, ask the proprietor of the tea shop; he or she will undoubtedly have some great blend ideas to get your started. Are you ready to take your herbal drinking to the next level? Try growing some of your own herbs. Many herbs, like chamomile, rosemary, mint, and lavender, grow easily in a variety of different settings. They’ll thrive in your backyard herb garden, but they’ll also be perfectly happy in an indoor or box garden. To turn your herbs into herbal infusion blends, simply pick the leaves, petals, or fruits when they’re mature; left alone in an undisturbed area (with little or no direct sunlight), they’ll dry up all on their own. Different herbs require longer drying times, and can vary from a few days to a few weeks. You’ll know they’re ready when they crumble easily. Then, just crush the dried pieces, place them in a labeled, airtight container, and store them in your pantry for up to a year – if they last that long.
The options in herbal tisanes are endless. Whether you buy bagged blends, mix flavors from your tea shop, or grow your own herbs, you’ll always have several delicious tisanes ready to steep.
28. August 2012 21:41
If you look in your closet right now, you’d probably find a variety of different clothing items. You may have some shirts that are similar, but your collection is most likely made up of a wide range of styles and fabrics, and a rainbow of colors. Similarly, your pantry is probably stocked with an assortment of options in each category. Maybe you have several different snack foods, a variety of herbs and spices, or a selection of convenience foods in different flavors and cuisines. Whether you’re considering your wardrobe or your kitchen, or any other area of your life for that matter, you acquire a variety of items because you want to be prepared for different situations. The same outfit that’s appropriate for a day at the office might not work for a nice dinner out. You may be in the mood to wear black one day, and feel like wearing a bright color the next. Likewise, you stock your pantry and refrigerator with lots of food options so that you have a choice; you can find something that is appealing, no matter what you’re in the mood to eat.
A well stocked herbal tea collection should be approached just as you approach filling your closet or your kitchen; choose a variety of different options, across a few broad categories, so that you know you’ll always have something to suit your mood. Not only are herbal infusions incredibly healthy, they are available in a huge array of flavors. In fact, the choices when it comes to herbals might just be so wide that it becomes overwhelming. If you feel like there are too many options to consider, you might be tempted to stick to the one brand or blend that you know, and forgo the rest of the possibilities. But if you stick to only one herbal infusion, you’re missing out on some fantastic flavors, and some really valuable health advantages. How can you branch out and expand your herbal collection without fumbling through the tea aisle of your supermarket for an hour?
First of all, think about adding to your collection one herbal at a time. Try looking for an herbal in a different flavor profile than the one you already have at home. Look at the options you have, and consider which category each belongs in: floral (like hibiscus or orange blossom), fruity (like peach, berry, or apple), spicy (like cinnamon or Chai), or earthy (like rooibos or chamomile). Once you’ve determined what flavor profiles you already have, experiment with a new flavor. Or, try a new blend that mixes something you know you love with something you haven’t tried yet. If you’re apprehensive about committing to a big box of prepackaged infusion bags before knowing whether or not you’ll like the flavor, seek out a local tea shop. They are becoming more common all across the country, and they have huge selections of loose herbals (and true teas) that you can purchase in small quantities to taste.
27. August 2012 14:08
Historical evidence suggests that chamomile was valued for its medicinal properties as far back as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece. It was commonly used to treat a host of ailments, from anxiety to indigestion. Chamomile herb tea continued to be highly regarded throughout the Middle Ages, when it became indispensible for other reasons, as well. Its strong, pleasantly pungent aroma made it the ideal “strewing herb”; it was scattered on the ground in public places as a primitive air freshener. Chamomile was also important in breweries, and was used prior to the wide availability of hops to give beer its characteristic bitterness. Throughout centuries of use, across several continents, chamomile continued to be valued and respected as an important part of medicine.
Many ancient “healing” techniques have been proven ineffective, or even harmful, by modern science; bloodlettings, the use of leeches, and magic spells have all been replaced by treatments that actually work. Chamomile, however, is quite different. Ancient healers trusted it, without any real knowledge of how or why it worked. Instead of proving it ineffective, scientific research has instead led to documented evidence of the properties of chamomile that make it a legitimate wellness remedy for a number of conditions. Perhaps most commonly known for its soothing properties, chamomile contains compounds that can relieve muscle spasms and relax the nerves. These compounds can ease the discomfort of mild aches and pains and provide an effective relief from stress and anxiety. Research has also shown that chamomile metabolizes into phenolic compounds, which have antibacterial and immune-boosting properties. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The active components in chamomile make it an ideal remedy for the symptoms of ailments like the common cold, allergies, insomnia, and arthritis. A topical salve made from chamomile can also be effective in treating conditions like eczema and hemorrhoids.
Chamomile has powerful medicinal properties; when consumed regularly, its effects are compounded. However, consuming a chamomile infusion won’t ever be confused with taking medicine. It has a distinctive flavor; it’s light, slightly tart, and fruity. If the flavor of chamomile by itself doesn’t suit your palate, you can still enjoy this healthy beverage in one of the many flavor blends available from a number of different brands. Chamomile mixes very well with many fruit infusions like peach and berry, as well as earthy herbal flavors like jasmine and lemongrass, and floral flavors like orange blossom and hibiscus. No matter what your taste preference is, there’s a chamomile tea that you will love. Enjoy a chamomile tisane any time you want to relax and feel better; consumed regularly, chamomile is an important part of your natural journey towards a healthier life. Because it’s an herbal infusion, chamomile is completely caffeine-free and a great way to encourage a restful and restorative night’s sleep; steep a cup of pure chamomile or an herbal blend and drink about half an hour before going to bed. Healthy, natural chamomile is a daily treat for a better life.
2. August 2012 10:39
From the buzz and popularity around “super foods” to a wide range of vitamin supplements, Americans can’t seem to get enough of the trends in health and nutrition. The vitamin industry alone boasts hundreds of formulas: multivitamins, isolations of specific vitamins, vitamin combinations designed to target particular conditions and concerns, kids’ formulas, and compositions aimed at every stage of adulthood and activity level. Most supermarkets and health food stores have whole aisles devoted strictly to the wealth of vitamin products they offer. But what could potentially provide as many, if not more, health benefits are frequently found a few aisles away: herbal tea.
Technically, herbals teas aren’t actually teas; they come from a wide variety of plants around the world, but not the camellia sinensis plant that is the exclusive source of true teas. The vast range of plants that can be made into herbal teas, or tisanes, offer as vast an array of vitamins, chemicals, and compounds that are proven to offer myriad health benefits. For everything from occasional discomforts to chronic conditions like diabetes, there are teas that can ease severity and relieve symptoms of a host of ailments. Stomach upset, nausea, and digestive problems can be relieved with a tisane of ginger, peppermint, licorice root, or lemon. The antihistamine and immune-boosting properties of Echinacea makes it the ideal choice for fighting cold and allergy symptoms. Some tisanes, like chamomile, have soothing and calming characteristics; tisanes of Rhodiola and ginseng provide a boost in energy and vitality. Passionflower and lavender may alleviate the nagging pain of a headache.
While many conditions are incurable, herbal tisanes have been shown to be beneficial in helping to manage them and promote health. Diabetes, for example, can be very difficult to manage. Spikes in blood sugar can lead to a host of related health problems. Several herbals can help a diabetic manage his or her condition. Fenugreek may absorb excess sugar, preventing it from getting into the system; raspberry and bilberry infusions can help to lower blood sugar. Herbal infusions are helpful in easing the symptoms of a number of other chronic conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and anxiety. Some herbs can relieve colic and digestive issues in infants; others can boost lactation for nursing mothers.
Tisanes are ideal treatments for a wide range of conditions and maladies. But they also offer preventive properties. Most herbals contain antioxidant compounds, which are known to destroy the free radicals that have carcinogenic characteristics. Nutrition experts recommend consuming foods high in antioxidants to help in the fight against cancer; most agree that getting your antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients from natural, food-based sources is preferable to taking expensive supplements. Herbal tisanes are a convenient and easy way to load your diet with a variety of compounds to promote a healthful life. And unlike vitamin supplements, tisanes are delicious, too. They are available in a wide variety of flavors, from fruity choices to spicy options like cinnamon or ginger and a host of blends.