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.