Homemade medicinal and herbal teas are inexpensive and simple alternatives to store-bought teas, and can relieve a variety of ailments. When made from fresh herbs, these teas are purer, more wholesome, and more flavorful than pre-packaged teas. Herbs can be home-grown or purchased at a nursery, supermarket, or health-food store. There are three basic types of medicinal teas: infusions, decoctions, and broths.
1) Infusions – The most common type of herbal tea, infusions are typically made from the leaves or flowers of an herb plant. To brew this type of tea, add 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, or 1 teaspoon of dried herbs to 1 cup of near-boiling water. To avoid compromising the delicate volatile oils of the plant, infusions should never be boiled. Instead, steep for 5 to 15 minutes in a covered container, then strain and allow the tea to cool.
Some common herbs used for infusions include:
-Peppermint, to ease nausea, diarrhea, and headaches
-Chamomile, to calm anxiety and muscle spasm
-Echinacea, to help ease cold and flu symptoms
2) Decoctions – This type of tea is made from the roots or bark of a plant. An herbal decoction can be made by adding 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs to 1 cup simmering water. Because they are made from the tougher part of the plant, herbal decoctions are typically simmered 15-30 in order to allow sufficient cooking time to release the healing benefits of the plant.
Some common herbs used for decoctions include:
-Ginger, to aid in digestion and soothe an upset stomach
-Licorice, to relieve constipation and bronchial troubles
-Cinnamon, to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar
3) Broths – Not as common today, but in years past, herbal broths were valuable sources of essential vitamins and minerals. They were especially popular during winter months, when people had little access to fresh fruits and vegetables. To make herbal broth, crush or grind 1 tablespoon of dry herbs into a powder, then add to 1 cup of near-boiling water. Allow the broth to cool to a comfortable drinking temperature. Because there is no straining required, broths are a potent medicinal beverage, with a high nutritional value.
Some common herbs used for broths include:
-Garlic, to soothe a cough or cold
-Onions, to alleviate congestion
-Mushrooms, to detoxify the body and aid in healthy digestion
The next time you are feeling a bit under the weather, consider the powerful medicinal benefits of herbal tea. Brewing your own medicinal or herbal tea at home can be an effective way to heal and soothe your body and mind.