Healing Herbs

It’s the middle of January. It’s cold, quiet, and grey. My face hasn’t seen the sun in what seems like ages. How to beat these winter blues?

I don’t know about you, but being curled up next to a fire, with a good book, and a steaming cup of tea sounds like the best kind of medicine. Instead of grabbing that ol’ faithful bag of black Lipton tea, why not take the extra 5 minutes and make your own blend.


Yes, you heard it here first – those spices & herbs in your cabinet can be used on more than just rosemary mashed potatoes or creamy sage polenta.

So here’s the process:

1) Walk into your kitchen, open your spice cabinet, and search for one or more of the following: black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, nutmeg (for a chai-like blend). Or look for rosemary, sage and thyme (for a warming, uplifting, herbaceous blend).

2) If you’ve got a tea infuser, great – you can put the herbs in there. (You can buy these cheap online, at your local co-op or apothecary). If you don’t, no need to fret! You can put the herbs right into the water, and just pour it through a strainer into your cup.

3) Put your herbs of choice into a pan with some cold water. With the heat on medium, heat the water until almost boiling. Then turn off the heat, and let the herbs steep (keep the lid on) for 10-15 minutes. Or 5 if you’re really impatient.

If you’ve got an infuser, boil some water, and then pour it into a cup with your infuser, and let steep.

4) Curl up, breathe in the wonderful fumes, sip and enjoy.

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If you’re wondering why I chose these spices, it’s because they’re backed with actual healing properties. Especially for the winter time…

Black pepper – warming, energizing, and stimulating properties; use for poor circulation, for colds, or for low energy levels.

Cayenne – wonderful heart tonic, increases circulation, aids digestion and helps the immune system in the event of colds and flus.

Cinnamon – aids the digestive system, increases poor circulation, very warming, plays well with other herbs.

Cloves – pain and fever reliever, wonderfully aromatic.

Fennel – carminative, digestive aid, and clears congestion.

Nutmeg – useful as a remedy for nausea, vomiting, and indigestion.

Sage – antibiotic properties, excellent remedy for a chronic winter cough, and used as a tonic for low energy.

Rosemary — high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6, relieves headaches, and used to combat depression.

Thyme — natural expectorant, antiseptic, and antibiotic properties, long used to purify the body & environment, and a natural source of iron.

If you’re a bit more adventurous…
Consider going to the bulk section of your local co-op or apothecary, and stocking up on some other herbs. The world of herbs & herbal teas is wonderful, but can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Here’s a handy chart that lists an ailment you might be having, and the best herbs (according to The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman and All Women Are Healers by Diane Stein) for each of those ailments.

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Start by just trying one or two, ask around, look at the ingredients in your favorite herbal teas, and see where it gets you. Herbalism has been practiced for thousands of years…but even if you don’t get into the healing aspect of herbs, hopefully you can enjoy making your own blend of tea. With a bit more flavor than the average brew…

***The herbs in the photo above, from left to right:
Top row – mullein, hibiscus flowers
Middle – chasteberry, raspberry leaf, shepherd’s purse
Bottom – rosehips, blessed thistle, skullcap

*Try chasteberry, raspberry leaf, skullcap & st. johns wort for a soothing, uplifting, winter blend