Our go-to herbs for health-packed herbal teas
Interestingly herbal teas are one of the fastest growing drinks markets in the UK, there seems to be a real uptake in caffeine alternatives but one thing we often forget is their incredible health benefits. I am a medical herbalist with over a decade's experience working with patients one on one to support their menstrual and hormone health and herbal teas can support us way more than we might think, you just need to know what to look out for.
When prepared correctly using high quality herbs can have a huge benefit to our health,including hormonal balance. As a herbalist I find the teas available in supermarkets a little frustrating. They generally give people the wrong impression of herbs, and used reduced quantities that don’t have much medicinal effect or include artificial flavourings.
Within my herbal clinic I’d often prescribe herbal teas because the benefits are two-fold. Firstly, the simple act of taking time to yourself to carefully brew a tea was an act of self-care and slowing down that has a very real medicinal benefit. Secondly, when a herbalist prescribes a herbal tea they select all of the ingredients to suit your individual symptoms, including the dose which is often the equivalent of having 3-6 tea bags of supermarket tea in every cup. To turn a herbal tea into something medicinal we don’t just increase the dose here but the preparation is important too, steeping in hot water for 5-10 mins depending on the blend.
In the clinic, when prescribing a bespoke blend we consider the entire person not just their hormones and current symptoms. A blend often covers:
- A herb for their digestion/absorption
- A herb for their elimination pathways i.e. liver and kidneys
- A herb for their nerves/stress levels
- And 1-3 herbs for symptomatic relief
Our go-to herbs for health-packed herbal teas
1. Nettle Leaf
Nettle leaf has an affinity for the urinary system, known to be a diuretic. This means it increases the frequency with which you urinate. It helps to reduce inflammation in the case of cystitis as well as flushing the bacteria from the bladder while it’s at it. Nettle is a multivitamin containing Vitamin A,B,C,D,K and iron. It’s excellent for giving strength back to people who are worn out by life, and improves their ability to keep better boundaries. You’ll find it in our Aunt Flo where it helps reduce heavy periods.
2. Lady’s Mantle leaf (or Raspberry leaf)
A wonderful tonic for all women. It tones the reproductive system helping to reduce heavy periods, period pains and diarrhoea. This herb helps you get back in contact with your reproductive system in a gentle and loving way. (Not recommended in the first and second trimester of pregnancy). Lady’s Mantle is part of our Inner Goddess drops.
3. Burdock Root
Burdock root is a nourishing bitter. It helps to improve liver function by increasing bile secretion and as a result it may increase the appetite slightly. This herb is particularly associated with skin conditions arising from liver toxicity or over-work and you’ll find it in our Radiance tincture. I like it because it’s a relatively sweet bitter herb and repairs the gut lining therefore aiding in absorption and elimination. Because it helps balance insulin levels it has a beneficial effect on anyone whose hormones are being knocked out of whack by stress/over consumption of high glycaemic index foods like white bread. This is a root which is best prepared as a decoction. This means the root should be added to cold water and put in a pan on the hob. You then bring the water and herb to a boil and simmer for 10mins before straining and drinking.
4. Chamomile flower
A massively under-valued herb thanks to it’s availability in supermarkets. It’s not only relaxing but it’s also a prebiotic and gentle bitter that supports absorption. Most people’s hormones are effected by stress. Even just short term stress can make your period come late, and long-term stress can contribute to conditions like Endometriosis, unexplained infertility, hot flushes and PCOS alike. The trick with chamomile is to have enough of it. If you want medicinal value from the tea bags in the supermarket you should really have 3 bags of it in a cup and infuse it for 5mins with a lid on top.
5. Ashwagandha root
This is my absolute favourite adaptogen and one of the few non-British herbs I regularly use. It’s great for helping people recover from long-term stress and power through the hard times. Most adaptogens are stimulating but Ashwagandha is relaxing, which means it suits people who are truly burnt out with nothing left to stimulate! The downside to Ashwagandha is that you can’t really make a tea with it as it’s a really hardy root. You can take it in capsule form, buy it as a powder and turn it into a latte with hot milk in a pan like when you make high quality hot chocolate. Or you can have it the traditional Ayurvedic way; straight off a spoon mixed with honey. I use it in my Rested Resilience where it’s combined with other herbs to make it taste like chai and hide the otherwise bitter taste.
To learn more about how herbs can help pop over to Forage Botanicals.
Natasha Richardson is a medical herbalist and founder of Forage Botanicals which makes natural remedies for period and menopause problems. She is the author of Your Period Handbook.