Tag Archives: chamomile

The health benefits of a jolly good cuppa…

It is snowing where I live today.  In the UK, snow is either greeted with unadulterated glee or with unadulterated dread.  I am not that bothered by the white stuff myself, but I will confess to loathing attempting to get around in this weather.  I am a capable driver.  It’s the other idiots on the road that I worry about.

snowflakes

Anyway, with this cold and snowy weather, I love making steaming hot cups of tea.  I love tea.  I love coffee as well, but I do feel that tea is somehow encoded in my DNA.  My Mother’s family were tea planters, and some of their knowledge has been passed down to us.  We know a lot less than they did, of course, but I find the best cup of tea is without milk, possibly with a slice of lemon.  Obviously, you make it in a pot, preferably with leaves rather than bags, and you always warm the pot before pouring the hot water over the leaves and leaving it to steep.  If you have to put milk in tea, then put it in after the tea has been poured.

tea and lemon

A few years ago, my husband and I made a deal with one another.  If we were going to drink more tea and coffee than we strictly ought to, then we needed to make it the absolute best quality we could.  That is what we have done.  We get fabulous tea from a supplier in Canada (yes, I am serious!).  It is my best friend’s favourite tea shop, and when we were visiting there last year, we went in and bought stocks of my favourite blend.  Seriously this tea (The Baroness, by The Tea Girl) is the most restorative cuppa I think I have ever had the delight of tasting.  It takes me from utter exhaustion to back up on my feet and raring to go.

It got me thinking though.  We all know that tea is an antioxidant and it doesn’t deliver as much caffeine as coffee does, but does it help with anything else?  Turns out yes.  Black tea reduces the risk of kidney stones and artheroclorsis, osteoporosis and helps to raise low blood pressure.  Oolong tea is great for mental alertness and Green tea… well, this might be the biggest super food out there.  People have claimed it has cancer prevention properties, but that might be accounted for by the fact it is an antioxidant., but it also lowers high cholesterol and helps with the old mental alertness.  I really don’t like green tea.  I don’t like the taste of it.

oolong tea

Then I looked into  Tisanes.  Well, first of all what is a tisane is any hot drink made of something not from a camellia bush.  Yes, really.  Tea is the only hot drink that comes from the camellia bush.  Any other infusion is strictly a tisane.  (My tea planter Uncle, a mild mannered man, was extremely vociferous on this topic).  Herbally, we know that chamomile calms and peppermint is great for soothing stomach pain.  But a Thyme tisane is great for coughs.  And Ginger infusion is brilliant for nausea, dizziness and menstrual cramps.

snowy

I think, in this cold and snowy weather, hot drinks are a must.  And if they do you good, then so much the better!  Keep safe and warm!

Advertisements

Oh Crumbs… something I ate does not agree with me…

Everyone has been in this situation.  It is Christmas (or Thanksgiving, or a Wedding Reception, or a Birthday dinner out).  You get a feeling that something you have eaten does not agree with you.  It might be nausea you feel, or a highly flavoured something repeats on you, or you get the delightful acid reflux.  It usually happens at a very important point.  Like in an important business meeting.  Or in a quiet bit when you are at Church.  Or when you are on a date.  It is horrible.  But it doesn’t have to happen regularly.

Indigestion is no joke.  Not funny at all.  I know people who have had to severely curtail their life because their indigestion is a little out of control.  It is a catch all title for any discomfort experienced in the upper abdomen and whatever causes it, I know it is miserable for the person on the sharp end.  If the indigestion is chronic, then you should definitely see a medical professional.  If it comes on when you exercise, then it is even more important to see someone.  It could be heart and not stomach trouble.

So what can you do to stop it?  You need to cut out the stimulants.  Say goodbye to coffee, tea, nicotine, chocolate.  All of these have a chemical that relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter which contributes to indigestion.  It is a good job that I don’t get indigestion very often, because I would find it very hard to give up coffee and tea.  The other two, no problem, but you will have to prise the caffienated beverages from my cold, dead hands.

The second piece of advice from the Country Doctor book is not to be a hog at a trough come feeding time.  Overeating will send the stomach into a tailspin.  Basically, if you eat a huge meal, then your stomach produces too much acid to help digest that meal and then it keeps on going  producing a lot of acid, even if you only eat what you normally would.  You end up in a hyperacidity vicious circle.  Cut down on the portion sizes might help, if you think it could be overindulgence causing the problem.

What about trying a calmative tea?  Catnip and Chamomile make good digestive additions, although I might have to battle with the cats for the catnip.  Liquorice and mint is a really tasty and fabulous mixture for calming the digestive system, and so is Fennel Tea.  You can pick up tea bags of these flavours (except the catnip!) in most supermarkets these days.

Also, if you find that your indigestion happens after you have eaten rich, fatty foods, or after you have eaten highly spiced foods, then perhaps your eating patterns needs a bit of an overhaul.  Taking away fat and cream does not mean that you lose taste or flavour and if it calms your digestion, then it has to be worth a try.

From my research, one of the thing that many people are unaware of is that sometimes indigestion is caused by too little stomach acid as well as too much.  If you try all of the above remedies and you are still feeling horrible, then try drinking a little apple cider vinegar in a glass of water before you eat.  If you don’t get indigestion, then bingo – you had hypoacidity issues.

Staying with the hairy theme…

My favourite book “Home Remedies from a Country Doctor” is a mine full of interesting information, especially about all kinds of hair problems, not just the departure of it like I wrote about yesterday.

apple cider vinegar

One interesting little titbit was that if your hair is looking dull and lifeless you could use an apple cider vinegar rinse.  Especially if you live in a hard water area, you can get mineral build up on your hair.  You can also get build up from some commercial shampooing products, so it can help to shine up the hair a little as well.  It is important to remember that you need to rinse your hair really, really well after using the rinse at the end of your shampooing routine, or else you might go around for the whole day smelling like a salad dressing!  Also, some people’s hair can be made lighter using the acidic vinegar, so if it is turning a colour you are not happy with, then cease using the vinegar.

 

Another chemical that can cause problems with hair is chlorine.  If you love swimming in the local pool, or if your local water is quite heavily chlorinated, it can really build up on your hair.  Apparently making a paste with some bicarbonate of soda and using between your shampoo and your conditioner will completely remove the build up.  A tablespoon on bicarb and a cup of water ought to do the trick.

tangled hair

When I wore my hair long, the worst thing was waking up in the morning to a terrible tangle.  Last week I got my hair cut really nice and short.  Now I wake up looking like a startled hedgehog.  I know which look I prefer!  There are lots of causes of tangles, and knots and not just restless sleeping.  My trusty book has lots of advice though, so never fear.

 

When trying to get tangles out work from the bottom up, rather than the top down.  Be patient, and be gentle.  You don’t want to rip the hair out from the root just to get the knot out, no matter how effective that might be.  Always untangle the hair before washing.  Getting the tangles wet will not help matters at all.

 

Other advice includes using wide tooth combs and then moving to a fine tooth comb when tangles are out, and using soft bristles on hair brushes.

beer as a hair conditioner

Old wives tales to help with hair problems include using beer as a conditioner.  Apparently the Queen Mother used to do this for her hair… but in this house beer is used as a beverage, not a hair wash!  Also you can use eggs or mayonnaise as a conditioner (but be careful about scrambled eggs happening if the water is a bit hot).  Lemon juice can work like Apple Cider vinegar and lighten your hair colour, there is chamomile tea which can help to lighten blond hair and peppermint tea can encourage scalp stimulation for thicker, fuller looking hair.

 

If you do try any of these, let me know how they work out!

 

What a morning…

Hubby and I had a meeting with the social worker this morning and it was one of our more stressful occasions in this adoption process.  Needless to say at the end of things I feel kind of anxious and really pretty dreadful.  It got me thinking.  Is there anything herbal which can help address anxiety and panic attacks?

panic

I am very lucky, because I have never had a proper, full on panic attack.  People report different symptoms, but often shortness of breath, the idea that you are going to die, feeling like the world is piling in on top of you in about one second flat, are all reported as symptoms.  That does not sound enjoyable in the slightest.  I usually just get anxiety attacks.  For me, these are characterised by me thinking the absolute worst about everything all the time and getting stressed about things that are totally outside of my control.

chamomile

According to my research, there are some natural things that can help with anxiety and panic attacks.  The first of these is Chamomile.  Without doubt it is far and away the best herb to deal with anxiety.  A cup of chamomile tea is just the ticket, but you can also use lavender aromatherapy oils in a burner, or St John’s Wort as a supplement, or Valerian root as a tea as well.  However, one word of caution.  If you are already on anti-anxiety medication be sure to check for interactions just to be on the safe side.  It also goes without saying that you shouldn’t just stop your ongoing medication either.

 

Research has found that Magnesium is necessary in the body to dissipate the effects of traumatic stress that can occur as a result of intense fear or anxiety.  It also helps to undo the bad programming in the brain from previous attacks and can help to create a new brain response to triggering issues.  If you think you might be magnesium deficient, then see if you can get a blood test to make sure, but if you want to keep those levels up, eat lots of green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.  All of these are excellent sources of magnesium.

oily fish

Our old friends the Omega 3 fatty acids are back again.  They can reduce the effects of stress and anxiety by nearly 20%.  You can either eat more fatty fish or you can take supplements.  It can also help with systemic inflammation over the whole body which can also result from extended periods of stress or anxiety.

 

In addition, change your diet to one full of vegetables with less meat and dairy, reducing fat and sugar as you go, and you can give your GABA levels a boost.  GABA stands for Gamma-amnobutyric Acid, and apparently it helps to calm the firing nerves in the central nervous system.  If you don’t have enough of it, you can experience manic behaviour, alcoholism, anxiety or restlessness.  Also, try and cut out a lot of caffiene from your daily routine.  It is one of the main food triggers for anxiety along with Glutamine.

broccoli

Isn’t it strange?  When feeling anxious, don’t reach for the chocolate.  Reach for the Broccoli.  Anyone got any spare?

Do you have pets at home?

Our house is home to 3 animals.  No, I am not including the husband in that count.  I have two cats and a dog.  The two cats are Mo (15), Alfie (5) and the dog is Dotty (2).  Flea treatments are important to us, but I really do not like using the chemicals available.  So what natural remedies are there for use on animals?

lemon

My research has come up with several.  Citrus skins are useful.  Rubbing a small amount of lemon or orange juice on the skin of your pets, between the shoulder blades can really help.  As can using Brewers Yeast in their food.  A small amount of garlic in the dry food daily can help, but it should not be used for cats because it can cause anaemia in them.

This is NOT either of my cats!

This is NOT either of my cats!

You could always attempt to dip the animal in water.  You could use a gentle shampoo as well.  I am thinking the cats would definitely not appreciate that (first I would have to catch them.  They move fast!), and the dog… well, even though she is part Labrador, she is not wildly keen on water.  Mind you, the past two weekends, we have had to give her a bath because she has rolled in something disgusting.  So those Labrador genes will out somehow!

hoovering

One thing I do all the time with 3 animals in the house, is to vacuum.  If we keep the floor clean with a natural disinfectant (steam cleaning is brilliant!) that can also stop the reinfection of  fleas.  Make sure to regularly clean the bedding and to vacuum round their favourite hangout spots.

rose geranium oil

If you have ticks in your area, then you can make a tick collar, by putting a few dabs of Rose Geranium Essential oil on the fabric of the collar, and ticks will avoid your beast.

chamomile

If your cat or dog still has an itchy and irritated skin, then you can use Chamomile tea in a spray bottle.  Make the tea, put it in the spray bottle and then put it in the refrigerator.  Apply to the itchy and uncomfortable part of the skin.  Vitamin E oil is great for Dogs dry skin.  But you can also use baby oatmeal.  Add a little water to make a paste and then rub it into the itchy areas.  Leave it for 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water.  And that Chamomile tea bag?  You can use it on irritated and infected pet eyes as well.

 

Hmmm… all the pets have disappeared somewhere.  I wonder if they know I am going to be chasing them around with lemons?!

 

Have a great Sunday!

What Remedies are good for children?

As you might know from reading this blog, my husband and I are in the process of adopting.  It is a very exciting (and not a little scary) time for us, and this blog is a little later than usual because we have just had another visit from the Social Worker.  These visits are regular and varied, and inevitably get me thinking about how my life is going to change when we finally become Mummy and Daddy, and child or children.

 

One thing that will not change is my wish to use natural products rather than chemically produced ones, particularly if the little person or people are feeling off colour.  So, off I trotted over the world wide web and did some research.

from speedyremedies.com

from speedyremedies.com

For a sore throat, which are so prevalent around this time of year, honey and lemon juice is ideal.  Lemon will dry up the congestion and the honey provides a soothing coating to the throat.  If you take a tablespoon of each and put it into a microwave safe bowl, put the bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds until it is warm.  The dosage is 1 teaspoon at a time, and please be aware that honey is not safe for children under 1.  This is due to the fact that honey sometime harbours botulism and the infant immune system can’t fight it as well as older people.

chamomile

Another issue which has been plaguing my mind is what if we are lucky enough to be matched with a baby and they suffer with colic?  Apparently, Chamomile tea relaxes the intestinal muscles and so is a great remedy for a colicky child.  If you steep tea for 4 to 5 minutes and then put 1-2 ounces in a bottle, with water and it can certainly help matters.  But, you must be careful not to give more than 4 ounces in one day.

from bunnybumpkin.com

from bunnybumpkin.com

Every parent must dread the onslaught of teething.  From my reading of the subject, it would appear that grabbing something chewable and cold is a great relief.  Some options would be a frozen baby bottle (filled with water and stored in the freezer teat side down so the water fills the teat and is hard for them to gum on), a cold banana, a cold teaspoon from the fridge, wet towels, ice in blankets or even a peeled carrot.  I suspect infant paracetamol or ibuprofen is also a must when the pain gets too much for the little ones.

from the bubbleshop.com

from the bubbleshop.com

As we are likely to be dealing with a child who suffers from some form of anxiety due to their early life experiences, one really great solution is blowing bubbles from a bubble wand.  Now, I love bubbles, and so do my cats and dog, so I really hope this one works because I can see us doing it A LOT!  Just for the fun of it!!  Apparently the reason it helps anxiety is that breathing slowly and deeply while creating the bubbles allows the child to relax.  Fabulous!!

from newhealthguide.org

from newhealthguide.org

Travel sickness is common in small children, so for those aged 2 and over, making a ginger tea is great for suppressing nausea.  A teaspoon of shredded ginger in 4 ounces of boiling water, allowed to steep for 4 to 5 minutes, can then be drunk 30 minutes before getting into the car.  It might help with the nausea, but it will also guarantee a need for a potty break along the way, so be aware of that possibility!

Active children are likely to get bitten by bugs at some point, and those nasty raised bumps can be itchy and annoying and miserable to deal with.  How about using baking soda?  If you take a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and make a paste with just enough water, the alkaline mix will counteract the acidic swelling.

from bigoven.com

from bigoven.com

Another great remedy for mild swellings (eg bumps and bruises) is also used in high end spas.  Cucumber slices, put on the affected area will reduce the minor swelling.  It works on eyes, and it works on minor bruises.  Plus the smell is very refreshing.

 

This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, but it was really useful for me to research these possible remedies.  What remedies have you used in your family based on folklore or herbal knowledge?