Tag Archives: tea

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!

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Eating right and feeling calmer…

Can you tell that managing stress is really up there for me at the moment?

stressed comic

I know it seems like I keep harping on about it, but I am really aware that January is a stressful month for many people.  In my life at the moment, I am desperately attempting to get organised so I can cope if I go back to work, plus I am preparing for a job interview and I am painting the hallway in the new house.  I need as much help as I can get in managing those stress levels right now.

Getting stressed and anxious is less about what is happening outside, but more about the reaction inside.  But managing the stress levels and anxiety is not just regulating your reaction; what you eat can have a major impact on how you feel when confronted with those ARGH moments that we all get from time to time.

no sugar

The bad news is that the things you might think would work a treat (sugar, chocolate, chips) are precisely the things you should avoid.  They actually stress your nervous system and therefore should be avoided at all costs.  The good stuff though, the stuff which supports your nervous system, is the stuff you know you should be eating.  Ideally you should be eating alkalizing foods like fresh sprouts, high quality protein, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and cultured milk products such as yogurt, kefir or buttermilk.  Lemons are good as well as grapefruit, nuts and seeds.  If you want to have a healthy nervous system, then you need energy, and these foods will provide that.

The other things you need to do is to add calcium to your diet.  You need calcium to have healthy nerve function, and this is what we are aiming for.  If you have too little calcium in your blood, then you might be nervous, irritable, get muscle spasms, get muscle cramping, be hyperactive and probably not sleep very well.  Thankfully getting calcium in the diet is fairly simple.

green leafies

Obviously dairy products helps.  It helps more if they are cultured.  Plain milk has surprisingly little calcium in it, so choose yoghurt instead.  You can also eat lots of green leafy vegetables such as spinach. chard, broccoli, turnips greens, kale, beet greens and parsley.  Surprisingly large amounts of dietary calcium can be found in seaweed as well.  To be honest, taking in calcium rich foods is going to have very little effect unless you also have adequate levels of Vitamin D.  Either get out into the sunshine, no matter how cold or watery it is at this time of year, or take a supplement.  I take a supplement with added calcium in it.

If you are feeling like things are all getting on top of you and you are struggling to cope, then you might want to consider making a high quality calcium tea.  You take 1 part horsetail, 1 part nettle and 1 part oats.  Combine the herbs, pour boiling water over them and leave to steep for 5-15 minutes, depending on how strong you like it.  Strain the herbs and add honey to taste and then drink it all up.  If that doesn’t sound appetising (and to me, it really doesn’t!) consider taking some herbs with high quality calcium in them.  Chickweed, Amaranth and Dandelion Greens are good sources, must so are Mustard Greens, Horsetail, Nettle, Oats and watercress.  A lot of those will be easier to get hold of come the spring!

Still, there are a lot of lovely foods to choose from.

Slip sliding away…

How many of you now have that tune running around your head?  You are most welcome!!

Actually, here in the UK, the temperatures have plummeted and we are finally getting some wintry weather.  November was freakishly warm, so people have been taken by surprise that yesterday we got some snow flurries and this morning we have black ice and other icy patches.  But that is usual December weather.  Unfortunately, it appears the council and schools might have been caught on the hop as well, and there have been some incidents of children slipping over and hurting themselves.  Be careful out there.

So, if you do slip over and fall, here are some remedies you can use to help with your bump and scrape.  Obviously, be sensible.  If you have fallen over and cracked your head on the path, or if you can’t move a joint now you have greeted the pavement with some force, then go to the hospital.  You could have concussion or a broken limb, and with the best will in the world, Herbalism is not going to help you much.

rescue remedy

However, if your pride is dented more than your body, then there are some things that can help.  First of all, I am a HUGE fan of the Bach Flower Remedies, and the Rescue Remedy in particular.  It is a combination of flower essences which work together to calm you down and keep you stress free.  It seriously works.  I have seen a young boy who had taken a tumble from a trampoline go from screaming ab-dabs to total calm in under 5 seconds with 3 drops of the Rescue Remedy.  I also used A LOT of it when I was moving house.  It totally got me through the day – and those directly after!  You can usually pick this up at a health food store, and I would suggest having some in your handbag or your first aid kit.

arnica

Then I am going to recommend some Arnica.  You can get it as a cream or in sugar pill form, and either is great.  I prefer the pills, but it is purely a matter of choice.  It is a homeopathic remedy rather than a herbal remedy per se, but it works by bringing out the bruising quickly.  It means the body can heal itself quicker.  Yes, it hurts more to start with, but believe me, it is worth getting it out and dealt with.  You might curse me to begin with, but it does aid healing.

turmeric and honey

If you feel stiff and sore, then take some turmeric and honey tea.  Turmeric is a very strong anti-inflammatory spice, and honey – well that just makes it taste nice!

Actually… that is a good point… hot sweet tea has been a good remedy for shock for generations.  If you are feeling shaky after falling over… then go make yourself a nice cuppa and relax.

I am now off to walk very carefully down the road.  Take care everyone!

The first autumnal cold/sniffle/illness…

It would appear that my dear hubby has fallen foul of the first bug of the autumn/winter illness season.

sneezing

He usually has a cold or some kind of congestion from now until March and then hayfever kicks in, the poor guy, but this year I wanted to be prepared and have some ideas up my sleeve to hopefully make him feel better.  Sure, he can keep using the Lemsips and the over the counter pharmacy preparations, and on some occasions, he will probably have to to keep his tubes clear and operational, but if we can give him a head start with some natural alternatives, then so much the better.

Obviously, chicken soup is FABULOUS when you are feeling grotty.  I have some stocks of some pre-made stuff, and if he is determined to go to work and battle through, then he shall go with some of them.

tomato tea

I did find, in my research on line that I could also make him something they called tomato and garlic tea.  I am not sure I could persuade him to drink it (because he is not wild about tomatoes generally… but I wonder if I could work the ingredients into something he would imbibe without complaint?  The ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice and hot sauce.  You put them in a pan, heat them up and drink down.  Sounds great.  I swear my bronchioles are opening just THINKING about that.

It is also a good idea to do a steam inhalation… you know the old stick a towel over a bowl of boiling water, put your head under the towel, breathe in, cough up a lung, repeat until you can breath without coughing.  It really works (plus it does marvellous things for your complexion) and is extra specially effective if you put some herbs or essential oils in there as well.  I am thinking Rosemary, Eucalyptus or Tea Tree Oil would be great.  We have also used a teaspoon of Vicks Vaporub in the water as well… but that really is the heavy artillery!

steam inhalation

And the final idea to help him is something that we do every night anyway.  And that is have a big old steaming mug of tea.  The steam helps the lungs, but good old black tea is chock full of antioxidants.  That will help him feel better as well.

I trust that you have not yet succumbed to a cold!  I can feel that tell tale tickle at the back of my nose… so I am going to indulge in a steam inhalation I think.  Kill it before it takes hold!

It is Monday morning. Pass me the coffee.

I have never been a huge fan of Monday mornings, but then, I don’t know of anyone who really is.  One thing that makes Mondays (or indeed any day) a little easier for me to deal with is a cup of coffee.  A hot cup of Joe.  That dark brown fragrant loveliness which is my morning cuppa.

coffee

I love coffee.  My personal facebook feed is full of comments about coffee, and posters about coffee and me talking about coffee.  I really enjoy drinking it, and my husband and I are very lucky to be able to have really good quality, from the bean, freshly ground coffee every day.  I believe, that you are going to indulge in something like this, then life is too short for using instant.  We both feel that we need that cup of coffee.  Every day.  (I love tea too.  But coffee is what kick starts me every morning!)

 

So, I thought, are there any health benefits to coffee, or rather to caffeine, which is the active ingredient in coffee? Well, yes, there are actually.  But first, we need the health warnings.  And there are several of them.

coffee beans

Caffeine is in the same family of drugs as heroin.  And cocaine.  And amphetamines.  Blimey.  I knew it was addictive, but that puts it into perspective somewhat.  The reason it is addictive is because it increases the dopamine levels in the brain by slowing down the absorption of dopamine, keeping the levels higher for longer.  That feeling of your brain being bathed in dopamine is what you keep coming back to time and again.

 

Caffeine blocks Adenosine reception and that is what makes you feel alert.  This injects adrenalin into the body to give you the caffeine kick.  Once caffeine wears off you face fatigue, even depression.  Although you might think it is a good idea with a to do list with its own field of gravity, adrenalin for extended periods is not good for your body.

coffee cup

Everyone knows that if you drink too much coffee, late at night, you will sleep badly.  Apparently the half life for caffeine in the blood is 6 hours.  So, if you had your last cup of coffee at 4pm, you would need to go to sleep at 10pm, and even then your Adenosine to sleep deeply and awake refreshed.  Once you have a sleep deficit, you have problems.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  Try giving up caffeine?  You get even more problems.  Headaches, tiredness and depression again.

 

Sources of caffeine are Coffee, Tea, Cocoa, Colas and energy drinks, but it is also present in some painkillers and cold medications as well.  If you are giving it up, you need to be aware of where to find it.

coffee life

So is Caffeine/Coffee any good for us?  Yes.  It boosts the metabolism, and can be found in weight loss pills.  If caffeine is treated with a citrate of potassium or sodium, it can help breathing in premature babies.  As suggested above, it helps the action of painkillers to act quicker.  A study also indicates that people who drink 1 to 3 cups of coffee per day are 9% less likely to contract diabetes.  If you drink 6+ cups per day men are 54% less likely to contract diabetes, and women are 30% less likely.   You are 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease is you drink 2 cups per day, and the same number of cups reduced the risk of colon cancer by 20%, and 80% drop in the odds of getting cirrhosis of the liver and cuts the risk of developing gall stones in half.    Caffeine may also prevent cavities.

 

As ever, I think the key to using caffeine is moderation.  No point drinking 10 cups a day.  1 or 2 will give you more health benefits than overdoing it.  For my part, I am not likely to give up my morning cup of coffee (largely because I would not be very nice to know if I did) but I have moderated the amount of coffee I drink during the day.  No coffee after lunch time.  It is tea all the way from there.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Rules for Better Health Part One!

Have you found out about Pinterest yet?  It is my latest Social media delight.  I can waste a lot of time on it, but it is such a simple idea.

 

Effectively, Pinterest is an electronic bulletin board to “stick” ideas, recipes, interesting information onto and then share with the rest of the Pinterest savvy crowd.  You will find Viridian Herbalist on there, and I have lots of other personal boards I keep on there too.  It is also very addictive, and you will find it very easy to spend lots of time playing with it!  You have been warned!

 

While cruising about looking for interesting things to write this blog about, I found a poster with some great advice.  10 things to do for better health.  Only 10?  Well, that seems doable.  As I began to write this blog, I actually discovered that I would be wittering for a very long time, so I am breaking this up into two parts to do all the pieces of advice justice!  How ironic!!  😀

 

The longer I study herbal remedies, diet and nutrition, the more I come to the conclusion that the advice all boils down to some very simple advice.  Be moderate, eat food not chemicals, be happy and keep your body moving.  Keep doing that, and things will usually turn out for the best.  To be fair, the advice on the poster, generally covers these topics.

from teafolium.com

from teafolium.com

Less Alcohol, More Tea.  Alcohol kills brain cells, leads to bad choices in a number of different ways, is FULL of empty calories, is a depressive and it is bad for your skin.   Tea is full of antioxidants.  Antioxidants are fantastic for all kinds of things including protecting against cancers, heart disease, and eliminating the ageing effects of free radicals.  Tea has also been linked with a lower risk of Parkinsons Disease, and if you like Green Tea (I can’t bear the stuff myself) the Phenols in it can help the parts of the brain linked to memory and learning.

from tigersheds.com

from tigersheds.com

Less Meat and More Vegetables.  Meat is a controversial topic.  If you get your meat from organic or hormone free sources, where the welfare of the animal has been assured, I have no problem with it at all.  I love meat, being an unreconstructed carnivore and Great Granddaughter of a Master Butcher.  However, it makes sense if you are watching your weight to eat less meat, especially the fatty sort, and replace that with veggies.  Veggies are full of vitamins, but lower in Calories than meat is.  Veggies, especially the colourful ones, have loads of antioxidants as well.  Plus, they taste yummy.  Even though I think meat actually beats them in taste!

from webmd.com

from webmd.com

Less Salt, More Vinegar.  Some salt is necessary in your diet, but if you have too much of it, it raises your blood pressure and high blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.  Vinegar, in the form of cider vinegar, is, if you believe the internet bandwagons, just about they miracle substance of the universe!  It can regulate the pH of your skin, it can make your hair shine, it can detoxify your home, it can remove stains from your teeth, it can aid weight loss and it can also balance your entire body system apparently.

from wikipedia

from wikipedia

Less Sugar and More Fruit.  I have already blogged about sugar, and about how dangerous it is in large quantities.  When the convenience food industry is sitting up and taking notice of it, then you know it is a serious problem.  Fruit, not only is a natural source of sweetness, but it has added vitamins and minerals which help the body to run smoothly.  What’s not to like?!

chewing giraffe

Less Eating and more Chewing.  Aren’t they the same thing?  Well, no, actually, they aren’t.  Eating is what we do, and Chewing is how we do it!  Portion sizes in the last 50 years have grown immeasurably, and it is no coincidence that so have our waistlines.  We need to reduce the AMOUNT we are imbibing, or else we will never beat the obesity epidemic the globe is facing.  But what is the more chewing about?  There is research to show that if you concentrate on chewing, you enjoy your food more, and you eat less because you become more satisfied.  Mindful eating is what it is called.  I suggest you try it.  Try chewing each mouthful for 20 times, and put the knife and fork down while you do it.  You will eat less.

 

Stay tuned for the next part tomorrow!

 

 

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?