There’s a certain magic to making your own herbal blends and taking care of your health with plants that grow abundantly all around us. Herbs have been used throughout history by humankind; they are some of our biggest allies and champions. In these anxiety-provoking times, herbs are there to help support our immune system, evoke a peaceful night’s sleep and keep out gut health in perfect check.
I love to weave different herbs throughout my day, beginning in the morning, all the way through until I’m preparing to go to sleep. There are many beautiful and potent herbs to choose from but here I’ve selected my top 5 herbs that are easy to source and easy to use.
Nettle is one of my favored plant allies and is the perfect herb to begin your day. Fresh nettle grows abundantly in spring, which is the perfect time to harvest these green beauties. Make sure you have thick gloves on when harvesting nettle to avoid being stung. Nettle is high in iron and is a great supplement to a vegan or vegetarian diet. It’s also wonderful for flushing out the digestive system, especially after the sluggish winter months. Nettle can also be used to ward off any pesky allergies that start creeping in during the spring months. Nettle is high in antioxidants and can help keep you in optimal health during these turbulent times.
Nourishing Nettle Infusion Recipe (serves 1)
Take a handful of fresh nettle leaves and place them in a quart sized jar, pour warm or cold water over the nettle leaves, and leave them to infuse overnight. In the morning, drain the nettle leaves out and drink the remaining nettle-infused water. This is a wonderful tonic for your system first thing, and helps you start your day well. (You can also use a tablespoon or two of dried nettle leaves.)
Dandelion is one of those herbs that follows us humans around, you will find their cheerful yellow heads popping up in the middle of a city pavement as a reminder of its benefits. The root is great for maintaining liver health and is a pre-biotic, so it helps us digest and absorb what we need from our food. The root has a sweet taste due to the inulin and it provides food for our large intestine and helps clear metabolic waste from our bodies. Dandelion root is great to have with your breakfast as a warming chai tea and is a great alternative to coffee. (If you are harvesting your own, then Fall is the best time to harvest the root.)
Uplifting Dandelion Root Chai Recipe (Serves 2–3)
2 tablespoons of roasted dandelion root, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 inch of fresh sliced ginger, 1 teaspoon of cloves, 1 teaspoon of cardamom pods, 3-star anise, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, a squeeze of agave, plant milk of your choice.
Place all the ingredients bar the vanilla, agave and plant milk in a saucepan with 6 cups of cold water, bring it to boil and then turn down to a simmer, cover the pan and leave it to decoct for 20–30 minutes, then drain the herbs out, add your sweeteners and plant milk, stir, pour and enjoy.
Fennel seeds help us to digest our food and are great to make into a tea for after lunch. Fennel seeds help soothe the digestive tract and are anti-inflammatory, they are also full of fiber and are a quick way for you to increase your fiber intake. You can chew fennel seeds after a meal to help reduce bloating or gas or you can make them into a tasty tea-blend with hibiscus.
Digestive Fennel & Hibiscus Tea Recipe (serves 2)
Combine a tablespoon of fennel seeds with a teaspoon of dried hibiscus to a tea pot and pour over boiling water. Let the mixture sit for 15–20 minutes, then pour and enjoy your tea.
Ah, luscious lemon balm, this herb smells and tastes lovely and is a very easy herb to incorporate into your day because it’s a joy to drink. Research has shown that lemon balm helps soothe anxiety and helps with stress. Lemon balm is the perfect plant ally for these uncertain and stressful times, it helps you relax and boosts your mood. A great time to have lemon balm is late afternoon or early evening, when you want to break up your day from work to leisure time. You can use fresh or dried leaves; they both taste delicious. Lemon balm tastes wonderful combined with elderflower or with nettle; especially during the Spring months.
Soothing Lemon balm Tea Recipe (serves 2)
Place a tablespoon (or 2) of dried lemon balm leaves in a teapot and leave to steep for 15–20 minutes. Pour and enjoy this lemon-scented soothing tea.
Chamomile is such a well-known herb that if often gets overlooked but it has countless health benefits and can really support our health during these trying times. Chamomile aids our digestion as well as helping with insomnia, troubling thoughts and anxiety. There are two ways I like to use chamomile to wind down in the evening, I add it to a warm bath and also drink a chamomile infusion before going to sleep; this helps with digestion and also helps promote a peaceful night of deep sleep.
Calming Chamomile Bath Recipe
In a muslin cotton bag add a handful of dried chamomile flowers and a pinch of dried lavender and dried rose if you have it. Add your bag to your bath as you run the water.
Soporific Chamomile Tea Recipe (serves 2)
Add a tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers (you can also add a pinch of lavender and a teaspoon of lemon balm) to a teapot. Add boiling water, leave to infuse for 15–20 minutes, pour and enjoy sweet dreams.
The herbs mentioned in this article are not intended to replace any medicine you may be on, if you have any urgent health issues please contact your healthcare provider.
Also by Rebecca: How Yoga Nidra Can Help You Thrive In These Uncertain Times
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