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Steep Some Salve

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Steep Some Salve

As my friend Anna and I were warming ourselves over a cup of freshly brewed herbal tea recently, she asked, "Is it true that tea can help improve my health? I told her that it depends on what kind of herbal tea you drink.

As my friend Anna and I were warming ourselves over a cup of freshly brewed herbal tea recently, she asked, “Is it true that tea can help improve my health?” I told her that it depends on what kind of herbal tea you drink.

Echinacea for Colds

“So if I have a cold, is there an herbal tea I can drink to relieve my symptoms?” Anna asked.

“Of course,” I answered. “Tea brewed with Echinacea purpurae, the purple coneflower, can help you recover from colds faster.”

In fact, a 2000 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that nursing home employees who drank this tea had colds two days shorter than the control group. The employees drank five cups on the first day they had symptoms and decreased the amount by one cup a day for five days.

Calm with Camomile

“I know camomile tea is good for you, but why?” Anna asked.

“Well,” I replied, “people have been brewing camomile tea for centuries as a relaxant, as well as for relieving stomach pains and menstrual cramps. The Ancient Egyptians used, and even revered, camomile as a sacred herb.”

Studies which have isolated apigenin, a flavonoid found in camomile, found it reduces anxiety. A 1999 study in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology showed that apigenin targets the central nervous system and acts as a natural anxiolytic, or anxiety-relieving remedy.

Insomnia Vanishes with Valerian

“What if I can’t sleep?” asked Anna. “Is there a tea I can drink at bedtime that would help?”

I told Anna clinical studies have shown that drinking valerian tea can improve sleep quality and relieve insomnia. In a 1989 study, reported in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, valerian showed a significant effect compared to the placebo, with 44 percent reporting perfect sleep and 89 percent reporting improved sleep.

And unlike some sleep aids, valerian doesn’t leave you feeling groggy in the morning. In fact, a study of 102 people showed that valerian had no negative effects on the volunteers’ alertness, coordination, or concentration the morning after using the herb.

Move Those Hips with Rosehips

“My mother could certainly use some herbal help,” Anna said. “She’s been complaining of stiffness and pain that her doctor attributes to osteoarthritis. Is there an herbal tea that can help relieve her symptoms?”

“Has she tried rosehip tea?” I asked, since I know that rosehips are associated with pain relief. In fact, a 2001 report in the German Gesundheitswesen journal concluded that “the anti-inflammatory properties of rosehip are useful as a natural treatment in patients with osteoarthritis.” Their conclusion followed a review of several clinical studies which showed patients suffering from osteoarthritis reported not only that pain significantly declined but also that flexion of the hip improved.

Steep Yourself Some Healthy Herbs

Because the healing benefits of herbal teas have become so widely accepted, it’s never been easier to brew a batch; many varieties of medicinal herbs are now packaged in convenient tea bags. “So the next time you have trouble sleeping,” I said to Anna, “just add water, steep, and sleep.”

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