As the days grow longer and the sun is warming our bodies, the promise of Spring brings happiness and joy. I love this time of year. The earth wakes up from its wintery sleep and you can almost hear the growing plants and shoots. It takes a lot of energy. A similar thing is happening to our bodies. After the sleepiness of winter, we are becoming awake and more active. Our bodies need more energy and sun, but here comes the other side of the coin, because very often at this time of year we feel tired and pretty lifeless. What can we do to help ourselves? Good nutritional, organic food is a must not only now, but the whole year round J. Fresh air walks and being in nature will strengthen our bodies and minds. Another thing we could do is to brew a beautiful strengthening tea – and then the world belongs to us.
The ingredients of my tea are simple and known to us all.
First is Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). It’s a beautiful herb that grows everywhere in England. It’s green leaves and golden head are beckoning you to come and say hello throughout spring and summer. Look out through your window now – I’m sure you will find a few shy leaves piercing your lawn. Don’t “weed” them, pick them up and use them in salads and pestos – they are filled with goodness. For herbal preparations leaves and roots are used. They are rich in fructose and inulin and also contain bitter principles, phenol acids and sterols. The leaves also contain flavonoids, potassium salts and coumarins. The bitter principles give dandelion a strong diuretic power (this is why the old English name for it was “piss-a-bed”), but also it is a great herb to aid digestion and get rid of the toxins from your liver – perfect for the spring-time.
Second comes Peppermint (Mentha piperita), I’m sure you already have it in your cupboard. Peppermint is rich in phenolic compounds, whose properties include antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions. It also contains generous amounts of flavonoids and tannins, and is rich in essential oils. It has antispasmodic, digestive properties and is a great help in cases of bloating, sluggish digestion, belching, flatulence, intestinal cramps suffered by people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Externally the essential oil helps to soothe skin irritation and insect bites. Taken as an inhalation, it is useful in the treatment of colds and flu.
And here comes the star of my spring tea – Nettle (Urtica dioica). This stinging beauty is ‘the must have’ of the spring self-help. I am a big fan of nettle. Did you know that until the 17th century, nettle stalks were widely used for their fibres which made a hardwearing linen-like fabric. Another nettle curiosity is that the German army used nettle fabric to make army uniforms in the First World War when cotton ran short. The word nettle comes from an old Scandinavian word, noedl, meaning needle, from the plant’s needle-sharp stinging hairs. But why is nettle so important during spring-time? Because the leaves contain both iron and vitamin C – which aids iron absorption. They also contain other minerals, especially calcium, potassium, and silicic acid, phenols and flavonoids. “Urtication”, or flogging the affected parts with nettles, was an old remedy for painful rheumatic joints. Today, nettle is prescribed internally as a diuretic as it can increase elimination of sodium and urea and in that way helps to ease rheumatic and arthritic conditions – a slightly less brutal treatment J. A nettle infusion is a good tonic, it stimulates the appetite, provides iron and fights fatigue.
We discussed what and why of my spring tea, so now let us look at how to prepare it.
- 25-50g of dandelion dry herb
- 25-50g of peppermint dry herb
- 25-50g of nettle dry herb
(You can buy all of them at Neal’s Yard Remedies shops or online).
Mix all well together and place in a glass jar. To prepare infusion, take one spoon of the mixture, pour over boiling water, cover and let seep for 5-10 minutes. Strain the herbs and drink one cup every morning before you go to work. You can sweeten with honey if you find the mixture too bitter. I have to say, I absolutely love its natural taste.
Another way to prepare the infusion, and this is my preferred way, is to keep the herbs in three different jars without mixing. When you are ready take ¼ to ½ teaspoon of each (depending on how strong you like to have it) and put into a strainer in your mug. Repeat further steps of infusion making from above.
DO NOT USE IF TAKING MEDICATION TO TREAT DIABETES, HIGH OR LOW BLOOD PRESSURE, OR TO DEPRESS THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM!
DO NOT TAKE IF PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING!
If in doubt, seek advice from a medical herbalist before using any herbal preparation.