BY YAAKOV LEVINE, NTP
I often enjoy a cup of tea while at work, while reading, or as a dessert. My favorite these days is a blend of holy basil, chamomile, and rose essence which is flavorful, aromatic, and soothing. Herbal teas, which are steeped for 2-5 minutes offer us many benefits. They are colorful and tasty and may contain various plant (phyto)chemicals that promote health and longevity.
As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I am always looking at the nutritional value of what I eat and drink. I have found that herbal infusions are the most nutritious form of “tea”
. As opposed to a traditional tea which is steeped for 2-5 minutes, an infusion is steeped for at least four hours and up to twelve. Since the minerals and other nutrients are made more accessible by drying, dried herbs are the best choice for infusions.
Minerals, which support the health of our bones and tissues, make up 4% of our bodies, and are are classified either as:
(large), such as calcium and magnesium
(small), including iron and chromium
Minerals act as cofactors for enzyme reactions, help maintain our pH, and support healthy nerve conduction. Since our bodies cannot produce these important minerals, we must have them in our foods and beverages.
Unfortunately, much of the soil used to grow our food on an industrial level is depleted of minerals, and if the minerals are not in the soil, they will not be in what we consume from the soil. Herbal infusions are a great way to supplement the minerals in your diet. Are you experiencing leg cramps at night, or not getting as much out of your workout as you’d like? Drink nutritious herbal infusions throughout the day, and you will enjoy more energy and vitality.
One of my favorite nutritious herbs is mineral-rich stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). According to herbalist Susun Weed, an overnight infusion of nettles will yield 500mg calcium per cup. She found that if you steep the nettles for 2-5 minutes, you only end up with 5-10mg calcium per cup. Nettles are also a source of iron, and silicon which supports healthier skin and hair.
I make my infusions at night before I go to sleep. I use one quart mason jars, in which I put 2-4 tablespoons or more (up to a cup) of dried herb, fill to the top with boiling water, then close tightly and let sit overnight. In the morning I strain the infusion, squeezing the liquid out of the plant, and then enjoy throughout the day.
Any herbs that do not contain volatile oils, resins, or alkaloids are good choices for nutritious infusions. Three of my favorites are nettles, oatstraw, and red clover. Nettles are rich in minerals, and help nourish the adrenals, kidneys, blood vessels, skin, and hair. Oatstraw (Avena sativa) is a great longevity tonic, and supports the nervous system. Red Clover (Trifolium pretense) blossoms are a great blood purifier, increase blood flow, and contain isoflavones that help improve your “good” cholesterol.
Another nutritious choice for infusion linden flower (Tillia americana), which has anti-flu properties, soothes the lungs and digestive system, and supports cardiovascular function. Also, comfrey leaf which supports healing of skin, bones, mucus membranes, and skin, A note about comfrey: while the roots of wild comfrey, (Symphytum officionale) contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause liver congestion, the leaves of cultivated comfrey, (Symphytum uplandia) are free of this constituent.
Infusions generally taste great! You can add honey or cream if you’d like, and I sometimes will add a small amount (tsp) of mint to my infusion mixture. As the weather gets warmer try some iced red clover infusion with a touch of mint. I do suggest you try the herbs one at a time to get to know them before blending.
A great source of dried bulk herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs in Pleasant Hill, OR. (www.mountainroseherbs.com
They are one of the largest suppliers of organic bulk herbs in the country and are known for their consistent quality.
If you would like addition information regarding herbal infusions, contact me at: (541) 895-
2427 or firstname.lastname@example.org