HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN A TEACUP
HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN A TEACUP /// BY PENELOPE CARLEVATO, R.N.
For years, tea and herbs were the main source of helping sooth that upset tummy or a sore throat. During that time, people did not have the luxury of medicine to provide instant relief for a headache or sore muscles. Instead, herbs and tonics were the go-to source for relief. Many people still use old remedies made from herbs and spices passed down from generation to generation in the form of a hot drink. Their afternoons included tea time—daily diets of the wealthy and poor.
In today’s world of chemical wonders, tea still has a prominent place in providing relief. The leaves that revitalize and restore health are from the Camellia Senesis bush, a member of the evergreen family that thrives best in fertile hilly regions. Tea is very economical, yielding 300 cups of tea per pound, and is second to water as the most consumed beverage in the world. It is one of the few drinks that has no sodium, no fat, no carbohydrates, no sugar and no calories, unless you add sugar or other additives. Tea includes four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Taking tea hot or cold does not change the chemical content or benefits of tea.
Scientific research acclaims that tea has incredible health benefits. Tea is rich with natural flavonoids and polyphenols that contain phenolic compounds called catechins. These catechins help in the prevention of oxidative stress, modify carcinogen metabolism, and can prevent damage to our DNA molecules. The catechins in tea can have a preventative effect on cancer, heart disease, cholesterol, clogged arteries, strokes, auto-immune diseases and cognitive issues.
Real tea must contain leaves from the Camellia Senesis plant in order to be called “tea.” Herbal “teas” are products of fruits, flowers, leaves, bark, seeds, or roots from plants other than the tea plant. These drinks are tisanes or infusions and are usually caffeine free. A tisane is simply a cup of “tea” made from something else other than a tea leaf.
All tea from the Camellia Senesis bush, including green tea, has caffeine. Contrary to popular belief, tea does not have more caffeine than coffee. A cup of tea will contain about 50 mg of caffeine, while the same size cup of coffee will have almost 200 mg of caffeine. Tea is also a natural source of fluoride and will protect teeth from dental cavities. Both teas and tisanes (or infusions) have many health benefits, plus being a tasty beverage to drink.
What kind of tea should I drink? Black tea, green tea, or one of the tea infusions? All good choices, but remember, only the leaves from the Camellia Senesis plant count as tea and will have the benefits of the flavonoids. Caffeine-free infusions, (herbal teas) also give healing benefits in a wide variety of ways. Many of the herbal infusions contain minerals and vitamin complexes that are good for our health. Some can beused cool as topical astringents. Even though herbs are natural, check that your medications won’t interact in a negative way with the herbal tea you choose.
• Peppermint is easy to grow, and can help clear a stuffy nose, constipation or an upset stomach.
• Rooibos is a naturally sweet tea made from a South African Red Bush. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and can help with tension and headaches.
• Ginger tea helps with motion sickness and is especially beneficial after surgery and for headaches.
• Chamomile has a calming and antiinflammatory effect and is helpful for those with insomnia.
• Rosehips are the fruits from the rose plant and a great source of Vitamin C.
• Lavender teas can help with depression and help decrease fevers.
• Lemon balm is said to help with brain function and also relieves cold sores.
• Hibiscus flower helps lower blood pressure, and because it is rich in Vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system.
• Yerba Mate is full of antioxidants and vitamins and is said useful in weight loss.
• Pu-erh is a tea category all its own, but boasts of being able to relax stomach muscles and relieves bloating.
Herbal infusions should be made with water that has just come to a boil. If the water is too hot, it will destroy some of the precious and essential oils that account for their health benefits. Always read the labels and avoid those infusions with artificial flavorings. A new finding for brewing infusions is letting them steep for longer periods of time than you would a tea.
• Tea and herbal infusions can also provide inexpensive beauty aids. Here are some quick remedies for everyday uses fortea bags:
• Reduce dark circles and puffy eyelids by placing used bags of tea on your eyelids.
• Relieve the sting in sunburns with cold compresses of tea bags that help to relieve the redness and pain.
• Curb smelly feet by placing tea bags inside your shoes. Soak your feet in a solution of cooled tea as it helps stop the spread of bacteria and fungus.
• Condition dry hair by making a quart of warm tea as a final rinse after shampooing.
• Soothe and dry a rash by dipping a cotton ball into strong brewed tea and dab on the affected area. Repeat as necessary.
• Soak garments in a tea bath to create an “antique” look for tablecloths or other linens and lace. Steep in strong tea solution for 20 minutes.
• Put used tea leaves around your rose bushes to give nutrients to the root.