The fundamentals of winter health are basic: eat well (low sugar and processed food), consume plenty of water and healthy fats, get your vitamin D, move around outside, and sleep so your immune system, adrenals and nervous system can adapt to stress and maintain balance.
Simple, yet so difficult in winter. Not only is our lifestyle, by nature, going to be different than it is in the warmer months, but exposure to extreme cold will dampen the energy of our vital force. Nothing is left unaffected- our immune system, digestive system, thyroid, circulatory system, nervous system, blood- it will all be “hibernating”, so to speak – still functioning, but slowed.
This slowness that results from cold and affects many things can often by addressed by warming blood. Blood is responsible for ferrying hormonally coded messages and nutrition to their final destinations, delivers waste to be broken down and excreted, and touches every major organ system, bringing heat that inspires function. If left to become too cold, it will be less effective at doing its job.
Plant medicines in well thought out tea formulas can effectively warm blood, and, improve how it flows. They can also have broad reaching affects that help address other deficiencies that might arise as a result of cold.
All that being said, I admit that this is an oversimplification of the problem in some cases. Some people are, by nature, colder than others, with cold resulting from the endocrine system or lymphatic system, to name a few. And preexisting health conditions or medications can be a driving force well before the weather turns. But these tea formulas are still applicable. It is a matter of choosing the right one for you.
What To Consider When Formulating
When I’m formulating teas for weather, each plant used is a result of personal need and circumstance. Below is a list of things I consider when putting together a winter tea. Each formula has most all of these qualities.
Please remember that these plants have many more actions. I recommend you read more about them before formulating your own nutritional warming teas.
- warming blood and improving circulation
- stimulates immunity and supportive of lymphatic system
- mineral rich
- high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants (aid cell and tissue repair, thereby improving function)
- supportive to organs of elimination (skin, kidney, colon and lungs)
- improve digestion
- supports heart health
Tea Formula Examples
- Nettle leaf (or, if allergic to nettle, alfalfa), burdock root, hawthorn berries, ginger rhizome
- Ginger rhizome, raspberry leaf, holy basil
- Cardamom seeds, orange peel, hawthorn berries, holy basil
- Elecampane, cinnamon, ginger rhizome
- Cinnamon, cardamom, holy basil, calendula
- Sage, basil or thyme, orange peel, ginger
How to Prepare Your Nutritional Warming Teas
Water will be your extractor here. And remember, to get the nutrients out of the plant, they must sit in the water overnight, or for 8-12 hours.
- Add your chosen plants to a half gallon mason jar. I recommend a total of 4 tablespoons of plant material per half gallon. If you are using roots, you will want to boil those first, and then let them simmer for 30 min. before adding them (water and roots) to the jar with the others. If not using roots, bring the water to a low boil, then pour it into the jar over the plant material. I have also been successful extracting with room temperature water.
- Once this is done, leave it to sit overnight. It’s that simple.
- Strain and add raw honey if you like. Drink 1-3 cups daily. Store with a lid (air tight) in the fridge for about 5-7 days. Watch for visual signs of mold or an odd smell.
Other Things to Preserve Warmth
- Cook with all those amazing herbs you dried from your garden!
- Take tea baths in garden herbs and essential oils. Follow this link for more information on aromatherapy for cold and flu season. http://www.redrootmountain.com/aromatherapy-another-approach-cold-and-flu-season/20
- Warming foot rubs! Follow this link for a recipe. http://www.redrootmountain.com/warm-holiday-cheer-for-your-feet/76
With winter on the way, now is the time to begin preserving warmth. I hope you chose to begin with one of these nutritional herbal teas, and are inspired to come up with some of your own for yourself, or to give as gifts. Happy Holidays!