the humble cuppa - key to better health
Tea has been used for centuries, not only for drinking pleasure but also in the treatment of many health complaints. Herbal tea is not only made from the leaves of a plant but may also include the seeds, flowers or roots. Any of these components may be steeped in hot water and consumed. Herbal tea is caffeine-free and has many health benefits. If you have ever wandered down the tea aisle of your local supermarket or health-food shop you would know the selection of herbal tea is huge – which can be overwhelming if you don't know what you are looking for.
Herbal teas to try
Peppermint: Commonly used to enhance digestion and soothe an upset stomach. Peppermint tea is often made from tea bags, however you can make it yourself quite easily. Snip a few leaves from a mint plant, place in a cup, then add boiling water. Let it steep for a few minutes.
Chamomile: An easy-to-drink tea that may soothe a child's stomach aches and pains. For adults, chamomile can help with insomnia, acting as a mild sedative. It may also relieve menstrual cramps.
Licorice: A sweet-tasting tea that has been used for centuries for a variety of health applications. Its soothing and expectorant properties make it suitable for lung and bronchial complaints or coughs and mucous congestion. Drinking it hot has the added benefits associated with inhaling steam and further soothes respiratory congestion.
Cinnamon: Great for regulating blood-sugar levels and managing sugar cravings. Cinnamon's effect on blood-sugar makes it the perfect tea for diabetics or those trying to lose weight. Cinnamon tea is available in tea bags or you can make it yourself with cinnamon sticks and boiling water.
Lemon balm: Perfect for those suffering from anxiety. It is useful for treating stress, depression and sleeplessness. It may also relieve digestive tract spasms and abdominal cramps.
Dandelion: The ideal liver cleanser and detoxifier. It is also a diuretic and helps with fluid retention. Dandelion tea has a mild flavour and is a green colour. Dandelion root can also be consumed as a warm drink. It has a stronger flavour and is dark brown. Dandelion root is often used as a coffee substitute.
Nettle: Useful for easing intestinal disorders, high blood pressure, arthritis and gout. Nettle tea may increase milk production in nursing mothers and can help prevent prostate problems in men. If you haven't drunk nettle tea before, start with one cup a day for a week, then increase to two or three cups a day.