Herbs on Ice

Iced Tea WebIt is full blown summer here in the desert and we struggle to keep hydrated. One refreshing way to stay hydrated is with herbal iced teas.

For nourishing refreshment, nothing quenches better than herbal iced tea. Iced herbal tea is delicious on a hot day. Unlike regular iced tea, the herbs impart delicate and refreshing flavors that do not need artificial additives or sugar. And the taste is great.

Extremely simple to make, herbal iced teas start out just like regular hot tea. The trick is to use enough herbs. For iced teas you want to make a slightly stronger brew to allow it to be iced down. You can make herbal iced teas by the glass or make a big pitcher to keep in the refrigerator for immediate gratification!

To make herbal iced tea simply put fresh or dried herbs in a suitable container, pour boiling water over herbs, cover and allow to steep. Remove herbs, add ice and enjoy.

Herbal iced teas can be made with just one herb, such as mint, or with a blend of different herbs to create your own unique tea. One of my favorite blends for making herbal iced teas is our Desert Delight. A refreshing combination of Lemon Balm, Lavender, Peppermint and Hibiscus, it also freezes into popsicles that make even big kids smile.Popsicles

Some herbs and flowers suitable for iced tea include: Peppermint, chamomile, spearmint, lavender, wintergreen, lemon balm, dandelion flowers, angelica, elderflower blossoms, geranium leaves, lemon verbena, licorice, nettle, parsley, anise, caraway, oregano, chicory, hibiscus, ginseng, jasmine flowers, marigold flowers, rose petals, sage, etc.

Looking for some cool herbal iced tea recipes? Try one of these recipes from Frontier:

Citrus Hibiscus

1 teaspoon peppermint
1 teaspoon rosehips
1 teaspoon orange peel
2 teaspoons hibiscus
2 teaspoons lemongrass
2 cups water
1 cup orange juice
1 cup cold sparkling water
2 tablespoons honey (or to taste)
Steep peppermint, rosehips, orange peel, hibiscus, and lemongrass in the two cups of water. Strain. Add orange juice and refrigerate. When ready to serve, pour over ice cubes and add a splash of sparkling water to each glass. Sweeten if desired.

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Lemon Balm Punch

2 tablespoons lemongrass
2 tablespoons lemon balm leaf
2 cups water
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups natural ginger ale
lemon slices (optional)
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, sliced (optional)
Steep lemongrass and lemon balm leaf in the water. Strain and add honey and ginger ale. Add floating slices of fresh lemon to your punch bowl, and/or include a slice or two of crystallized ginger in each glass.

Bewitching Witch Hazel

Witch HazelDespite its name, there is nothing to fear from this low-growing shrub, although its healing properties may seem a little like witchcraft. Actually, witch hazel may have gotten its name from its association with dowsing, which was once thought to be a form of witchcraft. Witch hazel’s branches were once the wood of choice for dowsing rods, whose purpose was to locate water, or “witch” a well.

Although witch hazel was once used to find hydration, it is now used as an herbal remedy to dry and cleanse skin. The bark, leaves, and twigs of witch hazel are all high in tannins, giving this plant astringent properties. It is also used as a soothing, anti-inflammatory.

Drugstore witch hazel is combined with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol for use on external skin conditions, this form of witch hazel should not be used internally.

Although Witch Hazel had been used by native peoples for nearly two centuries, it was not until Thomas Dickinson built a witch hazel distillery in 1866 that the tree became commonly known for its medicinal value. Dickinson’s formula remains one of the oldest medicinal preparations to have survived unchanged, eighty-six percent double-distilled witch hazel extract and fourteen percent alcohol.

Healers use a decoction of the plant, derived from boiling its twigs and small branches, to treat cuts, bruises, and other injuries. They also find it helpful with colds and as a salve for sore or injured eyes. A cloth soaked in strong witch hazel tea reduces swelling and can relieve the pain of hemorrhoids and bruises

Witch hazel has been used in hair tonics and aftershaves. It prevents wounds from becoming infected, works as an astringent to constrict tissues and stop bleeding, and soothes windburns and sunburns. It also chases away mosquitoes, relieves swelling and aching muscles, and works specifically to treat diarrhea, and varicose veins.

You can rinse your mouth with witch hazel and myrrh for cases of swollen and infected gums. Again, use fresh tea or tincture, not the drugstore witch hazel, which contains isopropyl alcohol. Place a dropper full of tincture of each herb in 1/4 cup of water and use as a mouth rinse. A teaspoon of strong witch hazel tea combined with one drop each of myrrh and clove oil makes a pain- and inflammation-relieving gum rub.

Witch Hazel as part of your medicine chest:

Acne – use as an astringent to remove dirt and oil without drying skin. A cotton pad soaked in witch hazel can treat blemishes.

Blisters – dry blisters by applying a gauze pad soaked in witch hazel, then covering with a bandage.

Insect Bites – relieve itching and swelling by applying a cotton pad soaked with witch hazel to the bite.

Minor Cuts – a natural antibacterial, witch hazel can be applied directly to the wound.

Deodorant – pour witch hazel on a cotton pad and dab under arms, allow to dry.

Sunburns – gently apply a washcloth soaked in witch hazel to provide relief and prevent skin from flaking.

Toner – the astringent properties of witch hazel tone skin and tighten pores. To make a toner, combine equal parts distilled water and witch hazel. Essential oils can be added for a more personalized toner.

Rose Hips

Rose HipRose hips are the cherry-sized red fruits of the rose bush left behind after the bloom has died. Although nearly all rose bushes produce rose hips, the tastiest for eating purposes come from the Rosa rugosa variety. Their flavor is fruity and spicy, much like the cranberry.

Rose hips have been used since the Stone Age but the discovery of rose hip’s high Vitamin C content occurred during World War II. In this period of citrus fruit shortages, the British government organized the harvesting of rose hips in England as a substitute source of Vitamin C. The fruits are harvested after the first frost when they become fully-colored, but not overripe.

The fruit acids and pectin in rose hip tea is a mild diuretic and laxative. It is used to improve, and relieve the symptoms of kidney disorders, or to help in the case of mild constipation. To make the tea simply pour a cup boiling water over a tablespoon of crushed, dried hips and let steep. After straining out any pieces of the hips, add honey if desired and drink.

The seed oil extracted from rose hips is of value in reducing scar tissue and stretch marks caused by pregnancy and birthing, due to its tissue regeneration properties.

Resist the temptation to harvest the hips off the cultivated roses in parks and gardens. They have substantially less Vitamin C in them, and will potentially have been sprayed with pesticides.

Self Care in the New Year

Are you one of the many people that has used the turn of the calendar year as a time to focus on self care? Maybe you are doing a cleanse or adding a new exercise routine. Maybe you are making a conscious effort to eat right and give up some bad habits.

This time of year many people are undertaking some form of cleansing, either in the food they eat or their physical surroundings. If you have decided to do a diet cleanse it is important to support the functioning of your liver. The intention of a cleanse is to rid the body of toxins. If you are going to cleanse the body make sure the liver is prepared to handle the additional load.

Dandelion Happy FaceA simple tea of Dandelion can support the liver and aid in elimination. Pour one cup boiling water over a tablespoon of Dandelion leaf, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out leaves and drink the tea. Enjoy 2 -3 cups a day as part of your self care.

Cleansing or not, it is always important to support your liver and digestive system. A single dose of Digestive Bitters before a meal can improve the digestion of fats and increase assimilation of nutrients. The benefits of bitters extend beyond digestion. Bitters increase the tone of the autonomic nervous system and help reduce anxiety and overall stress.

Whatever path you have chosen for the new year, herbs can help you reach your goal. Herbs can help you with the physical, as well as emotional adjustments that come with any new lifestyle.

Always check with your natural health professional before starting any cleanse program.