The joys of tea drinking have been known for centuries; and certain cultures have raised tea drinking to a ceremonial art. Drinking herbal tea for health not only offers the medicinal effects of the herbs included, but also the soothing mental relief provided by merely enjoying a cup of the steaming brew. Strengthen your immune system to protect against the flu, colds, or other marauding viruses of the season.
Making Herbal Tea
To make herbal tea, place the prescribed quantity of dried herbs in a pot of water and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and allow the tea to simmer for another 10 to 20 minutes or longer, depending on what your practitioner advises. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool. Strain the herbs and drink the tea in portions as prescribed. Store leftover tea in the refrigerator for future use. Most herbal teas can be consumed either cold or hot. Use honey or stevia to sweeten if needed. If you prefer your tea hot, warm the leftover tea on a low light until the desired temperature. Do not re-boil leftover tea.
In China, chrysanthemum tea is used to cleanse the body of toxins built up in the blood, according to City University of New York. The tea not only provides purification for the blood, but also brings calmness and relaxation for the mind. Chrysanthemum tea may help you sleep more easily, relieving insomnia. Additionally, the tea has antibiotic properties and relieves secondary infections resulting from the flu, such as pneumonia.
Mullein is a well-known herb used for a variety of ailments related to the flu including sore throats, chest congestion, cough and earache. The dried herb makes a soothing tea, according, which acts to loosen tightness in the chest and relieve congestion. It is especially helpful when used as an expectorant to relieve coughing and other respiratory symptoms.
Astragulus is used extensively in Chinese medicine and is known as an immune system enhancer. Sstragulus is especially beneficial for upper respiratory conditions resulting from the flu, according to the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. Take astragulus in powdered form or as an herbal tea. It is often used in combination with other herbs.
Ginseng has been used for centuries by the Chinese as an immune system enhancer. Ginseng is considered an adaptogen, a substance that provides the body with support to strengthen the immune system by helping you deal more effectively with the stress of daily living and illness. Anecdotal evidence indicates that ginseng can be taken at the same time as other medicines, herbs or even vaccines to enhance their action in the body by utilizing ginseng’s adaptogenic effects. It is also thought that ginseng may raise white blood cell counts, enabling the body to better fight disease. The Chinese believe that ginseng can improve sexual potency, increase vigor and strengthen the elderly.
Cayenne Pepper and Honey
Cayenne pepper is helpful for breaking up check congestion during flu and relieving sinus pressure and stuffiness. Cayenne is also a warming spice and possesses both anti-viral and antiseptic properties. Make an herbal tea with cayenne pepper by placing a tiny pinch in a cup of boiling water. You can add lemon juice and honey to taste and sip as needed. Increase the amount of cayenne pepper as you become used to its effects. It may feel quite hot on your palate and in your throat at first; however, it is an excellent tonic for sore throats.
Garlic makes a delicious tasting herbal tea that has potent medicinal qualities. Garlic is used for a wide variety of ailments ranging from protecting against heart disease and atherosclerosis to preventing gangrene, cancer and strengthening the immune system. Garlic is high in antioxidants and possesses antibiotic and antiviral properties, which help to fight free radicals, compounds that attack healthy cells and weaken the body.
When making garlic tea, always use fresh garlic, which is rich in nutrients. Peel 2 to 4 cloves, crush and place them in 4 cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Allow the crushed garlic to rest on the counter for about 10 minutes before adding to the water. This boosts it’s antioxidant activity, according to the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine, making it an even more potent healing agent. Remove from the heat and allow the tea to brew for another 10 minutes. Strain the garlic and pour into a cup to drink. You can add a small amount of honey to sweeten the tea. Store the leftover tea in your refrigerator to prevent the growth of botulism spores. If the tea is too strong, dilute it with plain water or lemon juice.
A South American rainforest herb, Pau d’arco has been used traditionally to fight disease. It reputedly possesses anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, according to the University of Colorado at Denver. Pau d’arco contains the active ingredient lapachol as well as the antioxidant quercitin, both responsible for giving this herb its bioactivity. Pau d’arco is most often used as a tea, and strengthens the immune system, enabling the individual to fight disease and ward off viruses and other invasive agents.
Echinacea provides immune system support ands fights serious diseases affecting the blood, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It possesses anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties making it useful for the treatment of illnesses such as diptheria, syphilils, blood poisoning, cellulitis, malaria, MRSA, and other life-threatening ailments.
To rebuild your immune system, take echinacea during the course of your illness and for up to seven days thereafter. If you take it prophylactically to prevent illness, do so only for 5 to7 days after being exposed. Echinaca is available in several forms, and makes an excellent medicinal tea on its own or in combination with other herbs.