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Herbs That Chill

Herbs That ChillWho among us doesn’t want, need or look forward to chilling out with legal, effective and nontoxic help? Here are some herbal tea time tips that can help you remake/remodel your mood in a matter of minutes. Some caveats, however:

*As with all plant products, some people may be allergic to the herbs discussed below.

*If you are taking prescription drugs, first ask your doctor if there are any known drug interactions with the herbs listed here.

*If you are pregnant or lactating, be sure to inquire with your doctor if it is advisable to consume any of the herbs listed below.

Europeans have been drinking calming chamomile tea to chill out in a warm way for centuries. (Even the beloved storybook character Peter Rabbit drinks it after a long day of garden-hopping. He also drinks chamomile tea for tummy aches.

Scientifically, there is much evidence to support its longtime use as a relaxing herb. Apigenin is one of the sedative compounds in chamomile. Buy your chamomile loose or in bags and let it steep in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Drink it when you’re stressed and need some inner equilibrium. Chamomile is lovely 45 minutes before bedtime; it’s also good for jet lag recovery.

Regarding contraindications: chamomile is generally recognized as safe for use during pregnancy and lactation. As with all herbs and foods, there is a chance that some people may be allergic.

Mitea makes a first-rate organic Roman chamomile tea. Order it at: www.mitea.com

Some people prefer drinking chamomile in a flavorful blend of calming teas. A delicious medley of organic chamomile, spearmint and bergamot tea is available from Choice Organic tea www.choiceorganicteas.com.

The plant that makes most cats feel frisky exerts mildly tranquilizing-sedative effects on many people. Catnip is a member of the mint family, so it makes a tasty tea. The sedative ingredients in catnip are similar to those in valerian root. Order organic catnip tea from Dragonwater Tea Company at: www.shop.com.

lemon balm
Lemon balm, also known as Melissa, is recommended as a sedative and stomach soother by Commission E, the board of scientists that advises the German government about herb safety and effectiveness.

Lemon balm’s sedative action is due mainly to chemicals in the plant called terpenes. Try making a tea with two to four teaspoons of dried lemon balm per cup of boiling water. This writer recommends organic lemon balm tea from Garden of the Andes. You can source it from: www.shop.com.

passion flower
Fresh or dried passionflower has been used with great success for centuries in Europe, Central and South America to treat nervous tension, anxiety and insomnia. Passionflowers are lovely purple blooms that grow on a vine, and passionflower’s use as a gentle sedative is endorsed by Commission E. In the United Kingdom, about 40 over-the-counter sedative preparations contain passionflower. In Germany, passionflower is widely used in over-the-counter remedies, as well. Passionflower has a subtle, earthy taste.

Passionflower tea is available at: www.lifesvigor.com. You can also find a yummy blend of passionflower and other calming herbs called Nighty Night from Traditional Medicinals at: www.tealand.com.

Pronounced “roo-ee-bose,” tea made from this herb has been widely used for ages in South Africa, where it grows abundantly. An infusion of rooibos (meaning “red bush,”) makes an amber-colored tea that tastes sweet and earthy. While studies have indicated that it reduces nervous tension, rooibos also calms the digestive tract. (Many swear by rooibos for tummy aches and hangovers.) Rooibos is considered in South Africa as safe enough to give infants. This writer has given it to her pre-school-aged children as a soothing remedy for tummy aches and flu. Many adults, and some children, like to drink rooibos before bedtime. Choice Organic Teas sells organic, fair trade-certified rooibos tea at: www.choiceorganicteas.com.

Germany’s Commission E considers valerian so safe that it endorses drinking tea made of one to two teaspoons of dried valerian root several times a day to relieve restlessness, anxiety and nervousness.

Drinking a cup of valerian tea made with one to two teaspoons of the herb shortly before bedtime will promote sleepiness, according to Commission E. Unlike prescription or over-the-counter sleep and anxiety medication, valerian is not habit-forming, nor does it produce a hang-over-like side effect. Its only known side effects are mild, transient stomach upset.

While some people love valerian for calming down and chilling out, be warned that it tastes funky as a hippie’s old pair of jeans: think earthy, musty, mulchy.

According to the American Botanical Council, www.herbalgram.org, the average daily dose of valerian dried rhizome/root is 0.3-1.0 g three times daily. Liquid Extracts should be of an amount equivalent to 2-3 grams of the herb; once to several times per day.

Contraindications: Valerian has documented central nervous system depressant activity. If you are already taking sedatives, discuss valerian with your doctor before trying it. Valerian is safe to take during pregnancy and lactation.

A fine source of organic valerian tea is made by Rishi tea. Check it out at: www.rishi-tea.com.

In conclusion, here is a toast to the relaxing power of positive herb tea drinking: enjoy the thrill of the chill.

Should you wish to explore more about herbs that chill, an authoritative and encyclopedic source is the Web site of the American Botanical Council www.herbalgram.org.

written by kyle roderick

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