In our house we make herbal tea daily and have been drinking a combination of lemon verbena leaves & orange peel tea for relaxation and immune system support plus Reishi mushroom tincture for the last several months. This formula is immune supporting (orange peel + reishi) and also relaxing (lemon verbena). This isn’t necessarily the herbal formula that will be ideal for you, that will depend on the herbs you have on hand either growing in your garden or bought locally. In this article I will tell you why I chose this combo and give a little info on how to formulate herbal blends with the herbs you have on hand.
Lemon verbena and Orange peel are some of the most common herbs we grow on the farm. Abundant herbs are ideal for long term use in teas- if you have a lot you won’t worry about running out which is important when we are talking about daily self care & herbal medicine in pandemic times.
As Reishi is not abundant where we live, I decided to use that medicine as a tincture to get the most out of the powder which I bought just before covid kicked off (luckily!). You could also use a tincture of Echinacea or another immune system supporting herb, like Artemisia, too.
With herbs or medicinal mushrooms that you only have small amounts of or are bought, I suggest making a tincture which you can add a few drops of to your herbal teas. Making tinctures is a simple way you can get the most out of small quantities and will be the topic of a upcoming article. Simply put, a tincture is high proof alcohol (like vodka or brandy) that has been infused with the qualities of a medicinal herb during one month’s time.
I always like to remind myself and others that the best way to keep our immune systems healthy is by preventing and lessening stress. Stress and lack of rest keeps the body in a “fight or flight” state and prevents us from restoring and protecting other systems of the body. When we are constantly feeling afraid or anxious our digestive and immune systems begin to weaken as our body focuses solely on survival. That is why warm herbal infusions with relaxing herbs are so important to incorporate into your daily routine.
Other relaxing herbs are lemon balm, rosemary, and of course lavender. All of these herbs – lemon verbena & orange peel too – have digestive properties which is critical to relaxation. We may feel like our stomach is in a knot due to nerves when often times indigestion is the culprit. Drinking this tea after work or after a heavy meal will do wonders for you peace of mind and to keep you feeling light & clear headed.
For most of 2020 we had very few visitors over to our place, mostly because of the strict quarantine protocol imposed by the government here in Argentina. And now that those orders have been lifted and it is summer, we have had a few different visits in the past few weeks. Traditionally people drink yerba mate in group gatherings, a little goard filled with a caffeinated tea & a metal straw. The mate is served by a designated person and passed around to everyone in the circle one by one. It is a really nice tradition but sharing a communal straw isn’t really ideal during these covid times! So, before receiving guests I always make a big batch of herbal tea, warm or cold depending on the day, and place colorful mugs around the pitcher. This way each person has their colored cup and will (hopefully) stick to that cup all day.
Formulating herbal blends :
So, let’s talk formulas! If you have fresh citrus like lemons, limes, or oranges, by all means use their fresh juice to make drinks daily. Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C as well as other vitamins which support the body to fight off illness especially during winter. It is summer for us here in South America so I am using the dried peels of oranges we harvested during May & June (winter months here in Argentina). And if you don’t have lemon verbena, I would highly recommend lemon balm which has relaxing and antiviral properties. You could combine lemon balm with dried citrus rind in a warm tea during winter or even add fresh lemon balm leaves to a slightly warm lemonade + honey to soothe the throat and help prevent illness during winter.
Other possible herbal formulas would include : chamomile + thyme tea with echinacea tincture or rosemary, honey & lavender tea with artemisia tincture would be good as well. My suggestion is to create a formula with : one relaxing herb, one digestive herb and another herb for immune support. Use herbs that grow abundantly in your yard or that you have a lot of in your pantry and, as always, be sure to do your own research before trying any new herb or formula. My favorite books for learning about herbal properties are these books:
What herbal teas are you drinking these days? What are you favorite herbalist books? Let me know in the comments.