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Herbal Teas - Brien Cole

By Brien Cole

Herbal teas are a great thing to add to our daily routine. Teas such as Chamomile and Peppermint have been used for centuries for their gentle calming effect. They are safe, easy to make and readily available. For the coffee addicts amongst us, a herbal tea is a good substitute for that one extra cup of coffee we really don't need. A Lemon Balm or Passionflower tea can be a refreshing way to incorporate a calming, relaxing moment into our day. Just sit back, let go of that all so important, "if I don't do this now the sky will fall in" thought that's been running around in your head, driving you crazy. Stop, breathe and have a cup of herbal tea. It might just make you feel better.

There are a number of herbal teas commercially available. They are either made from a single herb such as Chamomile or a pre-prepared combination. There is nothing stopping you from mixing and matching Chamomile and Lemon Balm make a good combination. Or make an infusion of Passionflower and St. John's Wort, adding a little liquorice root for general pick-up. I like to add fresh ginger root to my herbal teas and sweeten them with honey.

While herbal teas are very safe remedies, they are different in their effects. We should be aware of these differences in order to help choose the teas most appropriate for ourselves. Some herbs have activities centred on the digestive tract, calming the butterflies in the belly, while others are centred more on the nervous system. As we all know too well anxiety can fluctuate between adrenaline overload and exhaustion and I believe it is important to choose herbs appropriate to our current anxiety state.

Herbs to calm the "butterflies in the belly":
These herbs are considered mildly sedating or "cooling", when the body is in overdrive. They ought not be used when we are feeling low, exhausted or depressed as they may well make us feel even more lethargic.

The classic herbal tea, traditionally used as a mild sedative and relaxant.
Chamomile is particularly appropriate where nervous tension is expressed in the digestive system. To calm the "butterflies in the belly" feeling, Chamomile contains tryptophan, an amino acid, which will be converted in the body to serotonin, the "feel good" hormone. Chamomile can be used during pregnancy.

Like Chamomile, Peppermint has an anti-anxiety effect with a gastro-intestinal focus. It is a mild remedy, slightly sedating. It is considered a cooling remedy and can be used during pregnancy.

Herbs for a good night's sleep tend to relax the muscular system. They are relaxants with mild sedative effects. These herbs include:

Lime Blossom
A mild relaxant and sedative traditionally used to induce a restful sleep and to relax a tense muscular and nervous system

More a sedative than relaxant, good for inducing sleep but not recommended to be taken during the day or when pregnant.

Herbs for the blues Combine a mildly calming affect with an uplifting restorative affect.

Lemon Balm
A member of the peppermint family but while it is calmative it is not considered to be cooling. It can be used when we are in a "blue" state. It can also be used during pregnancy as it has a strong anti-nausea profile.

St John's Wort
Famous for its application for nervous tension and has a reputation as restorative for depression and anxiety. It has been found to be useful in menopause.

And when we are just completely exhausted there are herbs we can turn to as well.

Rebalances the adrenal hormones and is therefore useful during nervous exhaustion and depression.

Used for exhaustion with depression. Excellent during convalescence. Do not use in pregnancy.

Take that moment out of your day, sitting down somewhere calming, a favourite spot in the garden, your most comfortable chair. Do nothing else but let go of everything for a moment and sip a herbal tea. What does it taste like? How does it feel? Enjoy the moment; there is still plenty of time in the day to do what is so important.

Naturally herbal teas alone are not a cure for our anxiety but may be incorporated into a healthier lifestyle, which includes exercise, relaxation, meditation and awareness of our self-talk. They will play their part in our recovery.

Brien Cole suffered from anxiety for most of his life. Attending Bev Aisbett's anxiety recovery program (an ADAVIC program) began a journey of discovery.

Brien can be contacted on Email
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