Sore throat? Upset tummy? PMS? For years, people have been reaching for herbal teas instead of the medicine cabinet for relief. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that roughly four in 10 adults in the U.S. are currently using some form of complimentary or alternative medicine.
Perhaps one of the most popular natural approaches to health management is ayurveda, an ancient Indian system that relies heavily on the mind-body connection. Herbs and other holistic "medicine" (along with regular meditation) are at its core.
Metro caught up with California-based ayurvedic doctor Vaijayanti Apte (aka Dr. Jay), who recognizes herbology as a major cornerstone of ayurveda. That said, she considers herbal teas a powerful source of rejuvenation and healing.
Regardless of the recipe, she advises first boiling the herbs in water for two to three minutes before straining the contents into a travel mug with a bit of honey or raw sugar to add some natural sweetness. For best results, sip the tea on and off throughout the day.
FOR BETTER DIGESTION
If you're prone to tummy troubles, Dr. Jay says the following herbal concoctions can work wonders.
For when you feel too full...
"If somebody's having weak digestion or feeling heavy after they eat, they can drink herbal tea that has ginger, lemon and honey," says Dr. Jay. "Mint tea is also good for easing digestion."
When it comes to improving digestion and quelling nausea, ginger is considered a go-to herb taken as a tea or chewed fresh.
For acid reflux...
"If someone's having heartburn or acid reflux issues, they would want to drink what we call CCF tea—cumin, coriander and fennel tea," says Dr. Jay, adding that licorice is also thought to be beneficial for gas and bloating. "This calms down the stomach and improves digestion."
FOR HEADACHE TROUBLES
Dr. Jay has a few tricks for stopping a headache in its tracks.
For congestion headaches...
"Boil one glass of water with a couple of cloves, one cinnamon stick, three to four black peppercorns and a quarter teaspoon of turmeric," she says. "You can also add honey before drinking."
For tension headaches...
"Rose petals, cardamom, coriander and cumin seeds are ideal for relieving tension headaches," adds Dr. Jay.
FOR QUELLING ANXIETY
If dialed-up nerves have you feeling anxious, Dr. Jay says that certain herbs are thought to have calming properties.
"For anxiety and nervousness, drink teas with gotu kola," she says.
What's gotu kola? It's actually an herb used to treat everything from infections to common colds to anxiety. (Experts say it's thought to naturally reduce inflammation.) CCF tea is also full of herbs commonly used to keep nervousness and anxiety at bay.
*It should be kept in mind that some herbs can trigger adverse side effects in some people. They can also interact with other medications. Consulting a physician beforehand would be wise.