Cool Down from the Summer Heat with Herbal Teas
Feather Jones, Herbalist
When summertime temperatures reach the nineties, it¹s time to keep a cool inner core. Many herbal teas can do just that. There is a whole classification of herbal remedies called diaphoretics, designed to help you sweat so you won¹t get overheated. They work by stimulating circulation to the body surface and thereby releasing heat through the pores of the skin. In a way, they act as a natural air conditioning unit.
Herbs don¹t have to taste bad to be beneficial. Many herbs are tasty and deliciously refreshing. Hibiscus flowers with a tart lemony taste, is high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids. It wards off colds, is an anti-inflammatory to infections and strengthens the immune system. It also finds beneficial action in the cardiovascular system by strengthening the blood vessel walls and lowering high blood pressure naturally. It¹s cool refreshing taste gives energy when you are wilting from sweltering temperatures.
Another diaphoretic herb, Oatstraw strengthens the adrenals, improving endurance. It promotes moisture to the mucus membranes and revives, tones and soothes the nervous system from daily stresses. It also is called an aphrodisiac and rejuvenator as it was first noticed that horses increased their level of friskiness after eating oats. Thus, the saying, “Feeling your oats”.
Yarrow flowers, one of the best diaphoretics in the plant Œkindom¹ has an acquired slightly bitter taste. Drunk as a warm tea with a little lemon and agave nectar to offset any bitterness, it will make you sweat. Drunk cold, it also acts as a diuretic increasing urination.
For those hot summer nights when you want to keep the windows open and not run to the air conditioner, try an after dinner tea of Peppermint, Oatstraw and Lemon Balm. They keep the pores open, improve digestion and are relaxing to the nervous system. Though they are not strong sedatives on their own, they will ease you into a restful sleep when sleep is needed.
If you like to spend your summers hiking in the arid southwest, overheating can become a cautionary reality. Many people don¹t even know when they are getting dehydrated until it¹s too late. A headache, dizziness, or nauseousness sets in. Being a hiking tour guide all summer in Sedona, I always carry a few of those fizzy Emer¹gen-C packets. They have 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C but more importantly they contain valuable electrolytes that get depleted with water loss through sweating. I urge my customers to carry and drink a half-gallon water for a half-day hike. Another way to replace electrolytes is add the juice of a lemon to your water bottle. It¹s not only refreshing but keeps essential nutrients in check.
Here’s a few different tea blends to help keep you cool this summer.
Summertime Tea Blend #1 for the citrus lover
1/2 ounce of Hibiscus flowers
juice of one-half lemon with cut up rind
1/4 ounce of Oatstraw
1/2 gallon water
Summertime Tea Blend #2 for those wanting a minty flavor
1/2 ounce Spearmint leaf
1/4 ounce Peppermint leaf
1/8 ounce Yarrow flower & leaf
1/8 ounce Cinnamon bark
1/2 gallon water
Hikers Tea Blend
1/4 ounce Oatstraw
1/4 ounce Alfalfa or Nettle leaf (rich in calcium, magnesium and iron)
juice of one half lemon
1/2 gallon water
For preparing all teas, use a half-gallon canning jar as it won¹t break when pouring hot, just boiled water into it. Place your herbs in first, water second and tighten the lid and let it sit for an hour before straining. Your tea blend can be served hot or cold and will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. While it is still warm, sweeten with honey, agave nectar or your choice of sugars. Agave nectar is a plant-based sweetener that has a low glycemic index, meaning it doesn¹t cause your blood sugar to spike, preventing sudden elevations. It is also twice as sweet as honey so use conservatively. When making teas, mostly go by taste, if too strong, use less herb.
Most, if not all of the herbs mentioned can be purchased at most health food stores in their bulk herb section, or have them special order the ones you want. Enjoy!