50 Herbal Healing Teas
Herbal tea infusions are usually taken plain, or a little honey may be added as a sweetener if desired. Here is a list of 50 different herbs commonly used in herbal teas and their properties.
Alfalfa – Alfalfa is a good general tonic. It is one of nature’s richest sources of a variety of easily assimilated vitamins, minerals and trace elements such as vitamin K and iron. Alfalfa may be prescribed for people who are allergy-prone, itchy or irritated.
Aloe Vera – Aloe is easily grown as a house plant. The thick blades contain a greenish gel used as a medicinal in the tropics, where this plant is grown. Fresh juice from Aloe Vera is used for minor burns, sunburn and insect bites, and it is a common ingredient in many skin creams and lotions. It is used internally as a purgative. Aloe is supposedly the only plant brought out of the Garden of Eden by Adam.
Arnica – The flowers are used to make creams and ointments that may be applied to the skin to treat bruising. Arnica also may be used homeopathically to treat shock and where there has been any internal trauma to the body.
Bilberry – This herb is used medicinally in the treatment of various eye disorders including cataracts, diseases of the retina and general eyesight deterioration. It is also a useful treatment for varicose veins and haemorrhoids. It should not be confused with the common blueberry that grows in Australia. Medicinal bilberry is a different species, although its tasty fruit may also be eaten.
Black Cohosh – This herb is a wonderful tonic for the female reproductive system. It is best prescribed by a qualified herbalist, as the fluid extract or tincture is the preferred method of treatment. Black cohosh has been found to contain phytosterol, which has hormone-like activity and may have a modulating effect on menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, headaches and decreased sex drive. It is also available in tablet form.
Bladderwrack – This is common brown seaweed, rich in iodine and, as such, has an effect on the thyroid gland. In comparison with plants that grow on the land, very few seaweeds have become traditionally used for medicinal purposes. Because Bladderwrack acts as a glandular tonic, it has had the reputation of being an anti-fat herb for centuries. It is available in many ‘natural’ weight-loss preparations but, because of its effects on the thyroid gland and general metabolic rate of the body, it is best taken under the guidance of a practitioner who specializes in dietary control.
Brindleberry – This is a herb known as Malabar tamarind in many parts of Asia, where it is widely used as a food condiment due to its sweet-acid taste. It is one of the most popular herbs for weight-loss supplements. Its action in the body requires that it be taken in conjunction with the trace mineral chromium. It works as both an appetite suppressant and a metabolic stimulator and can convert excess carbohydrate stored in the body and move it out. The best results are seen in two to six weeks.
Calendula – Also known as marigolds, the leaves of this plant are used for their skin-healing properties. It is naturally high in vitamin A, which is needed for the repair of skin cells. It is most commonly used in the form of a cream or ointment.
Cat’s Claw – This Peruvian rainforest plant is an excellent treatment for arthritis, cancer, AIDS, degenerative diseases and premature aging. It protects the cells from damage, enhances overall immunity, and increases energy and stamina. It can prevent plaque from forming on the arterial walls, and the formation of blood clots in the brain, heart and arteries. Cat’s Claw is available in tablet and liquid extract form.
Chamomile – Chamomile is one of the most popular herb teas, with a sweet apple-like aroma. It has a calming and settling effect, and it is very useful for digestive upsets. It is safe and gentle enough to give to babies and small children. The tea may be used as a rinse on fair hair and, when cooled, on the skin. Chamomile also is used in the more potent fluid extract and tincture form by herbalists.
Celery – Herbalists use celery seeds as a fluid extract, tincture or tablet. Celery is very alkaline and, therefore, is very useful for acid conditions such as gout and certain rheumatic ailments. It has a diuretic effect on the body, and so helps to expel excess fluid retained in the tissues.
Dandelion – This very common garden ‘weed’ is one of the most popular in the herbalist’s dispensary. Dandelion leaves make a deliciously bitter tea, while the root makes a good substitute for coffee when roasted and ground. Dandelion is a good blood cleanser – it works as a diuretic and reduces acid in the system. It is a gentle laxative, a mild tonic that stimulates the function of the liver and gallbladder, helps improve digestion and assists in the assimilation of food. It has a beneficial effect on some rheumatic conditions.
Devil’s Claw – One of the most effective and popular anti-rheumatic herbs, Devil’s Claw is specific for the treatment of arthritis and most degenerative disorders of the musculoskeletal system. It is available in tablet form, as well as the liquid extract.
Dong quai – Chinese angelica is often referred to as the ‘female ginseng’ due to its wonderful action on the female reproductive system. It is a safe and well-tolerated herb, rich in infusion, or taken in the fluid extract or tincture form. It is beneficial for most menstrual irregularities and menopause symptoms such as hot flushes. It should not be taken if heavy bleeding is a problem.
Echinacea – Once available only to herbalists, Echinacea is now widely found in tablets and fluid extract forms at every health shop and chemist. It is used to fight infection and to boost the immune system. It has long been used for its antiseptic properties, and is considered by herbalists to be a fine ‘antibiotic’.
Elder – The honey-scented flowers are used to promote perspiration and urination and will reduce fever. Elder is useful in the treatment of colds and influenza, clearing the sinuses and expelling mucus from the lungs. The tea can be drunk alone or blended with other herbs, such as peppermint and yarrow.
Eucalyptus – Make an aromatic tea from these leaves, or use them in a steam bath to relieve the symptoms of head colds. Oil extracted from this plant gives many commercial cold remedies their characteristic smell.
Fennel – Similar in taste to dill, fennel may be substituted for it in recipes. It is an aid to digestion and is regarded as an appetite suppressant and a metabolic stimulator. Fennel seeds may be nibbled or a warm infusion taken before meals.
Fenugreek – This herb has a distinctive Asian aroma, and is a common ingredient in curry dishes. If you have a high temperature and feel a cold coming on, fenugreek tea will break the fever and cause sweating. It is an excellent remedy for congestion.
Feverfew – The leaves of this plant have been shown to be an effective remedy in the prevention of migraines and headaches. The leaves may be eaten raw, picked straight from the plant, but most people prefer to take feverfew in tablet or liquid extract form. It works to prevent the occurrence of headaches, not as a treatment for a headache that has already begun. It needs to be taken over a number of months to be effective.
Garlic – This is a superb antiseptic. The plant contains a volatile oil rich in sulphur and is especially beneficial for chronic bronchial conditions. It also protects against infections. Recent research has shown that garlic has the ability to reduce the cholesterol level in the blood and lower high blood pressure. Apart from the cloves that may be eaten raw, garlic is available in the fluid extract or tincture form, as well as odourless tablets and capsules.
Ginger – It improves digestion and relieves nausea and flatulence. An infusion may be made with fresh ginger, or keep a jar of crystallized ginger on hand as the ancient Chinese did. It is beneficial for travel sickness and has recently been shown to be effective in the treatment of disorders such as arthritis.
Ginkgo Biloba – A number of trials have shown this herb’s ability to improve short-term memory and concentration. It is particularly effective in cases of mental deterioration due to aging. Ginkgo is dispensed in tablet or liquid extract form. It should be taken under guidance due to possible drug interactions.
Ginseng – The root takes at least six years to mature, and the plants are very susceptible to disease, which makes ginseng expensive. It is a general tonic that improves mental performance, increases libido and strengthens the immune system.
Globe artichoke – Globe artichoke is good for sluggish digestion caused by insufficient liver function or gallstones. The fluid extract is usually used for this. The herb has a significant influence on the way the liver metabolises fats, so is often sought after for its ability to reduce body weight.
Hops – Hops calm the mind, and are used either alone or combined with other sedative herbs to induce sleep. An infusion may be taken with honey before bed.
Horseradish – The roots of this plant are an irritant to the mucous membrane lining of the gastrointestinal tract, so it can have a powerful effect on sluggish digestion. It is not recommended for people with ulcers. It’s also good for people who have hay fever symptoms.
Juniper – Used to stimulate the kidneys to remove excess fluid. Juniper is high in potassium, enabling the kidneys to remove fluid in the case of oedema, where the legs and ankles may be swollen.
Kava Kava – This is the root of a South Sea island shrub that is made into liquor and drunk before important ceremonies and rituals. It is also becoming increasingly popular as an effective treatment for anxiety, nervous tension and restlessness.
Lavender – Lavender oil is used in oil burners to induce sleep and relaxation, or a few drops may be applied to a cloth or pillow. It is beneficial for relieving headaches. Avoid the oil if pregnant – it is a uterine stimulant.
Licorice – Research has shown that medicinal licorice can be successful in treating gastric ulcers and reducing irritability in the intestines. It has been used to treat respiratory conditions, as well as arthritis. High doses of licorice need to be monitored carefully as they may lead to the loss of potassium from the body.
Marshmallow – This is a soothing remedy for all inflamed, irritated conditions of the mucous membranes, and excellent for diarrhea. It is an ingredient in many cough mixtures.
Parsley – The ancient Greeks and Romans ate parsley after garlic and onions to remove the odours from their breath. The chlorophyll in parsley neutralizes pungent aromas. It also has been widely used as a tea infusion for diuretic purposes.
Passionflower – This herb produces refreshing sleep for those who are restless and wakeful after exhaustion, or mentally worried and overworked. Passionflower works well when combined with other relaxing herbs such as hops and valerian.
Raspberry Leaf – This is highly recommended in the tea or tablet form during pregnancy to make contractions more efficient and prevent haemorrhaging after birth. It can help to alleviate morning sickness and is high in iron, vitamin C, and folic acid.
Red Clover – A good source of many minerals, red clover is an excellent blood purifier. It is another herb that contains phytosterol, so has hormone-modulating effects.
Rosehips – An excellent source of vitamin C and iron, these are used by herbalists when a good blood tonic is indicated.
Rosemary – An infusion of dried rosemary makes an excellent gargle for sore throats due to its antiseptic properties. The oil of rosemary is beneficial for dandruff and to promote hair growth. It also can relieve headaches when massaged into the temples or the back of the neck. Rosemary oil in the bath is good for soothing muscles.
Sage – Sage eases frequent headaches and gives clarity of thought. The infusion is used as a gargle for sore throats. It is very much a female herb, used to help relieve hot flushes at menopause.
Saw Palmetto – Known as the prostate herb, the dried fruit of the plant is used to treat enlarged prostate in men.
Slippery Elm – Slippery elm bark is valuable for a wide range of conditions including colitis, diarrhea and dysentery. It is used for most inflamed disorders of the stomach, intestine, lungs and throat. Externally, it is used as a poultice for wounds and burns.
St. John’s Wort – This is one of the most widely used medicinal plants, shown to be as effective as any antidepressant medication on the market, without the usual side effects or addictive properties. It should be prescribed by a qualified health practitioner.
St. Mary’s Thistle – This is one of the most important herbs for treating liver conditions such as alcohol damage, and acute and chronic hepatitis.
Thyme – This is often employed as a throat gargle when made into an infusion and combines well with rosemary.
Valerian – Valerian is very calming and relaxing to the muscles. It may be used to relieve nervous anxiety and tension, and also to induce sleep when taken in larger doses.
Vitex agnus castus – Commonly known as chaste tree berry, this has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome and during menopausal changes. It is used to treat hormonal acne and a variety of hormonal abnormalities in both men and women.
White Willow- The bark of the white willow tree was originally used to make aspirin. It is a useful remedy for arthritis in the early stages of treatment, while a more holistic approach is being undertaken. It should not taken if using blood-thinning medication.
Wild Yam – The source of the original ingredient of the contraceptive pill, wild yam is important for treating hormone irregularities and the symptoms of menopause in particular. Wild yam is best avoided during pregnancy.
Withania – Mildly sedating, it may be taken as a way of restoring the body when someone has been debilitated due to nervous exhaustion or illness. It is a good blood tonic.
Yarrow – Valuable for kidney disorders and diarrhea because of its highly astringent nature, it is a popular herb to stop excess menstruation. It is also a good general tonic after prolonged illness or convalescence.
Combinations of individual herbs to make a tea formulation for various conditions are common in herbal medicine, below are some examples;
Throat Gargle – For sore throats try equal quantities of rosemary, sage and thyme.
Phytoestrogen Blend – Combine equal amounts of red clover and alfalfa. Some studies have shown potential benefits from phytoestrogens in regard to menopausal symptoms.
Sleep-Inducing Tea – Combine equal amounts of valerian, hops, skullcap and passionflower with a little honey.
Immune-System Boost – To improve the function of your immune system, sip a cup of cat’s claw, echinacea and olive leaf.
Digestive Tonic – To boost the digestive system, sip a blend of chamomile, fennel and dandelion before meals.
Hayfever – For the treatment of sneezing, irritated eyes, constant nasal discharge, etc, try mixing equal quantities of eyebright, elderflowers, fenugreek and goldenseal. Not recommended during pregnancy.
Headache – Tension headaches, which may be due to stress held in the neck and shoulders, respond well to feverfew, skullcap and Jamaican dogwood. Combine equal amounts and sip at the first hint of pain.