Are you ready for it? Well, ready or not it is coming right around the corner. Ah yes, the holidays. The time for buying and returning gifts, cooking, baking, and of course let's not forget the most important thing, stress.
Well, how about if we do things a little bit differently this year? How about if our holiday resolution is to not stress out or to allow that stress to eat you up inside?
Herbs can be a wonderful tool in aiding the body to deal with stress because, of all the things they do, one of the most important is that they nourish the body. This is exactly what you need in times of stress. Here are two categories of herbs that you should become best friends with this holiday season.
The first category is adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens are defined as herbs which help the body to counteract the adverse effects of external stressors by generating nonspecific resistance. What this means in a nutshell is that they aid the body in dealing with stress by maintaining balance within all systems of the body. Whether your mood needs to be stabilized, your immune system needs boosting, or your liver needs to be detoxed, adaptogenic herbs are a wonderful key in helping the body to fix that weak link within your chain. Some examples of these powerhouse herbs are eluthero, maca, holy basil, rhodiola, and astragalus.
All of these herbs work very well as a tea or even as a tincture. Here is a little holiday recipe that I like to make during the fall and winter using these amazing nourishing herbs. First, I should note for this recipe I use the herbs in powder and I make a big batch. I found this to be the best way to make this recipe as it is quick and simple. Once the powders are mixed together in a batch there is only one small step to get you to the finish line. The recipe has the following ingredients and amounts in it.
- Eluthero, 2oz
- Rhodiola 2oz
- Astragulas, 2oz
- Dark Cacao, 2oz
- Cinnamon, .5oz
All you need to do is mix these ingredients together and put them in a glass amber jar. Since these are all equally strong adaptogens, I like to use equal parts of each one in the formula. The cacao and Cinnamon are very nourishing and warming herbs so I thought it would be nice to put them in for that extra holiday kick.
Here is the part that is going to knock it out of the ball park. The liquid base is either almond or coconut milk. All you do is warm 8 to 10 oz of the milk, add 1 tablespoon of the powdered herbs to the milk, and mix it for about 20 seconds. The end result? A wonderful adaptogen hot coco that will nourish your body in its time of need. You can also do it cold if you prefer.
The second category of herbs is nervine herbs. Nerve herbs act as nerve tonics. Their primary function is to feed, regulate, and strengthen the nerve cells. These herbs can act as either a stimulant or a sedative and soothes agitation within the nervous system. Since the brain and the nervous system help control so many functions within the body, it is so important to see that this system gets plenty of nourishment when you are feeling most stressed out. Some of my favorites are Kava, Scullcap, Hops, and Valerian. While these herbs do work wonderfully in combination, I like to use them individually as teas. Let's take a look at how to make them.
Because kava and valerian are both roots, you will need to make a decoction. You do this by simply taking one tablespoon of dry herb to every eight ounces of water. Bring the water to a boil, add the herb in, lower the flame to a simmer, and cover for 20 minutes. Once it is done take it off the flame and let it sit for another 5 minutes covered, then strain and enjoy! Note: I would suggest that you use the dry aged Valerian versus the fresh as the fresh works more as a neuro-stimulant.
For a simpler tea you can use the Scullcap or Hops and make a simple infusion. The measurements are the same as for the decoction but once the water comes to a boil you should take it completely take it off the flame. Then add the herbs in and cover for 5-8 minutes, strain, drink, and enjoy! It is important to always keep the teas covered as you don't want to let all of the essential oils escape into the air.
Mike Stuchiner is a Master Herbalist, a graduate of the School of Natural Healing, has written 2 booklets on herbal medicine, published articles, owned his own herb store, and currently does private consultation.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.