By Kate Holm
I’m sure we have all heard the saying “food is medicine”, but did you know that Mother Nature provides many other medicines in the form of plants that we can incorporate into our days to support our health goals?
Please note, while the herbs listed below are generally consider safe for consumption as herbal teas, if you have any concerns, pre-existing conditions or are taking medications, it is best to consult individually with a naturopath or herbalist who will be able to guide you to the safest and most indicated herbs for you.
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Part used: Root
Actions: Anti-inflammatory, protects mucous membranes, adrenal tonic, expectorant
Liquorice is a wonderful versatile and sweet herb that is great for those reducing their sugar consumption. When made as a herbal tea it doesn’t contain any sugar, but has an incredibly sweet taste that can take the edge of sugar cravings. It is also great for supporting the health of the gut mucosa, as well as supporting our adrenal glands (responsible for the production of our stress hormones) - which let’s face it, most people in our modern world could benefit from!
Cautions: Contraindicated in those with high blood pressure, oedema or other cardiac or renal issues and certain medications
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Part used: Stem bark
Actions: Anti-diabetic, soothes intestinal cramps/spasms, warming digestive tonic
Cinnamon not only tastes great, but it is also incredibly therapeutic in the realm of blood sugar balance. In high doses it has been shown to support parameters associated with diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, as well as improving digestion and reducing symptoms of nausea, wind and abdominal pain. Like liquorice, it is also sweet to taste without containing sugar so can be great to add into tea or other foods when you’re craving a sweet treat. Liquorice and cinnamon tea are a particularly delicious combination.
Cautions: Be mindful of consumption in those who are pregnant or suffer from reflux. If you are taking any anti-diabetic drugs then monitor your consumption closely with your health practitioner.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Part used: Flower
Actions: Mild sedative, anti-inflammatory, soothes intestinal cramps/spasms
Sometimes the simple things really are best - and chamomile is one of those things! With a wide range of supportive actions and excellent safety profile (plus easy to track down), chamomile should definitely feature high on your herbal tea rotation. Lightly sweet, gently calming as well as soothing for the digestive system, chamomile is an excellent choice, particularly when you feel like stress is ruling your sugar cravings, or if you want to share with your kids!
Cautions: No major issues identified when consumed as a tea (unless specifically allergic to the chamomile plant).
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Part used: Root (the leaf can also be used but has different therapeutic actions)
Actions: Increases production and release of bile, promotes upper digestive function, mild laxative
Now this one is definitely not going to hit that sweet spot for you! Dandelion root tea contains bitter compounds that… well… taste bitter! But it is through this bitter taste that a range of digestion supportive actions follow. Dandelion root tea can help to stimulate the production and release of bile, which in turn improves digestive capacity. This release of bile also encourages peristalsis which equals effectively moving bowels. Dandelion root tea is not to be confused with the dandelion leaf, which acts more as a diuretic than supporting our liver, gall bladder and digestive system. Mix with some cinnamon and other warming spices such as ginger, clove and cardamom for a dandelion chai!
Cautions: No major issues identified when consumed as a tea.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Part used: Rhizome
Actions: Anti-inflammatory, soothes intestinal cramps/spasms, warming digestive tonic
Ginger is a wonderfully warming herb that can be used either freshly grated or dried as a tea. Not only can it settle the stomach if you’re experiencing nausea, but it can also increase your digestive capacity, soothe abdominal cramps and even reduce wind and bloating. Please note, it can be VERY warming, so if you generally run hot or are experiencing menopausal flushes, this may not be the tea for you.
Cautions: Please use caution if you have a stomach ulcer, gallstones or are on warfarin.
Cacao (Theobroma cacao)
Part used: Seed
Actions: Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, prebiotic, promotes insulin secretion and blood sugar stabilisation, soul food 😉
Like we need another reason to consume chocolate! So, the sugar laden, highly processed version might not be this therapeutic, but sourcing a raw cacao powder or ceremonial cacao can be a wonderful and healthful way to incorporate it as a drink. While it can be quite bitter tasting, paired with a pinch of cinnamon or some vanilla bean and your milk of choice, this decadent, nourishing drink is sure to satisfy your cravings. You can also purchase the cacao husk that can be made into a lighter tasting and equally delicious tea!
Cautions: Cacao can be quite stimulating so is not appropriate for your children or those on stimulant medications. It may also be contraindicated if you are taking anti-depressant medication, so chat to your doctor before consuming.
Kate is a naturopath, nutritionist, health educator and speaker. She’s also the founder of Holism Health Co. – an online naturopathic clinic and postpartum meal delivery service designed to support women and their families through the challenges of preconception, pregnancy and postpartum.
As a mum of 2, Kate has firsthand experience with the guidance, support and health needs of new mothers. She’s passionate about creating a healthy foundation for future generations and believes it all starts with the way we eat. She pairs scientific knowledge with naturopathic philosophy to provide informed, personalised and holistic health and wellness solutions. Take a look at her website HERE to learn more about Kate and keep updated on her exclusive tips for everyone undertaking the 8-Week Program!