The practice of supporting good health with infusions made from leaves, berries and flowers has been recorded in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine going back for as long as history is recorded.
A mere 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates verified to the Western world the healing power of herbal therapy, but over time, and with the advent of the pharmaceutical industry, our knowledge and use of nature’s medicine chest was almost forgotten. At last, and thanks to the intervention of medical science, we are now rediscovering what our ancestors had as a birthright.
The Difference Between Tisane and Traditional Tea?
There is sometimes confusion on the question of why and how a tisane differs from tea. The answer to this is that tisanes are infusions made from a wide variety of herbs, berries, flowers, leaves and spices, whereas traditional tea is made from just one plant, the camellia sinensis.
The tea plant flourishes on the plantations of Sri Lanka, India and East Africa. The tiny new leaves of the bush are harvested then spread out to dry and oxidise. It is this process which turns the leaves from green to brown and gives the flavour we all know so well.
Traditional tea can vary in flavour depending upon the soil and climate where it grows, and also upon how it is handled after harvesting. Nevertheless, it has the same basic taste. One of the properties of traditional tea is caffeine.
Tisanes are generally made from plants which do not contain caffeine, although a small amount may sometimes be incorporated into a blend for specific health issues which require a stimulant. They are created from herbs, fruits, flowers and spices which grow all over the world, and many will even thrive in our own gardens, fields and hedgerows.
Plant infusions come in a myriad of different flavours. They may be floral, fruity, minty, spicy and sometimes even bitter. Certain blends may well be preferred as a therapeutic and refreshing drink, but the diversity of plants which can be used to create tisanes provide an incredible taste range, along with very well researched, tried and tested health-giving properties.
How do Tisanes Help?
Scientifically proven benefits of using herbs to restore good health:
- Soothing stress, both mental and physical
- Boosting energy
- Calming digestive disorders
- Easing congestion
- Helping with fluid retention
- Banishing insomnia
- Cleansing liver and kidneys
- Treating hormonal problems
- Reducing inflammation
- Enhancing the immune system
- Fighting infection
Type of Herbs in Tisanes and their Benefits
When choosing herbs, fruits and flowers to help with specific ailments, you can often find blends which have been formulated by medical herbalists and may be purchased as ready-prepared tisanes. Here is a guide to just a few of the plants which are essential to the science of natural medicine:
Chamomile – Soothing to both the brain and body. This herb can ease stress and encourage relaxation and sleep.
Burdock – The root has a high level of flavonoids and glycosides, giving anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to rid the body of toxins. Burdock root has been the focus of a Brazilian research project where it was found to have high free radical scavenging properties.
Dandelion – Flushes out toxins and helps cleanse the liver. Dandelion extract eases inflammation. The root can also be roasted and ground to make a kind of herbal coffee. Dandelion has been found in research studies to help treat conditions such as jaundice and liver damage.
Dill – A gentle and soothing digestive. Often used in gripe water for babies.
Echinacea – This plant has antibiotic properties and helps recovery from colds. It is also much prized in the treatment of such things as urinary tract conditions and other forms of infection.
Fennel – An superb aid to digestion. Fennel is also helpful in easing respiratory issues.
Lavender – A powerful antiseptic.
Lemon Balm – Eases anxiety and stress.
Milk Thistle – Effective support to liver function.
Passiflora (Passionflower) – Helps calm and relax.
Peppermint – Extensively used as a powerful digestive, mint is also useful in treating gastrointestinal disorders.
Rosehip – Contains high levels of vitamin C, which helps to boost immunity and support the adrenal system.
Thyme – Effective for easing a sore throat. Thyme has antiseptic properties.
Valerian – An aid to calming the mind and encouraging sleep.
How to Make a Tisane
It is vital to know just which plants are most effective in terms of supporting health, calming the mind and generally adding to a sense of well-being. The easy way is to buy the ready-to-use blends in loose form. Simply put a scoop into a small teapot and brew in the usual way, or just pop a spoonful of your chosen mixture into a cup, pour scalding water over and allow to steep.
Another lovely method of making a tisane is to put a little of the mixture into an infuser which encloses and secures the leaves and petals, whilst leaving only the clear liquid for you to drink.
When you know which herbs and flowers to use, a tisane can be concocted at home by gathering the appropriate plants and using them fresh, or by drying them and using the dried leaves and petals in the same way you would use traditional tea leaves. Alternatively, and great for when you are away from home, keep a supply of your chosen blend in tea bag form.
There is something innately satisfying about making a tisane from natural, fragrant ingredients and sipping the resultant health-giving elixir. The whole process is calming and highly therapeutic.
Tisanes are a mainstay in the world of natural health and herbalism. They have been with us through the ages, and as long as plants continue to thrive on our planet, the earth will provide its health-giving bounty for us to heal ourselves and restore balance and calm in our lives.
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