supplements

Herbal Teas

Generality

What are herbal teas?

The herbal teas are impromptu aqueous preparations, very diluted, often flavored and sweetened.

Made from one or more vegetable drugs (herbs, spices, fruits or other vegetable components), the herbal teas are intended for oral administration for therapeutic purposes or as a vehicle for other medicines. More simply, herbal teas are preparations that exploit the solvent effect of hot or cold water to extract medicinal substances from plant sources of health interest.

Ayurvedic tea

Ayurvedic teas are Ayurvedic herbal drinks, such as Agya Ghas, Yeshtimadhu, Tulasi etc. Many pharmacies now have them and sell them just like western medicines.

In addition to specific active ingredients, ayurvedic teas contain nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vanadium, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc.

Infusion, decoction and maceration are the three basic techniques for the homemade preparation of herbal teas; the choice of the most suitable extraction method depends on the characteristics of the vegetable sources and the active ingredients that are to be extracted from time to time.

Types

Macerated herbal tea: how is it prepared?

The macerated wine is left to stand the drug in water at room temperature, for periods that can vary from one day to several weeks. The residues (scum) must be retained by filtration and possible squeezing.

Little used for the preparation of herbal teas, the macerated is useful when the drug contains high percentages of thermolabile substances - which should be dispersed with high temperatures - or unwanted, which would be extracted in excess with heat.

Decoction herbal tea: how to prepare it?

The decoction is performed by immersing the drug in cold water in a covered container and brought to a boil for a time ranging from 5 minutes (softer fabrics such as flowers, leaves and flowering tops) to half an hour (more leathery parts, such as roots, branches, berries and barks). Followed by a maceration with the fire off for a few minutes and a final filtration.

Infused herbal tea: how to prepare it?

The infusion is prepared by pouring boiling water onto the drug and then leaving it to soak from 5 (mainly aromatic teas) to 20 minutes (mainly therapeutic teas) in a closed container with a lid. Compared to the decoction, the infusion is more suitable for extracting volatile components (irretrievably lost through boiling) from soft and delicate fabrics (flowers, leaves and aromatic herbs).

Preparation

How are herbal teas prepared?

The traditional preparation of the herbal tea meets very precise requirements and must include some fundamental elements:

  • Basic remedy
  • Adjuvant
  • Complement
  • Corrector.

Let's look at them in more detail.

Basic herbal tea remedy

The basic remedy ( remedium cardinale ) is the drug or set of drugs from which it is desired to extract the active principles of health / therapeutic interest.

Adjuvant of herbal teas

The adjuvant ( adjuvants ) is the drug or set of drugs that exert a synergistic action with the basic remedy or that favor its absorption (effect exerted by drugs rich in saponins).

Tisane complement

The complement ( constens ) is the drug or set of drugs capable of improving the appearance and texture of the herbal tea.

Herbal tea concealer

The corrector ( corrigens ) is the drug or set of drugs added to improve the organoleptic characteristics of the preparation.

Functions

Infusions: basic or cardinal remedies

Below we will present some examples of plants that can be associated to constitute the basic or cardinal remedy:

  • Aphrodisiac teas: Ginseng + Damiana; Ginseng + Echinacea
  • Bechic herbal teas: Eucalyptus + Grindelia; Enula + Grindelia
  • Herbal teas: Dandelion + Rhubarb
  • Digestive teas: Melissa + Mint
  • Diuretic teas: Asparagus + Horsetail
  • Purifying tisanes: Fumaria + Black Horseradish or Licorice + Burdock
  • Galattofore infusions: Galega + Cumin or Galega + Fennel
  • Cholesterol-lowering teas: Ortosiphon + Matè
  • Hypno-Inducing Teas: Escolzia + Hops or Hops + Passiflora or Piscidia + Passiflora
  • Hypotensive herbal teas: Mistletoe + Elderberry
  • Laxative teas: Senna + Frangola or Cascara sagrada + Rhubarb or Rhubarb + Frangola
  • Sedative teas: Passiflora + Hawthorn.

Examples of aromatic drugs

For aromatic teas it is advisable to use: mint, lemon balm, verbena, fennel, green anise, orange, licorice, basil, jasmine.

Examples of coloring drugs

For coloring herbal teas we recommend using: karkadè and rosolaccio (red), calendula (yellow), carcamo flowers (orange), red sandalwood.

Examples of herbal teas - Articles of deepening

Slimming herbal tea Purifying purifying tea Laxative tea Sedative herbal tea against anxiety and insomnia Cough herbal teaRhinella teaTisana against diarrheaTisane for menstruation Pain against cystitisTisane against haemorrhoidsTisane for lint against cough

use

Use of herbal teas today

Many people habitually consume herbal teas of various types, purchased at the supermarket and in general food stores.

If at one time their intake was linked above all to illness, today herbal teas are considered a simple delicacy, a daily ritual at the most useful for solving small and passenger disorders, or for alleviating tensions and stress of everyday life.

The preferred method of extraction in the domestic environment is the infusion, performed on special sachets containing specific mixtures of drugs.

Depending on the vegetable sources used, herbal teas can have slimming, draining, laxative, "anti-cellulite" properties, etc. Before examining the various types point by point, we report a series of general recommendations and recommendations.

Advice and Recommendations

Effectiveness and side effects of herbal teas

The infusion preparations available in supermarkets allow to obtain scarce herbal teas of active ingredients and with limited therapeutic power, useful for sipping something tasty or as an alternative to tea and coffee.

In herbalists, on the other hand, it is possible to buy the single drugs or mixtures already prepared, receiving personalized advice to prepare and take herbal teas with greater therapeutic effect, but also - potentially - greater side effects. For this reason, it is essential to request detailed information on the quantities of water and drugs to be used in the preparation of the herbal tea, on the methods and timing of preparation, as well as on the doses of intake. All these tips must be strictly followed.

Importance of the operator

It is very important to provide the herbalist with detailed information on his / her health status (including any allergies), on the reasons why his / her intervention is requested and on any medicines taken at the same time.

Medicinal herbs are not a game or a miraculous potion and as such should be used exclusively under the control of qualified professionals, based on the prescriptions of the doctor and his collaborators; only in this way can unnecessary risks be avoided by making the most of the therapeutic virtues of herbal teas.

It is therefore good practice to avoid self-medication. If you buy the various drugs from an herbalist, make sure of the seriousness of his work; Drugs that are too old or contaminated are certainly not useful for therapeutic purposes.

Drug conservation

For the same reason, keep the drugs purchased in the manner suggested by the herbalist (generally in shady, airy, cool and lightless areas). The containers used for the preparation of the herbal teas must be made of inert material, whereas enamelled or bare metal casseroles are not recommended.

Optimal consumption of herbal teas

Once prepared, the herbal tea must be drunk as soon as possible, as storage is limited (max 24-48 hours) and should be done by refrigeration.

To flavor teas it is best to avoid sugar; if possible, prefer a teaspoon of honey or increase the percentage of aromatic drugs on the advice of the herbalist.

Mixture of drugs

The national pharmacopoeia recommends never using more than eight different plant drugs; generally 4 or 5 are used.

The prescriptions, moreover, must be homogeneous, in the sense that the herbal teas must be prepared starting from plant drugs of similar consistency, for example leaves and flowers (which represent the tender tissues of the plant), or barks, seeds and roots.

According to what has been said about extractive methods, mixtures that are too heterogeneous (eg flowers and barks) produce herbal teas with a very relative utility.

risks

Infusions: are they harmful to health?

The herbal teas can be prepared with any type and vegetable component; some of these can be toxic, therefore the specific ingredients must necessarily be controlled individually for the health and safety of consumers.

The infusions sold at retail are for the most part considered safe, but the medicinal ones may contain active ingredients that cause damage if present in large quantities.

While most herbal teas are safe for regular consumption, some herbs have toxic or allergenic effects.

The major causes of concern include:

  • Comfrey, which contains alkaloids that can cause permanent liver damage in the event of chronic use.
  • Lobelia, which contains alkaloids similar (as effective) to nicotine.

Herbal teas can trigger different effects from person to person.

Furthermore, they can be incorrectly identified; for example, the Digitalis (botanical genus highly toxic for the content of "digitoxin") can be mistaken for the more benign (but still relatively toxic) Consolida maggiore .

Infusion of herbal teas

Depending on the ingredients, herbal teas can be contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals.

According to "Naithani & Kakkar" (2004), all herbal preparations should be checked to assess any toxic chemical residues, in order to reduce consumer concerns over alleged exposure to pesticides and to help promote global acceptance of these products.

Infusions in pregnancy

In addition to the universally toxic active ingredients, various medicinal herbs have abortive properties. It means that, if consumed by a pregnant woman, they could cause miscarriage.

Among these certain ingredients are very common, such as nutmeg, mace, papaya, bitter melon, verbena, saffron, elm and perhaps pomegranate.

There are also controversial or doubtful herbs, such as artemisia, ruta, mentuccia, wild carrot, blue cohosh ( Caulophyllum thalictroides ), tansy and juniper.