Herbal teas have been used for centuries as an alternative to mainstream medicine for minor ailments and health complaints.
The ancient Egyptians used many herbs and spices as medicine, and although we now have advanced pharmaceuticals available to cure our ills, a cup of herbal tea is a great thing to try if you are suffering from the common cold, have indigestion or simply have trouble falling asleep.
Firstly you might be wondering – what exactly is herbal tea?
Herbal tea (sometimes called a tisane) is a blend of herbs, fruits and spices that is steeped like regular tea and is caffeine free. You can get herbal teas in loose leaf blends, as a single herb or spice, or in commercially made tea bags that you can now find on supermarket shelves. They have the benefit of being naturally caffeine free and are also great-tasting. They are suitable for all ages (please check with your GP if you have any pre-existing health conditions) and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Due to many herbal teas having a strong fruit element or influence, they also taste great iced, and are a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks.
Here are some of our favourite herbal teas that have been traditionally used to help with sleep:
Lavender – probably the most well-known of sleepy herbs, lavender is used widely for all things relaxation. Some people are averse to the aroma and in some cases it can cause headaches – so if you are not a fan of lavender try one of the below alternatives. Culinary grade dried lavender flowers are a great addition to any pantry, as well as being able to steep some in a teapot for a relaxing cuppa before bed there are many other uses for it too. You can make delicious butter lavender cookies with them, or throw a handful in your bath for extra relaxation.
Chamomile – another old favourite – chamomile tea has been used for centuries to help with sleep issues. The herb has also been shown to be very efficient with pets too – if your dog is anxious you can make them a chamomile tea or let them eat the raw herb. Chamomile has also been used to relieve general stress and also as a hair lightener! Chamomile is the multi-tasker of herbal teas!
Lemon Verbena – if the particular flavours of chamomile or lavender aren’t your cup of tea, then the fresh and citrusy lemon verbena may be more enjoyable. As well as being traditionally used for insomnia, it is also well known for helping ease cold symptoms and aiding indigestion or heartburn. Another citrus tea that is well known as a relaxant is lemon balm – which can also be grown easily in your garden for constant supply.
The best way to try herbal teas is to buy a pre-made blend – this way you know the doses you are taking are safe for consumption, as herbs can be a very powerful treatment.
You can find many options on the shelf at your local supermarket or health store – with lots of different sleepy tea flavours and blends.