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3 Ways to Incorporate Herbal Medicine Into Your Self-Care Routine
Herbal medicine is the age-old practice of using plants to impact health. In modern industrialized society, we may often feel disconnected from plants and their ability to heal, but there are a variety of ways to incorporate herbs into your self care routine to build a closer connection with nature.
Here’s our top 3:
1. Herbal tea
Herbal teas are widely available and benefits range from improved digestion, detoxification, sleep, anxiety, immunity and respiration.
Herbal teas are made by drying out herbs and then adding them to boiling hot water to steep for about 15 minutes. The hot water draws out medicinal components from dried herbs called volatile oils.
In addition to the medicinal properties of the plants, the steam acts to clear out the nasal sinuses, and the increased water intake contributes to healthy, hydrated skin.
Herbal teas are caffeine free so can be enjoyed at any time of day. Some of the most popular options are ginger or chamomile to aid digestion, or valerian tea to aid with sleep.
Enjoying the smell of plants is a quick and easy way to uplift your mood and energy. Essential oils can be applied directly to the skin or added to a diffuser to brighten up the smell of your space.
Different scents are used to bring energy up or down, to induce relaxation, to clear the airways and to improve digestion.
Lavender is a calming scent often used to lessen anxiety and induce sleep. It can be applied to the temples, added to a hot bath or diffuser around bedtime, or spritzed on a pillow.
On the other hand, citrus scents like orange oil are very uplifting and can be rubbed on the temples if you experience a mid afternoon energy crash.
Going into the winter months, eucalyptus oil is a great option to have on hand to clear the sinuses and benefit the immune system. It can be added to a pot of boiling water and inhaled as a steam inhalation.
You may recognize this class of herbs as an ingredient in your favourite cocktail. The medicinal components of bitter herbs are extracted in alcohol for a number of weeks, which lends to the bitter taste.
This taste sends a signal to your brain to stimulate the flow of stomach acid and other digestive enzymes, so bitter drinks have traditionally been consumed before or after meals (think digestif/apperetif) to aid in digestion.
Add 10-20 drops to some soda water or a cocktail after a meal and notice the settling effect it has on your stomach.
Whether you’re using herbal medicine in food or drinks, inhaling scents, or putting it on your skin, there are a number of other ways to incorporate herbs into your life. We hope you try out these simple ways to improve your mood, digestion and hydration.
Written by Susan Gillis, Naturopathic Doctor
Susan is a naturopathic doctor and yoga instructor based out of downtown Toronto. She loves to take care of people so that they have more energy to devote to their passions.