While we all appreciate the benefits of a rest, exercise, staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet, it’s easy for these things to go out the window at this busy time of the year.
1. Love Your Liver
Whether at work Christmas parties, lazy Sunday barbeques or New Year’s Eve, excess alcohol can tax the liver, making it harder for the body to cleanse itself of general toxins, which can leave you feeling tired, grumpy and irritable. Herbs have been used for countless generations to assist in the removal of toxins from the body, thereby helping the liver to deal with the stresses of everyday living, and helping your holiday season to be hangover-free.
Some of the most revered liver herbs are Milk Thistle [this herb protects liver cells from damage and mutation by toxic chemicals.] It is safe to take regularly and has a mild flavour. An extract powder is the most convenient way to take this herb, as the seeds must be crushed and boiled to make an effective tea. Mugwort which is best used as a tea has a very bitter increases the flow of bile in the liver, assisting with breaking down fat particles, and also relieving the digestive load on the liver, freeing the liver up to process toxins; dandelion root [this herb is one of the oldest used European medicine, and has been a crucial ingredient in the popular spring cleanse. Its liver cleansing properties help to flush and support a congested or intoxicated liver. This herb is very popular, when roasted and ground, as a healthy coffee alternative.]
Liver Lover Tea (Happy Herb Hangover Helper)
2 tsp Milk Thistle
2 tsp Licorice
2 tsp Burdock Root
2 tsp Dandelion Root
Method: Boil 1 Litre water, add herbs and simmer covered 15 mins, strain and drink before or within 12 hours after indulgence. Enjoy feeling better !
2. Nurture your Nervous System
The so-called silly season can feel overwhelming and the stress of children on holidays, Christmas shopping and hordes of family members descending on your doorstep can easily get to the calmest of us. Dealing with stress and nervous tension is something that herbs truly excel at!
Many different herbs make soothing and grounding teas that can be sipped regularly to sail peacefully through the festive season. Chamomile, passionflower and skullcap relieve stress and anxiety and are gentle enough to be taken regularly. They can also strengthen the nervous system, to assist with long-term stress management.
3. Rehydrate regularly
The intense heat and sun can easily lead to dehydration, especially if you are engaging in outdoor activities. Sunburn is also very dehydrating! Hydration is necessary for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, brain function and kidney function, to name just a few! Ensure you drink at least 2 litres of water per day. If you feel you may be dehydrated, an electrolyte-rich drink will replenish your body more quickly than pure water: try coconut water or water with a splash of orange or lemon juice.
4. Stimulate your digestion, naturally
Summertime and especially Christmas are times when gathering with friends and family for long lunches, warm evening feasts and end-of-year work lunches encourage us to not only eat more than usual, but also to indulge in rich, greasy or sweet foods that we would normally avoid. This can lead to both weight gain and indigestion.
Who doesn’t love an elaborate Christmas lunch with roast turkey, rich gravy, nuts, ham off the bone and desserts laden with cream and eggs? Although in moderation all of these foods are considered nutritious, moderation is rarely at play during the festive season. Throughout the ages, herbs have been used to improve digestion of fat and protein-rich foods, alleviating symptoms of indigestion, colic, bloating and over-fullness. A few cups of herbal teas, or a handy herbal extract product is a great thing to have on hand during the summer to assist with comfortable digestion.
Happy Herbs Digestive Tea
2 tsp Fennel
2 tsp Licorice
2 tsp Ginger
2 tsp Peppermint
2 tsp Chamomile
1 tsp Mugwort (optional)
Boil 1 Litre water, add fennel, licorice and ginger, simmer covered 10 mins, add remaining herbs, steep covered 10 mins, strain, enjoy!
Note: Hawthorn berries were traditionally used in gravies to stimulate digestion. Fennel seeds and ginger are rich in volatile oils that improve the digestion of fats and proteins, also relieving gas and bloating. Peppermint is safe and gentle for adults and children alike and relieves colic and reflux. Bitter herbs like mugwort and even chamomile increase the production of bile, which is necessary to digest oils.
5. Avoid the ‘summer spread’: support your metabolism
Gaining weight from our summer indulgences is the last thing on our agendas when we are preparing for a season of bikinis, short skirts and sleeveless tops. Luckily, there are a few simple things that we can do to mitigate the Christmas spread. Apart from the obvious and necessary early morning walks after an extravagant dinner (and who wouldn’t want to benefit from the longer sunny days and good weather anyway?), and tempering your food consumption when you are not out socialising, a number of excellent herbs can assist with carbohydrate metabolism and appetite control.
Garcinia cambogia has a traditional usage as a herb that balances sugar metabolism. Early research shows promising results with fat metabolism and weight loss. Yerba Mate is a South American herb that greatly curbs appetite, although it does contain caffeine so should be drunk in moderation. Cinnamon is a delicious spice that can be added to tea, desserts and cocktails that regulates blood sugar levels and increases metabolism.
- Milk Thistle: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/milk-thistle
- Mugwort: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-123-MUGWORT.asp...
- Dandelion: root: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion
- Hawthorn berries: http://www.askdrmao.com/natural-health-dictionary/hawthorn-berry/
- Fennel seeds: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-311-FENNEL.aspx?activeIngredientId=311&activeIngredientName=FENNEL
- Ginger: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginger
- Peppermint: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news44321.html
- Chamomile: http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/040310.htm
- Garcinia cambogia: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22530711
- Yerba maté: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics Volume 14 Issue 3 Page 243 - June 2001
- Cinnamon: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2602825/