Herbal medicinal tea and how to make your own, specifically choosing the right herb. Many of us enjoy a good cup of herbal tea just because, but today we'll look at using it in a medicinal capacity. Using herbs medicinally requires a few key things in order to be successful, both in the herb you choose and in the way you prepare it.
Listen in below to the full podcast, Episode #236 Herbal Medicinal Tea – How to Make Your Own of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we don’t just inspire you, but give you the clear steps to create the homegrown garden, pantry, kitchen and life you want for your family and homestead.
(To use herbs and spices to create your own natural remedies as well as an herbal medicine cabinet is something that many of you have told me you are interested in and that it’s also one of your goals to do more of this year. This is why in the Pioneering Today Academy we have an e-course so if you’re a current member you have access to it, but many of the members wanted more! So, beginning in March we’re going to start a monthly herbal deep dive. We’re going to feature a new herb each month and not only learn the different ways to use them medicinally, safety, but also tips for how to plant and harvest it. I’m opening the doors to the Academy. You will get a video, lesson, and a recipe that is normally for members only for free.)
Melissa: I'm really excited for our guest is CeAnne from Farm House Teas. I’m super excited to have her here today because not only is she knowledgeable, but I love what she and her family have been doing. So Ceanne, my friend, welcome to The Pioneering Today podcast.
CeAnne: Thanks for having me, Melissa.
Foundational Knowledge of Herbs
Melissa: CeAnne is also a guest teacher inside The Pioneering Today Academy. So, members of the Academy, you are going to recognize CeAnne as you're already familiar with her fabulous teaching style. But today, we're going to be diving into the number one thing, using herbs not just for flavoring but medicinally.
What's the difference between your regular herb you might pick up at the grocery store for cooking versus using any herb medicinally.
CeAnne: The biggest difference is that you have Sage that you put on your chicken, but you can also take that same Sage and use it medicinally in the right ways. You get a powerful medicine from this common herb.
3 parts to using herbs medicinally
- The quality and the quantity of the herb that you're using. Like I mentioned you can put a little bit on your roasted chicken and that's kind of a spice.
- You steep it for a long period of time in larger amounts, then you end up pulling out the medicinal qualities of the Sage. You want to use larger amounts of the Sage when you're doing that, not just steeping it longer.
- And then you also need to use the Sage for the right situation. So Sage will do certain things, but if it's not the right situation, the Sage isn't going to work.
I think that when people start to use herbs medicinally without having a foundational understanding like we're talking about today, they feel like the herbs don't work. It's because:
- They may have picked the wrong herbs for the situation as you said.
- If they take it, they expect it to just take one cup of tea for it to work.
For example, if you take an over the counter medicine, like acetaminophen or something like that. Herbs don't work in the same manner. I feel a lot of people say, ‘Oh, I tried herbs and it didn't do anything for me.’ I feel we don’t give it a fair chance or maybe we didn't use it in the right way. I personally love Sage for teas. When I have a cold, I've really found Sage to be soothing and helpful for my throat. But how would you go determining if Sage is something that you would maybe want to be used to aid you when you aren't feeling so well with a cold or the flu?
CeAnne: We need to understand herbs and what they do, their medicinal actions, and how they affect the body. And we do that using herbal monographs, which is a one-page in-depth story about individual herbs. I don't know if everyone is familiar with the MSDS sheet for chemicals, but that it explains what all the chemicals can do and how they can harm you in the safety precautions. And it's essentially the same thing for an herbal monograph and will tell us what the herb does, its safety precautions, and when it's good to use and when it's not good to use.
Melissa: Where do people, if they're brand new to herbs, find this information? Is there an online resource or are you researching and creating a document for the different herbs with this info? Or is there places where this has already been done?
CeAnne: There are some books here and there, but they can be really hard to find. So it's gathering from this herbal book or that herbal book or studies online that were done and then putting it together and what's called a materia Medica. It’s an herbal journal that includes all of the herbal monographs that I've put together or you can find materia Medica that has already been put together, but it's really scattered. It's kind of a knowledge that's been lost over time. You know, our great grandmothers and our grandmothers didn't really pass that information down.
Do Your Research
Melissa: I've definitely experienced that. My mom didn't use herbs at all and I don't really know if my grandmother, my mom's mom, used herbs. So you're right. I feel like it was the 1940s and in the 1950s where we really started to have what is known as our modern medicine and where it was formed. But prior to that, when it was really just herbs, that was the main thing that most moms and households had at their disposal. Less than a hundred years and a couple of generations was considered common info back then and has really been lost and it hasn't been passed down and taught, sadly. But on the up hand, it's really exciting to see people becoming more and more interested in and a lot of this information is now being shared and you do have to be careful with where you're getting your information online and doing your due diligence. I always like to research from at least two or three different spots myself and cross-reference things. On making your sheets, do you have a template or something like that on the different aspects that you like to record when you're doing yours on each individual herb?
CeAnne: We have a download on our website that goes over each subject. It's something that can be filled out as you're studying to make sure you cover all your bases and don't miss something. Click here to get the free Materia Medica Worksheet
Finding Quality Ingredients
Melissa: Perfect. I’ve included the link below in the resources section. We're talking about the importance of making sure that you're picking the right herb for the right ailment, I think something that can sometimes be overlooked as well as the importance of your quality of ingredients with the herbs. So I'd love for you to kind of break that down for us.
CeAnne: Kind of like with our food, you know that tomatoes that we grow in our garden, we pick when it's fresh, it has a lot more nutrients in it than a tomato you would purchase in the grocery store in December, January. Those tomatoes had to travel long distances to make it to your grocery store. It was picked when it was green, so that's the same with medicinal herbs. You know that the tomatoes you grow in your yard are going to have a lot more powerful punch than the ones that you're going to get from an herb supplier that was dry and maybe has been in storage for three years. You don't know what kind of storage. If it was exposed to light, you don't really know how it was dried and so maybe the quality of the herb was compromised while it was being dried. There's a lot of things that go into making sure you have a quality herb when you're using medicinals.
Melissa: When you're drying herbs we want them to obviously be fully dried but we don't want them exposed to a lot of high temperatures because we don't want them cooked. Sometimes the higher the heat, the higher attempts can degrade some of the medicinal properties. So when I'm drying mine, if I'm not just air drying them and keeping them out of direct sunlight, I always use the lowest setting on my dehydrator, which is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Is that kinda what you mean by if it wasn't dried the correct way temperature or are there other nuances or different things that can also affect it?
CeAnne: Yes, you want to have the right temperature so you're not overheating or you're not under drying it because then you end up with something that's moldy and musty and that's not really something you want to be steeping for longer periods of time because you don't want to steep mold in your tea. Also, keep in mind with the heat, we want to keep the nutrients in there. If you dry them too hot, then it's going to deplete the nutrients and herbs.
Herbs vs. Spices
Melissa: Now for me, there are some herbs and probably I should say a little bit of a difference here too because I think a lot of times, even myself, I almost always use this interchangeably. What I'm saying, herbs versus spices, because most herbs, there are some that are going to depend on your growing climate and everything. For the most part, people in a lot of majority of climates, you can grow a lot of those herbs at home, but a lot of those spices are going to be harder to grow at home. Do you want to share what the difference is? Maybe a lot of people do group spices like I do kind of with herbs, but we're more talking about like the leaf or the flower herbs right now, right?
CeAnne: Yes. Let’s take cinnamon for example. Cinnamon is not something people are going to grow or start. They need a really warm climate, usually tropical or desert kind of climate. So they are going to be hard to grow. When we talk about growing our own herbs and our medicinals on our property, we're usually referring to leafy herbs like thyme or oregano and also the flowers like calendula and lavender and even some fruit leaves like raspberry leaf.
Melissa: Red raspberry leaf is actually one of my favorites! I grow raspberries as well, and I also harvest and use those herbs. I harvest them in the springtime. I'm glad that we kind of made that distinction because I think sometimes I'm guilty of this too, I clump them together.
Let’s say there is an herb that I don't have growing and I want to add in one or two more to my own herb garden. So I can become more self-sufficient and have control over that quality, the harvest, and the processing. But for those that maybe are just starting but they want to start blending and making their own teas and using herbs more but they don't have them growing yet. What are some specific things someone can look for if they are looking to purchase them from somewhere instead of growing them?
CeAnne: A lot of them might grow from seed if possible. There are things like Rose petals where you're not going to grow those from seed and roses themselves are kind of special because you want to make sure they're not sprayed. So you really need to know your source. Also, wild roses have more medicinal qualities than domesticated roses. So there are certain plants where you need to know a bit more. If you're starting things like thyme or oregano, know those are usually started from seed and make sure you have good quality seed, maybe organic and non-GMO.
Melissa: Since you brought up roses, what would you use since we are talking about those medicinal properties especially, the older, more cottage type varieties and the wild ones? What are some ways that you actually do use that medicinally? And what are some of the medicinal properties that the Rose has?
CeAnne: Rose petals themselves can be very uplifting and help the mood. What roses are really known for the hips, the fruit of the Rose. And those rose hips are just packed with tons of vitamin C. In fact, they have more vitamin C than oranges. So they are really great for cold and flu season and they go really well with elderberries.
Melissa: Do you have any wild varieties? I really don't see very many wild varieties. I don't see wild roses growing. So I want to look at getting some. Do you have any recommendations on certain varieties? I realize as we're talking about this, CeAnne’s farm is in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest. We have similar growing conditions, but it's going to vary obviously where you live. But do you have any favorite wild varieties that you grow?
CeAnne: I'm kind of spoiled because when we moved to our home we unburied a bunch of wild ones so I haven't had to go looking yet.
Melissa: You are very spoiled! I have been meaning to look up some plants so this will help motivate me. So in the show notes for today's post, I will make sure that I give you my findings and we'll have some listings of some wild rose varieties that all of us can check out to put in our gardens.
CeAnne: It didn't really come with a tag so I can't really say, I just know it's a wild rose and it was buried enough that it was definitely wild.
Melissa: So I'll have to ask you, what color is the blossom on your wild Rose?
CeAnne: They're kind of a magenta.
Melissa: Very pretty! I think that's one of my other favorite things about growing herbs in the garden. They are really beautiful and even like thyme and oregano, we'll have some lovely blossoms. I always feel like I'm getting two things at once and I see the beauty.
How to Properly Steep Medicinal Tea
So we were talking earlier about sage and I've really noticed too, cause if I'm just drinking a cup of tea for just the pure enjoyment. When you are making a cup of tea medicinal wise, there are some definite steps that you need to do a little bit different when you're brewing to get more out of that urban to make it a medicinal cup of tea versus just one for enjoyment. Can you walk us through the proper steeping time and making a cup of medicinal tea?
CeAnne: When you're making medicinal tea, we have what's called an herbal infusion and then a decoction.
A decoction is used more for roots like dandelion root or astragalus root. When you make a decoction you are going to use more herbs and you're going to boil it in a pot, kind of like a reduction.
When you're making an herbal infusion and you're going to use like three to four times the amount of herbal material which changes depending on what you're steeping. Then you're going to infuse it for a longer period of time. Usually, herbal tea is usually steeped for five to seven minutes, but with this one, you're going to steep this one for 20 minutes, or longer depending on what you're doing.
Melissa: Are there a few herbs where you wouldn't want to use that high of a concentration?
CeAnne: Yes, it's going to depend on your blend and just what actions that herbs have and how strong of an action they have.
Melissa: Okay, another thing that I did not know when I first started making medicinal teas and, or as you said, an herbal infusion is I didn't know that you should cover the top of the cup as it's steeping so that you're not losing a lot of those things in the steam as it goes out. You want to trap in the water there and I didn't know that until just a couple of years ago. And so now I always cover it, but I didn't know that before. So I just wanted to throw that in there because I was ignorant of that fact for quite a while.
CeAnne: You don't want those volatile oils escaping in the steam cause those are some of your best medicinal properties in there. So like peppermint, for instance, most people are familiar with peppermint essential oils. When you're steeping as strong infused in a peppermint, you've got some of those oils in there too. So, if you don't cover it then they escape cause the steam takes it with them.
Finding the Right Herbs for the Right Person
Melissa: Okay, good. I'm, I'm glad that we covered that because like I said, I for a long time I was not, I was losing some of the potency. Let's talk a little bit more about the right herbs for the right person.
CeAnne: I have a good story. We used to sell our teas at the farmer's market and we had a few wellness teas and one of them was called Ma’s Tummy Tea and we would have men come over and pick it up, just curious what it was and then look at it and set it down in a hurry and walk off like they thought touching the tea was going to make them start nursing. Obviously we know that's not going to work and even if you knew one of us who wasn't nursing a baby would drink it, it's not going to do that to us because we just, it's not the right herb for the right situation. You really have to have the right herbs for the right person. And then again, if you drank one cup of that, it's not going to do anything to you. But if you know, and used a daily infusion of that and if you're a nursing mother, then it's going to be helpful to you.
Melissa: I'm assuming that it was to help aid milk production?
CeAnne: Right, to increase milk production.
Melissa: Okay. Is that milk thistle? I'm trying to remember now. It's been a while since I was a nursing mom and I'm trying to remember some of the main ones that were recommended back then.
CeAnne: The only one I can remember is fenugreek seed. I'd have to look at the package. We have so many teas. I have trouble remembering which ingredients are in which. We also have a Ma’s Tummy Tea and they often get mixed up because the names are similar. So they need to look at the ingredient list and check because we have a fertility tea and it has red raspberry leaf in it.
You might know that and maybe you don't, so there is some caution in using that in the first trimester and even the second trimester. So we have to make sure we have warnings on there. We don't want anything to happen to the person drinking it because they thought the wrong herbs and the wrong tea.
Melissa: I think that's really smart because I've mentioned this in the past on different herbal podcasts because there are so many different misconceptions with herbs. If they don't work or those different things we kind of talked about already. I do believe that natural is best, but that doesn't mean that it's completely safe. It doesn't mean that it's dangerous either. But you really have to do your research and like you said earlier:
- Create a sheet
- Understand the mechanisms and how it's actually working in the body for that desired effect or what it's recommended to be used for.
There are instances, depending upon the situation and the reason or medical conditions, etc, it could be harmful and it could be dangerous, but in a different situation, it could be absolutely fine. I'm really glad that you brought that up.
Herbal Tea Guide for Single Vs Multiple Blends
Another thing I think would be great to talk about too is how do you decide using a single herb. We talked about making a sage tea during cold and flu season or a peppermint tea but how do you decide, especially with that medicinal aspect in mind, not just flavor though. I do like my tea to taste good but how do you decide between using a singular herb or blending and coming up with multiple herbs in a tea?
CeAnne: We use what's called the tea triangle and there are three sections in this triangle.
- We've got our primary herbs and those make up the bulk of the tea.
- Then there's our nourishing and supporting herbs and those are about 20 to 30% of the blend.
- Finally, we have our catalyst herbs at the top and those are 3 to 5%.
It's a formula we use when we're blending our teas. And that primary or we might put the Sage there because we want to work on a sore throat. And then that supporting and nourishing section in the middle, that might be some other herbs. This got some nutrition that's specific to helping like say a cold or flu because usually, the sore throat is coming with those other symptoms. And then at the top, we have our catalyst herbs and those are the ones that kind of get the other two herbs moving and put them into action. And those are usually kind of a spicy herb. They get the blood flowing and they get things moving along.
Melissa: I really like how you broke that down and explained it. The other thing that I find really fascinating with the different blends that you've shared with me. I have to tell you guys that are listening that CeAnne has a new tea blend that was based on my immune-boosting tea and we were going back and forth with what to call it. Because it does definitely help aid the throat, we came up with… Do you want to share the name that we came up with?
CeAnne: My husband actually named it Yodel Ay Tea Hoo.
Melissa: Which I love because fun side note and you guys will have to tell me if I get enough requests, I may, I have not been brave enough to actually yodel, but I do yodel. I'm not great by any means. CeAnne was the first person outside of my immediate family, who I've ever yodeled for when we were bouncing this back and forth. I sent it to her in a voice message, but what was really fun is how CeAnne shared with me that she has a family member who's actually a professional yodeler and they were fantastic. Anyways, so that was really fun. So if enough of you ask, I may yodel either on a YouTube video or an Instagram story, but we'll just see.
CeAnne's Free Workshop
Melissa: Back to my main point, sorry about that guys, we've got storytime, it's a podcast, we get to do stories and I'm a little bit of a squirrel, but what I love is the majority of the herbal teas and the things that you teach can easily be grown in most climates and in your backyard. You can literally grow your medicine and then figure out ways to combine it into these different tea blends. Some are fun just for culinary, but really so you can blend a tea that does taste good but really has some great strong medicinal properties to it. And like you said with that formula that you guys use, which I love making them each work complementary and actually heightening the ability for them to get into the body and to start to do their thing based on the way that you blend it. You have come up with, which I think is fabulous because you have been a guest teacher in the Academy for me for I think at least two years and now you are doing, a free do it yourself tea blending workshop. So do you kind of want to walk us through what's covered in this free workshop?
CeAnne: Yes! We started out by dehydrating some of our own ingredients. We mentioned earlier knowing how something was stored and prepared is really important for the quality. So we started out by dehydrating herbs without any equipment. So there's no need to buy anything special and it can be done overnight. And then we move on to blending two teas, one for digestive health and the other for cold and flu and we go over the things we talked about, and the quality and the quantity of the herb, that one thing that people usually get wrong with herbs.
Melissa: Okay, I love this. So you will be able to go, check out, and get signed up for CeAnne’s workshop and you can do so at melissaknorris.com/tea and that will take you straight to the page to get signed up and to go through CeAnne’s free course. I think sometimes we think we have to have a ton of space in order to be able to grow a lot and you guys grow a lot at your home, on your property, enough actually for your guys' business, which is farmhouse teas and you're doing this on a business capacity, not just a home capacity on how much space?
CeAnne: We have just under two acres. I think it's around 1.8. So we focus on growing the things that we can't find anywhere else. We do a lot of blue bachelor buttons or maybe there's an herb or flower that we can't find the quality that we'd want for it and so we do that here. So it really depends on which thing. I mean obviously, like cinnamon, we can’t grow that here so.
Melissa: Yeah, same here. I love that because you guys are growing and producing enough of this to actually run a tea business, which is going to require a lot larger volume in order to support all of this. And also I love that because I do buy teas from you guys as well that when I get teas from you, I know that a lot of the ingredients have been grown by your family on your farm. I'm using natural and organic practices, so that's really cool. But the other reason I really wanted to highlight that for people is because if you're just doing this for your home use, even if you have just a small backyard or even a patio, you're actually going to be able to grow more herbs then I then you probably think you can, so I want to just make sure people knew that.
Melissa: Well, thank you. It's so much for coming on today. It was so much fun getting to talk with you and getting people more people excited about not only growing their own herbs but making their own medicine specifically with different herbal tea blends. So thank you.
CeAnne: Thank you for having me.
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