Real Food Rehab

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While we're talking about hydration this week, I have to talk a bit about my love of tea, specifically herbal blends. Although much scientific research has shown significant health benefits in drinking black, white and green teas, I personally gravitate towards natural, organic herbal blends because they are typically caffeine free and hold many healing properties.

One of my most favorite teas is South African Rooibos. The recent discovery of its high antioxidant polyphenolic content has resulted in its rapid growth in popularity around the globe. The mild, yet delicious flavor of rooibos (pronounced Roy-Boss) has made it very popular to drink on its own and it has also become a big player in many herbal tea blends.

In addition to its high level of polyphenolic antioxidants, another reason that rooibos has become so popular among health conscious circles is that it is totally caffeine-free. It also possesses a low level of tannins, and hence it lacks the bitter astringent taste experienced with many other teas. The low tannin content of rooibos is an advantage for persons with digestive problems who have difficulty with tannin-rich beverages. Tannins bind iron and therefore reduce the absorption of non-heme iron. This can be significant for those with marginal iron intake. Some teas like black tea may inhibit iron as much as 80 to 90 percent.

Possibly due to its high flavonoid content, rooibos is reported to have antispasmodic properties, and is commonly used in South Africa to treat babies that have colic and stomach cramps. South Africans also use the tea for calming intestinal spasms and digestive upsets in adults. Because it is rich in polyphenolic antioxidants, it is claimed that rooibos tea should protect one against cardiovascular disease. It has been found to be of some help in preventing diabetic vascular complications.

Rooibos has the ability to inhibit skin tumors. Its flavonoids can protect against unwanted genetic damage to cells. An extract of the tea has been shown to augment antibody production with the generation of interleukin-10. At present, scientists are evaluating the effect of rooibos tea in providing protection against liver and colon cancer. It can activate an enzyme system known for its ability to clear the body of cancer-causing agents.

Rooibos tea is commonly used for respiratory disorders. The tea is rich in flavonoids that provide selective bronchodilator effects and anti-inflammatory activity. Some have claimed that rooibos can also help with allergies, eczema, and other ailments but many of the health claims made for rooibos have not been verified by scientific research. A Japanese study did establish that patients with dermatitis showed a significant decrease in itching when using rooibos.

The antioxidants of rooibos tea may be useful in helping to prevent the changes in the aging brain. Experiments have revealed that rooibos tea can prevent age-related accumulation of lipid oxidation products in several regions of the brain of rats. If this can also be shown true for humans, rooibos could prove useful as an anti-aging agent.


Most health food grocers now carry rooibos. I personally LOVE my vanilla roobios tea and I know it has been my biggest help in giving up my morning coffee addiction.


Next on my list is an ancient tea that I newly discovered  - Gynostemma Pentaphyllum (botanical name), or Jiaogulan (Chinese name), is a five leafed adaptogenic herb. It has the unique ability of restoring homeostatis (balance and equilibrium) to all five body systems. The body systems are the cardiovascular, digestive, immune, nervous and reproductive system.

 The chemical constituents responsible for the adaptogenic characteristic of Gynostemma are saponins. Gynostemma contains the widest range of saponins from all the plants in nature. There are more than 75 different saponins in Gynostemma Pentaphyllum which is nearly four times the number of saponins found in Ginseng.

 Gynostemma has developed a large following in Asia in weight control programs. It has a double direction efficacy regarding body weight. It will help reduce weight in overweight people and help slim people and athletes to gain weight. It helps adjust blood sugar levels and reduce blood fat (hyperlipidemia) which are vital steps in attaining healthy metabolic function. Gynostemma helps maintain healthy bowels. It acts as a cleanser in the stomach and intestines, eliminating the body of toxins and waste.

 As an antioxidant, gynostemma boosts the immune system by increasing the number and activity level of white blood cells. It strengthens the digestive system by assisting in liver function. It helps relieve stress by soothing and relaxing the central nervous system. It is calming when one is overexcited and stimulating when one is depressed. Studies have shown that Gynostemma is useful in a number of neurological conditions, including depression, anxiety & stress.

Studies using Gynostemma to treat type 2 diabetic patients showed a prompt improvement of glycemia and insulin sensitivity thereby providing a basis for an effective and safe approach to treat this illness.

Studies into the anti cancer activity of Gynostemma have shown a significant inhibition rate on a broad cross section of cancer cells. Intensive studies are being conducted into both its anti cancer activity and its potential as an immune protection / prophylactic agent for HIV infected patients. There is research indicating that Gynostemma may prevent cells from becoming cancerous in the first place and may disrupt cell division in existing cancer cells.

Along with rooibos, there are so many other fantastic herbal teas to chose from. Here is a short list of some that you might enjoy:

Persimmon Tea
This is a wonderful health tonic that is strong and rich. Drink it all year round as it is rich in Vitamin C.

Sassafras Tea
Sassafras tea is said to be a blood thinner and blood purifier. It may help bronchitis symptoms and can be used as a spring tonic. When used fresh you can boil the roots after washing them thoroughly. Don't throw the roots away after making your herbal tea, you can use slice and dry them and use them again.

Birch Tea
Use white, black, or yellow birch leave. Just dry the leaves, store in an airtight container and enjoy all year long. Birch is said to be a beneficial tea for rheumatism and headaches. Just drink one or two cups a day. You can also reduce the pain of passing kidney stones or help to reduce a fever. It also makes a wonderful mouthwash.

Blackberry Leaf/Raspberry Tea
Use these leaves all year round. Just dry the mature leaves to help keep the blood pure, and a good all around tonic. As a blood purifier you don't have to worry, as you can use it all year long.

Blueberry Tea
Yes, the leaves of berry plants are excellent herbs that have beneficial properties just as the berries are rich in antioxidants. Use the mature dried lobby steeping them as directed and then you can drink chilled, or hot depending on your preference.One to two cups per day act as a blood purifier and tonic. Blueberry tea has also been known to help with inflamed kidneys or assist in increasing the flow of urine. This tea is somewhat bitter so you may want to sweeten with a bit of agave nectar, honey, or stevia.

Alfalfa Tea
This tea has wonderful vitamin contents, but the leaves and flower heads are kind of bland. So mix them with other types of teas. Alfalfa is great to have on hand because you can use it to stretch and mix with other teas and enhance the teas beneficial properties. Alfalfa has also been known to help with arthritis symptoms.


Strawberry Leaf Tea
This tea is best steeped overnight. Just strain and reheat in the am and enjoy. Strawberry leaf tea has been used to treat a multitude of symptoms from eczema to stomach issues. It is important to be sure the leaves are completely dried other wise they can become toxic. But once completely dried you can use them all year long.

Strain water and reheat in the morning. Believed to help with a multitude of things, from stomach troubles, eczema, diarrhea, etc. According to experts, it is much more healthful than purchased coffee or teas.

Rose Hips Tea
Rose Hips are excellent for their Vitamin C content. Just steep for ten minutes, then strain to make a healthy tea. You can use dried rosehips or even fresh when in season. Instead of boiling the rosehips place a handful of them in cool water overnight. The nutritious content will seep into the water. You can easily strain, and heat in the am, or when you which a cup.

Use Rose Hips all year long, and the vitamin content will help keep ward off colds and flu. It is also a beneficial tea for a sore throat.

Peppermint Tea
Ah, a favorite for many people, Peppermint is easy to grow and easy to use. Just pick the leaves fresh from the garden. You can crush them and steep the leaves fresh, or you can dry them and use them as you would any herbal tea.

Peppermint tea is super as a natural digestion aid. Drink as an after-dinner tea for aiding digestion.

Nettle Tea
Besides Rooibos, nettle tea (from the herb, Stinging Nettle) is in my primo pick for Rawk Star tea. The following are nettle tea's more well-known health benefits....it fights coughs, tuberculosis and asthma, counters arthritis, rheumatism, tendonitis and other disorders of the muscles and joints, combats a variety of intestinal disorders, fights skin problems, tea fights allergies like eczema, and hay fever and it is used to treat urinary tract infections,

Holy Tea
This herbal tea blend is perfect as a weightloss and detox tea. It is a proprietary blend of several organic herbs. When the body is supported with natural herbs designed to help the body gently detox it helps the immune system work better to keep us healthy.
Also be sure to visit my friend Angela's section on Teas, Infusion and Elixers in the Liquid Lounge
I would LOVE to hear about what teas you enjoy drinking in the comments below.

This post was written with the help of vegetarian-nutrition.info/herbs/rooibos.php,  healthynewage.com, gynostemma.org & teabenefits.com

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My grandma always swore by sassafras tea and persimmon tea. She had a huge persimmon tree growing in her backyard when I was growing up as a child ( she raised me when my parents divorced when I was 6), I loved Persimon pudding mmmm but of course she'd dollop it with cool whip or whip cream of some kind so I wont go there lol
I"ve been wanting to try something besides water to hydrate and I have heard many herbal teas have relaxing effects and boost your immune system and we can all use that after a hard days work!
Thanks so much for your info Penni and have a wonderful time in Oklahoma City! We all love and miss you! Hugggs
I take fresh mint, the juice of one lemon or lime, and about 1/4 cup sweetener (raw honey or raw agave) and I blend that up until well mixed. That's my concentrate. Then I put it in a pitcher and add 2 quarts spring water.

This herbal tea, I call "Mint Lemonade/Limeade" tastes better than any cold tea you can get in the store.
I still struggle with my coffee desires, but after reading this, a trip to the store for some teas is in order! Thank you so much for the information and inspiration!
Oh anything that will "prevent age-related accumulation of lipid oxidation products in several regions of the brain" has got to be tried. Hate those lipid oxidation products ;-)

I love the vitamin C packed tea made from the roselle calyx(Hibiscus sabdariffa), I add it to my white and green teas that I enjoy. It's great by itself as it's caffeine free!

In the summer I make it into a refreshing ice tea!
I drink Sea Teas. I kinda dubbed this my invention, but I'm sure it's really not. My favorite is Bladderwrack, which is a sea green. There's many different kinds of sea greens. Sea Lettuce is a milder taste, but still sea tasting. If you like the taste of the ocean (minus the salt), you will like Sea Teas. I loved as a kid, diving into the waves in the ocean and ending up with a mouthfull/nosefull of sea water.

You can prepare these the same way as you prepare any herbal tea. I boil water, put my loose tea in my french coffee/tea press, and let it steep, then press. It can also be prepared like Sun Teas or even allowed to steep overnight, but it's not as strong.

I drink these for two reasons - first for my thyroid and second for hydration. They DO taste sea-like though, so it's not for the faint of heart. If you don't like that ocean taste, you won't like sea tea, but I personally love that taste and my thyroid sure likes it.
Rosehip and peppermint are my 2 favorite teas. I also have some gingerroot tea. Kinda spicy for me but good.
What a great blog today! Love teas and love the medicinal qualities. Sassafras and Birch were always twigs and leaves we would suck on while out hiking in the mountains of PA. Lots of people made homemade root beer drinks from these.
I still love my Yogi Kombucha Green tea and Eden Hojicha Roasted Green tea but they both have caffeine.
Alvita makes a whole line of caffeine-free herbal teas. One of my favorites is Mullein which I drink faithfully when I get a cough that needs to have the "stuff" loosened up and purged out. It's a very mild pleasant tasting tea and it's just perfect to use as soon as you start coughing so you don't get the buildup in your chest that worsens over time. The other Alvita teas in my collection: Yellow Dock; Spearmint; Dandelion Root; Hawthorn Berries (good for the heart); Burdock Root.
Another brand I love is Traditional Medicinals: Organic Throat Coat caffeine free (and they make other blends for specific issues)

Thank you so much Penni! I'm off to make a pot of Rooibos...cheers everyone <3
Another brand I like is Yogi Tea. They have a lot of different teas for different purposes...fasting tea, mother's tea, etc. They have teas for mood, flavor, and purpose.
Im a tea girl and Rooiboos has been a favourite of mine for a couple years. Absolute yumm! :)
Took my daughter to a tea house for afternoon tea fairly recently and came home with a lovely organic blueberry Green Tea, its like a sweet taste of heaven.
Drink up! and enjoy! :)
Hi Lucy, I'm with you! love the Yogi teas and they have it all whatever I'm in a mood for. I'm known to drink at least 3 cups of tea a day, tea and water is all I ever drink, the occasional almond milk, but my favs are tea and water.
Cher

Veganforlife said:
Another brand I like is Yogi Tea. They have a lot of different teas for different purposes...fasting tea, mother's tea, etc. They have teas for mood, flavor, and purpose.
There is something sooo soothing about a fresh cuppa tea! : )
Nice to have these tea fixings in the back yard. I have two white birch trees at my house in New Hampshire. Going to have to ask my sister to send me some leaves. Used to get Sassafras roots when I camped with my Boy Scout Troop , In the Dismal Swamp near Norfolk Virginia.

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