Lavender tea's delicate, aromatic flavour drifts you to a good night's sleep. Here's why + a sleepy time tea recipe
We love our lavender, don't we? It's one of the most loved fragrances in the world, known for its restful calming effects, making it an essential in a sleepy time tea. Move over chamomile, make room for lavender!
Lavender tea is made from the fresh or dried buds of the Lavender flower, Lavendula angustifolia. Originating in the Mediterranean, it is now cultivated all over the world, including in my garden! Lavender brings a distinctive flavour and aromatic fragrance to foods. My son, Javid, flavours the most delicious ice creams with it; his gal Bri likes to flavour cakes and icing with it; and we make a simple syrup to add to drinks. Gin and lavender tonics anyone? I also use Lavender in my body care products for its calming scent and capacity to maintain clear skin complexioned boost cellular health. And I use it in a tea blend I make for a relaxed night's sleep. Between care taking of Thom and the garden, running all things Free Lion and being there for my boyz-to-men as required, I find getting a solid sleep can make all the difference to my day ahead.
But let's get back to talking tea. Lavender is a herb and a member of the mint, oregano and rosemary family. So it comes by its health benefits honestly. But what can a lavender tea do for you?
1. Improve Sleep
Lavender induces calm. Its relaxing effects can help improve sleep and be used to help you get there. According to Health Canada, Canadians are not getting enough sleep. 1 in 2 adults have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep; 1 in 5 adults do not find their sleep refreshing; and 1 in 3 adults are having trouble staying awake during the day. Health Canada puts this trend down to sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress. Not a surprise, given everything we're having to deal with these days. Enter Lavender Tea!
Drinking Lavender tea before bed can help you achieve a more restful sleep. According to a sleep study in Taiwan conducted with women post partum, Lavender tea helped participants' sleep quality improve. They also reported decreased depression symptoms and were able to be more present with their infants for better bonding. In another study of lavender and the nervous system, lavender taken orally, inhaled or massaged into the skin was found to decrease anxiety and improve mood levels. Yet another study conducted by psychologists at Wesleyan University with 31 men and women found that lavender increased slow-wave sleep, instrumental for slowing heartbeat and relaxing muscles. Participants slept more soundly with lavender than without. They also reported feeling more energetic in the morning.
2. Preventative Holistic Health
Western medicine is an allopathic system. That means it treats symptoms and not the whole person. Its goal is to eradicate, mend and repair, which is brilliant when you have a condition that will benefit from such treatment. The holistic approach is more about prevention, a philosophy that underpins many "Alternative" medical approaches.
Lavender tea fits in here perfectly. It can be taken as a preventative measure, to maintain balance in your body, delivering many desired health effects. Lavender tea is full of antioxidants to help you eliminate those pesky toxins from your system, working to prevent them from wreaking havoc on human cells through mutation, degradation or oxidative stress.
Lavender tea contains high amounts of antioxidants and antibacterial compounds (like Vitamin C, calcium and magnesium) that can help boost your immune system against colds, bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It has properties that can reduce inflammation which, in turn can help prevent a host of eventually serious ailments like heart issues or arthritis. Its antispasmodic properties can also help with joint pain while helping to minimize muscle spasms. The same can be really helpful with menstrual cramps.
Lavender tea can also help soothe digestive issues like nausea or diarrhea or indigestion. More importantly, it can help stimulate production of bile while will help your body break down foods more effectively. It can also help open up chest airways, making it easier to breathe. That's the added bonus of smelling your lavender tea between sips.
Lavender Borage Sleepy Tea
This calming warm tea is just the thing to help you unwind. The best time to drink a sleep tea is 30 minutes before crash time.
You can infuse the flowers into water. Or for an extra pre-bedtime sleep kick, infuse the flowers into the milk of your choice. Dairy milk and almond milk both contain tryptophan which increases serotonin, the precursor to the sleep regulating hormone, melatonin. I've honey as a sweetener but also because it helps release melatonin in your brain. You can replace honey with another sweetener for a vegan option.
You can have your lavender tea straight up, no chaser. Or you can blend it with other plants that promote relaxation and calm. For this recipe, I have included Borage flowers, a calming, cleansing staple in the Persian diet, for its relaxation and stress relieving properties.
1 cup of water, milk or almond milk
1 tsp dried borage flowers
1 tsp dried lavender flowers
1 tsp honey or stevia
1. Place the water, milk or almond milk into a small saucepan on medium heat. Heat to very hot, not a roaring boil.
2. Add the dried lavender buds and dried borage flowers to the saucepan
3. Allow to steep for 5 or 6 minutes.
4. Pour into a mug through a strainer
5. Add honey or sweetener of your choice.
6. Drink. Rest. Reset. Relax. Nite Nite!
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. The information I have provided about herbs and sleep are from my own research experience. I encourage you to find your own answers for what works best for you and your body.
THE MAGIC OF CALENDULA TEA
A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF CALENDULA USE
Calendula has been revered as a magical medicinal plant for centuries. Ancient Egyptians used it to rejuvenate their skin. Bathing in water infused with calendula petals was thought to give give you a healthy, sunny glow, just like the flower itself. The Greeks and Romans used it as a culinary garnish. In India it was strung into garlands for weddings and religious rituals to call in powers of protection and good luck. Europeans and early American colonists used Calendula in soups and stews, relying on its gentle immune boosting properties to protect against the damp cold of winter.
What's not to love about this bright, yellow and orange, cheery member of the daisy family?
Calendula flowers are one of nature's most precious and useful gifts. The flower is loaded with powerful skin-healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, yet is gentle enough for most people and animals to use safely. Calendula can help get circulation moving and stimulate the immune system. My gardener friends tell me the flower is really easy to grow and requires low maintenance. Flowers and leaves of the calendula may be dried and stored for later use in making Calendula Tea. I'm not there yet in being able to grow my own for the amount I need to make Free Lion products. So here is where I get my Calendula Petals
And now here's the "how to" on Calendula Tea.
HOW TO MAKE CALENDULA TEA
One way of making a tea is basically pouring boiling water over plant materials and allowing it to steep. This is primarily the East Asian and European way. Then there's the way India does it--which is boil the water; add the plant materials and let it boil some more before you turn the heat off. That is how I do it. But I'll give you options. See which works for you.
1. The Steeping method
Place around 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried calendula flowers in a canning jar and pour around 1 cup (8 oz/240 ml) boiled distilled water over them. Cover and let steep for around 15 to 20 minutes. Strain petals out of tea before using.
2. The Sun tea method
Fill a canning jar 1/4 full with dried flowers and cover with cold distilled water. Cap and place in a bright sunny spot (like a windowsill or outside porch rail) for at least 5 or 6 hours. Strain out petals before use.
3. The Boiling Method
Bring 10oz/375ml of distilled water to a boil Place around 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried calendula petals into the water and let boil 3-5 minutes before you turn the heat off. Let the tea cool. Strain out petals before use.
HOW TO USE CALENDULA TEA
Now that you've made your Calendula Tea, here are some things you can use it for:
1. Use as a gargle for sore throat. Or use as a mouth rinse to help relieve canker sores, inflamed gums or thrush. Calendula's soothing properties will calm that gravely throat while its anti-microbial properties will go after infection-causing bacteria.
2. Pour some into a small, clean spray bottle to make a disinfecting wound spray. Spray clean strips of cloth or gauze with the tea and apply to wounds or scraped, itchy, scratched or otherwise inflamed skin conditions.
3. Take heavy duty paper towels and fold them into a container, one on top of the next. Pour Calendula tea over paper towels and let them soak up the tea. Voila! Now you have natural baby wipes to help ease diaper rash.
4. Strain through a coffee filter to remove all fine calendula flower particles. You can use this as an eye rinse to ease itchy eyes due to allergy, dryness and pink eye.
5. Wash your face with Calendula tea in the morning and at night if you're prone to acne and breakouts or have dry sensitive skin. If you don't want to make the tea, you can get our Face Chai Foaming Wash for Oily and Break-out Prone Skin or Face Chai Foaming wash for Dry and Sensitive Skin.
6. Pour some Calendula Tea into a foot bath for fungal conditions like athletes foot. Add some to your regular bath to help soothe and heal inflamed skin or rashes.
7. Use as a hair rinse, after shampooing to help ease an itchy scalp situation.
8. Calendula tea can be safely used on most non-pregnant animals as a soothing rinse for flea bites, scratches, scrapes, itchy coats or to help cleanse and heal minor wounds. You can also spritz it onto hot spots or chapped sun burnt noses, too.
So there you go, 8 ways you can use Calendula Tea. It's an amazing flower and it is no wonder that its popularity has not waned over centuries all over the world.
Before I go, let me leave you with this lovely flower bath surrounded by flower garlands. Treat yourself tonight!
Free Lion Team
It's flu season, and I’m down for the count with sniffles, cough, congested chest, sinus pain and a headache to beat the band. My go-to in this situation is a wellness tea passed on from my grandmother. Back in her day, Nanima was the neighbourhood Ayurvedic concoctionist. People would park themselves in her kitchen, chatting, while she blended them a healing brew. She wasn't a purist, though. She'd take the best of Western medicine alongside her home remedies.
In that spirit, I have Tylenol at the ready for head and sinus pain. And Nanima's tea to ease cough and congestion.
What’s in the Wellness Tea?
Freshly sliced ginger
Ginger contains a high quantity of antioxidants that help boost your immune system against the common cold or flu. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties effectively sooths a sore throat. It’s has antimicrobial properties help your body fight cold causing viruses. Ginger is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats.
Flesh lemon slices
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C which works to neutralize the disease causing pathogens along with boosting your body’s immune system.
Tumeric is full of curcumin which is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral. It can help relieve chest congestion, runny nose and open up the sinuses, especially when put in boiling water.
Honey soothes a sore throat, making it an affective, natural cough suppressant. It’s anti-microbial properties help reduce inflammation.
Activates the healing properties of these natural ingredients and adds the physical sensation of warmth and comfort.
Optional : Brandy
Brandy also has anti-microbial properties that help cut up the mucus built up by a cold. It is warming to the chest and throat. In small doses, it can be calming and settle you in for a good night’s sleep.
Free Lion Wellness Tea
1 tsp sliced fresh ginger
2 slices fresh lemon with zest
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp honey
1 cup boiling water
Optional: 1oz Brandy
Place sliced ginger, lemon, turmeric powder, honey (and Brandy, if desired) in an 8-12oz mug.
Pour boiling water over ingredients, filling mug. Stir and let steep. Sip slowly until it’s all gone.
This flu season, rest up and be good to you!
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion