6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome is most commonly used in the kitchen given its slightly sweet, spicy, and strong aromatic flavors. However, there are many ways you can use ginger every day in your herbal practice, too! From helping soothe muscle pain, enhancing overall circulation, and nipping colds in the bud, ginger has many uses on its own and as a complementary herb in formulas.

In this article, I’m sharing six easy ways to use ginger every day. Read on to discover how you can start incorporating this popular rhizome into your daily routine!

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

1. To Help Support Your Brain Function

A wonderful way to use ginger every day is to help support your overall brain function. At first thought, you might not think to use an herb like ginger when your mind is feeling a little foggy. However, given its antioxidant function and ability to support the downregulation of inflammation in the body, ginger is reputed for preventing and halting the progression of neurodegenerative conditions in addition to improving overall cognitive function (Saenghong et al., 2012). In one study, ginger extract was found to enhance working memory and increase cognitive function in a group of middle-aged women (Saenghong et al., 2012).

An easy way to use ginger for boosting your brain function is through taking the encapsulated powder or an extract daily. Ginger powder is also a lovely addition in a honey paste formula with other neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing herbs. For those who enjoy the spice, chewing on a small piece of fresh ginger can instantly help to stimulate your senses and awaken your cognitive vitality.

2. For Sore Muscles & Joint Pain

Ginger is a wonderful herb to use both internally and externally to help soothe sore muscles. Ginger is commonly used as a base in formulas to address fibrositis and muscle sprains (Hoffmann, 2003).

Due to ginger’s ability to modulate inflammation in the body, it is a useful herb for soothing arthritic-related joint pain in the body (Srivastava & Mustafa, 1992; Hoffmann, 2003). In one study, taking ginger extract internally was found to significantly reduce symptoms of moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis-related pain (Altman & Marcussen, 2001).

You can make your own topical preparation of ginger through our Warming Ginger Cayenne Salve recipe for natural pain relief here.

3. As A Cold-Buster

Ginger is a staple herb in many cold and flu formulas for a good reason. Well-known for supporting the clearance of viruses and respiratory congestion, ginger is a great herb to draw from when you feel the onset of sickness encroaching or if you have already come down with something (Gladstar, 2012).

Using the fresh or dried rhizome in a tea formula is a simple and tasty way to use ginger every day as a cold-buster. You could also prepare a ginger syrup or incorporate ginger in your homemade fire cider brew to give your immune response system a quick boost.

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

4. To Soothe A Sore Throat

Did you know you can use ginger to help soothe pain and discomfort from a sore throat? The inflammation regulatory properties of ginger help relieve irritated tissues in the throat caused by excessive coughing and post-nasal drip (Hoffmann, 2003). Although ginger has a predominantly spicy flavor on its own, when prepared as a tea with raw honey or as a syrup, the spicy and dry properties of ginger become balanced and tolerable to use as a gargle.

Easy Ginger Gargle Recipe

[recipe_ingredients]

1 tablespoon of fresh ginger rhizome (or 1 teaspoon dried and cut ginger rhizome)
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon raw honey or manuka honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  1. If using fresh ginger rhizome, first wash the rhizome then mince or thinly slice it.
  2. Add the ginger and water to a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and strain the ginger from the tea into a heat-safe container.
  4. Stir in the honey until dissolved.
  5. Allow the mixture to cool until warm. Use as a throat gargle as needed. The gargle will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

[/recipe_directions]

5. To Promote Circulation & Warmth

A great way to use ginger every day, especially during the cooler months ahead, is to help promote warmth and proper circulation in the body. Ginger is considered a premier circulatory stimulant, making it an ideal herb to use for poor circulation (think cold hands and feet), cramps, and chilblains (Hoffmann, 2003).

Since ginger is a diaphoretic, it carries the unique ability to push heat inside the body outwards to the exterior. This makes it an ideal herb to draw from in chilled and feverish states. One way to use ginger for this purpose is through infusing it into a bath, soaking, then wrapping yourself in a thick blanket for the next hour and “sweating it out.”

Ginger Bath

[recipe_ingredients]

3 tablespoons of dried ginger rhizome powder (or 4 tablespoons of dried and chopped ginger rhizome)
½ – 1 cup Epsom salts

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  1. Fill your bathtub with hot water.
  2. Add the ginger powder (or chopped ginger in a muslin bag) and Epsom salts into your bath, stirring to combine.
  3. Soak in the bath for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Dry off with a towel, then bundle up under a thick blanket or lay in bed under the covers for an hour or so to sweat.
  5. Rinse off in the shower.
  6. Rest and restore.

[/recipe_directions]

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

6. For Mild Tummy Troubles

One of the most common ways to use ginger every day is for an upset stomach. Used for symptoms ranging from motion sickness to general nausea to morning sickness, ginger is a strong herbal ally for an array of tummy troubles (Hoffmann, 2003).

This also makes ginger a popular herb to draw from when symptoms of indigestion, such as intestinal cramping, gas, and bloating occur. Ginger can help the body digest food easier and reduce spasms in the gut (Wood, 2007).

A quick and easy way to help pacify an upset stomach and alleviate indigestion is to chew a small piece of candied ginger after meals or as needed. Sprinkling a few drops of ginger rhizome tincture around the tongue is also a helpful way to use ginger for soothing tummy troubles.

More Than Just A Tasty Rhizome

Although ginger carries many tasty qualities you can incorporate at mealtime, ginger clearly has many applications you can bring into your herbal practice as well! The repertoire of uses for ginger expands beyond what we discussed in this article, too.

Learn more ways you can use ginger in our posts 3 Reasons To Eat Ginger During Wintertime and Licorice And Ginger: Herbal Decongestants.

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

REFERENCES

Altman, R.D., & Marcussen, K.C. (2001). Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 44(11), 2531-8. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709

Gladstar, R. (2012). Rosemary Gladstar’s medicinal herbs: A beginner’s guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Saenghong, N., Wattanathorn, J., Muchimapura, S., Tongun, T., Piyavhatkul, N., Banchonglikitkul, C., & Kajsongkram, T. (2012). Zingiber officinale improves cognitive function of the middle-aged healthy women. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, 2012, 383062. http://doi.org/10.1155/2012/383062.

Srivastava, K.C., & Mustafa, T. (1992). Ginger (Zingiber offinicale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Medical Hypotheses, 39(4), 342-348. http://doi.org/10.1016/0306-9877(92)90059-L

Wood, M. (2007). Ginger. Retrieved from http://www.woodherbs.com/Ginger.html.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Forget bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens—chai is one of my favorite things. For me, a great cup of chai is right up there with puppies, autumn leaves, and twinkling Christmas lights. I don’t know if it’s the perfect blend of sweet, warming spices, the creaminess of the milk, or the happy caffeine buzz that follows, but a well-made cup of chai can definitely improve my outlook on the day. Ever since I visited South India in 2011, I have been making chai at home, seeking out that ginger-infused perfection that I encountered in India. I can’t say that I could make it as a street chai wallah yet, but I have learned a few things about chai over the years. Hopefully, the recipes and tips you find in this article will not only inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai but will teach you how to tune your chai recipe to your Ayurvedic dosha as well.

If you are a novice to Ayurveda and the concept of doshas, you may want to read my Introduction to Ayurveda blog post on the Herbal Academy blog first.

To begin, let’s cover the basic chai ingredients and their health benefits. You see, chai isn’t all taste and no substance. Each of the ingredients that goes into making a perfect cup of chai has its own nutritional benefits. Also, as you will see, by understanding the energetics of the various spices, you can make choices about what to emphasize or downplay to find the perfect cup of chai for your dosha.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Basic Chai Ingredients

Black Tea (Camellia sinensis)

Black tea is heating and stimulating, and some people find that they are better off avoiding caffeine entirely as it is simply too drying and agitating for them. However, the milk, spices, and sweetener in chai help balance some of the intensity of the black tea. Furthermore, tea certainly has many positive attributes. Tea varieties including green, black, and white tea are rich in antioxidants and other phytochemical, and possess the astringent and bitter tastes that are lacking in many American diets (Palanisamy, 2015). Black tea is a very good choice for kapha types, who tend to need a little stimulation to help them get up and go.

Ginger (Zingiberis officinale)

Ginger has a spicy, sweet taste and a heating energy. It decreases vata and kapha doshas and increases pitta dosha. Ginger increases agni (the digestive fire), partially by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes (Pole, 2013). It also increases the rate of gut motility, meaning that it helps food move in a more timely manner through the digestive tract. Ginger is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps to dissolve ama, a word for toxins in Ayurveda (Palanisamy, 2015).

Cardamom (Eletarria cardamomum)

With its bright, mildly sweet, warm flavor, cardamom is probably my favorite spice on this list, and no cup of chai is complete without cardamom. Cardamom has a slightly warm quality, but it is not as heating as some of the other spices, so it will not aggravate pitta as long as it is not used excessively. In fact, cardamom stimulates agni without aggravating pitta. It also has a clearing effect on the mind and helps regulate the energetic flow of vata in a healthy downwards direction (Pole, 2013). Also, cardamom has a special role as an ingredient in chai because it helps support digestion of dairy and mitigates the vata-provoking effects of black tea (Dass, 2013).

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)

Cinnamon is a well-known circulatory tonic and digestive aid. Its warm, sweet nature is particularly soothing for vata. It helps to dispel coldness in the extremities and enkindles agni, the digestive fire (Pole, 2013). Cinnamon has also been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal effects (Palanisamy, 2015).

Clove (Caryophyllus aromaticus)

Speaking of antimicrobials, clove is also excellent for fighting bacteria, fungus, and parasites (Palanisamy, 2015). Clove is also an analgesic, meaning that it can help reduce pain. It is particularly good at clearing congestion from the lungs, and its analgesic properties are well-known in the application of clove oil to treat a toothache (Pole, 2013). Due to its clearing and purifying nature, clove is particularly beneficial for kapha dosha.

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)

Black pepper, with its hot nature and ability to stimulate digestion, is very useful for both vata and kapha. Black pepper is “useful for low appetite, sluggish digestion, abdominal pain, toxins…” (Pole, 2013). Black pepper also stimulates agni and circulation, having an overall warming effect on the body.  

Overall, the chai spices are wonderful digestive aids, and as you can see, each spice also has additional benefits as well.

Now that we have covered the basic chai ingredients, let’s explore some recipes!

No matter how much of a kitchen maestro you may be, sometimes it helps to have a solid base recipe to use as a springboard. This recipe is shared courtesy of Athena Pappas, an accomplished Iyengar yoga teacher in San Francisco. I once overheard that she ‘made the best cup of chai in town,’ so when I started researching recipes for the perfect cup of chai, I knew her recipe had to be included. Here it is!

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Athena Pappas' Chai Tea

Spice measurements can be adapted to taste.

[recipe_ingredients]

4 cups water
1 tablespoon grated ginger
10-12 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods
8-10 cloves
12-15 black peppercorns
⅛ stick cinnamon
2 -3 tablespoons strong black tea, such as assam or ceylon

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Put spices in a mortar and pestle and give them a little smash or two, just to crack the cardamom pods.
  • Bring water to boil. Add ginger and spices. Reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Add tea and simmer for another 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and add whole cow’s milk or almond milk to taste. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into mugs. Add honey to taste.

[/recipe_directions]

The Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha

As Athena notes in the recipe above, spice measurements can be altered to taste. Furthermore, I will add that the balance of the spices can alter the energetic qualities of your cup of tea, making it more or less suitable for your dosha. Here is a basic rundown of some alterations to fine tune this recipe to suit your dosha.

Chai for Vata

Ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon are particularly balancing to vata because they possess a combination of sweet and spicy tastes. Clove and black peppercorn are fine for vata, but as they are both quite pungent (meaning hot and/or purifying), it is best not to overdo these spices. Vata types may want to use the lesser amounts of these spices. For vata, you may also want to use a little less black tea, as vata types tend to have fragile and easily stimulated nervous systems. For a very sensitive vata, they could even forgo the tea entirely and turn this into a sweet, spiced milk.

Chai for Pitta

Chai is overall warming in nature, which may aggravate pitta. However, the cool, sweet nature of the milk does help reduce the heat of the tea and spices. Also, since maple syrup is a little cooler than honey, pitta types may want to sweeten with maple syrup. Other ways to make a perfect cup of chai for pitta dosha are to decrease the cloves and black peppercorns and to add a teaspoon of fennel seeds. Fennel is cool, sweet, and pacifying to pitta dosha. Pittas can also add a splash of rosewater in their mug to finish, or a pinch of saffron to be really fancy. These ingredients have a very calming, cooling effect on pitta dosha.

Chai for Kapha

Unlike vata and pitta, kaphas thrive with increased heat and stimulation. Kapha’s cool, heavy, slow nature benefits from hot spices. Kapha types can use the maximum amount of all the spices in this recipe and would be fine to use the full 3 tablespoons of black tea. Kapha would also do well to use a little less milk and honey, as those ingredients are both sweet, and thus increase kapha dosha. Milk, in particular, is a very kapha-increasing food. Almond milk would be a better choice, particularly for someone with a very strong kapha constitution or someone experiencing a head cold with excess mucus.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

It’s All About The Steep Time

I tried out Athena’s recipe several times and found it to be aromatic, classic, and flavorful. Taking the time to simmer the tea and spices is well worth it as the simmering process really brings out the flavor of the spices, making this a fabulous, aromatic cup of chai tea. However, if you like to have chai first thing in the morning and don’t want to wait to simmer the spices, you can complete that part of the recipe in the evening. Simply let the spices steep in water overnight, and then finish the recipe by adding tea, milk, and honey in the morning.

The expert chai makers of AppalaChai agree with the importance of allowing for a long steep to truly bring out all the flavors of the tea and spices. AppalaChai is a small company that provides delicious, organic chai concentrate too many cafes and coffee shops throughout Western North Carolina and parts of South Carolina. This is what Tommy, co-founder of AppalaChai shared about their process:

“Currently, when we make our batches of concentrate we make sure we cook the spices long enough to extract as much from them as we possibly can. We then steep our black tea for some time before we add the sugar. All of our spices are organic as well as our black tea and evaporated cane sugar. Each batch is infused with “Maha Mantra” as well as some other rituals learned along the way including lots of love.”

Tommy’s explanation of AppalaChai’s process underscores the importance of taking time, using quality, organic ingredients, and of course the magic ingredient—love!

Chai Shortcuts

While time and love certainly pay off when it comes to chai alchemy, sometimes time is limited so I will share a few ‘cheater’ methods for chai preparation . These methods are great if you are pinched for time or lacking a few ingredients, and each shortcut will still yield a flavorful cup.  

One shortcut is to keep a jar of ground tea masala spices on hand. Powdered tea masala blends can be purchased from Indian grocery stores or you can make your own.

Renowned Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. Vasant Lad gives a nice recipe for tea masala in his book, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing (2009), that is essentially a blend of ginger, cloves, black pepper, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom (all in powdered form).

Powdered Chai Tea Masala

[recipe_ingredients]

2 cups water
1 cup whole cow’s milk (can substitute with any fatty milk)
1-2 tablespoons black tea leaves
1-2 teaspoons tea masala

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

Bring two cups of water to boil in a small saucepan. Add the black tea, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Next, add a cup of milk and the tea masala powder. Turn the heat back on high. When the liquid starts to approach boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 more minutes. Then turn off the heat, strain the tea into cups, and sweeten each with honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar.

[/recipe_directions]

This is a quick and easy recipe that takes just a few minutes. You can also give this recipe a little extra kick by adding freshly grated ginger in the very beginning along with the water.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Additional Chai Variations

Although classic chai is truly my favorite, the classic Indian beverage offers loads of room for creativity, and there is ample opportunity to add additional herbs and spices to benefit your well-being.

Sometimes when I feel my vitality flagging, I like to add a teaspoon of a powdered adaptogenic herb such as ashwagandha. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is very pacifying to vata dosha due to its sweet, warm energy and tonifying effects on the body and mind (Dass, 2013). Ashwagandha possesses the bitter and astringent tastes in addition to sweet, but I don’t generally notice the taste in my chai because the tea and masala spices mask it well. Ashwagandha is a highly revered rejuvenative herb in Ayurveda, and adding a bit to your chai can make it perfect for vata dosha.

Another chai tea variation is to add a tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric root for some extra blood-cleansing, anti-inflammatory benefits. To make it a turmeric chai, I recommend following Athena’s classic chai recipe and adding the fresh turmeric late in the game along with the tea. This method accents the earthy, fresh turmeric flavor.

For a truly magical and unique chai, I recommend visiting Alchemy in Asheville, North Carolina and having a cup of their turmeric chai. This cup of golden magic is the original creation of Emmy Bethel and can be ordered with or without black tea. I have enjoyed Alchemy’s turmeric chai on a number of occasions and had the honor of speaking to Emmy herself about this wonderful creation. I asked Emmy why she decided to add turmeric to a classic chai recipe and she explained that turmeric not only has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, but foods with the yellow color are also considered to be spleen-stomach tonics in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Emmy explained that this special chai recipe is deeply nourishing and meant to tone and nourish the spleen-stomach, which is similar to the concept of agni (digestive fire) in Ayurveda. Emmy did much experimenting and refining in order to get this recipe just right, and Alchemy currently uses dried turmeric root powder as well as turmeric and black pepper extract for this very special recipe. The team at Alchemy also adds a special South American root called yacon, which has prebiotic benefits, meaning that it feeds the good gut bacteria.

Lastly, chicory root makes a great black tea substitute for those who are avoiding caffeine. Chicory granules can be purchased in bulk from various herb suppliers and health food stores. Chicory has a rich, roasted flavor similar to coffee, but it is, in fact, a cooling blood and liver cleanser. Chicory is an especially nice option for pitta types who tend to get cranky livers and problems related to excess heat and metabolic wastes in the blood. It is also a good option for vata types, who may find black tea to be overly drying and stimulating.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there is more than one way to make a perfect cup of chai tea. One of the beautiful things about chai is that once you have the basic ingredients on hand, it is fairly simple, and as long as you don’t stray too far from the basics, it’s hard to go wrong!

I hope that this article has given you a sense of how you can play with spices and herbs in order to suit your cup to your tastes and Ayurvedic dosha. You may also find that your perfect cup of chai tea changes from one season to the next, emphasizing warmer spices in cooler months and accenting the cool spices in the hot time of year. All you need is a handful of quality ingredients and a few moments to spare—a warming, healthful hot cup of spicy tea is not far away.How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

REFERENCES

Dass, V. (2013). Ayurvedic herbology. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Lad, U., & Lad, V. (2009). Ayurvedic cooking for self-healing. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press.

Palanisamy, A. (2015). The paleovedic diet. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Pole, S. (2013). Ayurvedic medicine: The principles of traditional practice. London: Singing Dragon.

A New Year Herbal Tonic Recipe

A New Year Herbal Tonic Recipe | Herbal Academy | Are you looking for a way to tone and increase vital energy in the body? Try this new year herbal tonic to attain more stamina and feel more alive!

With the dawning of the New Year, many of us seize the occasion to set new intentions, call in new energy, and replace old, stagnant habits with new, refreshed ones. What better way to cultivate new energy in your life than to utilize some of your herbal allies for assistance? We encourage you to give this New Year Herbal Tonic recipe a try and see if it helps get some of that vital energy flowing on a daily basis this year.

Tonic Basics

What is a “tonic” anyways? This term is used quite loosely among mixologists, herbalists, and wellness “gurus” since its meaning can be quite broad.

Essentially, herbs which possess regenerative and rejuvenating properties are considered “tonics.” They focus on increasing a specific system’s tone and promote overall nutrition (Tierra, 1988). This interpretation is largely drawn from Eastern perspectives on healing since in Western practice it is often unincorporated or focused largely on cleansing and purging techniques to address states of stagnation and excess (Kiriajes, 2010; Tierra, 1988).

In Western practice, bitters taken in small amounts before meals as a tincture are often seen as a tonic. Yet in Eastern practice, bitters are only promoting the digestive secretions necessary so that food can be properly absorbed, making the food the tonic instead.

It is possible for several different herbs which are not considered tonics individually, to come together in a formula and create a tonic, or tonifying, formula. This is a sign of herbal synergy, or the power of combining herbs to create a deeper, potentizing effect (Tierra, 1988).

Benefits of Drinking a Daily Tonic

Why drink a daily tonic? In many traditions, practices, and protocols, it is customary to drink a particular herb or formula to tonify, strengthen, and enliven the vital energy for the day or task ahead.

While some people consider their morning cup of coffee a tonic, this stimulating drink doesn’t fit neatly into either the Eastern or Western definition of a tonic. That’s not to say coffee doesn’t have benefits; traditionally in Ethiopia, coffee is prepared as a ritual ceremony and taken to tonify the circulatory system, easing pain and headaches (Rätsch, 1998), and research suggests coffee has an inverse relationship with cardiovascular disease (Ding et al., 2014). However, Western consumption of this herbal stimulant occurs frequently and often in large amounts, and is often used to increase our productivity when other factors important to wellness such as adequate sleep and stress reduction are overlooked, pushing us into a state of deficiency. Instead, we can seek out a supportive herbal tonic that can be enjoyed daily.

A New Year Herbal Tonic Recipe | Herbal Academy | Are you looking for a way to tone and increase vital energy in the body? Try this new year herbal tonic to attain more stamina and feel more alive!

This New Year Herbal Tonic recipe is focused on tonifying and increasing vital energy in the body (also known as Qi, Chi, Jing, Essence, Prana, and Ojas). By boosting our vital energy, we attain more stamina and feel more “alive.” Unlike stimulating adaptogens and other stimulants, the tonic herbs in this recipe are indicated and can be used for those in a more deficient and depleted state; however, they should only be utilized in the absence of a severe or acute illness (Tierra, 2010).

What’s Inside This New Year Herbal Tonic

Tulsi/Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)

Tulsi is one of the premier herbs in this formula given its direct focus on balancing physical, chemical, metabolic, and psychological stress (Cohen, 2014). Tulsi offers positive effects on our cognitive function and memory through its anti-depressive and anxiety-regulating actions. While tulsi is considered an adaptogen by some standards due to its ability to help the body adapt to stressors, it is more gentle in action compared to other adaptogens, and there is a lower threshold for misuse long-term. In this recipe, tulsi offers a rising, uplifting, and mildly stimulating action.

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

Gotu kola is considered a prime tonic for the nervous system, helping address systemic stress through promoting a state of mental calm and clarity (Tierra, 1988). It carries an affinity for the heart and complements the other components of this recipe through strengthening the nervous system’s ability to support the rise in vital energy. Gotu kola additionally assists through helping disperse the heat generated from the next ingredient, ginger.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger is considered a warming tonic herb. It ties the recipe together here by helping circulate the rising and expansive energy cultivated from the tulsi and gotu kola. Energizing tonics, in general, facilitate the release of stored vital energy throughout the body, which causes the desired stimulating effect. However, if there is not proper circulation occurring, then the energy can become stuck in the body. This causes undesired effects, like headaches, muscle tension, cramping, and more. Ginger helps prevent this from happening in this recipe by providing warming energy to the kidneys and adrenals, which also increases the vital force of the body and mind (Kiriajes, 2010; Holmes, 2007).

Lemon

Lemon has long been used as an immune system tonic in many different forms. As a citrus fruit, lemon is naturally rich in vitamin C, which enhances several immune system functions (Ströhle, 2009).

Raw Honey

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), honey is considered a fluid essence tonic (Kiriajes, 2010). Without going too in-depth into this methodology, consider this type of tonic as strengthening for all of the mucosal tissues and water-governing aspects of our bodies. Therefore, honey, being inherently moistening by nature, has an obvious connection with these bodily fluid aspects. Raw honey, in particular, offers a boost of beneficial microbes, and when sourced locally to your area, can offer support for the symptoms of environmental allergies. Given its sweet flavor, honey offers a harmonizing effect on this formula (Tierra, 1988).

Medium-Chain-Triglycerides (MCT) Oil

Compared to other long-chain fatty acids, MCTs are able to be metabolized faster and are more readily absorbed since they do not need to pass through the entire digestive system in order to be assimilated into the bloodstream. This offers us a boost of prolonged energy through enhancing our cerebral activity and ability to focus (Cunnane et al., 2016; Foster & McGarry, 1970;  Schwabe et al., 1964). MCTs are largely extracted from coconut, which makes coconut oil a valid substitute for MCT oil if you have trouble finding it in your area. Coconut oil naturally contains some MCTs, only in a less concentrated form. Coconut oil is also considered a fluid essence tonic (see the raw honey section above). In addition to these benefits, MCT oil plays a key role in this recipe by creating an extra creamy and frothy aspect, which adds to the supplemental nourishing quality of the tonic.

A New Year Herbal Tonic Recipe | Herbal Academy | Are you looking for a way to tone and increase vital energy in the body? Try this new year herbal tonic to attain more stamina and feel more alive!

Brain Boost Tonic

Brain Boost Tonic

[recipe_ingredients]

2 cups water
1.5 tablespoons gotu kola
1.5 tablespoons tulsi, holy basil
1 small knob of fresh ginger, peeled (or 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder)
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 tablespoon MCT oil (or 1 teaspoon coconut oil*)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sprig of fresh tulsi or lemon slice
Optional: splash of sparkling ginger kombucha or water kefir

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Boil water and pour over the gotu kola and tulsi in a heat-safe container. Allow the tea to steep for 15-20 minutes.
  • Strain herbs from the liquid. Pour tea into a blender. Add ginger, honey, MCT oil, and lemon juice.
  • Blend on high speed until creamy and well mixed (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Pour into a glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh tulsi or a lemon slice. If desired, you can add a splash of ginger kombucha or water kefir if you enjoy some light carbonation.
  • Enjoy immediately in the morning or afternoon.

*Note: this substitution will lend a subtle coconut flavor to the tonic.

[/recipe_directions]

Interested in trying out more brain-boosting recipes this New Year? Check out our posts on creating a DIY Rosemary Memory Elixir or How To Boost Your Health With Matcha Tea.

A New Year Herbal Tonic Recipe | Herbal Academy | Are you looking for a way to tone and increase vital energy in the body? Try this new year herbal tonic to attain more stamina and feel more alive!

REFERENCES

Cohen, M.M. (2014). Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4): 251-259.

Cunnane, S., Courchesne-Loyer, A., Vandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Fortier, M., Hennebelle, M.,…Castellano, C.A. (2016). Can ketones help rescue brain fuel supply in later life? Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 9(53). doi:10.3389/fnmol.2016.00053.

Ding, M., Bhupathiraju, S.N., Satija, A., van Dam, R.M., Hu, F.B. (2014). Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: A systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Circulation, 129(6), 643-59. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.005925.

Foster, D., & McGarry, J.D. (1970). The regulation of ketogenesis from octanoic acid. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 246(4): 1149-1159.

Holmes, P. (2007). The energetics of western herbs. Cotati, CA: Snow Lotus Press.

Kiriajes, C. (2010). Tonic herb theory for the western herbalist. [Blog post]. Retrieved on 12/01/2017 from https://planetherbs.com/case-studies/tonic-herb-theory-for-the-western-herbalist.html.  

Rätsch, C. (1998). The encyclopedia of psychoactive plants: Ethnopharmacology and its applications. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.

Schwabe, A.D., Bennett, L., & Bowman, L. (1964). Octanoic acid absorption and oxidation in humans. The Journal of  Applied Physiology, 335(7): 335-337.

Ströhle, A. (2009). Vitamin C and immune function. Medizinische Monatsschrift für Pharmazeuten, 32(2): 49-54.

Tierra, M. (1988). Planetary herbology. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Three Reasons to Eat Ginger During Wintertime

What is it that pops into our minds when we associate ginger with the wintertime? Perhaps baking gingerbread people and gingerbread houses with gumdrop trim. But these uses barely scratch the surface of ginger’s value during the coldest time of year.

As an herb, ginger’s tongue-tingling zest can help us stay warm and healthy throughout the winter and is one of the most prominent staples of domestic remedies in a variety of different herbal traditions.

As ginger enthusiasts, we discuss ginger’s attributes in more than a few units in our Online Intermediate Herbal Course. Indeed, there are innumerable uses for ginger at all times of the year, but here are three reasons why it will be of particular value in what has turned out to be a particularly harsh winter.

Continue reading “Three Reasons to Eat Ginger During Wintertime”

Five Kitchen Herbs for Cold Season

thyme-5 Kitchen Herbs for Cold and Flu

Tucked away in our kitchen pantries and cupboards, in our windowsills and gardens, are familiar and friendly herbal mainstays that are as healing as they are flavorful. Like all herbs, culinary herbs also contain minerals, vitamins, and active constituents, and when used properly and in appropriate amounts, can offer potent and comforting options for common discomforts. Continue reading “Five Kitchen Herbs for Cold Season”