how to make a zesty immunity herbal tea

I love herbs. I’ve worked with them for over a decade in my ‘day job’ as a clinician. They can be quite potent and medicinal if you use them correctly in the right doses.

A really great easy way to incorporate herbs into your self-care and health/wellness routine is in the form of herbal teas.

Even if you aren’t using herbs for any medical or health reasons, herbal teas are still an excellent way to get antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that aid in liver detoxification, cellular immunity and repair, and even promote anti-aging effects like cell regeneration and improve skin appearance.

This particular herbal tea is one I make a lot lately, because it has a number of properties that i think are really important right now for me:

  • immune boosting antioxidants and herbal extracts
  • anti-aging antioxidants (i ain’t getting any younger)
  • adrenal-balancing compounds (stress has been redefined for me, personally)
  • cellular health compounds

Here’s what I put in it, but feel free to play around with ingredients to your own taste:

  • ~1 tsp hibiscus
  • ~1-2 tsp schisandra berries (dried)
  • 1 small slice ginseng (dried root)
  • ~1-2 tsp dried goji berries
  • ~3/4-1 tsp rhodiola
  • ~8-10g fresh ginger root
  • 2-3 fresh lemon slices

Here are some of the important properties of the ingredients that I take into account when I choose what to put in a particular herbal tea:

Hibiscus

Hibiscus is a tropical plant whose red calyces (the pods that form after the petals drop off) are used medicinally for a variety of reasons. It is considered a ‘cooling’ herbal ingredient in many cultures, for ailments that result from too much ‘heat’ or which are referred to as ‘hot’ conditions.

It has been used to lower blood pressure naturally in human trials [1] and has undergone cancer chemopreventive trials in animals [2].

The main antioxidant compounds in hibiscus are polyphenolic acids, flavonoids, protocatechuic acid (PCA), and anthocyanins. These come from the pigment-associated plant components, especially the deep dark reds. I’ll bring up anthocyanins again when I discuss schisandra berries. These are all compounds that reduce inflammation by either directly binding to reactive oxygen species (ROS) or inhibiting those free radicals from doing things like binding to cells and DNA, which is super bad, trust me.

Schisandra berries

For real, if you’re not eating or consuming schisandra berries all the time right now, start. These are like level 9000 super food status, and not many people know much about them outside of herbal communities and alternative medicine experts.

These little berries are native to parts of Asia and they have a (pause for suspenseful effect)…deep dark red pigment to them. Yes, these are also high in anthocyanins, the antioxidants associated with red, purple, blue, and black-pigmented plants.

Not only that, but they also have antiviral activity [3] and contain a phenolic compound called Schisandrin C, which is hepatoprotective (supports the liver and helps protect it from damage) [4]. Other important antioxidants include Schisandrin A and B (Sch A; Sch B) and gomisin A (Gom A).

And then, if that’s not enough, they also support the immune system by stimulating a specific type of white blood cells to produce certain cytokines in response to inflammation, which causes other immune cells to differentiate into helpful or beneficial responses [5].

*caution: because schisandra can stimulate TH-1 immune response, I would definitely not recommend taking this plant or its extracts if you have an active COVID-19 infection; if you take it as a preventive before contracting the virus, it will be harmless and can absolutely help boost your immune system, but during active infection in some individuals, it could increase cytokine storm, which can lead to severe complications; consult a healthcare professional before taking any new supplements, herbs, medicines, or nutraceuticals

Ginseng

This is a root that is pretty much a staple for me, and I recommend it to many of my patients for its multifaceted value in both anti-aging/longevity medicine and its cellular support properties.

Ginseng comes in several forms, but generally for those two purposes, I recommend using Panax ginseng, also referred to as Asian ginseng or Korean ginseng. This form of ginseng is the most costly, but worth it. You can purchase it already dried and sliced, or you can purchase the root dried and cut it yourself if you want to save some cash.

Important constituents of ginseng and why I add it to herbal teas so frequently are:

  •  over 30 different compounds classified as ginsenosides have been studied with effects ranging from cardiovascular, neurological, hepatic, endocrine, to immune function
  • supports memory, learning, focus, and neuroprotection [6]
  • immune-modulating properties like anticancer actions and increases production and action of immune cells such NK (natural killer) cells and T cells [7]
  • has longevity (longer life span properties) and stress reduction properties, as well as stress-modulating properties [8]

Who doesn’t want to look and feel younger, while living longer and being super chill?

Goji berries

I think most people have jumped on a variety of ‘super food’ trends over the years, and goji berries definitely had their time in the spotlight. You guessed it: they have anthocyanins in them because of their pigment! They taste great and I add them mainly for the extra antioxidant boost and their contribution to flavor.

Ginger

Ginger is another one of those non-negotiable wonder roots that I feel like everyone should be consuming in addition to ginseng. Ginger has such powerful digestive benefits (high doses of it can alleviate constipation in some people). It also has anticancer properties, as well as some strong immune boosting properties due to its antioxidants (gingerols, shogaol, and paradols) and anti-inflammatory effects [9].

Rhodiola

And last but not least, we come to rhodiola, a potent adrenal adaptogen that many people use in lieu of caffeine and other stimulants. If you’re feeling sluggish, fatigued, and burned out, rhodiola may just be your bff.

I add it here to give the whole tea a bit of a high energy vibration, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t drink this later in the day. I find that it will not keep you up or prevent sleep the way caffeine would. What I do find is it really helps me turn on the creative centers of my brain and focus my passion and creativity, which i can more easily channel into something productive.

Lemon

Fresh lemon slices are always welcome in herbal teas, IMO, because they can help to take the bite off bitter-tasting or smelling herbs, as well as help to boost the antioxidant content even further, as lemons contain a phenolic compound called limonene, which aids in supporting the liver.

Phew. got all that? If all you came here for was how to make the tea, thanks for sticking around for the rest.

all content contained in this article and on this site is not intended to be used as medical advice or a substitute for medical attention. always check with your healthcare provider before changing or beginning any herbal protocols such as those mentioned herein.

a general protection spell for these weird times…

so, wow, things are kinda strange for all of us right now, right? I’m sure there’s nobody reading this (if you’re reading it in March 2020) that hasn’t been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic at this point, in some small or large way.

Protection is on everyone’s mind. Whether its protection from illness, protection from economic disaster, protection from social unrest, or other possibly terrible outcomes we may all be afraid of at this time.

I’ve put together a very basic protection spell that you can use as is, or which you can adapt to further personalize for your own needs.

If you want to read a little bit about protection spells in general, or want something you can do quickly that does not require anything other than yourself, check out this post on what protection spells are.

What you will need:

  • an oil or two of your choice. These oils are great for protection magick:
    • basil
    • cedarwood
    • geranium
    • lemon
    • oregano
    • sandalwood
    • thyme
  • an herb or two of your choice. These herbs hold great power and symbolism in protection magick:
    • basil
    • black pepper
    • coriander
    • fennel
    • garlic
    • lime
    • rosemary
    • there are lots of others, so please feel free to substitute based on your specific needs!
  • a pot of water or a mortar and pestle (choose one, you don’t need both)
  • if using a mortar and pestle to grind your herbs and oils, I recommend getting a small piece of fabric (at least 6″x6″) and a string, in which you will place the contents to keep with you or to hang above the entrance to your home
  • salt, to cast a circle in which to work

How to cast the spell:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Optional: you can dab a few small drops of each of the oils you’ve chosen onto your forehead, heart, belly, wrists, or other places on your body before beginning. I’m a huge fan of scent magic, and find that our sense of smell can play an enormous role in how powerfully we channel our energy and get into our best state of mind for spellcasting!
  3. Gather all of ingredients
  4. If using a kitchen pot, sprinkle a circle of salt around you and your workspace (this is probably the space immediately surrounding your stove). Fill the pot with ~2-3 cups of purified, spring, or distilled water. Place a couple tablespoons of each herb and 5-6 drops of each oil in the water. Bring the water to a boil.
  5. If using the mortar and pestle, sprinkle a circle of salt around you and your workspace. Place a tablespoon of each herb and about 3-4 drops of each oil in the mortar. Grind them together thoroughly, turning the mortar bowl clockwise as you do so with your free hand.
  6. As your spell mixture either boils or is ground, feel free to call upon any deities or energies with whom you work or feel compelled to entreat with, then repeat the following words five (5) times:

“Encircle [name what/who you wish to protect] in your mighty arms

Protect [name what/who you wish to protect] from all harm

Reflect back and return all ill

I have spoken, this is my will”

7. If you are boiling on the stove, leave your mixture to boil for at least one hour afterward, permeating your home and all its corners. Hint: sometimes I let this cool off after a couple of hours and then put into a spray bottle, which I save and re-apply to the doors, windows, and passageways periodically throughout the next month. If not saving to spray later, dump the content out into your garden or other outdoor space to return the herbs and oils to the earth.

8. If you are using the mortar and pestle, scrape your mixture from the mortar bowl and place into the center of the fabric scrap. Bring all 4 corners of the scrap together so that it makes a pouch and tie the string around the fabric to create a sealed charm bag. Keep the bag with you, give it to the person you are protecting, or place it near the entrance to your home, depending on your desired target of protection. When you feel like you no longer need this, or if it has been a year, empty the contents of your charm back to the earth.

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