I asked Helen Carmichael to design a herbal tea specifically for use during Spring, with the accompanying aspects of the Chinese Five Element of Wood in mind. These are her words and pictures:
Spring is now finally here, and an abundance of seasonal natural goodness is available in the woods and hedgerows to support our bodies.
Many spring plants are tonics to help us to wake up and clear our systems, which tend to become more sluggish during the winter months. If we work locally and seasonally, different parts of the plant are used depending on the time of year.
The fresh leaves of nettle plants are at their most potent now, in the spring. Stinging nettles are one species that most of us can confidently recognize and safely pick, so I’d encourage you to try it at least once! Just pinch off the top four leaves from plants in a relatively clean area (away from main roads and dog walkers.) Wearing gloves to avoid the sting is also a good idea. Please rinse them well before use.
Nettle supports all major organs and is a kidney tonic and diuretic. As well as being rich in iron, minerals and protein, nettles contain serotonin, boosting mood. Its clearing action helps skin conditions and reduces inflammation, including arthritis. If you suffer from allergies or hay fever, a cup of nettle tea can have surprisingly rapid and soothing results.
I’d like to also introduce you to ground ivy. This sweet plant is not related to climbing green ivy, but rather is a member of the mint family. It has a gift for clearing and shifting stagnation. Ground ivy is happiest blended with other herbs and is a wonderful spring cleaning aid for the head and upper respiratory tract, including catarrhy coughs, blocked middle ears and painful sinuses. Herbalists have also used it to help eliminate heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, etc.) stored in the body.
This is your time to clear space to move forward. Gently wake up your system with a spring clearing tea!
- 6-8 fresh nettle leaves OR 2 teaspoons dried nettle leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried ground ivy
Add hot water just off the boil, and steep in a lidded teapot or covered pan for 10 minutes. Covering the tea prevents the volatile oils from escaping!
Strain and enjoy. I would encourage you not to sweeten this tea – clean, savoury and even bitter flavours are what our bodies need most in the spring.
Herbal teas at this strength are highly unlikely to case health issues. However nettle leaf is not recommended if you are pregnant and is also a diuretic. Ground ivy contraindications include: pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as liver and kidney diseases. It is not recommended if you have a history of epilepsy.
For those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or indeed anyone with concerns about the conditions listed above, the standard advice is to consult your GP or a medical herbalist.
- Baldwins https://www.baldwins.co.uk/baldwins-ground-ivy-herb-glechoma-hederacea
- Starchild https://www.starchild.co.uk/products/6564_9863_ground-ivy-organic.aspx
Helen Carmichael has a background in science writing and a love of learning about the properties of plants. She also designs historically-themed video games.