Often, we’re reactive and not proactive about our health, and we overlook holistic remedies because we’ve been told they won’t be effective. Over the past few years, I’ve struggled with a few different health issues—anxiety, insomnia, indigestion, allergies, and acne. I wasn’t getting answers from my doctor, so I started seeking out holistic practitioners, who are more focused on the cause than simply treating the illness.
First, I wanted to feel heard about my head-to-toe health, since a body and the human inhabiting it add up to more than a set of symptoms. There’s a whole ecosystem inside each of us that needs to be tended to and treated as an interdependent network! I wanted to be looked at as a whole.
Second, I wanted to see if there were preventative (and not reactive) treatments. After all, who wants to wait until 2 a.m. on a work night—after they’ve been tossing and turning and letting their thoughts spin for several hours—before taking medicine to induce sleep? Who wants to wait for that big zit to appear on their forehead to glob some goo on it? Wouldn’t it work better to take care of your body before the issues occur?
When I asked my holistic practitioner about natural ways to treat or prevent some of my issues, she suggested experimenting with herbal teas. My interest (and certainly a healthy dose of skepticism) was piqued—after all, how could some dried herbs and flowers steeped in hot water help me? In time, I found my answer.
I have dealt with environmental allergies since the spring of my seventh grade year. When I say allergies, I mean horrific hay fever, complete with sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and a throat that felt like it was on fire. I still take over-the-counter or prescription medication for allergies (due to the sheer severity of the problem), but I will say with utmost certainty that a morning cup of tea has been helping me manage these symptoms for several years now.
I often wake up feeling congested and sneezy, so I now start my day with just a bit of caffeine in the form of green tea, to which I add a teaspoon of local honey (which my doctor suggested because it’s said to have a positive impact on allergy symptoms). Just sipping on the hot liquid from a mug—and basking in the steam that comes from it—helps slow mucus production and improves nasal drainage. It also feels great on an inflamed, sore nose.
After my morning tea ritual, I always feel clearer in my ears, nose, lungs, and throat.
Later on in my day, I tend to move onto herbal (non-caffeinated) teas. Part of my proactive health agenda is to take measures to stop acne and blemishes before they show up.
I’ve dealt with oily, spotty skin since I was 10 years old. In my experience, using too many masks, creams, pills, and potions tend to aggravate my skin issues. I like to stick to mindful hydration when it comes to my skin—and that’s definitely where rosehip tea enters the picture. It’s packed with antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, which is not just good for your immunity, but a key player in skin health. I believe it helps keep my skin clear and hydrated. There are still fluctuations here and there, but it’s much rarer for me to wake up with a dreaded unicorn zit when I drink rosehip tea on the regular.
My anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues
My anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues are all tangled—and that’s because my mental health impacts my digestion, and vice versa. For example, stress during the day has caused me to experience stomach upset. This, in turn, keeps me up at night. With racing thoughts and a gurgling gut, I don’t get much sleep. Because of a lack of sleep, I’ll have shaky fingers, a lack of focus, forgetfulness, and nervousness to the point of stammering (in entirely normal social situations).
If my stomach is more stressed than usual, I’ll drink a cup or two of ginger tea, which is known for soothing an upset gut. I don’t particularly love the flavor of ginger, so it’s not something I drink for the experience. However, a cup of this stuff always calms my belly.
For sleeplessness or as a sleep-inspiring nighttime ritual, I turn to chamomile, which is said to relax and sooth the body. Chamomile tea eases me into my nighttime routine, helps me relax before I get into bed, and doesn’t have any nasty side effects in the morning.
Drinking tea slowly is ritualistic, which is self-care at its finest: You’re boiling the water, steeping the concoction, waiting for it to cool down, and then drinking it. It engages each of our senses simultaneously while we take our time contemplatively sipping. A big part of its curative qualities, aside from the evidence that it works, is that I’m doing something I know is good for me.
Since I started drinking herbal tea on a daily basis nearly three years ago, it’s helped me lessen my medicine intake, maintain a healthy routine, and ease many of my problematic symptoms.