According to the studies, most of what goes into a living a long healthy life isn't surprising. Exercise, eating fresh vegetables and lean meat, and staying connected to a community of loving friends and family, all contribute to a long happy life. But what was unexpected was the importance the researchers gave to herbal tea, listing it as one of the most important factors to fighting off dementia, heart disease and early death.
It turns out that Greek Ikarians, who were featured in the study because of their tendency to live well into their nineties mentally and physically intact, love their herbal tea and drink it much like we drink coffee. They think nothing of picking fistfuls of garden herbs and steeping them in boiled water for an evening beverage, or enjoying a delicious brew of dried herbs and roots with breakfast. According to study author Dan Buettner, “It's this regular, ritualistic consumption of these herbal teas that we think explains low rates of heart disease and also low rates of dementia,”
Doctor Ioanna Chinou from the University of Athens has made a detailed study of the herbs from the Island of Ikaria where herbs like mint, sage and rosemary grow in abundance. She found that the complexity of the compounds found in the herbs, as well as their freshness and preparation, help explain why Ikarians live long healthy lives. All the herbs contribute to helping the body rid itself of toxins, repair and renew tissue, reduce inflammations and help maintain healthy brain functions.
So, should I run out to my supermarket and buy this so-called "Longevity Tea?"
Herbalist Sarah Richards, who owns an Herbal Tea Apothecary in Portland, Maine and sells her herbal teas online at http://www.homegrownherbandtea.com, says, "No."
"There is no single herbal tea that will lead to longevity, and anyone trying to sell a tea that claims this is probably selling a nicely marketed box of worthless herb dust processed by a machine in China," she said. Instead she encourages those serious about their health to find a tea that includes these herbs, but also has other properties that are unique to your medical issues.
"We have been getting a lot of requests from people looking for this so called longevity tea," Richards said, "And it would be easy to throw something together and call it that. But that misses the point of the study. What matters is the quality and freshness of the herbs, how they are prepared and blended, what their medicinal properties are and how you incorporate herbal tea into your life - the intention behind it. You have to find the herbal tea that works for you. Otherwise, you won't make it a part of your life in any significant way - and that is what makes it successful."
To that end, Richards suggests five teas that include the Ikarian herbs but also feature other healing herbs. Taken together, all these herbal teas are diuretics; that is, they make you pee. In so doing, they help flush your body of natural waste products and toxins. They also lower blood pressure by helping the kidneys remove sodium and water from the body, thereby alleviating pressure on the blood vessel walls. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, and dementia. This is because when you have high blood pressure it stresses out blood vessels in your brain, making them more susceptible to ruptures and causing them to die from lack of oxygen.
So here are the five teas that are officially Blue Zone Teas and can be found at http://www.homegrownherbandtea.com
Inflammation, normally part of a healthy immune response, is increasingly thought to play a leading role in encouraging cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's. People who get a lot of inflamation are considered by Ayurvedic principles of wellness to be "hot," or Pitta types due to their passionate, burning disposition. This blend of kava kava, chamomile, white willow, echinacae, golden seal, sandalwood, licorice root, dandelion, spearmint, lemon balm and lavender is a cooling tea with what are called alterative herbs, herbs that are known to be restore, cool the body and balance. From a western standpoint, these herbs are cleansing and very diuretic. They are also powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. If you're a type-A personality or experience a lot of inflammation, this tea is a good starting place.
2. Liver Toner
Another powerfully diuretic herbal tea which focuses on healthy liver functions, an organ that in our heavily toxic environment needs all the nourishment it can get. A gentle blend of milk thistle seed, dandelion root, burdock, marsh mallow, and astragalus goes down well with a tasty touch of lemon balm, lavender, jasmine and mint. This is another cleansing tea, which also provides plenty of nourishment for the liver, which is the organ primarily responsible for removing toxins. Aside from it cleansing properties, Astragalus root has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It is known to help support the immune system, lower blood pressure and provides a nice caffeine-free burst of energy.
3. Jewels Focus Finder
This blend is rich in powerful Nootropics, compounds that are known to enhance memory, concentration, focus, cognition, attention and motivation. This blend includes gingko biloba, gotu kola, ginseng and a homegrown concoction of brainy aromatics, including rosemary and lavender. Rosemary is one of the herbs that grows in abundance in Greece and used in tea throughout the Mediterranean. It has a long medicinal history and association with mental prowess. In medieval times, it was common practice to keep a rosemary plant near your desk while you worked to help with creativity, memory and clarity of mind.
4. The Herban Cowboy
A favourite at the tea shop for it's strong manly appeal. Made from roots, berries and dried orange peel, this has a robust, clean flavour with a real kick to it. Homegrown Herb and Tea blends this with sarsaparilla, ashwaganda and astragalus roots, infused with orange peel and schisandra berries. These are restorative, testosterogenic herbs that are great if you feel low energy, muscle fatigue or a lack of stamina. This is also a great herbal tea for those who want a powerful punch of anti-oxidants and sustained mental clarity.
5. Arthritis Tea
If you suffer from arthritis, chances are you're chomping the over-the-counter pain meds on a daily basis. The damage these do to your liver, and thusly impairing your body's ability to detoxify and balance itself, is creating what scientists call a feed back loop. One reinforces the other, such that condition gets worse, not better. We suggest taking a break and getting your pain under control by diet, light exercise, plenty of water and this blend of black cohosh, red sandalwood, slippery elm, white willow bark, St. John's wort, lemon balm, rosemary, licorice root, lavender and chamomile. Again, you will recognize some of the Ikarian herbs in this blend, which may account for the lack of arthritis on Ikaria as well. This is due in part because arthritis loves acidity. The herbs featured in this tea help lower acidity. We also included demulcent herbs to help with joint lubrication, detoxifying herbs to promote a healing environment and herbs that encourage blood circulation to the joints - not to mention a powerful bouquet of anti-inflammatory herbs for pain relief. Can your Tylenol do all that?
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Homegrown Herb and Tea is an herbal tea apothecary located in Portland, Maine and online at http://www.homegrowntea.com. We serve wellness tea, Ayurvedic teas and specialty teas.