By Mahalia Freed, ND
The December holiday season is upon us, and for many, that means a series of large, rich meals, combined with intense (and sometimes tense) family or social interactions. Beyond knowing your individual limits regarding eggnog and chocolate treats, what can you do to enhance digestion? How can you soothe frazzled nerves? What will help keep you from succumbing to a Christmas cold when you finally have time off? This month’s article highlights the wisdom of herbs as complex living medicines that cross body systems to provide us with just the support that we need. Did you know that there are herbs that soothe both the digestive tract and the nervous system? Did you know that there are herbs that decrease gut inflammation and are also antiviral?
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is one such herb. A common weed in the mint family, lemon balm is traditionally used to soothe indigestion, especially when related to emotional stress. The herb is helpful for relieving spasms of the gastrointestinal tract, gas pain, and flatulence. As well, it has a restorative, calming, and uplifting effect on the nervous system. Finally, laboratory studies confirm that the water extract (as in, tea) is antiviral, particularly against the cold sore virus and some types of ‘flu. For calming your stomach and nourishing your nerves, around the holidays or any time, try the following tea:
Nerve Nourishing Tummy Tea
Combine loose herbs
- 1 Part Licorice root
- 1 Part Chamomile flowers
- 2 Parts Lemon balm aerial parts
Place herb mixture in a French press or teapot with strainer and add boiling water. Let steep 5-15 minutes, and drink as desired. Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar recommends this combination for heartburn, to be consumed 30 minutes before and after meals.
Cautions: If you have an under-active thyroid, consult your naturopathic doctor or medical herbalist before regularly using lemon balm. If you have high blood pressure, consult your naturopathic doctor or medical herbalist before regularly using licorice root.