Archive for September, 2012

Herb(s) of the Week: Berries Oh Berries Blend

Posted on September 23, 2012. Filed under: Herb(s) of the Week | Tags: , |

For me, September is often like getting whacked repeated in the face with spoiled fish – stinky, weird and surprisingly painful.   It is the busiest month of the year in my day job (thus the lack of blog posts the past few weeks!)    Between work getting busy, the weather beginning to change and the stress and potential for illness it invokes it can be a crazy making time.    This time of year though, I have an herbal tea blend I love drinking to help with all that.

It’s a strong infusion of Hawthorn, Schisandra and Elder berries along with Licorice and Cinnamon.   I call it Bob.

Bob Dobbs – Church of the Subgenius

Not that Bob!  (Via the ever awesome Church of the SubGenius – Praise be to Bob.)   But simply because sometimes I get a little twitchy and eye rolling about some of the naming conventions herbalists are prone to use in marketing their products.  (“Dancing Goddess Hemorrhoid Salve – now with all free range herbs!”)

If it makes you happy you can call the blend Berries Oh Berries (B.O.B.), or call it what I usually do – majorly yummy!

Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

I have to admit that Schisandra is one of my favorite herbs.   I not only like it in teas but will plan just eat the dried berries a bit every day.   Often just grabbing a small handful of berries on my way out the door and snacking on the way to the subway.

It’s nicknamed the Five Flavor berry since it is reputed to carry all five flavors within it (sour, sweet, salty, bitter and pungent.)  And as it offers many flavors, it offers many healing aspects.    It’s a classic Adaptogen (helping the body to deal with stress), a Nervine (calms and balances the nervous system), antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.   As well as supporting the liver and immune system in general.

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)

Hawthorn, especially the berries, is another favorite of my mine.  It’s known as a classic heart and circulatory remedy including helping with high blood pressure and normalizing cholesterol levels.  It is also considered a Nervine and helps with anxiety, insomnia and irritability.  I just think of it as helping whole heart – physical, emotional and spiritual.

I also make a spanking good glyceride with it. 🙂

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

I have to admit that while I like and appreciate Elder berries, I’m nowhere near as enamored with them as many other herbalists are.    Sure they are great, especially in cold and flu season, with their ability to stimulant your immune system and the way they help with sore throats and congestion – so I definitely will use them but not the same love I feel for Hawthorn and Schisandra.   Sorry Elder.   I do love the Elder flowers though and drink them as tea quite frequently.  They are very similar to the berries in their healing properties, but for this particular blend the berries are better synergistically with the other players, IMO.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Licorice root has worked its way into my heart over time and has become a favorite component of several herbal blends for me.  Because it is sweet it may be easy to forget how potent an herbal remedy it is as well.

I like to think of Licorice as being an A list herb because so many of its great properties begin with “A”:   Adrenal supporting, Adaptogen, Antiviral, Antihistamine, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antitumor and Autoimmune (as an immunomodulator it can help with autoimmune problems.)  And delving outside the mighty A’s – it is considered a demulcent, expectorant and protective of the liver.

And in Traditional Chinese Medicine it is thought as harmonizing the action of other herbs in medicinal blends.   Which is one reason I love including it in blends when it fits well.   (It is not recommended in large doses for people with high blood pressure though.)

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)

And last, but never ever least, is Cinnamon.  It’s really easy to think of Cinnamon as just a cooking spice but its warming and stimulating nature helps with digestion, is considered an immune stimulant and has some pretty nifty antimicrobial properties as well.

BOB (Berries Oh Berries) – Image by Michael Blackmore, Mad Crow Herbalism

So that’s my secret blend for getting through this time year.   I love the mix of different supporting Adaptogens, Nervines, immune stimulants, heart/circulatory support and more – it helps keep me going physically, emotionally and spiritual in the onslaught that is this time of year.  I generally have at least a couple of cups a week during the fall – and on particularly awful weeks, like this one, 2 or 3 cups a day!

Wait, why are you looking at me like that…

Okay, I also love it because it tastes like frigging Kool Aid for adults!  A healthy, berry Kool Aid though.  Let’s face it when you’re under stress isn’t that the best time to treat yourself, especially when the treat is good for you!

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