We all know the importance of staying hydrated for everything along the spectrum of basic survival to optimising our mood and performance. If you don’t like or are trying to cut down on tea or coffee and less healthy choices, you are of course left with the actual thing your body needs - good old-fashioned water.
Now, we should have nothing against good old H2O. After all, our bodies are 60% made of it, our hearts and brains 70%+, we go on holidays to sit by it and when we’re old, well, wouldn’t we love to live by it?
The thing is, it can be a little bit dull on the ‘taste bud tantalisation’ front. Here’s where herbs come in. These little gifts of nature will not only add fabulous flavours to your water, but also come with a range of great benefits.
Of course, bags of all kinds of herbal teas are readily available, but if you want to make your own, here are the basics:
For an infusion or tisane, (made with herbs or the flower of the plant), take about 25g of the herb, flower or root in a teapot and add around a pint of boiling water. Wait around 10 minutes, strain and your drink is ready.
For a decoction, (made from the root or bark of the plant), simply follow the quantities as above, and simmer in a pan for 15 – 20 minutes.
You can add honey or a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime for a bit of added zing which tastes great cold over ice.
Ten Happy Herbal Hydrators
TO HYDRATE… and be soothed
Chamomile: The chill out herb
This little daisy-like flower is famed for its soothing and calming properties. It contains blue azulene, which is anti-inflammatory. Chamomile has a gentle taste and is known to calm the digestive and nervous systems making it great before bed.
Valerian: To sleep perchance to dream
Like Chamomile, valerian is known for its natural tranquillising properties and can be used to help with insomnia or stress.
Lavender: You won’t be blue (dilly dilly)
The aroma of lavender is known to have a soothing effect and has been shown to help with insomnia, anxiety, stress and depression.
TO HYDRATE… and help our digestive systems
Fennel: The tummy soother
Fennel seeds can stimulate a sluggish digestive system and soothe flatulence and cramps. It’s also reputed to reduce nicotine cravings.
Ginger: Ease the queasy
Infused slices of fresh ginger are great for nausea, motion and morning sickness. A ginger tea is a great comfort if you have a cold especially when mixed with lemon and honey.
Peppermint: The delicious digestive
Infused peppermint leaves have a soothing effect on the digestive system and can also assist in lowering body temperature, so it’s great for fevers.
TO HYDRATE… and help fight infection
Liquorice: It really is good for “allsorts”
As well as having a distinctive, delicious taste, infused Liquorice root is known to have anti-inflammatory, expectorant and mild laxative properties.
Elderflower: The flu fighter
Elderflowers contain vitamin C and have antioxidant and antiviral properties. Tests have shown that consumption can speed recovery from flu.
Rosehip: Vitamin C tea
Also rich in vitamin C, rosehip tea has antioxidant properties and, like tomatoes, is a source of lycopene, which has been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Raspberry Leaf: The girls’ best friend
Raspberry leaf tea is best known for its benefit to mums-to-be as it can relax the uterine muscles. Research has shown a potential contribution to shorter labours. (Always consult a doctor before taking herbs in pregnancy). Raspberry leaf tea is also considered to be of potential use for soothing menstrual cramps.
Are you enthused enough to get your water infused?