Adaptogen Chai Tea for Immune System
Every winter, I’ve noticed lots of different people seem to ask me similar questions like: “What are the best supplements for immunity?” and “How can I boost my immune system naturally?”
Well, if you know me at all, you can probably guess that I almost never have just one simple answer, because…
- There are literally hundreds of answers and
- IT DEPENDS!
In the world of nutrition, health, and herbal medicine, it’s rarely ever “cookie cutter” or black and white! One size does not fit all. For example, it’s not always a good thing to “boost” (stimulate) our immune system if it’s over-active or out of balance to begin with.
People with Crohn’s disease or Rheumatoid arthritis would be doing themselves a huge disservice if they started taking elderberry syrup which stimulates the same branch of the immune system which is already over-active.
People with thyroid imbalance (especially hypothyroidism) may be making their problems worse by adding green tea into their daily regimen.
But there is a certain category of herbs, called “adaptogens“, which actually have a unique “plant wisdom” in that they work WITH the body: they help bring it into balance! (There are dozens and dozens of adaptogens out there with different qualities and personalities.)
These magical plants have the unique ability to work WITH our body, unlike medicine or certain other trendy foods/supplements, which are either “uppers” or “downers” (over-stimulating us or suppressing us in one way or another).
Adaptogens all come from different plant families and different parts of the world, but a few things they have in common include:
- They’re known to reduce the stress response in the body
- They help to balance our immune system (if it’s under-active, they boost it; if it’s over-active, they bring it down)
- They’re super anti-inflammatory and have anti-aging / disease-preventive properties of all kinds
This simple, easy recipe fuses herbs we already know and love (cinnamon, ginger, cloves and cardamom…timeless!) with a few of my favorite adpatogens: ashwagandha root*, and/or shatavari root (both Ayurvedic herbs known to reduce stress and increase stamina, without any caffeine!).
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), which translates to “the smell and strength of a horse” is one of my favorite plant allies… and the reason is not in the name! 😉
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb used for supporting people with iron-deficiency anemia, enhancing sleep, reducing anxiety, increasing strength & stamina, and balancing the immune system as an “immune modulator” or immune tonic (1)! It’s also been found to naturally increase fertility levels in men, it’s a mild diuretic and can have a simulating effect on the thyroid as an FYI (1).
- Ashwagandha is a nightshade, so proceed with caution if you have any kind of nightshade intolerance!
Shatavari (Asparagus racemous), literally translating to “she who has hundreds of husbands”… is another of my favorite herbal allies! (Again, I promise it’s not because of the name.) 😀
In addition to balancing the immune system as an immune tonic, shatavari is known to increase energy and stamina (like it’s sister herb, ashwagandha) as well as promote fertility/libido, soothe and protect the gut lining, promote hydration (unlike ashwagandha which is a mild diuretic) and it’s also very anti-inflammatory (1).
I could talk for weeks straight about these and other herbs, but we don’t have that kind of time – and this is a recipe blog post! So I won’t turn this into a novel (keep reading):
- 2 tablespoons loose chai tea blend of choice, OR:
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
- 1 cardamom pod
- 1 clove
- 1 star anise pod (optional)
- 1 tablespoon (or 0.5 tablespoon each) of dried ashwagandha root and/or shatavari root
- 1 quart (4 cups) water
- Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, reduce to low, cover loosely and simmer for ~30 minutes.
- Let it cool then strain out all the herbs.
Optional: Combine with milk or milk substitute of choice (I use this homemade nut milk quite often) and some maple syrup or raw honey to sweeten 🙂
BOTTOM LINE: I can literally talk for hours and hours about these herbs and the different ways to use them. There are tons of amazing resources and different types of herbs in addition to ashwagandha and shatavari which may be a great addition to your kitchen cabinet! These two herbs are not for everyone and there is always an alternative option.
I’ve got LOTS more to say about adaptogens, tea, and herbs in general… Stay tuned! Coming soon in 2020: a virtual Tea Course so you can learn “all the things” about all the tea!
- One last thing: A special service that I offer for 1:1 clients is an “herbal energetics” assessment which matches you to the right herbs for YOUR body and YOUR consitutional patterns. We also cover dosing, herbal preparations, herbal interactions with food/medication, and how to use herbs to balance all of your organ systems & optimize your blood work. Hit me up here if you’re interested!
What kind of experience have you had with herbal medicine? Post or share in the comments below!
- Winston, D., & Maimes, S. (2019). Adaptogens: herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.