Here’s a gentle and tasty tea combining some of my favorite herbs to support the all-important brain-gut connection. It works on the nervous system and the middle jiao (digestion) to move Qi and ease stomach aches, increase healthy permeability and absorption in the gut, calms the emotions especially anxiety, is tonifying to worn-out adrenals, warms and increases circulation.
Did I mention how tasty it is? Very sweet and soothing, espcailly with the chamomile freshly harvested from the garden and St. John’s Wort and Roses from the ‘hood. Nothing like local flavor. The rose petals are nice to add in a small amount, where I can barely taste the fragrant, floral, heady rose flavor per se. In small amounts, it is almost a bit of rosy spice that comes through. The Chamomile is sweet, bitter, yellow and green all wrapped up in one tiny flower. So soothing to the nerves and digestion both. Milky Oats, there’s another soothing herb both in texture and action. If I see overt nervous system involvement with the digestion I often reach towards Milky oats.
- St. John’s Wort
- Milky Oats
- Rose Petals
There was no real measurements, just a pinch or two or three tossed in the jar. I like to steep my tea strong nowadays, so the herbs take up around 1/3 of the jar and steep for 2-4 hours. After I do a pour of the tea, I add more hot water to the strained herbs for another steeping. The herbs are too precious and potent to not get another few cups of their goodness.
This tea has been made all summer long in one form or another. The more I dug into my research project for school about the treatment of impaired gut permeability, the more I started to see how herbs work on the the Spleen and Stomach (which in Chinese medicine represent getting energy from food as seen in digestion and absorption, among other functions). Centering tea feels soothing and calming to me, yet is is also gently moving to Qi and Yang of the middle.
I am shocked that I haven’t written more posts about St. John’s Wort! One day I will write up a little monograph of this brightening and balancing herb. It is one of my most favorite herbs, and I really mean it. One of my favorite descriptions of St. John’s Wort if from Matthew Wood in The Book of Herbal Wisdom. Wood gives a feel for this mythic plant and all the magic that surrounds it. This herb isn’t called Hypericum, meaning “above icon” icon meaning evil, for nothing. Christopher Hobb’s has a detailed historical review of this plant here.
St. John’s Wort is the principle herb in the formula. It has an affinity to the middle jiao, the digestion. Why is this? Firstly, it is yellow. Bright, sunny yellow. It starts blooming around St. John’s Day (around the Summer Solstice) and blooms through the fall. I talked a bit about St. John’s Wort color here. In Chinese medicine, yellow is the color of the Earth element and digestive functions.
From a western standpoint, it is interesting that St. John’s Wort is a highly-pigmented plant known to cause photosensitivity in grazing cattle , and that one of its many compounds and one that has been singled out for research, Hypericin, has “impressive light-mediated antiviral activities” (Oubre). This plant really does absorb light and uses it to fight “evil”. In the middle ages this evil was known as demons or curses, in our modern culture this evil is known as depression or SAD. In the research lab, this evil is a virus.