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Kitchen Wisdom is my series of home remedies using foods commonly found in your kitchen. This series is in no way a replacement of proper medical care. It is intended for informational use only.

I grew up drinking mostly black tea and herbal teas, and it wasn’t until I attended Chinese Medicine school that I started drinking green tea too. Nowadays, there’s plenty of excitement about green tea (and white tea) since it’s packed with antioxidants and has shown to reduce cholesterol, lower chances of heart disease, and possibly play a part in cancer prevention.

Green tea and black tea are used medicinally in Chinese herbal formulas for different functions. In the Chinese Medicine energetic system of classifying herbs, green tea is considered cooling and black tea is considered warming. These teas are used in combination with other herbs to treat various health conditions.

A common combination that we frequently drank in Chinese Medicine school is a pinch of green tea leaves, about 6-10 goji berries, a pinch of dried mint leaves, and 2-3 chrysanthemum flowers (you can adjust the proportions to taste). Put these herbs in a 14-16 ounce glass jar, pour boiling water over the herbs and let it steep. We typically drank the tea with the herbs in it and just filled the jar with more hot water for an additional weaker batch. This combination is great for clearing and sharpening the mind and brightening the eyes (to relieve eye strain after long hours of studying).

Green and black tea contain Caffeine. As part of a balanced diet, one or two cups of tea can be healthily consumed. Most people do best if they drink caffeinated beverages before 3PM so it doesn’t upset their ability to fall asleep naturally with ease.

However, skipping the caffeine can be crucial to your healing if you experience insomnia or sleep issues, stress, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, digestive issues, or migraines. Caffeine is not recommended in pregnancy.

Unfortunately many people can get in a vicious cycle of experiencing insomnia, stress and fatigue and self-medicating with caffeine. This gives them a little energy to keep functioning, but it’s truly a crutch since their bodies are often very depleted and in need of deep rest. Does this sound like you? You might consider acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to support and strengthen your body to heal so you can get off of this vicious cycle.

Choose organic, fair-trade tea. Organic tea has been grown free from pesticides or other chemicals which benefits your own health as well as the health of the farmers and the health of our planet. Fair-trade ensures that the farmers are given a fair price for their work.

Here are my favorite healing uses for tea. (notice that two of these uses are topical!)

Boost your immune system with Green and Black tea

There’s nothing as soothing as cup of tea (maybe with honey) when you have the sniffles or a sore throat. The hot steam opens the sinuses and the warm liquid soothes the throat.

Green and black tea are not just soothing, they are medicinal because they can actually boost your immune system and fight viruses. This doesn’t mean I am recommending drinking tea by the gallons. Again, most healthy people do just fine with one or two cups of tea per day.

Soothe irritated skin with Green tea

Green tea is antibacterial and antifungal. As long as it’s not an open cut or wound, you can saturate a cotton ball or clean piece of cloth with cooled strongly brewed green tea to use as a topical compress. It’s soothing on a mild burn or mild dermatitis rash. If you refrigerate the tea, it accentuates the cooling effect to ease hot, irritated skin.

Of course, you do want to see your doctor first to rule out infections or other potential issues.

Brighten your skin with Green tea

You can easily create your own refreshing green tea facial spray. Your skin will benefit with the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the green tea.

Brew a strong cup of green tea with filtered water and let cool to room temperature.  Strain the tea leaves or remove the tea bag and place the tea in an empty spritzer bottle. Store this in the refrigerator. It keeps for 5-6 days. Spritz your face, neck and arms several times per day. The green tea will hydrate, moisten and brighten your skin with continued use. It’s especially refreshing on a hot day.

Enjoy a cup of tea!

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