Lucky am I, my kids love school. We have a wonderful local school for them to attend with caring attentive teachers, excellent technical resources and lots of friends. One of my kids loves school so much that she bounced into the car as we headed home from the last day of school and immediately asked, “Can we go back to school shopping?”
Even so, about two weeks before school is set to start I can feel it creeping in… anticipation and unrest. My kids are ready for and looking forward to school but nervous. And let’s face it, waiting for anything can be tough. We have had everything from nervous upset tummies to sleep disturbances to the daytime crazies. This year to help ease the transition we are all drinking a calming infusion of wonderful herbs and it seems to be keeping things in check. Everyone is a bit calmer and sleeping well at the moment. And Mommy is also keeping her cool.
This infusion (strong tea) nourishes the nervous system, calms digestion, encourages restful sleep and eases stress. It is simple and easy to make with a bit of forethought. Really any combination of these herbs would work great. I use dried herbs but fresh would work fine though you may wish to increase the amount you infuse as dried herbs are more potent than fresh.
- Oat Straw
- Oat Seed
- Chamomile Blossoms
- St. John’s Wort Flowers
I make this infusion in 2 parts because oat straw and oat seed need to be infused for a long time to bring out their nourishing properties, vitamins and minerals. While the chamomile becomes bitter when steeped to long and the St John can become a bit strong in my opinion.
Instructions: Place a palmful each of oat straw and oat seed to a quart jar. Fill the jar half way with hot water. Let sit for 4 to 8 hours. I start this in the morning when I am making breakfast. Then strain the resulting liquid into another jar or tea pot and add a palmful each of chamomile and St. John’s wort to the quart jar. Fill again half way with hot water and put a lid on top to keep the chamomile’s essential oil from escaping. Let sit for 3 to 6 minutes, no more as it will get bitter. Strain into the container holding your oat straw/seed infusion. I add a little bit of honey, maybe a 1/2 teaspoon (more or less to taste), to the infusion and serve it at the dinner table in fancy tea cups.
The result is a mild flowery tasting tea calming to the nerves that my kids love!
About the herbs in your tea:
- Oat Straw and Oat Straw~ Often used as a long-term nervous system tonic, oats are extremely nourishing to frazzled nervous. They ease stress, irritability and anxiety.
- Chamomile Blossoms ~ Chamomile is soothing for the nerves and supports healthy digestion easing that nervous tummy some kids get. It is high in vitamins and minerals which strengthen the nervous system.
- St. John’s Wort Flowers ~ St. John’s Wort is most commonly known for its usefulness in easing depression. I find it is also useful in easing acute stress when drunk as an infusion and something about combining it with Chamomile enhances its sunshiny properties. My kids have responded time and again to St. John’s and Chamomile combined for nightmares and night terrors. Please note that there are some contradictions when combining St. John’s Wort with pharmaceuticals, consult your doctor. St. John’s Wort is also reported to increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Enjoy and best wishes for a beautiful school year.
Categories: Back to School, Chamomile, Herbal Medicines, Herbal Tips And Tricks, Oatstraw, St John's Wort
Tags: Back to School, chamomile, Easing anxiety in children, health, Herbs for kids, parenting, tea for children
A woman’s moon time is a time of power… a time for inner reflection and change. A time to let go of those parts of oneself that are no longer of value and to make space for unknown or unacknowledged parts to come forth. There is a passage that occurs between who we were and who we are to become, a kind of death and rebirth. This change can sometimes be uncomfortable and difficult but it is well worth being open to as there is much growth to be realized, more of ourselves to come to know. The beautiful sunny flowers of the chamomile (Matricaria spp.) plant with its delicate bittersweet flavor is like an understanding friend who lends support and comfort anytime when we feel stressed by change. In this way chamomile is especially helpful when there are feelings of tension, irritability, and anxiousness which are manifesting as issues in the physical body.
Chamomile is a gentle yet powerful relaxant for both nervous and digestive systems and has long be valued as a women’s herb. In fact the genus name of the plant, Matricaria, comes from the word “matrix” which means mother or womb. Chamomile relieves smooth muscle spasm and is therefore helpful for soothing menstrual and digestive and flatulence. Chamomile helps to decrease irritation and inflammation in the body. Because chamomile benefits nervous system it is helpful for PMS associated with tension, irritability and headaches. It helps women who experience amenorrhea or lack of menstruation from stress. It provides comfort to those who are highly sensitive and prone to complaining. It also helps to re-establish equilibrium and ease aliments associated with nervous exhaustion such as insomnia and anxiety.
- eases menstrual cramps
- calms stress and anxiety
- relieves digestive upset
Chamomile has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic, sedative, antispasmodic, carminative and nervine actions. It has nourishing minerals including phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. The sweet apple-like fragrance of chamomile comes from the amazing essential oil, azulene which is found in the flowers of this plant. Azulene is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties.
A simple tea of chamomile is a wonderful way to reap all of the benefits of this amazing herb. Place a heaping tablespoon of flowers in a heat proof container add one cup of hot water and cover so the volatile azulene essential oil won’t evaporate. Steep for 5 to 15 minutes, then strain out the flowers. Add honey to taste. Experiment with your brewing time as the longer chamomile is steeped the more bitter is gets. Drink up to 3 to 4 cups a day. Other tasty herbs can be added to your brew to increase its soothing and nourishing properties. Like chamomile, lemon balm is relaxing for the nervous and digestive systems while having a delightful lemony flavor that has long been used to refresh the brain. Rose petals are comforting for the heart and provide help to those with irregular menstruation. While rose hips are high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Both are blood tonics. St. John’swort is like sunshine in a cup for those with depression, fatigue and grief. This herb can have interactions with some prescription medications and can also cause increased sensitivity to light. Spearmint and lavender add amazing flavor to brews and act positively on the digestive system. An extra strong tea of chamomile added to the bathtub or a basin for a foot bath is also very soothing. For menstrual cramps and digestive upset, a cloth soaked in warm chamomile tea and placed over the belly is lovely! Whole chamomile flowers and other herbs can generally be found at your local herb or health food store, or on-line. Look for a source that sells high quality herbs with lots of color and good aroma.
Chamomile is generally considered to be a very safe herb which is proven by its many applications for children. Yet a small percentage of individuals may be allergic to it as it is in the Asteracea or ragweed family. Because chamomile is a mild uterine stimulant it should be avoided by pregnant women.
Definitions for actions:
- anti-inflammatory ~ decreases inflammation
- antiseptic ~ helps the body deal with harmful bacteria
- analgesic ~ soothes pain
- sedative ~ induces rest
- antispasmodic ~ relieves muscles cramps and spasms
- carminative ~ increases appetite, eases gas and nausea
- nervine ~ nourishes and soothes the nervous system
- tonic ~ encourages increased health
Originally published in Moon Flow magazine