STRESS is the number one ailment of modern Western society.
Instead of turning to caffeine or alcohol, try some great stress-busting herbs that have been used for centuries to help you unwind.
There are numerous herbs that grow in Andalucia and have a reputation for effective stress-busting.
A native of the Mediterranean region is lemon balm – Melissa officinalis – that has been cultivated for over 2000 years and was called the ‘elixir of life’ by Paracelsus, a 15th century German-Swiss physician and alchemist.
Lemon balm, also known as ‘bee balm’ grows in scrubby, partially shaded areas across the region.
It is often a garden escapee and self-seeds with relish.
Lemon balm can be used in several different ways, as an infusion – place fresh or dried leaves in a cup, pour over boiling water, cover and leave for 10 minutes, strain and drink – or as a tincture (see note).
It can also be combined with other stress busting herbs, such as St John’s wort, lavender, lemon verbena and lime flowers either as infusions or tinctures.
The essential oils of these herbs can also be used in a bath oil.
Always put essential oils in a carrier oil such as almond oil or in a tablespoon of milk before using, then lie back and relax.
Tinctures are an excellent way to harness the power of herbs, and are more practical and longer lasting than herbal teas.
Tinctures use alcohol to extract the medicinal properties of herbs and volume for volume are more concentrated than infusions, decoctions or macerated oils.
They are easy to make and will last up to 12 months, if kept in a dark cupboard.
If using fresh herbs ensure they are dry, then chop and place in a jar.
Cover with good vodka, ensuring all herb material is covered.
Seal the jar and place in a dark cupboard for three weeks, giving the jar a daily shake. Open the jar and strain the liquid through a muslin cloth.
Pour the liquid into a coloured glass bottle and label.
Take a teaspoon of tincture two or three times a day in warm water.
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