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Stay Healthy with Herbal Tea

When your throat feels sore or indigestion threatens, then it is time for a medicinal tea. //

"Herbal tea can ease symptoms if there is an indication that something is wrong or at the first sign a illness is getting worse," says Ursula Sellerberg, spokeswoman for an organisation here that represents the interests of Germany's pharmacists.

The body and soul is helped to regenerate itself by the tea's active ingredients and stimulated by the hot water.

"The classic areas where herbal tea is used are against colds, digestive problems and women's complaints," says herbal tea expert Monika Beutgen.

Medicinal teas are also commonly used to ease the symptoms of bladder and kidney complaints as well as sleeplessness. Every herb contains a range of chemical ingredients the strongest of which determines the tea's main effect.

The bitter components of the herbs centaury, absinth wormwood or gentian improve the stomach's function and increase appetite as well as the feeling of being full.

The large-leafed linden induces sweating while fennel, anis, kummel and camomile ease cramps.

"People often combine four or six plants but no more than that," explains Peter Zizmann, president of the Bonn-based Professional Association of Alternative Medicine Practitioners.

Combining herbs increases tea's effectiveness. At the same time the chemical components are also boosted.

With a little knowledge on the subject it is possible to visit a pharmacist and have a tea custom-blended.

An alternative is the pre-blended herbal tea. "Their drawback is they are designed to have a wide range of effectiveness and are not tailored to treat specific complaints," says Zizmann.

Staple blends and individual herbs are also available over the counter in packets from pharmacists and in many local shops.

"Not every herbal tea is a medicinal tea," says Laura Groche of t he consumer affairs group Verbraucherinitiative.

"Medicinal teas must contain information on the packaging about their correct usage, their chemical components, dosage, a best-before-date and their licensing number."

When buying herbal tea make sure each tea bag is individually wrapped so that essential oils are not lost. "Only then can a medicinal tea be used to its full effect," explains Beutgen.

Herbal tea is generally prepared by pouring boiling water over the leaves or tea bag. One should not leave the tea in the pot longer than it says on the instructions.

Leaving the tea too long can also have a negative affect on the taste.

Groche also advises drinking medicinal teas for a limited period of time. "They are not suitable for consumption over a sustained period," she says.

Medicinal tea should never be drunk for periods longer than six weeks without consulting a doctor first.

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