The notion of a ‘health tonic’ probably conjures up dark glass bottles, dingy apothecaries and wizened old healers, but the practice of ingesting plants that boost our vitality, immunity and stamina (namely, our health!) is just as prevalent today as it ever was and as you will discover, such tonics are easily accessible.
People often ask me how to choose the right tea and whether they should pick a Chinese tea or one of our wellness blends that are those same teas but mixed with specific medicinal herbs. The difference between tonic and medicinal plants really helps us offer some guidance to this question.
In his book ‘Spontaneous healing’ Dr. Andrew Weil explains that ‘anything that increases the efficiency of the healing system or helps it neutralise harmful influences will increase the probability of spontaneous healing and tonics are natural products that do just that”.
Derived from the Greek word meaning ‘stretch’, tonics tone our internal systems in the way physical exercises tone our muscles.
Tonic herbs are generally non toxic and safe to consume regularly over long periods of time. They promote good health all round, having a more adaptogenic approach to the entire body and it’s systems. Tonic and adaptogenic herbs are considered the same thing, just using different names. They help you ‘adapt’, reducing both mental and physical stress on the body. An elite class of herbs, they are known to impart strength, energy, stamina, endurance, and they improve mental clarity in a holistic, whole-body way.
Tonic herbs are more generally used to prevent disease rather than try to fix it. ‘Medicinal’ herbs are ‘the fixers’. A plant is classed as medicinal if it has active ingredients that can cure or lessen symptoms from an illness. They are generally used very therapeutically, often mixed with a selection of other medicinal herbs. Medicinal herbs are not for long-term use but taken for shorter periods of time and for specific reasons, not general health promotion like the tonics.
So what are these tonic plants and how hard are they to find?
Well some tonic plants are very well known, garlic, ginger and green tea are 3 such examples. Others are less so, but easily obtainable like turmeric, nettle, ginseng, spirulina and some of the more exotic mushrooms like reishi and chaga, And some are quite culture-specific.
So to answer the original question, we suggest a ‘pure’ Chinese tea to promote good all-round health. It is safe to drink every day and its positive effects are accumulative so the more often you drink it, the more lasting the effects become. The amazing benefits of the tea plant’s unique nutrients, caffeine, L-theanine, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins help keep you well and thriving.
When you are struggling with something in particular- poor sleep, disturbed digestion or flagging energy- then a wellness blend might be your first port of call, because we have added some specific medicinal herbs to help get you back in balance in the area you are focusing on.
Hopefully this has made things a little clearer and helped explain our love affair with the humble tea plant a little more :)
Tea Therapy Lin Qianliang