Summertime is a wonderful time to explore herbalism, as it is the time of year when many of our beloved herbs are ready to harvest. Today we will discuss one of our favorite categories of herbs for summer, followed by a recipe for a delicious herbal lemonade that contains herbs that might be growing in your garden!
When it comes to herbs for summer, nervine herbs are always helpful to turn to. Nervines are herbs that target the nervous system, supporting its ability to regulate, calm and relax. Summertime is a time where we simultaneously crave relaxation as well as action. Whether your summer goals are lounging at the river or choosing to juggle projects and get things done, nervous system support is the name of the game. Nervous system health is important for mental clarity, energy levels, balanced hormones, optimal digestion, stress levels and so much more. Nervines can help us to stay cool, calm and collected, both mentally and physically!
One of my favorite ways to take in herbs in the summer is in the form of refreshing herbal beverages. Sun teas, iced herbal infusions and herbal sodas are all lovely options, but to me, nothing says summer more than ice cold lemonade – done with an herbal twist, of course.
Today in our herbal lemonade, we will be using 4 of my favorite nervines. These are all garden classics that are widely available and easy to find.
Oat tops (avena sativa) - Oat tops are high in minerals and B vitamins, making them deeply nourishing for our nervous system. Our nervous system requires minerals and B vitamins to function properly, so oat tops are the perfect nourishing supplement to get our nervous system to its optimal state of functioning. We love them for preventing burnout, for keeping our nervous systems regulated and for maintaining happy healthy nerves! Beyond that, the high mineral content supports healthy skin, nails and hair, so they will support you in getting that healthy summer glow! ;)
Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) - Lavender is widely known for its calming properties and ability to relieve stress. The fragrance alone has been shown in studies to effectively lower anxiety levels. Lavender helps support the nervous system by calming it, lessening the occurrence of anxiety, depression, nervousness and even insomnia. Lavender also happens to be anti-inflammatory, which is an added bonus for the inflammation promoting heat of summer.
Spearmint (mentha spicata) - Less pungent than its relative peppermint, spearmint is a wonderfully refreshing addition to any herbal beverage. It has an antispasmodic action, meaning it helps to soothe and unwind tension in the body, particularly in the nervous system. This makes it a wonderful aid for digestive discomfort (especially stress-related), as well muscle aches, cramping and any other nervous tension. Both its taste and aroma are wonderfully refreshing and cooling for hot summer days.
Chamomile (matriarcha chamomilla) - A beloved herb by children and adults alike, chamomile is gently relaxing to the nervous system. It is wonderful as a sleep aid, for lowering anxiety and as a tonic for overly excited kiddos. Chamomile also offers digestive support; its mildly bitter taste helps stimulate digestive juices and its antispasmodic action helps soothe the stomach and support proper digestion. Its mild sweetness lends itself well to drinks, adding a lovely floral note to any drink you choose to put it in.
Herbal Lemonade Recipe
- ½ cup of oat tops
- ¼ cup of spearmint
- 1-2 TB each lavender & chamomile
- ½-1 cup honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
- 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 5 cups of water
- Make 1 cup fresh squeezed & strained lemon juice, set aside.
- Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil, remove from heat. Add oat tops and steep for 10-15 mins.
Pour water and oat tops into a blender, blend and strain. This technique breaks apart the cell walls and extracts the beneficial constituents from the oat tops!
Bring 1 cup water to boil, remove from heat. Add mint, lavender and chamomile and let steep in the hot water for 5-10 minutes, then strain. Careful not to over steep or the lavender and chamomile will make it bitter! Strain and stir in honey.
- Mix together the two teas, add in the remaining 2 ½ cups of water, 1 cup of lemon juice, mix well.
- Refrigerate until cold, serve over ice.
- Add a sprig of mint or lavender to garnish :)
Amma Rosavalon is an herbalist that is based locally in Southern Oregon. Her practice is informed by the seasons & rhythms of the land around her. And her approach is a unique integration of clinical herbalism, self care practices, dietary adjustments, ritual & nature connection.
Amma trained in bioregional herbalism, Ayurveda, ethical wildcrafting and clinical herbalism through the Hawthorn Institute and has continued to devote herself to the path of herbal medicine ever since. She believes everyone deserves access to herbal medicine, holistic health support and connection to nature. Amma is honored to serve as a conduit in this way.