flavor and belong the metal element (fall season) in the five-element theory of Chinese medicine that I have been discussing the last few weeks (see the previous blog post). The difference between spicy and pungent is negligible. The pungent taste warms the body, cleanses the mouth, clarifies the sense organs, enhances other flavors, and improves digestion, absorption, and elimination. Making this drink a delicious yet nourishing drink for the fall and winter season.
The spices in chai tea do much more than just add flavor to your drinks, pies, and desserts. These spices contain antibacterial, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties that lend chai tea its extraordinary health benefits, including:
1. Gives you energy since it includes black tea, which naturally contains caffeine. Making an excellent alternative for those trying to wean off coffee. In general, chai tea contains about one third the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee and about one-sixth the amount of a strong cup of coffee. However, three cups of caffeine-free chai tea a day will provide you with the same amount of energy as one cup of coffee.
2. Improves digestion. The ginger and black pepper in chai are excellent for regulating the digestive system and keeping your gut healthy. A great drink option for those suffering from IBS and autoimmune disorders
.3. Alleviates nausea. Ginger, one of the main ingredients in chai tea has been shown in many studies to be highly effective in reducing nausea
4. Reduces aches and pains. The ginger and cloves in chai are anti-inflammatory which can ease pain ranging from minor headaches to migraines. They also increase circulation, delivering oxygen-rich cells to the affecting areas that can provide symptom relief.
5. Supports your immune system. The antioxidants, vitamin C and other nutrients found in chai spices help keep your immune system healthy.
6. Helps prevent and treat cold and flu and other infections. The spices in chai are also antiseptic, antifungal and expectorant which help fight disease, clear your sinuses and detoxify your body.
7. Protect your cells and prevent chronic illnesses. The spices in chai are high in antioxidants known as polyphenols that help to eliminate free radicals. Free radicals have been linked to chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's as well as cancer.
8. .May improve heart health. The cinnamon and black tea like the ones found in chai have been shown to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and regulate blood sugar.
Other Health Properties of the Herbs and Spices in Chai Tea are:
Cardamom is aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, anticancer, anti-asthmatic, and anti-inflammatory. It is used for detoxification and improves blood circulation. It provides nausea and vomiting relief. It provides gastrointestinal protection, controls cholesterol, offers relief from cardiovascular issues, and improves blood circulation.
Cinnamon is antispasmodic, antiemetic, antidiarrheal, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal. It helps fight infections like the common cold, loss of appetite, and erectile dysfunction (ED). Cinnamon may lower blood sugar in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It reduces LDL cholesterol. Buy Ceylon Cinnamon whenever possible. It comes from Sri Lanka and is widely considered to be the best in the world.
Clove is aphrodisiac, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antifungal. It relieves respiratory infections, improves digestion, and provides pain relief. It is high in antioxidants and a good source of minerals, particularly manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamins.
Ginger is anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer. It reduces morning sickness, decreases muscle pain and soreness, can help with osteoarthritis, lowers blood sugar, reduces heart disease risks, treats chronic indigestion, decreases menstrual pain, lowers cholesterol levels, protects against Alzheimer’s disease, and helps fight infections.
The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K content in fennel all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength. Fennel speeds up metabolism, aids digestion, increases iron absorption, and is estrogenic (promotes estrogen production). It is an excellent source of vitamin C and is anti-inflammatory. Ground fennel starts to lose its flavor after six months, while whole fennel seeds keep for three years. So it’s best to buy whole and grind as needed.
Nutmeg provides pain relief, soothes indigestion, improves cognitive function, detoxifies the body, boosts skin health, alleviates oral conditions, helps with insomnia, increases immune system function, helps prevent leukemia, and improves blood circulation and brain health. It is an aphrodisiac.
Black pepper is a rich source of minerals and nutrients such as vitamin A, C and K, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, folic acid, choline, copper, iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. Black pepper—in combination with substances like castor oil or ghee—is used as an appetite stimulant, a breathing aid, and a cough therapy. Black pepper is also anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, enhances nutrient absorption, and synergistic – meaning it facilitates the action of other plants or pharmaceuticals. They either enhance the action of the substance so is more effective.
Healthy Chai Tea
This will make about five cups worth, and it’s caffeine-free, so your kids can drink it too.
Bring four cups of water or milk substitute, such as almond or coconut milk to a boil (you can also do ½ milk ½ water). Then lower the heat to a gentle simmer and add all the ingredients listed below. Cover with a secure lid and continue gentle simmer for twenty minutes. Then turn off the heat and let it sit. Add raw honey, agave, or stevia to taste. You can drink it right away, but the longer it sits, the better it tastes.
Spices: 10 whole cloves,
12 whole cardamom pods,
12 whole black peppercorns,
2 cinnamon sticks, and
4 slices fresh ginger root (chopped)
If you want a caffeinated version of chai tea, add one organic unflavored black or green tea bag to each hot serving. Steep for five minutes. Discard tea bag before serving.
When trying to stay healthy this winter, remember instead of letting a cold or the flu strike, fight back by reaching towards your kitchen instead of the medicine cabinet.
Until next week,
Dr. Toni is a Best-selling author, Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) & Registered Herbalist in San Diego, California. She holds a PhD in psychology, and a Clinical Herbalist Certificate, an HHP certificate and is a Certified Trainer in the Success Principles. In private practice as a HHP she has been influenced by a variety of clinical modalities and orientations, and by the diverse life experiences of her clients. Toni’s approach to healing is holistic & transpersonal. In her work, she integrates the principles of Eastern and Western nutrition, herbololgy, energy medicine, Buddhist mindfulness and personal counseling to assist others in working through their physical or emotional blocks to attain optimal health.