A Haitian Treasure: "Tensyon" Tea

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It's been a minute since I've done one of these but I'm back with a really cool project! If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I am currently studying Naturopathic medicine, a holistic type of medicine that looks at the whole person and aims to treat by natural and low force means. In addition to taking all the standard medical science classes, we take many other holistic oriented classes like Homeopathy, Nutrition, Physical Medicine, and Botanical Medicine. 

Botanical medicine has been super cool and enjoyable for me, and has given me the tools to learn how to create medicine from plants, which is such a gift. If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen the dozens of preparations I've made in the past few weeks!

Since you already know I'm in love with all things Haiti, I had to try to make something inspired by and dedicated to Haiti. :)

This is just the beginning!

Why I chose this tea:
Tea is a really important part of Haitian culture and there are dozens of leaves that we Haitians commonly use. I was struck by a particular sample that my mom gave to me a few months ago, and did some research on it. Included in the tea are melis (lemon balm), oumarin (rosemary), and kowosol (soursop).  Interestingly enough, this is a common tea for reducing tensyon. Tensyon is a non-descript word, literally translating to "tension", but is usually used in reference to emotional tension or "physiological tension" seen in diseases like hypertension and diabetes- both increasingly common diseases in the Haitian community....likely due to "lifestyle".... which is of course tied to structural violence, poverty, globalization, etc. The Anthropologist in me can go on and on....

I used the Haitian Creole names of these herbs to translate them into French, and then into Latin. Then I researched the Western uses of each herb, and found connections to anxiety, hyperthyroid, and the circulatory system. Ding ding ding! Sounds allot like tensyon huh? Haitians are brilliant! Power to the people who have indigenous knowledge of plants.

Anxiety can either be primary, due to one of the several primary anxiety disorders or secondary due to substance abuse, other psychological conditions, or another medical condition (such as hyperthyroidism, hypertension, etc.)  Anxiety, secondary to another primary medical condition is related to physiological changes caused by the primary medical condition. I look at hyperthyroidism here....

Hyperthyroidism is caused by the overactivity of the adrenal sysyem, which causes it to produce excess thyroid hormone (TSH). Thyroid hormone increases metabolism, and produces symptoms including nervousnes, insomnia, heart palpitations, sweating and irritability. Those symptoms are almost identical to those which occur with anxiety!

So this is super multi-faceted and if looked at holistically, we can see the emotional and physiological burden of these pathologies.

Here goes!

Tensyon tea: a tea for Anxiety/Hyperthyroid/Hypertension
3 parts lemon balm (melis)
1 part rosemary (oumarin)
1 part hawthorne (one of my favorite herbs)

Rationale of herbs used: I looked at this tea formula holistically. I wanted to use herbs that not only address anxiety, but hyperthyroidism and hypertension as well. I wanted herbs that promote relaxation, but also reduce irritability and palpitations, as those are common symptoms that occur with anxiety.  Hawthorne has been a really special herb for me lately (as it deals with heartache), and I saw it fitting in this formula because it supports the heart. The heart plays an important role in anxiety physiologically and energetically, so I wanted an herb that took that into account. 

*please note I have only focused on the medicinal actions of each herb that are relevant to treating this particular condition and those actions are mostly ones that Western science has put considerable research into

Lemon balm: Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae family, aerial parts

-       the most important herb in the formula!
-       “the diagnostic picture for lemon balm is one associated with hyperthyroidism: anxiety, restlessness, palpitations, headache, and irritability”- Tilgner
-       research has shown that it interferes with the binding of TSH
-       nervine, sedative, mild anti-depressant, carminatve
-       [traditional Haitian herb, consumed on a regular basis, known as “melis”]
Oumarin/ Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, Lamiaceae family, aerial parts

-       another important herb, which has been shown to be effective in treating hyperthyroid
-       nervine, sedative, anti-depressant, cardiotonic, capillary tonic, carminative
-       It is used to increase circulation to the head, to improve mental clarity, improve memory, and improve vision
-       [traditional Haitian herb, consumed to reduce “tension”, known as “oumarin” or “roumarin” in French]
Hawthorne, Crataegus oxycantha,  Rosaceae family, leaves

-       one of the best tonic remedies for the whole heart, physiologically and energetically
-       Acts in a normalizing way upon the heart by either stimulating or depressing its activity based upon the need
-       mental picture; “hawthorne is indicated for irritable, nervous heart conditions and heart conditions related to an emotional heartache or spiritual heartache…”-Tilgner
-       antiarrythmic, trophorestorative for the heart, cardiotonic,
Kowosol/ Soursop, Anona muricata, Annonaceae family, leaves

-       antidepressant, nervine, sedative,
-       [Traditional herb used in Haiti, known as “kowosol”, most people eat the fruit or drink juice from the fruit]
Tea Preparation: SO EASY!
1.     Collect the appropriate measurements of each herb to equal 2 tablespoons of the entire tea formula
2.     In a tea pot, put 1 cup of filtered bottle water
3.     Bring water to a boil
4.     Steep the tea formula for 30 minutes
5.     Strain the herb using a strainer and a spoon to squeeze excess liquid out of the herb
6.     Let the tea cool and drink warm!

Indications (when to drink this)
to treat hyperthyroidism, anxiety, hypertension, and associated symptoms

Contraindications (when not to drink this)
if you have hypothyroid- hypothyroid means that you don't have enough thyroid, so you wouldn't want to take this tea, because this tea will reduce thyroid levels.

Tea: 1 cup 3x/day or as needed.

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The "Haitian Treasures" series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which I call "Haitian Treasures" because they are truly national gems.  Naïka in Balance is the premiere source for information on healing herbs used by Haitians. In this series, I explore the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

Learn about other Haitian Treasures explored on this blog here!

The two most popular Haitian Treasures on this blog are:

Castor oil/l'huile palma christi
Wonder of the world plant/fey lougawou

Naika, the writer of this blog, has a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters of Science in Acupuncture as of June 2017. Please do not take the information presented on this blog, as medical advice, without consulting your certified health care practitioner. Knowledge is power and your health is your wealth!