Heather tea has been recognized for centuries as being potent as a diuretic, antiseptic, astringent and disinfecting agent. It has been a mainstay in Swedish herbal medicine for a long time, and has been recognized by the German Commission E for its varied medicinal properties.
The heather is a woody and bushy evergreen shrub with multiple branching stems. It has miniature leaves that are like needles. They are borne on the twigs of the plant. The flowers of the heather are bell-shaped and are purple to pink in color, but white flowers do appear occasionally. They typically bloom in late summer. They are arranged in a multiple spike formation and are quite impressive when seen from afar. Due to the attractiveness of its flowers, heathers are often used as a decorative and ornamental plant, and a landscaping complement.
Also known by its scientific name of calluna vulgaris, the heather is found in abundance in Scotland, Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, Russia and North America.
The heather is a plant whose different parts are used for different applications. The branches are often used as straw for brooms while the leaves are used as flavoring agent for beer and tea. The heather bark is used for tanning while the flowers contain nectar.
The active constituents of heather are various types of quercetin (including dihydroxychromone), tannin and flavonoids. To make heather tea, place about a handful of finely-chopped heather (flowers, leaves) into a mug of boiling water. Let the mix stand for about 10 to 15 minutes, then strain and drink. Heather tea is usually taken 3 times per day but is not recommended for prolonged use as its high tannin content may contribute to liver damage.
The following are the health benefits attributed to this herbal tea:
- Believed to help in disinfecting the urinary tract.
- May help in the treatment of cystitis.
- May help in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems.
- May be helpful in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and gout.
- Tea made from flowering shoots is believed to be a remedy for colds and cough.
- May help in the treatment of various gastrointestinal problems.
- May have beneficial effects for women with vaginal discharges or men with prostate problems.