Rooted & Ready

Almost every herbalist I know has a “root beer” tea variation. Here’s mine (numbers are “parts”):

2 sarsaparilla
2 sassafras
2 ashwagandha
2 eleuthero
2 ginger
1 licorice
1/2 kava

This is a great-tasting, grounding blend that really roots you in your body and gets you ready to use it. Sarsaparilla and sassafras support healthy liver and kidney function, especially when these are depressed or stagnant. Ashwagandha and eleuthero are gentle adaptogens, helping the body cope with stress and over-work, restoring normal circadian cycles and increasing endurance. Ginger is a delicious, diffusive digestive: it brings warmth and movement into the core, then carries that heat out to the surface. Licorice supports the all-important adrenals and adds a little sweetness and moisture to the mix. Kava (in this proportion) relaxes the muscles and the mind just enough to keep them flexible and focused.

Occasionally, I’ll add a part of calamus root to give it an extra digestive kick, and to bring in the sustaining, calming energy of that plant I so enjoy.

Being roots & barks, this’ll call for a good strong decoction: 20-80 minutes on a simmer. I’ve mostly drunk this hot: it’s a spicy and warming treat when coming in from winter’s cold. This week, though, I found myself craving it in the heat of summer, and taking it chilled (or even just at room temperature) I didn’t find it overwarming–in fact, I felt the diaphoretic actions open up my pores and help me maintain a balanced temperature.

That seems to be its hallmark. There’s a whole world’s worth of roots in here, plants native to the Far East and the Near North, the Soft South and the Wild West. Their actions, too, work on different layers and systems of the body, but the overall effect is one of centering and balancing: energy without hyperactivity, release without resignation. I’ve found it helpful when I’m having a marathon week of working, teaching, moving, learning, . . . doing.

May it bring the same to you!

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