Sunday, 15 January 2012

fasting tea - herbs that clean you from within

the green balloon is a symbol - what'll happen to the green ballon?

Let me start out with two very weighty disclaimers. I'm writing about products that market themselves as tea, but have absolutely nothing to do with the Camellia sinensis plant. They call it 'fasting tea' and although I'm aware that plenty of you will take issue with the terminology, I'm just not prepared to go through the entire post and keep writing 'fasting tisane'.

The other thing is that I have no personal experience with any of these products. I don't drink tea to enhance my fasting. You'd immediately be able to tell from my less-than-svelte appearance that I haven't fasted in years (if ever).

Why am I writing about it then? I saw something about fasting tea in a complimentary magazine called Schrott&Korn, which you find in many health food stores in Germany. Typically when I see something tea-related in my daily life, I make some sort of attempt to incorporate it here. Before I go on about it, here's the original article:

Here's another disclaimer. 'Jeez, there are a lot of those so early into this,' you say? Actually, I think this is important enough to make quite a bit of it. The health benefits that are claimed tea drinking will bring you are often laughable and sometimes even downright deceptive. So much so, that I spend half of any post I write on this subject stating and restating that I'm neither a medical doctor nor scientifically versed enough to verify any of the things upon which I'm reporting. You've been warned.

The first point the article makes is that the fasting tea is only going to be as good as its ingredients, which is nearly too obvious for me to repeat. Yet the point that's made is that when you're fasting, your body is particularly vulnerable to products that might've either been grown with pesticides or handled in some other improper way. Apparently, the herbs shouldn't be fumigated or irradiated either. 

As a rule Germans take this sort of thing rather seriously. Not sure wherever you are in the world that you'd even know if they'd been doing these things to products, but, this sort of thing is checked quite carefully.

What's the result of herbs in tea?

According to the article if you're intention is to purify and detoxify your system, then it's your liver, gall bladder and kidneys that need the most attention. What ingredients do the most for those organs? The usual suspects that are in many fasting teas are: stinging nettle, birch leaves, and juniper berries

Now, remember: Am I a doctor? No. Am I recommending that you go stock up on stinging nettle, birch leaves, and juniper berries? I most certainly am not. Just telling you what I've read.

Dandelion is a diuretic and Milk Thistle is helpful in liver regeneration (it's the Flavonol Silymarin that does it, but I assure you there'll be no test). Who didn't know all that? (I didn't)

Elder berries take away the inflammation and decreases sweating, while (pepper)mint will calm your upset stomach and make your digestion more regular (actually, I knew that last one).

In the rhythm of a day; typical fasting herbs

From my understanding, you should be avoiding coffee or true tea (you know, anything coming from the above-mentioned Camellia sinensis plant) if you're doing a proper fast. For some reason, that's why so many fasting teas have Mate in them.

There's both caffeine and Theobromine in the Mate, and I'm only just now realising that Mate needs it's own post. There are plenty of people out there in the tea world talking about Mate, and I'm sure none of you can forget Lisa Galaviz's trip to Teavana in How NOT to go to a Tea Shop, where she came back with Mate and I insisted you Don't tell her it's not tea.

But the real point of this whole post was to come round to talking about stinging nettle

If you didn't bother clicking over to that Wikipedia link, there's a very humourous bit about Competitive Eating in which they describe:
In the UK, an annual Stinging Nettle Eating Championship draws thousands of people to Dorset, where competitors attempt to eat as much of the raw plant as possible. Competitors are given 60 cm (20 in) stalks of the plant, from which they strip the leaves and eat them. Whoever strips and eats the most stinging nettle leaves in a fixed time is the winner. The competition dates back to 1986, when two neighbouring farmers attempted to settle a dispute about which had the worst infestation of nettles.

Doesn't that sound like a lot of fun?

So stinging nettle is a very curious plant to me. Again, thanks to Wikipedia I know that it's a dioecious herbaceous perennial. Really? A perennial? How lovely. 

There're few things I'd rather avoid when I'm out in nature in the summer than stinging nettle, but I've often heard that it's not just nutritious when cooked, but used in many alternative health remedies. Specifically in a fasting tea'Oh, are we back to that?' you ask. 

Well, yes. That was the original point of all this, wasn't it? 

The article itself made quite a bit of noise about a brand of fasting tea that you probably can't even find anyway, unless you're in Germany. Purportedly, the five different sorts they offer are created for either the specific time of day or a unique aspect of fasting. To my eyes, it looks like clever marketing, but I'm not going to advertise the brand here. You can go to the link if you're really curious.

Would I recommend you use either this or any other product to aid whatever fast you might endeavour to take part in? I would NOT. I'm only passing on the information as I found it. 

Do I think you should have a Competitive Eating contest in which you consume stinging nettle? Now that is something I can stand behind whole-heartedly. 

remember the green balloon? that's all the bad stuff you get rid of when fasting


  1. I've often considered trying a fast, but never took the plunge. I do imagine the benefits are real, if nothing else - the practice of will power.

  2. Tx for your comments about the picnic! Have you heard of the Wu-Wo tea ceremony? It sounds similar to your "guerrilla gong fu" - that name I love. Wu-Wo is making tea in a group, outside, all your equipment packs in a backpack. Cool stuff - originated in Taiwan in the 80s. Cheers to all the outside tea drinking we can do!

  3. How does fasting help you get rid of stuff? What stuff do I need to get rid of? I think I feel fine. I'm going to stick with not fasting. Wouldn't mind having some mate, however.