Healing teas are traditionally brewed from herbs and other natural medicinals found in natures pharmacy. Ancient physicians made full and effective use of the natural medicines all around them.
The recorded history of natural medicine and healing teas dates back over 5,000 years. For millennia, man has contended with sickness and disease. The healers of primitive times were priests, shamans and witch-doctors; the medicine men and women who were believed to commune with the mighty powers of the universe.
Early man discovered by trial and error which plants were suitable as food sources, and, gradually identified those with valuable medicinal properties. Medicinal plants and herbs were used to help the sick but they were administered along with incantations, frenzied dancing and the loud banging of drums. These activities were designed to attract the benevolent intervention of the gods and drive away the evil spirits that brought disease.
In ancient healing traditions, the physician takes time to learn everything there is to know about a particular patient, including their state of mind, the food they consume, the water they drink in addition to the environment and climate they live in.
Most authorities agree that the Chinese were first to use herbs and healing teas medicinally, although some argue it was actually the holy men of India who carried the ancient knowledge to China. Hindu belief in preventative medicine this way:
"Heyam dukham anagatam" meaning "avert the danger which has not yet come." Ayerveda is an ancient Hindu system of medicine that goes back to the second millennium B.C. The word comes from two Sanskrit roots: Ayus or "life" and Veda which translates to knowledge or science. Thus ayurveda is the "science of life."
As in Chinese medicine, the techniques practiced in the healing tradition of Ayurvedic medicine are holistic. When visiting an ayurvedic physician the patient is the object of careful evaluation. Firstly, the physician will establish the patients dosha, or mind-body type. Centuries of experience have shown that the doshas predominating in the mind-body system give rise to specific and quite different emotional, mental and physical tendencies. Each person is born with a unique pyscho-physiological profile that is reflected in their dosha.
Although there is an infinite individual variety a general group of doshas include:
- Vata types are slender, active and energetic, vivacious, enthusiastic and imaginative.
- Pitta types generally possess a medium build, enjoy a strong metabolism and good digestion. They also have a sharp intellect, are eloquent but tend to be irritable.
- Kapha types gain weight easily, are heavily built, have great stamina and physical endurance painting a slow pace. They also tend to have a relaxed personality.
The aim of Ayurveda is to address any imbalance, taking appropriate measures to restore balance in addition to identifying any potential problems to which an individual may be prone. To "avert the danger which has not yet come."
Old ayurvedic manuscripts set forth detailed listings of specific herbal infusions for the treatment of many medical conditions. The principle ayurvedic text called rasayana promises "longevity, memory, intelligence, freedom from disorders, youthful age, excellence of luster, complexion and voice, optimum strength of physique and sense organs, successful words, respectability and brilliance."
In India today people routinely visit a vaidya who prescribes the medicinal herbal compounds they need to brew healing teas. One such infusion is the Amrit nectar which contains 11 kilos of fruits and herbs to produce 500g of nectar. Amongst other ingredients it includes amalaki (Indian gooseberry), ghee (clarified butter), Gokarna (butterfly pea), vriddha-daraka (elephant creeper), brahmi (Indian pennywort) and brihat-upa-unchika (cardamon).
In Sanskrit, amrit means "deathless." Hence, the Amrit nectar rasayana is said to be "the ambrosial drink that confers immortality."