Herbal Teas and their Skin-boosting Benefits

Words: Ferina Natasya Aziz
Photography: Dominik Martin

We are what we repeatedly do. It is said that success is the sum of small habits, repeated day in and day out. This is also true of health. The foundation for good health is cultivated day by day, cup by cup.
— Abundant Earth

While we love slathering on various skincare products for our blemishes, wrinkles, and other skin issues, we often forget that nourishing the skin from within plays a far larger role in how our skin looks.

We are very quick to apply chemical laden synthetic beauty products that can end up causing more harm than good. What if I told you we can all drink our way to gorgeous glowing skin? I’m not talking about the latest beauty pill or quick-fix method but something simply made in the comforts of your own kitchen.

Sounds tea-riffic right?

I met with the clinical herbalist, Alina Uchida (Founder of Abundant Earth), to learn more about herbal teas. We discussed the common concerns of her clients who want to opt for natural alternatives and make real and lasting change for their skin. So, if you have any of these skin conditions, consider trying out these herbal teas which have heaps of benefits for healthy skin.

Black/green/white teas, all come from the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). The level of fermentation determines the colour – green tea being the least fermented, and highest in antioxidants. As the above all come from the same plant, they have more or less a similar chemical makeup. They all contain caffeine, tannins, and antioxidants.

Herbal teas, on the other hand, don’t come from the tea bush, but from their respective herbs. For example, Chamomile flowers, Echinacea root, Nettle leaf, all come from different plants, which have very different chemical profiles. Each possess a wide range of active, healing phytochemicals and unique medicinal properties. Some are anti-inflammatory, some restorative, or stimulating, others relaxing.

Herbal teas are the gentlest form of Herbal Medicine, and do not contain caffeine, which makes them ideal for those of us who are caffeine sensitive, insomniacs or those who generally want to avoid stimulants. Herbal teas are a great ally for health and beauty: the root cause to many of these problems more often than not originate internally, and can be treated from within.

Burdock root is an important herb for acne, as it supports your liver’s detox functions. What has the liver got to do with acne, you may ask? In short, one of the most common factors in acne is hormonal imbalance. The liver breaks down circulating hormones and toxins in our body, and prepares them for elimination. If it isn’t functioning well, you will have an excess of hormones circulating through your body.

Now that excess hormones and toxins have been processed, you must ensure that you are eliminating them efficiently. Enter Dandelion Root and Licorice Root, wonderful anti-inflammatory herbs, help move sluggish bowels. I usually like to combine these three herbs with the Red Clover (a blood purifier), in my herbal blends for acne.

Liver supportive herbs such as Burdock and Yellow Dock help the elimination of irritating toxins from your body. Combine these with Nettle Leaf (a natural antihistamine which is rich in skin healing minerals), Red Clover (a blood purifier), and Licorice Root, for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Applying a strong infusion of Calendula flowers to affected skin may also help soothe itching, reduce inflammation and dryness, and help skin healing.

Acne & eczema are two very different conditions with different triggers/causes but do remember that your food choices have a huge impact on your skin. Eating less processed, sugar heavy foods (acne is sometimes referred to as ‘skin diabetes’), and dairy, and more plant-based foods, will start you on the right path.

Healthy, strong, glossy hair feeds on an abundance of minerals, namely iron and zinc. Dandelion leaf and Burdock Root are especially rich in iron, while Nettle leaf is a rich source of both minerals.

My hair and nails grow like crazy when I am on a course of Nettle concentrated infusion. To make a concentrated infusion, place around 30g of nettle leaf in a glass jar, cover with 3 cups of boiled water, screw on the lid, and leave to infuse at room temperature overnight. Next morning, strain and drink throughout the day. You can drink it as is, chilled or gently heat it up. You too can try nettle concentrated infusion for hair loss!

Rosemary is another great herb for healthy hair & scalp. You can use your left over infusion for a nourishing herbal hair rinse.

Gotu Kola, also known as Centella, is my favourite anti-aging, rejuvenative herb. It is known as the ‘fountain of youth’ and is said to preserve the mind as well as the body. How does it slow our ageing skin & bodies? By stimulating collagen production (our bodies produce less collagen as we age). More collagen means skin with more elasticity, bounce, and firmness i.e. less wrinkles. And it does this on the inside too! You will find Gotu Kola is a major ingredient in rejuvenating skin care & cellulite treatment products. On top of that, it is a fabulous tonic for frazzled, stressed out nerves.

Puffy eyes are usually a symptom of a sluggish lymphatic system, or allergies, rather than late nights. As such, you may find that eye creams, gels, serums and other miracles in a bottle only help temporarily.

Calendula is a superb lymphatic herb and may be combined with a herbal diuretic, such as dandelion leaf, to eliminate excess fluid. I would also add some Gotu Kola as it stimulates microcirculation, and improves skin tone. For temporary relief make a strong infusion of green or black tea, and place over your eyes for 5-10 mins. The astringent effect of the tannins in the tea will help reduce puffiness.

Tell us what are some of your own herbal tea blends. We'd love to give it a try!