by Edie Horstman
What Are Tonic Herbs?
Tonic herbs — otherwise known as herbal tonics or medicinal herbs — have been around for millennia, particularly in Eastern medicine. These healing herbs are special plants that offer extraordinary health benefits. Through various combinations, they work to bring the mind, body and spirit into greater balance and harmony. These beautiful, vibrant botanicals are safe for daily use and they support lifelong wellness. In other words, in supporting your body’s long-term vitality, you’re simultaneously tapping into your everyday health.
Holistic wellbeing is multifaceted. Between reducing stress, incorporating mindful movement, eating to nourish your cells and more, maintaining homeostasis in the body is a complex process. Tonic herbs help support the body’s ability to stay balanced. Something classified as a tonic is meant to be taken regularly over the long-term with the purpose of toning and strengthening the body’s systems. Tonic herbal formulas generally include herbs that are very gentle, safe and nourishing, and they feature herbal superstars like adaptogens and medicinal mushrooms.
History of Herbal Medicine
Over 3,000 years ago, the Chinese began to utilize tonic herbs as preventive medicine and to reverse disease. A handful of Native American herbs are considered tonics and Ayurvedic medicine has a rich history of tonic use. The ancient Greeks and Romans were also renowned herbalists, and surgeons traveling with the Roman army spread their herbal expertise from one location to the next. The use of herbs and plants as medicine have roots in cultures all over the world.
Benefits of Tonic Herbs
An herb is classified as a tonic when it contains healing qualities. For example, tonics supplement deficient yin-yang in the body. In other words, they help bring the body back into balance. They provide chemical compounds necessary to restore and nourish specific organ systems, promoting a long, healthy life. More of a potent superfood than a strong medicine, tonic herbs support healthy blood and strengthen the body’s defenses against disease.
By keeping a variety of herbs at home, you can have easy access to immunity boosters, beauty tonics, digestive health supplements and more. A few essentials include turmeric, an anti-inflammatory tonic root that contains vitamin C; graviola, a rainforest tonic herb known for its antimicrobial and anticancer properties; moringa, a healing tonic herb with an abundance of antioxidants and cleansing qualities; chanca piedra, a potent liver and gall bladder detoxifier; and nettle, a powerful promoter for overall longevity. Tonic herbs can be purchased online as well as from herbalists, wellness centers, health food stores, functional medicine practitioners and acupuncturists, among others.
Some tonic herbs are also called adaptogens, meaning they help the body adapt to stress by reducing cortisol levels and boosting immunity. These herbs form a unique class of healing plants and are currently making waves in the wellness world. In the kitchen, adaptogens commonly used in cooking include sweet basil, sage, coriander, parsley, oregano, rosemary, mint, thyme, dill, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and ginger. These are chock-full of antioxidants. Holy basil, dandelion root, ashwagandha and rhodiola are beneficial for their detoxification and calming properties. You can add adaptogenic powders to smoothies, teas, soups and hormone-balancing energy bites.
Basic Herbal Infusion
- 4-6 tbsp dried herbs
- 1-quart filtered water
- Add dried herbs into a glass quart jar.
- Pour boiling, or near boiling, water over the herbs and let it steep for 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on the tea, different steeping times are recommended.
- Strain and drink immediately or refrigerate for later consumption. Freshly made herbal infusions will last for one to two days
Edie Horstman is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, wellness blogger, and freelance writer. She works with health-focused brands, co-creating content in the digital marketing space. She lives in Denver, Colorado.