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Autumn teas

PEPPERMINT & NETTLE FOR COLD RELIEF Healing herbs peppermint and nettle combine to make an excellent cold fighting "pepper-nettle" tea that can be consumed throughout cold an flu seaso

n for cold prevention and as a remedy for cold symptoms. The two herbs are beneficial when paired together as they work to soothe in flammation in complementary ways. In particular, they share affinities for aiding the respiratory system and soothing irritated mucous membranes. Peppermint , which is native to Europe and whose botanical name is Mentha x piperita, is cooling, both to the touch and to the taste buds. Even in full su

n on a warm day, its leaves will feel slightly cool due to the presence of the compound menthol. Menthol is the active con- stituent in peppermint that helps to thin mucus and to reduce sinus and chest congestion. Peppermint also has antimicrobial properties, making it useful for getting over a cold or infection.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is anything but cooling. Its fresh leaves are cov- ered in fine hairs that seem to sting when they contact the skin, giving it its genus name from the Latin urere, meaning "to burn." When nettle is applied to an area of the body that is already experiencing pain, however, it works to reduce it. This effect comes from its ability to decrease inflam- matory chemicals involved in sending pain signals to the brain. When nettle is processed, it completely loses its sting but retains its anti- inflammatory power. Nettle leaves are packed with nutrients, minerals, and phytochemicals that help boost the immune system. These com- pounds also help relieve irritated sinuses and lungs. The seventeenth- century English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote that nettle leaves and roots were "safe and sure medicines to open the pipes and the passages of the lungs." Nettle remains popular today, especially in its native Eu- rope and North America, as a remedy for respiratory ailments and as a culinary herb.

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