New Year, Turning Over a New Leaf

By Dr Mahalia Freed, ND “I hereby resolve…” Do your resolutions fit with your life? With the season?

A fresh start – like the start of the New Year – can feel great. There is the exhilaration of yet-to-be-realized potential, the excitement of what-may-happen, the drive to begin actualizing those resolutions. Yet there is also the letdown post-holidays, the cold, grey days, ongoing stress at work or at home. How can you honor and sustain your health resolutions this year? While the depths of winter is not the best time to do a liver cleanse or a juice fast, it is a fine time to renew your commitment to self-care. Winter is a yin time - a time for introspection and creativity, a time for invigorating skis and then cozy evenings in, a time to nourish with warm whole foods and warming tea. Why not integrate medicinal teas into your routine this season? Following up on the stress and digestion piece in the fall newsletter, this article highlights the wisdom of herbs as complex living medicines that cross body systems to provide us with just the support that we need. Did you know that there are herbs that soothe both the digestive tract and the nervous system? Did you know that there are herbs that decrease gut inflammation and are also antiviral? Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is one such herb. A common weed in the mint family, lemon balm is traditionally used to soothe indigestion, especially when related to emotional stress. The herb is helpful for relieving spasms of the gastrointestinal tract, gas pain, and flatulence. As well, it has a restorative, calming, and uplifting effect on the nervous system. Finally, laboratory studies confirm that the water extract (as in, tea) is antiviral, particularly against the cold sore virus and some types of ‘flu. For calming your digestive tract and nourishing your nerves, try the following tea: Nerve Nourishing Tummy Tea Combine loose herbs

  • 1 Part Licorice root
  • 1 Part Chamomile flowers
  • 2 Parts Lemon balm aerial parts


Place herb mixture in a French press or teapot with strainer and add boiling water. Let steep 5-15 minutes, and drink as desired. Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar recommends this combination for heartburn, to be consumed 30 minutes before and after meals. Cautions: If you have an under-active thyroid, consult your naturopathic doctor or medical herbalist before regularly using lemon balm. If you have high blood pressure, consult your naturopathic doctor or medical herbalist before regularly using licorice root.

Mahalia Freed, ND, is a naturopathic doctor practicing and lecturing in Toronto. If you have questions or topic suggestions please email: