Three Healing Teas

Before switching to a low oxalate diet, I used to be an avid tea drinker. I loved black tea and green tea in particular. While there are several lower oxalate green teas, I can’t really tolerate them anymore. But I still crave tea. The ICN food list recommended chamomile and peppermint tea, which I really enjoyed. And Wendy L. Cohan’s excellent book, The Better Bladder Book, turned me on to something I had never tried: nettle tea. All three of these herbal teas are worth trying. Even if they don’t benefit your symptoms, they are a welcome change from water and milk.

Chamomile tea: Chamomile is a mild tea. It is made from chamomile flowers (shocking, right?) Some brands of this have other additives, but I prefer to use ones made with just the flowers, as lemongrass or other acidic things may cancel out some of the benefits. This tea pairs well with desserts, or you can even cook with it (see my recipe for chamomile-poached tilapia). I also like to make chamomile tea and dunk a few animal crackers in it. It makes up for no longer being able to binge on British biscuits and sugary black tea (which, while delicious, was not exactly healthy).

Chamomile tea may have a relaxing effect; it makes some people outright sleepy. It can soothe the bladder simply by relaxing it. While this may sound alarming, it means you may void your bladder less often. As long as you know it won’t make you too sleepy, I suggest drinking some before a long trip; it may cut down on pit stops on the road.

In the summer, try putting a bag of tea in a glass of water and keeping it in the fridge for 4-6 hours (or longer if you don’t mind a stronger flavor). You can do this with virtually any tea, but it’s particularly nice before bed. Remove the bag before enjoying it.

Nettle tea: If you respond well to antihistamines, nettle tea is the tea for you. It has a somewhat grassy taste. Nettle tea is an anti-inflammatory, so it may naturally soothe your bladder. It is also a natural antihistamine, except it won’t make you sleepy like Benadryl. However, it is a tea best enjoyed at home, as it may make you need to pee more often, at least temporarily. If you have a bladder infection, nettle tea may be an especially good choice, since it can help flush bacteria from your system more quickly. It doesn’t seem to have much of a diuretic effect on me, but be forewarned.

I especially enjoy nettle tea during allergy season. I find a hot cup of it soothing for my throat when I have had a lot of sinus drainage. I haven’t had the heart to try it cold.

Peppermint tea: Peppermint tea may or may not have specific properties that help the bladder. It helps some people; I personally find it doesn’t help my symptoms. However, it can definitely help an upset stomach, and many people find it relaxing and refreshing. It is good hot or cold. Do not drink peppermint tea if you are prone to heartburn or GERD.

If you are still craving caffeine, you might want to try rooibos tea, which is a red African bush tea. Bear in mind any caffeine has the potential to irritate your bladder, but many people have reported no effect on their symptoms. Drink up and enjoy!

Blueberry Breakfast Oats

breakfast oats

1/2 cup regular or quick oats
1 tblsp coconut oil, melted
2-3 drops liquid stevia
one handful of blueberries
Optional: one tablespoon whey or hemp protein powder

Mix the oats and coconut oil together. Make sure the coconut oil is melted all the way (5-10 seconds in the microwave is more than adequate). Add the liquid stevia and mix it in. Sprinkle blueberries on top and enjoy.

Sugar note: If you want to use regular sugar, use up to a teaspoon.

Low oxalate/gluten free note: If you are very sensitive to gluten, you might want to use oats officially labeled gluten free. However, please note that you may have to use fewer oats! Quaker Oats have less oxalate in them, but may contain gluten.

A half cup of Quaker Oats has a medium amount of oxalate. For those following the low oxalate diet, The Low Oxalate Cookbook by The VP Foundation recommends eating up to three servings a day of medium foods, and eating low oxalate foods the rest of the time. Alternatively, you can eat one serving of a high oxalate food, such as a serving of pizza, and eat low oxalate foods for the rest of the day.

I told you this recipe was simple! I make these on my way out the door. It’s especially convenient in the summer when the coconut oil is already sitting at room temperature. A little sweetness, a little crunch, and the fat from the coconut oil keeps you satisfied. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

I can stomach oatmeal, but there’s something about the mushiness of it I find off putting. But darn it, it’s convenient and a good source of roughage. This recipe gives you the health benefits of oatmeal with very little of the mush. It is perfectly safe to eat raw oats.

You can really vary this up a lot of ways. Add less than an ounce of walnuts or another low oxalate nut to it. In the fall, mix in some freshly pureed pumpkin. Cinnamon extract would also really brighten the taste, or you could sprinkle a few sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds on top…or even white chocolate chips! Feel free to use regular chocolate chips if you are not following the IC diet.

Flaxseed Tea

Three tablespoons of raw flaxseed, ground
A cupful of hot water

Place the ground flaxseed in the bottom of a mug. It is best to use raw flaxseed and freshly grind it. Boil water in a tea kettle or on the stovetop. Pour the boiling water over the flaxseed and stir it many times, until the water becomes slightly filmy. Wait for the water to cool down and drink it slowly. If you want some extra omega 3’s, eat the flaxseed; otherwise, just sip the water.

This tea, or tisane, is very useful for flare-ups when your bladder hurts. Flaxseed is also very low oxalate and high in fiber. You can grind flaxseed ahead of time and put it in the freezer.

Since overindulging in some carbonated cider, I have been having a very annoying flare-up. Carbonation, in any form, seems to be a major trigger for me. This tea makes a nice change from chamomile tea. Flaxseed contains a lot of mucilage, soluble fiber. Supposedly, the fiber coats your intestines. Since your intestines are so close to your bladder, this may provide some relief. However, you really do need to stir the flaxseed in the hot water to release the fiber. It does look a bit slimy, but it tastes alright.

Sometimes, simple is good. Right now, I am trying to focus on each moment, each meal, to try and heal.