Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies

Hippocrates, the father of ancient Greek medicine, whose knowledge was so way ahead of its time that we’re still startled by it today, strongly advocated the use of herbs for their remarkable curative purposes.

Throughout the millennia, Greeks have passed on this know-how from generation to generation and entrepreneurial modern Greeks continue to celebrate this ancient wisdom by successfully marketing delicious and sophisticated blends in Greece and worldwide. Here we offer you a warming mini guide of the best Greek herbal teas and their many health benefits for feel-good winter living.

Dittany (Diktamo)

Insights Greece - Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies
Greek herbal tea by Anassa

Originating from Crete’s Mt Dikti, and also known as eronas, which means ‘youthful love’ because it’s said to have aphrodisiac qualities that make one feel young. Diktamo is a diuretic that’s high in antioxidants, and once boiled or steeped in hot water it releases oils thought to have potent antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Traditionally, it’s made to relieve headaches, anxiety, indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating and fever. In folk medicine, its more medical uses included giving it to patients suffering from epilepsy, kidney and gall stones, rheumatism, for wound healing (as a tincture) and to bring on menstruation.

Sage (Faskomilo)

Believed to be a herb with holy properties by the ancient Greeks, and used even today to cleanse energy, this pungent tonic tea has powerful anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. Like rosemary, it’s thought to activate focus and memory, while its anti-inflammatory properties are also considered to help boost both mental clarity and physical balance. It is also rich in Vitamin K, which helps the body absorb calcium and thus to strengthen the bones.

Insights Greece - Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies
Variety of teas

Lemon Balm (Louisa)
With a delicate lemony aroma, Louisa is a soothing and mood-lifting tea that came to the country in the 1700s and has been commonly grown in Greek gardens ever since. Often used alone or blended with chamomile to relieve indigestion, cramps and bloating, the herb is also considered a good friend to women because of its hormone-regulating elements. High in antioxidants, it’s ideal after a long hike (or workout) as it’s thought to help repair strained muscles.

Oregano (Rigani)

Insights Greece - Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies
Herbs of Greece

Used by the ancient Greeks to make bridal wreaths because it represented joy, oregano is excellent for treating respiratory congestion when you’re bunged up with a cold because of its strong anti-microbial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It’s also wonderful for winter immunity because of its high levels of vitamin C and iron.

Linden Flowers (Tilio)

With an intoxicatingly sweet and soothing aroma, tilio flowers are thought to offer the human organism a loving hand during times of duress, as they are believed to relieve anxiety, melancholy and a racing mind, reducing blood pressure and quietening the heart. It is also high in phytonutrients, antioxidants and flavonoids, which help counter symptoms of the common cold, soothe sore throats and reduce mucus production.

Chamomile (Hamomili)

With benefits that were lauded since antiquity, hamomili is often referred to as the golden flower because of its cure-all qualities. This is probably because chamomile has been scientifically shown to have components that are anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, anti-microbial, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral! The sweet-smelling little flower tea is most commonly thought to help encourage a good night’s sleep, stomach upsets, anxiety and slight fever, but it is also used to treat an irritated eye or skin (a cotton disc can be soaked in the tea and placed on the face or body).   

Insights Greece - Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies
Klio Greek Mountain Tea

Mountain Tea (Tsai tou Vounou)

Greek Mountain Tea is made using the dried leaves and flowers of Sideritis plants (ironwort). The tea made from Sideritis is credited with easing a wide range of physical ailments and is shown to have as many antioxidants as green tea. It’s also known to boost brain function, especially as prevention and even cure for Alzheimer’s.

Tip: Use any of the above herbs to make your own oil by packing a jar with the leaves or flowers and topping it with olive oil. Place the jar ideally in a spot that gets the sun and leave it for a month, occasionally giving the jar a shake. Then strain the oil and voila! The oil can be used in food, as aromatherapy or to treat skin conditions.

Greek Herbal Tea Brands to Check Out Online:

Grek Tea 
Anassa Organics
Daphnis and Chloe 
Krocus Kozanis Products  
Klio Tea 

Braving ‘Sensory Deprivation’ in an Athens’ Floatation Pod

I’m a water worshipper. I love to drink litres of it daily, feel it pour onto my skin in the shower, move with its ebbs, and flows in the sea. Water is therapeutic, cleansing, sensual.

Most of all, I relish the blissful feeling of floating on my back in the Aegean Sea; I swim far out, away from the madding crowds, lie back and let myself go, completely. Surrender is trust, and rewarded trust generates gratitude. So as I lie, effortlessly feeling the sea holding me up I can’t help but rejoice.

Waiting for the day

I heard about the arrival of Etherfloat Athens’ first floatation spa when it opened in November 2018 but only visited its contemporary, polished space recently. Professional and offering a relaxed comfort, it offers top-notch services and facilities. It has an excellent water-filtering system and uses UV lamps and hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine to ensure complete cleanliness.

360-Degree therapy

Invented in 1954 by John C. Lilly, a neuropsychiatrist and medical practitioner the sensory deprivation tank has been used to alleviate, treat, and reverse physical, mental, and emotional ailments or problems. Traditional use involves that the user lies floating with complete weightlessness in the tank, in complete darkness and silence. This has been shown, through a significant number of global scientific studies, to induce the parasympathetic response in the body and put the mind on the Theta-wave ‘setting’ which is thought to create a feeling of raised spiritual-emotional consciousness.

Flotation has also been scientifically shown to alleviate muscle tension, lower blood pressure, and – something major for people today – to reduce anxiety, by lowering the cortisol-induced ‘fight or flight’ response we have when we experience any form of anxiety, stress or fear. Floating also helps clear the mind of superfluous, negative, or meandering thought processes – the “monkey brain” and leads to the release of feel-good endorphins.

By having a session – but ideally, following a course of monthly sessions, people are said to start experiencing a wide array of positive results. These include an overall improved mood, clearer state of mind, a more balanced nervous system, increased emotional intelligence, and a more relaxed body.

Insights Greece - Braving 'Sensory Deprivation' in an Athens' Floatation Pod

The journey inwards

Etherfloat was created by Fivos, a civil engineer who fell in love with the experience and its benefits. He and his brother spent many years researching and trying out flotation tanks in various countries before setting up their own place in Kolonaki. Fivos especially loves floating for its esoteric benefits: “Floating is the ideal place to meditate and come into contact with your inner truth,” he says. “The pod is a very safe space. It’s warm, at body temperature. You’re alone and completely unobserved; there’s no role to play. Basically, you have time for yourself to relax, to figure out what’s going on in your body and soul. You can discover a lot of things in there.”

The flotation tank is filled with around 30cm of water that is saturated with Epsom Salts. Apart from making people float, these salts are rich in magnesium sulfate, known to soothe aches and pains. It also inhibits ACTH, a hormone that pushes the adrenal glands to create cortisol.

“As you float, a lot of ideas will come into your mind about yourself and life,” Foivos says. “It keeps you closer to your own humanity and to other people’s humanity… My brother and I have a mission to bring this to the public; to help generate a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.”

In I go!

I may be somewhat agoraphobic, but fortunately not claustrophobic. So I was not in the least bit afraid of being closed into a dark pod. I did consider the possibility of getting locked in but Fivos assured that as the pod isn’t locked by electricity and opens with a manual lever. Also, should one need any assistance during floatation, there is a pneumatic button inside the tank that instantly notifies the reception desk. In the first 10 minutes of floating there is the sound of dreamy ambient music playing softly, accompanied by a sequence of coloured lighting that offers colour therapy.

For the first 15 minutes, I felt a little restless. I kept repositioning myself and my mind was very conscious of the beautiful changing colours. Then in Yoga Nidra style, I started to mentally scan my body starting from my feet and going up to my head. I focused on every area, feeling which muscles were tense in my unnecessary effort to “stay afloat” and let go. Finally, I let my thoughts go and surrendered to the dark, warm, silent embrace, to the luxury of unwatched, untouched, and unique-to-me solitude.

In the last few minutes of the session, the music begins to play again. It was only then that I realised I had been in a state of semi-dreaming. As I returned to my senses, I felt like I was leaving outer space. I actually wanted to linger there. I woke fully, I did some gentle yoga twists and turned on the light, uncertainly ready to return to reality. But certainly, ready to plan my next visit to Etherfloat.