In the west, herbal remedies are hard to come by in comparison to their pharmaceutical counterparts. More often than not, natural antidotes are deemed as ineffective, and are said to boast nothing more than placebo effects. However, having grown up in a North African household where potent, plant-based drinks are the solutions to almost every ailment, I have a very different opinion. Whether I’m suffering from a cold, cramps, or indigestion, tisana is my go-to cure—and it works.
In Algeria, tisana (a term derived from the word tisane, which is French for herbal tea) refers to any drinkable botanical remedy—typically lemon verbena infusions—used as an alternative to medicine. The lemon verbena plant, which is native to North Africa, West Asia, and parts of Europe, is a natural sedative, stomachic, and antispasmodic that’s used to treat digestive disorders. While the herb is an effective treatment for depression, lethargy, feverish colds, and menstrual cramps, it has recently gained popularity as a natural beauty booster. Packed with antioxidants, tisana helps to rid the body of toxins—which can manifest across the skin as acne.
Also known as luisa, vervain, lemon beebrush, holy herb, and devil’s bane, the aromatic herbal plant has a distinct, earthy flavor. To indulge in a cup of the steamy, citrus infusion, follow the recipe below.
1 handful of loose lemon verbena leaves
1 slice of lemon
1 teaspoon of honey
Crush a handful of loose, verbena leaves and steep in boiling water. Add a teaspoon of honey and a thin slice of lemon for added flavor. Serve.
Writer’s note: The herbal elixir shouldn’t be consumed on a daily basis. Long-term consumption of lemon verbena can cause gastric irritation.