Plant-Based Iron Tonic
A few weeks ago I got my iron levels tested at my Naturopath's recommendation and I was shocked to find out that they were super low! This appears to be a really common thing among women, for several reasons. Firstly, red meat (and meat in general, to some extent) has been demonized in our society so many of us aren't getting enough absorbable animal sources of iron. Also, we need lots of vitamin C to absorb iron, so if we aren't eating enough fruit and leafy greens we may struggle with absorbing the iron we do eat. In my experience most women aren't actually eating enough food in general, which isn't just bad for the metabolism but also can lead to low vitamin and mineral levels. And not to mention the fact that we're losing iron in our blood every month! So, the cards are kind of stacked against us.
Now, iron supplements are fine and often necessary- but they do have their downsides. They can be constipating for a lot of people, they can be quite expensive, and in my opinion a whole food source is almost always preferable to a pill. So I was doing a little research on how I could naturally increase my iron levels and I came up with this really simple recipe for a homemade vegan iron "supplement". This concoction alone may not be enough to increase your iron levels (I'm also eating meat, getting lots of greens and taking a supplement!), but it's worth adding in for that extra boost, even just during certain times of the month. (Plus it's actually pretty tasty!)
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or an herbalist, so it's best to take all my advice around herbs and supplements with a grain of himalayan pink salt, but this is what's working for me!
Plant-Based Iron Tonic // Ingredients:
4 bags nettle tea
Nettle is a nourishing, cleansing herb with a very high iron content (along with vitamins A, Bs, C and K which help with absorption). It's indicated for physical and mental exhaustion, detoxification, reducing inflammation and increasing circulation.
4 bags dandelion root tea
Dandelion root is high in iron, zinc, potassium and lots of other vitamins and minerals. It's very cleansing to the liver and eases constipation by improving bile flow. It's also a diuretic that reduces water retention (great for PMS!).
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap molasses is the by-product of sugar production- it's where all the vitamins and minerals end up when white sugar is made! It's extremely high in iron and is often used to treat anemia in pregnant women, or as an iron supplement for vegans.
2 tbsp brandy or vodka
optional, to help preserve the mixture
1 tsp cinnamon
A warming spice that helps regulate blood sugar and increase circulation. Optional but tasty.
3 cups water
In a small saucepan, boil the water and add all 8 teabags. Simmer over medium heat until water has reduced by about half. Remove from heat, remove the teabags and add the molasses, cinnamon and brandy. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Allow mixture to cool before decanting into an old glass jar or bottle and storing in the fridge. Drink 1-2 tbsp daily.