Why Drink Herbal Teas?
While black tea and green tea continue to compete with coffee as our favorite morning beverage, herbal teas are growing in popularity. Of course, there is nothing new in the idea and people have been making infusions and teas from herbs and plants for many hundreds and probably thousands of years.
While herbal teas are usually referred to as teas, they are not actually teas in the true sense of the word. True tea like black tea and green tea uses the leaves of the Camelia sinensis plant whereas herbal teas are brewed from dried herbs, flowers, fruits and spices.
Given the multitude of potential sources, herbal teas come in a very wide range of flavors and you are almost bound to find a few you enjoy. They make a wonderful, healthy alternative to your coffee or sugary drinks and you can enjoy them at any time of day or night.
As well as being delicious, many herbal teas also come with a variety of health benefits ranging from blood pressure reduction to insomnia and stress relief. Modern research has started to prove what our ancestors were aware of all those years ago and are demonstrating just how effective herbal teas can be for your physical and emotional health. This article will take a look at the health benefits of various herbal teas and hopefully help you to make the best and most informed choice.
1) Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus tea is my personal favorite herbal tea brewed from the hibiscus plant flowers. It has a refreshing, slightly tart flavor that reminds me very much of cranberry juice and is delicious either hot or chilled.
Now, the good thing about drinking hibiscus tea apart from its delicious taste is the benefits it can have on your health. This refreshing tea has excellent antiviral properties that may help combat flu but it is also has a proven effect on blood pressure.
Several studies have demonstrated that hibiscus tea is a great, natural way to reduce blood pressure. (1) (2) This makes hibiscus tea an especially suitable option for people with hypertension.
What is more, research has also discovered that drinking hibiscus tea on a frequent basis can reduce oxidative stress. According to studies, hibiscus tea contains powerful antioxidants which can reduce your risk of disease and illness. One study done on soccer players found that the participants given hibiscus extract for a 6 week period experienced a significant decrease in oxidative stress. (3)
You should however avoid drinking this tea if you are currently taking diuretic medications or medicine to reduce your blood pressure.
2) Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is one of the most popular herbal teas because of its delicious, sweet floral flavor and also because of its positive calming effects. Chamomile tea is probably best-known for its ability to relax the mind and promote sleep making it a very popular bedtime brew. Several studies have been conducted into the effect of chamomile on human sleep patterns.
One study published in 2011 looked at the effects of chamomile on 34 patients suffering with insomnia. The researchers found that those who were given a chamomile extract had a better quality of uninterrupted sleep and woke up less frequently during the night. Chamomile extract also helped the participants fall asleep more quickly and functioned better during the daytime. (4)
Another study published in 2016 looked at the effects of chamomile tea on 80 postpartum female subjects who all experienced difficulties with their sleep. The researchers found that over the course of two weeks, consuming chamomile tea promoted better quality of sleep and also relieved depression symptoms. (5)
Although chamomile tea is most often associated with its ability to calm the mind and promote sleep, it also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties while studies also indicate it can protect the liver. Studies on rats have also found that chamomile might help treat stomach ulcers and diarrhea. (6)
And that is not all, research also suggests that drinking chamomile tea can reduce the symptoms of PMS which is a very common condition suffered by women on a monthly basis. (7) Another study also found that chamomile tea could improve blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetic patients. (8)
Of course, you may not be suffering from any of these issues and chamomile can be enjoyed for its own sake. It is truly a delicious drink but the many potential health benefits it confers are a huge bonus.
3) Passion flower Tea
Made from the flowers, leaves and stems of passion flower plants, this tea is a popular drink for people who want some natural relief from anxiety and sleeping issues.
Several studies have revealed that drinking a few cups of passionflower tea each day can lead to significant improvements in sleep quality. (9) (10)
Several clinical trials have also demonstrated that the tea could effectively reduce anxiety with far less risk of side effects than prescription anti-anxiety medications. In fact when the effects of passion flower tea were compared to a commonly prescribed anxiety drug, the researchers found that it was equally as effective. (11)
And that is not all, one study concluded that passion flower tea used alongside a detox drug called clonidine could help treat and relieve many of the symptoms suffered by people going through opioid withdrawal. These symptoms include anxiety, agitation and irritability. (12)
4) Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea has a refreshing taste and is among the most popular herbal brews drunk throughout the world. When it comes to its potential health benefits, it is mainly used to treat digestive troubles and several studies have supported this traditional use.
There is a decent body of evidence that peppermint tea and oil sometimes combined with other herbs can relieve various digestive complaints. These include stomach pain, indigestion and nausea. (13) (14) If you suffer from any of the common digestive complaints, it may be a good idea to drink a cup of calming peppermint tea to prevent and treat these symptoms.
There is also evidence that peppermint can help to relax muscle spasms in the colon, intestines and the esophagus. (15) (16)
A number of studies have also demonstrated that peppermint was an effective natural treatment for IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. (17)
Peppermint tea and peppermint oil contain menthol which is a great way to treat congestion and sinus infections. Peppermint contains powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties that may help you beat off the cold or flu. It can also help cleanse the build up of bacteria in your mouth, protect you from gum disease and keep your breath smelling fresh.
5) Ginger Tea
Not everybody appreciates the pungent flavor of ginger but if you do enjoy it, then it can provide you with a wide range of health benefits. Ginger tea is best known for its ability to relieve nausea but it is also packed with antioxidants that can help stave off illness. Studies have also revealed that ginger can help boost the immune system and fight inflammation.
Studies have consistently revealed that ginger can relieve nausea naturally and effectively. Research done into its effects on motion sickness, morning sickness in pregnant women and people undergoing cancer therapy have all found it to be an effective remedy. (18) (19)
As well as treating nausea, studies also show that ginger and ginger tea can help prevent stomach ulcers, relieve constipation and ease indigestion. (20)
Another potential benefit of drinking ginger tea is for women who suffer from period pains. Several studies have actually demonstrated that ginger extract was an effective natural remedy for pains linked to menstruation. Some of these studies have found that ginger was just as effective as NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen when it came to relieving period pains. (21)
There is also some evidence that ginger could help people with type 2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar and lipid levels. (22)
6) Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea is brewed from the leaves of red bush plant native to South Africa. It contains a number of powerful antioxidants that may hep protect you from disease and delay the signs of aging. There is also some evidence that drinking rooibos tea could help you lose weight.
Although it has been used traditionally in South Africa for many medicinal purposes, there has been little in the way of scientific research done into its health benefits.
There have however been a few studies one of which suggested rooibos tea could improve bone strength, density and growth. This study which combined rooibos with green tea and black tea extract also found that it could reduce inflammation. (23)
Preliminary studies have also pointed at the heart health potential of rooibos concluding that it may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure. According to the study which involved 17 patients, rooibos tea inhibited an enzyme which caused the constriction of blood vessels and worked in a similar way to blood pressure medications. (24)
As well as helping maintain healthy blood pressure, one study showed that consuming six cups daily for a period of six weeks helped reduce LDL cholesterol levels. (25)
These effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels could significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease.
7) Lavender Tea
Lavender tea is another herbal tea which is largely associated with promoting mental well-being and relaxing the mind. It is commonly used to help treat conditions like anxiety, stress and insomnia and there is some research to support these uses.
One study published in 2011 found that the scent of lavender could significantly reduce stress levels in patients before being injected with a needle. The patients who inhaled lavender also experienced a reduction in pain when doctors inserted the needles. (26)
Although this and many other studies into the stress relief benefits of lavender used oil inhalation, inhaling the vapors from your tea can have an equally positive effect. Lavender tea can reduce your anxiety and also help calm your mind before bed to ensure you get a good night of sleep.
If you are finding it difficult to get to sleep or find yourself constantly stressed and anxious, why not try a few cups of lavender tea. Make sure that you inhale its soothing vapors deeply while you drink.
8) Echinacea Tea
Echinacea tea has been a popular treatment for treating common colds for a very long time. There is some supporting scientific evidence which suggests that echinacea works by boosting your body’s immune system making it more able to prevent cold It can also help to fight off the virus responsible for the cold more quickly which shortens the duration of your illness. (27)
The evidence is not conclusive however and other studies have come up with conflicting results. Even if it does not help fight your cold as effectively as you had hoped, echinacea tea can help soothe many of the symptoms of a cold like congestion and sore throats.
If you feel you are coming down with a cold, try drinking a few cups of echinacea tea as soon as possible. Some evidence suggests it will help and there is plenty of anecdotal support for its use as well.
9) Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm tea is a delicious herbal beverage with a clean and light lemony taste and a citric aroma. Studies suggest it also has a number of health benefits from heart health to easing anxiety.
A recent Japanese study published in 2017 tested the effects of lemon balm tea on 28 volunteers. The participants were separated into two groups and given either lemon balm or barley tea daily for a period of six weeks. By the end of the study, those who had drunk lemon balm tea experienced improved arterial elasticity. Stiffness in the arteries is linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease and also cognitive decline. (28) The study also found that those who consumed lemon balm had an increase in skin elasticity which declines with age.
Another study published in 2011 was conducted to evaluate the antioxidant effects of lemon balm and its ability to reduce oxidative stress in radiology staff. The researchers found that two cups of lemon balm tea a day for a month significantly increased the level of antioxidant enzymes in the body. (30)
Various studies also show that lemon balm tea and extract could improve emotional well-being, mental performance and mood. Studies done on adults have found that lemon balm could improve feelings of calmness and also improve memory. (31) (32) Another small-scale study concluded that lemon balm could relieve stress and also improve processing skills in mathematics. (33)
Yet another study into the effects of lemon balm found that the herbal tea could reduce anxiety while also reducing the number of heart palpitations patients experienced. (34)
10) Rose Hip Tea
Rose hip tea brewed with the fruits of the rose is a good source of vitamin C and natural antioxidants. Studies have also found that it has excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
A number of studies have looked into the anti-inflammatory effects of rosehip with several focusing on its ability to treat inflammation in patients with rheumatism and osteoarthritis. Studies have consistently revealed that rose hip tea and extract was extremely effective in naturally treating these common inflammatory conditions. Rose hip can help reduce inflammation and other symptoms of the disease including pain. (35) (36)
These anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may also have a positive impact on skin health and help to fight the aging process. The results of one study indicate that treatment with rose hip extract for two months led to improved skin elasticity, moisture and fewer wrinkles. (37)
11) Sage Tea
Sage has long been known for its various health benefits and sage tea has been well researched to evaluate its abilities to treat brain health as well as its anti-cancer potential.
A number of studies conducted on animals as well as laboratory studies have demonstrated that the herb can benefit brain function as well as protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, several clinical studies have found that sage improved brain function in people with Alzheimer’s. (38) (39).
Not only can it help people with dementia but studies also indicate that sage can offer cognitive benefits to healthy humans. Several studies have found that treatment with sage oil and other sage extracts resulted in improvements in mental function, memory and mood. (40) (41)
Apart from its benefits to brain health, sage tea may also help improve levels of blood lipids while another animal study concluded that it may help protect against colon cancer. (42) (43)
12) Dandelion Tea
Instead of throwing away your dandelions, why not use their leaves and roots to make a healthy infusion that comes with a surprising range of health benefits.
Dandelion tea has well-known diuretic properties meaning it increases the frequency and volume of urine you produce. It is commonly used to treat urinary tract infections and may help people to shed excess water weight.
There is also some evidence that dandelion tea can improve liver health with studies showing it helps stimulate bile production and flow. A recent study published in 2017 suggests that dandelions contain certain polysaccharides which have a positive effect on liver health and function. (44)
According to studies, dandelion tea could also help you lose some weight via a similar mechanism to a weight loss medication called Orlistat. According to a recent study conducted in Korea, dandelion can have an impact on your weight by inhibiting an enzyme which is released during the digestive process. (45)
And finally, dandelion tea and extract may have some potential in fighting cancer. A study published in 2011 found that dandelion extract could cause cancer cell death by apoptosis. (46)
13) Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root tea is another herbal tea with an impressive array of health benefits. The bulk of the research done into licorice root’s benefits have focused on licorice root extracts but drinking the tea is a great way to enjoy it.
Studies have revealed that licorice root had a number of digestive health benefits and could ease many symptoms including indigestion, heartburn, stomach pain and nausea. (47) There is also evidence that licorice root was an effective remedy for leaky gut and ulcers. (48)
Licorice root contains a number of antioxidants and immune boosting properties that may help keep you free of illness. It also has expectorant properties making it a suitable choice of tea for coughs, colds, and sinus congestion. What is more, licorice root has anti-inflammatory and demulcent properties that make it an effective remedy for a sore throat.
And last but not least. Licorice has an estrogen mimicking effect on women. Studies indicate that it is an effective remedy for PMS symptoms and can also reduce the duration and frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women. (49) (50)
14) Turmeric Tea
A tea made with turmeric powder has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and according to one study, can help relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. (51)
There is also some evidence that the curcumin found in turmeric has antioxidant properties potent enough to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and potentially even cancer. (52)
The active compounds found in turmeric can give your immune system a great boost and help protect you against a number of sicknesses including common illnesses like cold and flu.
Studies have also demonstrated that consuming turmeric could help treat patients with ulcerative colitis. In one study, participants in remission who were treated with turmeric had a significantly lower chance of relapse. (53)
And finally, studies also show that consuming turmeric can help reduce your level of LDL cholesterol. High cholesterol levels increase your risk of developing heart disease, suffering a stroke or a heart attack. (54)
15) Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is a delicious tea which originated in Asia and has a variety of benefits from heart health to weight loss.
It is very high in antioxidants that can help protect your body from the damaging effects of free radicals. It protects against disease and can even help you maintain a more youthful appearance.
Studies have revealed that oolong tea is good for your heart. It can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels and help protect against the arteries becoming narrow. (55) (56)
There is also some evidence that oolong tea has protective properties against cancer. Population studies conducted in China show that those who consume oolong tea on a regular basis are at less of a risk of pancreatic and ovarian cancer. (57) (58)
When it comes to the weight loss benefits of oolong, there is evidence that it really can help you shed those unwanted pounds. According to experts, oolong can help speed up the body’s metabolism through a process called thermogenesis.
Studies have revealed that oolong tea can help prevent a person from developing type 2 diabetes with some showing that those who consume oolong regularly being less at risk of the disease. (59)