8 Best Herbal Teas for Good Health
Chances are that, at this point in your life, you know herbal teas are good for you. They’re loaded with tons of antioxidants, contain less caffeine than a cup of coffee, and come with a slew of health benefits including reducing your risk of various diseases.
What’s more: Unlike so many of the beverages we drink today, herbal teas are something that have been consumed by humans for thousands of years. “Archeological research shows that the practice of using herbal teas as medicine dates back to 60,000 years ago in Iraq; however, it was 8,000 years ago that it became part of traditional Chinese medicine,” says naturopathic doctor and clinical nutritionist David Friedman, N.D., D.C. “Since then, herbal teas have been credited for preventing many ailments and afflictions, including everything from allergies and irritable bowel syndrome to heart disease and cancer.”
What are the benefits of drinking herbal teas?
One of the biggest perks of drinking herbal teas is that they contain many bioactive plant compounds such as polyphenols that can have antioxidant effects,” says Toronto-based naturopathic doctor Olivia Rose, N.D. “The generation of reactive oxygen species occurs in the body as part of the hundreds of chemical reactions that take place and due to exposures from environmental pollutants and toxins in our food supply,” she says. “The antioxidant benefits derived from plants can protect our cells from damage in a variety of different ways.”
Another benefit to drinking herbal tea is that it aids in the digestive process, relieving symptoms such as bloating. “The warmth combined with the many active constituents, including essential oils, support digestion, improve bowel function and regularity,” says Dr. Rose.
Here are the best herbal teas to try:
Hibiscus flower tea
Made from the hibiscus flower, this tea is rich in anthocyanins, fruit acids, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and bioflavonoids, which makes it an excellent immune-system booster. “Hibiscus tea is known to be helpful for weight loss, depression, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, mood swings, preventing bladder infections and relieving constipation,” says Sherri Greene, D.P.M. restorative physician based in New York City. “Another important benefit where hibiscus has been used for centuries is to support liver function and aid in the case of fatty liver syndrome and jaundice.” She recommends adding two teaspoons of fresh or dried hibiscus to 16 ounces of hot water and steeping for 10 minutes. For immune-aiding benefits, she suggests adding raw honey.
Elderflower is another antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory herb to consider for its immune boosting properties. “Elderflower is particularly helpful with respiratory ailments like bronchitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, asthma, chronic cough, sore throat, cold/flu and fever,” says Dr. Greene. “In addition to being a natural decongestant clearing up mucus and congestion in the lungs, sinuses and the nasal passages, elderflower has the power to purify the body and cleanse the lymphatic system of toxins and debris.” Patients with liver disorders, fungal infections, urinary tract infections, toothaches, gout, headaches, arthritis and hay fever, may find elderflower tea to be particularly effective in managing their symptoms, she adds.
This tea is best known for its calming and relaxing effects, which is why it is commonly drunk in the evening hours just before bed. “Chamomile comes from several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae, is delicate and floral tasting with a slight honey flavor,” says Lianna Nielsen, a London-based integrative nutrition health coach. “Chamomile is ideal for anyone who needs a bit of help falling asleep, as it can be a mild sedative, promotes relaxation, helps to relax muscles and reduces irritability.”
Lemon balm tea
This tea is often referred to as the “elixir of life” thanks to its antiviral, antibacterial, digestive and sedative properties. “Lemon balm contains a compound called terpene which can help with anxiety, stress, depression, high blood pressure, muscle spasms, tension headaches, circulation issues, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Greene. “Lemon balm is wonderful for aiding indigestion, colitis and acid reflux and has the capacity to promote a healthy
and balanced immune system, which can be extremely beneficial for autoimmune disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and vertigo.” She recommends turning to lemon balm for support with insomnia, sleep disturbances and jittery nerves.
Raspberry leaf tea
Anyone dealing with fertility issues can find use in drinking raspberry leaf tea, as it supports reproductive health in both women and men. “Raspberry leaf contains a compound called ferulic acid, which has been found to provide relief for women experiencing PMS, cramps and heavy menstrual bleeding,” says Dr. Greene. “Other conditions that raspberry leaf is good for include sore throats, canker sores, cold sores, anemia, colds and fevers, diarrhea, leg cramps, menopausal symptoms, adrenal fatigue, stomach ulcers and as a mouthwash for gingivitis.”
You’re probably familiar with this type of green tea that is much more concentrated. “Matcha is a greater source of antioxidants, namely epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which increases energy, and it also contains catechins, a group of antioxidants that are more powerful than both vitamins C and E in fighting oxidative damage to cells,” notes Dr. Friedman. “Unlike green tea plants, which are exposed to sunlight, matcha grows in the shade before being harvested which results in 6 times more DNA-protective and -repairing chlorophyll content than regular green tea!”
If you suffer from gut and digestive issues, peppermint tea might be just the beverage to add to your repertoire. “Peppermint tea has been used for centuries as a remedy for nausea, heartburn and upset stomach and also contains phytochemicals (plant) that have antibacterial properties and aid in supporting a strong immune system,” says Dr. Friedman. “In addition, peppermint tea has antibacterial properties that help to ward off bacteria that are harmful to your immune system and the ability to enhance memory and increase alertness.”
This flowering plant has long been hailed for its ability to increase energy, endurance, strength and mental capacity, notes Dr. Friedman. “This tea is great for improving memory and athletic performance and reducing anxiety, depression and stress,” he says. “Having high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can wreak havoc on the body and cause the body to hold on to fat (especially belly fat) and reduces your body’s ability to fight toxins and pollutants that cause aging.”
Here’s another tea that’s known for its ability to help balance stress. “It’s made from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis that is usually grown on the western coast of South Africa,” says Neilson. In addition to its warming, light, earthy, naturally sweet, almost cinnamon-like flavor, she’s a fan because it is full of antioxidants that help protect the skin from free radical damage. “It also helps with balancing cortisol levels—which is our main stress hormone,” she adds.
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