Humans have been using herbal remedies for centuries, and they continue to be popular today.
One of the most enjoyable and simple ways to make use of herbs is through tea, infusing the dried leaves.
Not only do you get the benefits of the herb, but the warmth and aroma of tea often has a soothing effect. There’s even something just about the ritual of setting yourself up with a nice cuppa and taking a moment for yourself.
Read on to learn about the amazing applications of herbal teas for various health concerns.
Tea to treat anxiety and sleeplessness
Overworked, stressed and having difficulty sleeping?
Make herbal teas your friend as a way to lower your caffeine intake – it’s the perfect hot drink swap with health benefits.
Chamomile tea has a long history of use for anxiety and insomnia. Research suggests that chamomile contains compounds such as apigenin (an antioxidant) which act on the body’s central nervous system, promoting sleep and lowering the production of stress signals.
Passionflower tea is another great option for alleviating stress and helping you get a better nights’ sleep. In a study in a small group of adults aged 18-35, just short-term use of a daily cup of passionflower tea was associated with subjective improvements in sleep quality.
Start a night-time routine where you turn your devices off, dim the lights and enjoy a herbal tea. Both chamomile and passionflower tea have a sweet, soft flavour and, if you like, a teaspoon of honey can be added to accentuate the sweetness.
Tea for bloating and indigestion
The majority of us will experience some degree of bloating or indigestion at some point in our lives. Tummies can be fickle things and the bloat often strikes unexpectedly, when we really don’t want it to.
Herbal teas are an easily accessible and gentle remedy for mild gastrointestinal complaints such as bloating, flatulence and abdominal discomfort.
Fennel has been traditionally used to help with digestive troubles, especially for a tight, bloated belly that can be caused by trapped gas or constipation.
Fennel helps to relax the muscles along the gastrointestinal tract. Made as a tea, fennel has a mild, slightly sweet flavour which works well on its own or blended with other herbs such as ginger, peppermint or spearmint.
Peppermint has similar anti-spasmodic effects. In other words, it can also help to relax your gut muscles allowing bloating and tension to melt away.
Peppermint is high in phenolic compounds which also provide antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits, making it an all-round winner for your digestive system. The refreshing taste of peppermint tea makes it a good option to have after a rich meal, which is often a bloating culprit.
Tea for cardiovascular health
Are you more of a classic tea lover? A simple cup of black or green tea is just the thing sometimes.
Good news! Black and green tea, both derived from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, may help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
A recent review concluded that consistently drinking two cups of unsweetened tea offers the right amount of antioxidants to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
One of the ways that both black and green tea benefit your heart health is by improving your cholesterol levels. The type of antioxidants in black and green tea, called flavonoids, help to reduce the level of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
Regularly consuming these teas may have beneficial effects on blood pressure, which also supports a healthy heart.
As both black and green tea contain caffeine, there is a limit on how much you should consume per day. A cup of black tea contains about 40-50mg of caffeine, whereas green tea has about 25-35mg. Try to stick to less than 300mg of caffeine per day.
Tea to reduce inflammation
Chronic inflammation is known to contribute to a number of diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Many herbal teas help to reduce inflammation because they are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants fight something known as ‘oxidative stress’ in the body, which causes inflammation. Levels of oxidative stress tend to increase as we age, as well as being affected by our diet, lifestyle and environment.
Research indicates that some of the top herbal teas that may help to combat oxidative stress and support our health as we age include rooibos, yerba mate and hibiscus.
Ginger tea may also help to lower inflammation. Ginger is rich in antioxidants called gingerols and shogaols, which have been found to have pharmacological activity. Some of the anti-inflammatory applications of ginger include treating osteoarthritis pain and providing relief from period cramps.
Taste-wise, something good to know is that rooibos tea is also a great substitute for black tea if you’re looking for a caffeine-free option to use with milk. Ginger, yerba mate and hibiscus are best enjoyed without milk.