Herbal Tea Benefits
Maybe your friend has been raving about how much energy she has now that she’s started drinking green tea, or maybe your doctor told you to cut back on the caffeine and suggested chamomile tea for your insomnia. No matter how you found yourself standing in the tea aisle of the grocery store wondering what the difference is between black tea and white tea other than color, herbal teas offer a tasty alternative to coffee or water and can provide a plethora of health benefits.
General Benefits of Drinking Herbal Tea
Drinking tea is a large part of many cultures, including the Chinese, Indian and Japanese traditions, but the benefits of herbal tea go far above ceremonial presence. Societies have been using herbal teas for their medicinal properties for centuries, but modern medicine began taking an interest in the last few decades of the 20th century. Most herbal teas have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but some teas, such as green tea, have compounds that have also been shown to fight viral infections, decrease cancer activity and improve cardiovascular function. The four basic types of tea are green, black, white and oolong, and all of these offer these general health benefits:
- Hydration. For those who don’t like to drink plain water, herbal teas can offer an extra punch of flavor with little to no additional calories, helping you meet your daily fluid goal. Try your favorite tea hot or cold, and experiment with add-ins like lemon, mint or a dollop of honey.
- Detox effect. The human body is mostly water, and drinking more fluids helps flush out your cells and organs, making digestion more efficient and helping detoxify your cells. There are also special herbal blends that have an even more concentrated cleansing effect.
- Weight loss. Swapping soda, juice or even sweetened coffee or tea for unsweetened herbal teas can dramatically decrease your daily calorie and sugar intake, spurring your weight loss efforts. Diuretic teas also help flush excess water weight from sugar, white flour and salt.
Common Herbal Teas and Their Benefits
In addition to the general health benefits all herbal teas have, some particular varieties are even high on the benefits chart. Knowing which teas are good for which ailments lets you tailor your tea to your needs and helps you get the most out of your next cup.
- Chamomile. Chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory and mild sedative properties, making it a top choice for those who suffer from allergies or skin issues and those who have difficulty falling asleep.
- Green. This Chinese tea is naturally caffeinated and high in antioxidants. It provides a host of benefits including increasing mental alertness, boosting your energy and reducing your risk of certain cancers, neurological disorders and stroke.
- Peppermint. Even just the smell of peppermint can calm an upset stomach and ease tension headaches, but this tea also has antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Perfect for when you have a cold or a sinus infection, peppermint tea boost your immune system, and breathing in the steam also helps clear your nasal passages.
- Hibiscus. Made from the popular flower, hibiscus tea has proven helpful in lowering blood pressure, helps calm an upset stomach and has a mild diuretic and laxative effect.
- Rooibos. This caffeine-free tea is believed to help improve the cardiovascular system, guard against osteoporosis and tooth decay, and decrease your risk of kidney stones.
Making Herbal Teas Part of Your Daily Routine
The great thing about herbal tea is that most people can start drinking it right away. Most grocery stores have several varieties available in the coffee and tea aisle, and preparation is as simple as boiling some water and letting the tea bag steep for a few minutes before pouring into your favorite mug or teacup. You can even microwave the water if you’re particularly short on time.
Creating your own herbal tea remedy is easy. Be brave and experiment at first, trying different varieties and flavor blends until you find a few you like. Much depends on individual preference, and you may find that you prefer spicier versions like ginger peach over cooling peppermint or calming chamomile. You can also branch out into loose leaf and custom tea blends by buying leaves in bulk and using your own filter bags.
While most teas are safe for the majority of people, many of the herbs used also have medicinal effects on the body. These effects will be muted when the herb is diluted for tea, but it’s important for those who are taking any kind of medication (over the counter or prescribed), pregnant or currently being treated for another health condition to get a doctor’s approval beforehand.