When you’re feeling a bit under the weather, there’s nothing better than being curled up in your pajamas sipping on a warm mug of herbal tea. Even when you're healthy, there is something so soothing about having a mug of tea before bed.
Herbal teas are made from herbs that you can grow yourself, and simply having fragrant herbs in your home can do wonders for your overall wellbeing. While you can take herbs in supplement form, drinking them in the form of tea gives you added aromatherapy benefits. Simply breathing in the steam from a hot mug of tea can help ease respiratory symptoms or soothe nervous tension.
The word "tea” technically refers to a hot drink made from Camellia sinensis , the tea plant. Black, green, oolong, and white teas all come from this plant. The correct term for an herbal tea is actually “tisane,” which is the French word for an infusion of leaves, roots, bark, or seeds in hot water.
Choosing the Right Herbal Tea for Your Symptoms
While all herbal teas are soothing in their own way, all herbs have certain health benefits that can help ease the symptoms you may be experiencing. Are you feeling anxious? Lethargic? Are you suffering from respiratory problems or do you have an upset stomach? Maybe you’re looking for a tea to help you sleep or to boost concentration. Regardless of your symptoms or health concerns, there is an herbal tea that can help you.
When purchasing herbal teas, be sure to choose ones that use high-quality herbs and don’t add any extra ingredients. The best way to ensure the quality of your tea is to grow the herbs yourself. Many common herbs used in teas, such as peppermint and lemon balm, can be easily grown in your own home. However, if you don’t have much of a green thumb, be sure you’re purchasing herbs from a reputable source.
Health Benefits of Herbal Teas
Herbal teas are known for their abilities to alleviate symptoms of ailments and promote general wellness. They can be consumed to fight off symptoms of the common cold and flu, improve digestion, boost immune system function, reduce inflammation, fight off signs of aging through antioxidants, relieve stress, and even promote skin health.
Peppermint is one of the most popular single-ingredient herbal teas. This simple brew can do wonders for your digestive health. Peppermint helps relieve symptoms of bloating, relieves spasms, and soothes an upset stomach.
The potent, minty scent can also ease respiratory problems and relieve symptoms of the cold and flu. Peppermint tea can be found at most grocery and health food stores, but it can also be brewed easily by taking a handful of peppermint leaves from a homegrown plant and adding them to a mug of hot water.
Ginger is widely known for its ability to ease digestive problems, and a warm mug of ginger tea can instantly soothe feelings of nausea. You can easily brew a mug of ginger tea by adding fresh slices of ginger to a mug of hot water. A popular herbal remedy for cold and flu symptoms is a simple brew of ginger, lemon, and honey. For added benefits, add a pinch of turmeric and black pepper.
Echinacea is commonly used to ward off the cold and flu or to ease symptoms once these illnesses are contracted. Echinacea has been shown to boost the immune system, which can help your body ward off these illnesses before you even begin to exhibit symptoms. 1
Chamomile is well-known for its soothing effects, and it is often consumed before bed to promote a proper night of sleep.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing aimed to test the effects of chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in postnatal women. The results of the study showed that women who were given chamomile tea for two weeks exhibited lower levels of depression and better sleep quality. 2
Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm is often used in aromatherapy to ease feelings of stress and anxiety. Lemon balm also happens to be a very easy herb to grow at home. Much like mint, it tends to take over any area it is planted in.
Dandelion tea is high in antioxidants and is known as a diuretic, so it can help flush the system of harmful toxins and support the immune system. A tea made from dandelion roots is also a very common substitute for coffee.
If you’re looking to wean yourself off of the caffeinated beverage, dandelion tea may be what you need. Its diuretic properties can also ease discomfort from bloating and aid in weight loss due to its ability to remove excess water weight.
Rosehip tea is made from dried rosehips, which are the fruit of the rose plant. Rosehips have a high concentration of vitamin C, which can help strengthen the immune system and ward off illnesses. Rosehip tea is also known for its abilities to improve skin health, reduce inflammation, detoxify the body, and fight off free radical damage. 4
Lemongrass has a mild, citrus taste that is wonderful when brewed into a tea. It helps maintain healthy blood pressure, acts as a diuretic to rid the body of harmful toxins, aids in weight loss due, and promotes healthy skin and hair.
Additionally, lemongrass tea is filled with antioxidants, which help fight off damage from free radicals and reduce signs of aging. 5
Kava is a plant that is native to South Pacific islands and is often used in religious ceremonies and social events. Kava is best known for its ability to ease feelings of stress and anxiety and promote general relaxation. Some studies have suggested that kava can also improve cognitive function.
It is important to note that the sedative effects of kava are potent, especially when drinking a tea brewed solely from the kava plant. Within 30 minutes of drinking kava tea, you may experience significant feelings of drowsiness.
Furthermore, excessive use of this plant may result in liver damage, so those who have a history of liver problems should refrain from using this herb.
Because the sedative effects are so pronounced, kava is often mixed with other therapeutic herbs in a blend that isn’t so potent. 6
Simply sipping on a mug of herbal tea can help ease respiratory symptoms, regardless of what herb the tea is made from. While the study is old, a popular study from 1978 studied the effects of hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on nasal mucus and airflow.
The results of the study showed that simply sipping on a hot drink helped increase airflow and mucus velocity. Both hot water and chicken soup helped alleviate respiratory symptoms and promote easier breathing. 7
Herbal teas are very effective when one herb is used, but they are even more effective when you create a custom blend of herbs depending on your own particular needs. The more you experiment with different blends, the better your product will be.
If you’re not suffering from any particular symptoms and simply want to relax in the evening, brew a tea out of your favorite blend of herbs and enjoy the soothing effects. Herbal tea benefits your entire body, whether you're suffering from an ailment or not.
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