5 of the best herbal teas and their benefits
From drinking green tea for weight loss to how chamomile tea benefits stomach issues and why some herbal teas can prevent cancer, we’ve unpicked the potential health perks of five of the most popular herbal teas on the market.
Wellness. It’s a buzzword right now.
And with good reason. (Largely) gone are the days of fad diets, unrealistic body expectations and superficial wellness routines. Largely.
Now we find ourselves in a new age of holistic wellness – one where we’re increasingly being encouraged to look after all areas of our health – mind, body and spirit – in the most effective and most personal ways.
It’s darned refreshing. And you know what else is refreshing? A good herbal tea.
Hear us out before you roll your eyes. Herbal teas have long been thought of as a little fluffy; hippie remedies without much scientific backing.
But the tide is changing, and scientists are starting to invest more and more research into uncovering just how beneficial herbal teas can be. Just look at our recent interview with the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbria University.
And think about it: if simply drinking a cup of herbal tea a day can better support your immune system, boost your metabolism, reduce pain and inflammation and even protect you against conditions like heart disease and cancer, it’s worth giving it a go, right?
In this, the first of two articles, we examine the health and wellness benefits to be found in green tea, chamomile tea, echinacea tea, peppermint tea and dandelion tea – and our findings may surprise you…
Ideal for: boosting metabolism
Does green tea have caffeine? Yes.
Green tea is the ideal “gateway” herbal tea. Containing a little caffeine, although not as much as coffee or black tea, you’ll likely feel a boost in energy as well as improved brain function with regular green tea intake.
As a herbal tea for weight loss, green tea is a great option – the blend is known for boosting the speed of our metabolisms, thereby burning fat quicker, as well as supporting our immune systems.
Rich in polyphenols and natural antioxidants, green tea can reduce inflammation and prevent the formation of free radicals in the body – protecting our cells from damage and decreasing the risk of developing conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Indeed, research has found the anti-carcinogenic properties of green tea to be particularly promising at helping to fight liver, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.
And, perhaps most surprisingly, studies have also shown links between better dental health among those who drink green tea regularly.
Green tea benefits:
- Boosts energy
- Improves brain function
- Speeds up metabolism
- Boosts immune system
- Decreases risk of certain diseases
- Enhances dental health
Ideal for: reducing anxiety
Does chamomile tea have caffeine? No.
If you’re feeling a little tense or stressed right now and are looking for a herbal tea for anxiety reduction, try adding regular cups of chamomile tea into your diet.
A 2019 review found that, after drinking chamomile tea for four weeks, people with generalised anxiety disorder saw an improvement in their symptoms and improved sleep quality.
Diabetes patients may benefit from regular chamomile tea intake, as research has found the blend can lower blood sugar levels. Other studies, meanwhile, suggest chamomile tea may target cancer cells or even prevent those cells from developing in the first place.
Chamomile tea is also known to reduce inflammation, benefitting a range of long-term health problems, as well as improving mild skin conditions such as acne and dehydration.
Researchers have even found evidence to show that chamomile tea’s anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties help relieve cramping and discomfort caused by PMS.
Chamomile tea benefits:
- Improves sleep
- Reduces anxiety
- Lowers blood sugar
- Reduces inflammation
- Helps treat common colds
- Alleviates PMS symptoms
- May reduce cancer risk
Ideal for: getting rid of a cold
Does echinacea tea have caffeine? No.
This herb from the daisy family is known as a bit of a wonder-remedy when it comes wellness.
Echinacea is perhaps most famous as the hero to the common cold’s villain. A meta-analysis in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal found that echinacea tea lowered the risk of contracting a cold by 58% and shortened recovery time by one and a half days in those that did still catch it.
So, if you’re looking for a herbal tea for sore throat woes, snotty noses or nasty coughs, you’ve found it.
Echinacea tea’s anti-inflammatory effects are thought to improve air flow into your throat and lungs, benefitting a range of asthma and upper-respiratory issues, while the herb’s antibacterial powers have been known to fight off yeast infections and UTIs.
For centuries, Native Americans have used echinacea to treat pain, and the tea can still be used to alleviate everything from toothache to rheumatoid arthritis and IBS. The herb’s aromatic fragrance, meanwhile, has been known to decrease feelings of sadness, stress and anxiety by triggering the release of dopamine.
Echinacea tea benefits:
- Prevents and shortens the common cold
- Boosts immune system
- Relieves pain
- Fights yeast infections
- Improves mood
- Reduces anxiety
Ideal for: help with digestive problems
Does peppermint tea have caffeine? No.
One of the most popular herbal teas in the world, it is said that peppermint tea has antioxidant, anti-cancer, antibacterial and antiviral properties, and is a common remedy for headaches and migraines.
While these effects are still to be completely verified by science, several studies have found peppermint tea to be something of a digestive saviour – its menthol component helping to relieve indigestion, nausea, stomach pain and symptoms of IBS.
Because the tea is able to relax spasms in the intestines, oesophagus and colon, peppermint tea is also an effective cure for motion sickness.
Peppermint tea benefits:
- Relieves indigestion
- Soothes stomach pain
- Reduces nausea
- Soothes symptoms of IBS
- Reduces motion sickness
- Soothes headaches and migraines
Ideal for: improving liver health
Does dandelion tea have caffeine? No.
We look at a dandelion in our gardens and see a nuisance. But these weeds are actually pretty handy when it comes to wellness.
Dandelion tea is a great source of magnesium, calcium, Vitamin C, iron and zinc, as well as Vitamin A which, studies have shown, lowers the risk of conditions such as cataracts, diarrhoea, measles and breast cancer.
As an excellent source of potassium, dandelion tea can help our kidneys filter toxins in our bodies more effectively and improve blood flow, leading to lower blood pressure.
If you’re looking to herbal tea for bloating, then it may be worth brewing a cup of dandelion tea; the herb acts as a diuretic and increases urine output, meaning it’s also a great remedy for UTIs.
Most famously, dandelion tea is known as a “liver tonic” because of its ability to reduce stress on the liver and supports its ability to produce bile. The herb also helps our livers filter potentially harmful chemicals out of our food. Dandelion tea’s support of the liver can, in turn, improve a number of skin and eye problems, too.
Dandelion tea benefits:
- Reduces stress on the liver
- Helps to filter chemicals out of foods
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves skin
- Reduces bloating
- Improves eye problems
- Prevents UTIs
All herbal teas should be treated with caution if you have a history of severe allergies, especially to pollens.
Similarly, some herbal teas may react with certain medication. It is always wise to consult your GP first before introducing any new supplements into your diet.