AUTHORITY NUTRITION

10 Healthy Herbal Teas You Should Try

Written by Taylor Jones, RD on October 20, 2017

Herbal teas have been around for centuries.

Yet, despite their name, herbal teas are not true teas at all. True teas, including green tea, black tea and oolong tea, are brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.

On the other hand, herbal teas are made from dried fruits, flowers, spices or herbs.

This means herbal teas can come in a wide range of tastes and flavors and make a tempting alternative to sugary beverages or water.

In addition to being delicious, some herbal teas have health-promoting properties. In fact, herbal teas have been used as natural remedies for a variety of ailments for hundreds of years.

Interestingly, modern science has begun to find evidence supporting some of the traditional uses of herbal teas, as well as some new ones.

Here is a list of 10 healthy herbal teas you’ll want to try.

Woman Holding Tea Cup

Chamomile tea is most commonly known for its calming effects and is frequently used as a sleep aid.

Two studies have examined the effects of chamomile tea or extract on sleep problems in humans.

In one study of 80 postpartum women experiencing sleep issues, drinking chamomile tea for two weeks led to improved sleep quality and fewer symptoms of depression ().

Another study in 34 patients with insomnia found marginal improvements in waking up during the night, time to falling asleep and daytime functioning after taking chamomile extract twice a day ().

What’s more, chamomile may not just be useful as a sleep aid. It is also believed to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and liver-protecting effects ().

Studies in mice and rats have found preliminary evidence that chamomile may help fight diarrhea and stomach ulcers (, ).

One study also found that chamomile tea reduced symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, while another study in people with type 2 diabetes saw improvements in blood glucose, insulin and blood lipid levels (, ).

While more research is needed to confirm these effects, preliminary evidence suggests that chamomile tea may offer a range of health benefits.

Summary: Chamomile is well known for its calming properties, and preliminary evidence supports this. It may also help relieve premenstrual symptoms and high blood lipid, blood sugar and insulin levels.

Peppermint tea is one of the most commonly used herbal teas in the world ().

While it’s most popularly used to support digestive tract health, it also has antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral properties ().

Most of these effects have not been studied in humans, so it’s not possible to know if they might lead to health benefits. However, several studies have confirmed peppermint’s beneficial effects on the digestive tract.

Several studies have shown that preparations of peppermint oil, which often included other herbs as well, can help relieve indigestion, nausea and stomach pain (, , , ).

Evidence also shows that peppermint oil is effective at relaxing spasms in the intestines, esophagus and colon (, , , ).

Lastly, studies have repeatedly found that peppermint oil is effective at relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome ().

Therefore, when you experience digestive discomfort, whether it be from cramping, nausea or indigestion, peppermint tea is a great natural remedy to try.

Summary: Peppermint tea is traditionally used to relieve discomfort of the digestive tract. Studies have found that peppermint oil can help relieve nausea, cramping, spasms and stomach pain.

Ginger tea is a spicy and flavorful drink that packs a punch of healthy, disease-fighting antioxidants ().

It also helps fight inflammation and stimulates the immune system, but it’s most well known for being an effective remedy for nausea ().

Studies consistently find that ginger is effective at relieving nausea, especially in early pregnancy, although it may also relieve nausea caused by cancer treatments and motion sickness (, ).

Evidence also suggests that ginger may help prevent stomach ulcers and relieve indigestion or constipation ().

Ginger may also help relieve dysmenorrhea, or period pain. A number of studies have found that ginger capsules reduced pain associated with menstruation (, ).

In fact, two studies found ginger to be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen at relieving period pain (, ).

Finally, some studies suggest that ginger may offer health benefits for people with diabetes, though the evidence has not been consistent. These studies have found that ginger supplements helped with blood sugar control and blood lipid levels (, , ).

Summary: Ginger tea is best known as a remedy for nausea, and studies have repeatedly found it to be effective for this use. However, several studies have also found that ginger can help relieve period pain, and it may offer benefits for people with diabetes.

Hibiscus tea is made from the colorful flowers of the hibiscus plant. It has a pink-red color and refreshing, tart flavor. It can be enjoyed hot or iced.

In addition to its bold color and unique flavor, hibiscus tea offers healthful properties.

For example, hibiscus tea has antiviral properties, and test-tube studies have shown its extract to be highly effective against strains of the bird flu. However, no evidence has shown that drinking hibiscus tea could help you fight off viruses like the flu ().

A number of studies have investigated the effects of hibiscus tea on high blood lipid levels. A few studies have found it to be effective, though a large review study found that it did not have a significant effect on blood lipid levels ().

Nevertheless, hibiscus tea has been shown to have a positive effect on high blood pressure.

In fact, many studies have found that hibiscus tea reduced high blood pressure, although most studies were not high quality (, ).

What’s more, another study found that taking hibiscus tea extract for six weeks significantly decreased oxidative stress in male soccer players ().

Be sure to avoid drinking hibiscus tea if you’re taking hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic medication, as the two may interact with each other. Hibiscus tea may also shorten the effects of aspirin, so it’s best to take them 3–4 hours apart ().

Summary: Hibiscus tea may help lower high blood pressure and fight oxidative stress. However, it shouldn’t be taken with a certain diuretic medication or at the same time as aspirin.

Echinacea tea is an extremely popular remedy that’s said to prevent and shorten the common cold.

Evidence has shown that echinacea may help boost the immune system, which could help the body fight off viruses or infections ().

Many studies have found that echinacea can shorten the duration of the common cold, lessen the severity of its symptoms or even prevent it ().

However, results are conflicting, and most studies have not been well designed. This makes it difficult to tell if positive results are due to echinacea or random chance.

Therefore, it’s not possible to say definitively that taking echinacea will help with the common cold.

At the very least, this warm herbal drink may help soothe your sore throat or clear up your stuffy nose if you do feel a cold coming on ().

Summary: Echinacea tea is commonly used to prevent or shorten the duration of the common cold. While several studies have found it to be effective for this use, the evidence on the matter is conflicting.

Rooibos is an herbal tea that comes from South Africa. It is made from the leaves of the rooibos or red bush plant.

South Africans have historically used it for medicinal purposes, but there is very little scientific research on the topic.

Nevertheless, a few animal and human studies have been conducted. So far, studies have failed to show that it’s effective for allergies and kidney stones (, ).

However, one study has shown that rooibos tea may benefit bone health. One test-tube study suggests that rooibos tea, along with green and black tea, might stimulate the cells involved in bone growth and density ().

The same study found that the teas also lowered markers of inflammation and cell toxicity. The researchers suggested that this might be why drinking tea is associated with higher bone density.

Moreover, preliminary evidence shows that rooibos tea may help prevent heart disease.

One study found that rooibos tea inhibited an enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict, similarly to how a common blood pressure medication does ().

Also, another study found that drinking six cups of rooibos tea daily for six weeks lowered blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and fat, while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol ().

Much more research is needed to confirm these effects and discover any further benefits. However, the preliminary evidence shows promise.

Summary: Rooibos tea has just recently begun to be studied by scientists. Preliminary evidence suggests that rooibos tea may help improve bone health and reduce heart disease risk, but more studies are needed.

Sage tea is well known for its medicinal properties, and scientific research has begun to support several of its health benefits, especially for brain health.

A number of test-tube, animal and human studies have shown that sage is beneficial for cognitive function, as well as potentially effective against the effects of the plaques involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, two studies on oral sage drops or sage oil found improvements in the cognitive function of those with Alzheimer’s disease, although the studies had limitations (, , ).

Moreover, sage appears to provide cognitive benefits for healthy adults as well.

A number of studies found improvements in mood, mental function and memory in healthy adults after they took one of several different types of sage extract (, , , ).

What’s more, one small human study found that sage tea improved blood lipid levels, while another study in rats found that sage tea protected against the development of colon cancer (, ).

Sage tea appears to be a healthy choice, offering benefits for cognitive health and potentially heart and colon health. More studies are needed to find out more about these effects.

Summary: Several studies have found that sage improves cognitive function and memory. It may also benefit colon and heart health.

Lemon balm tea has a light, lemony flavor and seems to have health-promoting properties.

In a small study in 28 people who drank either barley tea or lemon balm tea for six weeks, the lemon balm tea group had improved elasticity of the arteries. Arterial stiffness is considered a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and mental decline ().

In the same study, those who drank lemon balm tea also had increased skin elasticity, which typically tends to decline with age. However, the study was of poor quality.

Another small study in radiology workers found that drinking lemon balm tea twice a day for one month increased the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, which help protect the body from oxidative damage to cells and DNA ().

As a result, participants also showed improved markers of lipid and DNA damage.

Preliminary evidence has also suggested that lemon balm may improve high blood lipid levels ().

Furthermore, a number of studies have shown that lemon balm improved mood and mental performance.

Two studies including 20 participants evaluated the effects of different dosages of lemon balm extract. They found improvements in both calmness and memory (, ).

Another small study found that lemon balm extract helped reduce stress and improve math processing skills ().

Finally, another small study found that lemon balm tea reduced the frequency of heart palpitations and anxiety ().

Lemon balm tea may offer a number of potential health benefits and would make a good addition to any herbal tea collection.

Summary: Preliminary studies have found that lemon balm tea may improve antioxidant levels, heart and skin health and even aid in relieving anxiety.

Rose hip tea is made from the fruit of the rose plant.

It is high in vitamin C and beneficial plant compounds. These plant compounds, in addition to certain fats found in rose hips, result in anti-inflammatory properties ().

Several studies have looked into the ability of rose hip powder to reduce inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Many of these studies found it effective at reducing inflammation and its related symptoms, including pain (, , ).

Rose hips may also be beneficial for weight management, as one 12-week study in 32 overweight people found that taking rose hip extract resulted in decreased BMI and belly fat ().

Rose hip’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may also help fight skin aging.

One preliminary study found that taking rose hip powder for eight weeks reduced the depth of wrinkles around the eyes and improved moisture and skin elasticity of the face ().

These properties may result in other health benefits as well, though more studies will be needed to confirm these effects and investigate any new ones.

Summary: Rose hip tea is high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Its anti-inflammatory properties may reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. Studies have also found rose hips effective at fighting aging of the skin and reducing stomach fat.

The leaves, stems and flowers of the passionflower plant are used to make passionflower tea.

Passionflower tea is traditionally used to relieve anxiety and improve sleep, and studies have begun to support these uses.

For example, one study found that drinking passionflower tea for one week significantly improved sleep quality scores (, ).

What’s more, two human studies found that passionflower was effective at reducing anxiety. In fact, one of these studies found that passionflower was as effective as an anxiety-relieving medication ().

Yet, another study found that passionflower helped relieve the mental symptoms of opioid withdrawal, such as anxiety, irritability and agitation, when taken in addition to clonidine, the medication usually used for opioid detoxification treatment ().

Passionflower tea seems to be a good choice when it comes to relieving anxiety and promoting calmness.

Summary: Studies have found that passionflower tea may help improve sleep and reduce anxiety.

Herbal teas come in a variety of delicious flavors and are naturally free of sugar and calories.

Many herbal teas also offer health-promoting effects, and modern science has begun to validate some of their traditional uses.

Whether you’re a tea lover or novice, don’t be afraid to give these 10 herbal teas a try.

An evidence-based nutrition article from our experts at Authority Nutrition.

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