Herbal tea is made by steeping the flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, stems and petals of a multitude of plants and flowers. The herbal tea comes in hundreds of different varieties, some common and others that are more obscure, and depending on your area of the world, different types will be more widely available. The health benefits of each type of herbal tea depend on the composition, which may be a single ingredient or a combination of different herbs and flowers. Another name for herbal tea is “tisane”, although this is less commonly used.
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Benefits of Drinking Herbal Tea
Drinking herbal tea is highly recommended for people who want to naturally improve their health, while also enjoying a delicious and refreshing brew. Unlike coffee and standard tea (black, white, green, etc.), most herbal teas do not include caffeine. Most herbal teas offer some variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, but the specifics depend on the particular herbs and plants that you choose. Common health benefits include relaxing the body and mind, aiding sleep disorders, reducing inflammation, easing the pain, protecting against common diseases, boosting the immune system, optimizing the digestive system, detoxifying the body and stimulating cognitive function.
Diuretic and Laxative
Diuretics and laxatives help eliminate toxins rapidly from the body, relieving stress on the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver. The best diuretic teas include dandelion, hibiscus, green, hawthorn and juniper teas.
Stimulating the immune system with antioxidants and vitamins help prevent infections, protect against oxidative stress, and lower risk of chronic disease. Excellent immune-boosting herbal teas include elderberry, echinacea, ginger and licorice root teas.
Some types of tea are able to balance neurotransmitter levels, reduce anxiety and promote sleep through sedative effects. The best choices for sleep problems include valerian, kava root, chamomile, and lavender teas.
Pain relief is crucial for people who suffer from chronic discomfort, or those recovering from illness, surgery or injury. Top analgesic herbal teas include allspice, bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus and kava root teas.
Reducing inflammation can help everything from gastrointestinal distress and arthritis to headaches and hemorrhoids. Herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, turmeric and eucalyptus teas are great for inflammatory problems.
Stress and Anxiety
Soothing stress and anxiety can also help lower levels of depression, boost energy, and lower the incidence of inflammation and chronic disease in the body. Drink kava root, valerian, St. John’s Wort and chamomile teas to lower stress levels.
Antioxidant capacity can help eliminate free radicals and prevent oxidative stress in the body, which lowers the risk of cancer and chronic disease. Herbal teas that are high in antioxidants include peppermint, rooibos, thyme and nettle teas.
Indigestion, cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea can be eliminated with herbal teas, particularly varieties like dandelion, chamomile, cinnamon, peppermint and ginger teas.
List of Herbal Teas
There are more than a hundred commonly found and used varieties of herbal tea, but some of the most popular, along with some of their most notable benefits, are listed below.
- Anise Tea – Excellent for stomach disorders, excess gas, nausea, congestion, coughs and colds, and painful menstrual cramps.
- Cannabis Tea – Used for reducing chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, stress, depression, headaches, indigestion, and cramping.
- Echinacea Tea – Boosts the immune system, protects the skin from infections and eliminates inflammation in the body.
- Patchouli Tea – Stimulates sex drive, the immune system, and mood, detoxifying the body and helping sleep disorders.
- Chamomile Tea – Has relaxant properties, soothes the stomach, and improves symptoms of back pain, inflammation, arthritis, skin irritation, and sunburn.
- Valerian Root Tea – Possesses sedative qualities, lowers stress levels and blood pressure, and has anti-spasmodic qualities.
- Peppermint Tea – Particularly good for easing cramps, stomach upset, indigestion and excess gas, while also stimulating the immune system.
- Thyme Tea – Known for breaking fevers, healing coughs, and colds, boosting immune responses, soothing the stomach and knocking out headaches.
- Dandelion Tea – Promotes urination and detoxifies the body, lower blood pressure, and helps with vision issues and iron deficiency.
- Kava Root Tea – Eliminate stress and anxiety, induces healthy sleep, calms the mind and promotes detoxification in the body.
- Rooibos Tea – Can relieve headaches, skin disorders, high blood pressure, premature aging and overactive allergic response in the body.
- Ginger Root Tea – Soothes nausea, stimulates digestion, prevents chronic disease and increases the appetite.
- Osmanthus Tea – Promotes the elimination of toxins, clears up congestion and coughs, and improves bad breath.
- Rosehip Tea – Very good for the immune system, due to high vitamin C levels, and can also detoxify the body.
- Turmeric Tea – Stimulates antioxidant activity in the body, prevents cancer, soothes inflammation and promotes good digestion.
How to Make Herbal Tea?
The majority of herbal teas can be made by steeping the leaves, roots, seeds, flowers, petals or stems of various herbs and plants in hot water. This releases the nutrients and active components to infuse the water, resulting in a flavorful and nutritional beverage. For more advanced herbal tea enthusiasts, combining different components can deliver even more healthy effects.
Most complex herbal teas consist of three parts – the active ingredient, supportive ingredient, and catalyst. The active ingredient should be the one offering the most important health benefit to you, such as immune health or pain relief. The supportive ingredient should also affect a similar organ system or area of the body, perhaps in an anti-inflammatory, sedative or stimulating fashion. The catalyst ingredient offers the flavor or sweetness that you want at the forefront of the beverage to make it palatable.
In terms of amounts, most experts suggest blending 3 parts active ingredient, 2 parts supportive ingredient and 1 part catalyst. This creates a well-balanced brew that tastes great and delivers improved health outcomes.
Herbal Tea Ingredients
Herbal teas are simple beverages and usually include plant parts from 1 or more herbs, flowers or health-promoting plants, as well as natural sweeteners, if desired, such as organic honey, stevia, brown sugar or cinnamon.
Nutritionally speaking, each variety of herbal tea possesses a unique range of antioxidants, organic compounds, minerals and vitamins, including catechins, polyphenolic compounds, triterpenoids, phytochemicals, amino acids, volatile acids, alkaloids and flavonoids, as well as vitamins A, C, B, E and K, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium and phosphorous.
Side Effects of Herbal Tea
Herbal tea does come with certain side effects, due to the potent effect of the active ingredients, potential allergic reactions, mistaken identity of herbs, excessive consumption or drug interactions.
- Toxic Herbs – While the majority of herbs are safe for human consumption, in moderate amounts, certain toxic herbs are easily mistaken for perfectly safe ingredients. For example, foxglove can be deadly but looks very similar to comfrey. Similarly, water hemlock can be fatal if ingested but looks almost identical to elderberry, which is a popular ingredient in herbal teas. Do not collect wild herbs for teas and tisanes unless you are trained in herbal arts or are extremely confident about your knowledge. Most herbal ingredients are readily available in natural health stores.
- Allergies – Herbal teas span a wide range of plant genera and families, meaning that many potential allergic reactions are possible. Allergic reactions can range from mild stomach upset or inflammation to breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, skin rash and other more serious symptoms. Speak to your doctor or an allergist to determine your allergies before exploring new herbal teas.
- Moderate Use – Herbs are used because of their powerful active ingredients and chemicals; in moderate amounts, they are generally safe, but excessive consumption can lead to toxicity and negative side effects. In most cases, small amounts of tea (1-2 cups per day) are more than enough to enjoy the tea’s health benefits.
- Drug Interactions – If you are currently taking any medications, it is best to check with your doctor before adding herbal teas to your health regimen. Many herbal teas have hypotensive, hypoglycemic, sedative and anticoagulant properties, which can be dangerous if you are already using medication that has similar effects.