There are some things in life that are inevitable. We have tired days, we injure ourselves and we get sick. But we don't have to suffer for this. Herbal teas can provide easy ways to manage everyday aches and illnesses.
Many traditional medicines had replaced the benefits of teas for handling common health problems. Now they are becoming popular again, and are widely available.
Why Herbal Teas?
The good thing about herbal teas is that they are easy. You boil a kettle, you add the water in with the tea bag or strainer and you drink it.
Herbal teas are also relatively low dose, so you can drink as many of them all day long as you want! Some can also be safe for little ones, but check with their doctor first.
Here are a few of our top herbal tea picks for common health issues.
Teas for Energy: Green Tea and Cacao Tea
You can boost your energy without relying on your daily coffee hit. These teas both give an effective energy boost, minus the slump a few hours later.
However, unlike coffee, they also contain calming compounds. Green tea has a compound that deactivates your stress hormone cortisol, and another that boosts your focus by balancing your neurotransmitters. This makes it ideal for a busy work day.
Cacao has theobromine, the feel-good molecule. Theobromine stimulates the same feel-good hormones as sex, which is why we love chocolate. Cacao is great as your afternoon chocolate craving fix, without the sugar.
Teas for Immunity: Elderberry and Echinacea
Got the start of the sniffles? Skip the over-the-counter medications. These herbal teas should be your first stop for natural first aid.
Elderberry is an excellent source of antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamin C. Echinacea is an immune modulator, which means it balances out your immune system, boosting it when needed.
The taste of echinacea can be overpowering for some. If this is the case for you, try finding a blend with elderberry—the fruity flavor covers it right up!
Tea for Inflammation: Turmeric
Whether you're dealing with acute inflammation from an injury or chronic from a health condition, turmeric is your top choice.
Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory spice. Research suggests it can help with everything from joint pain to injuries and even chronic illness.
Many of the benefits come from the compound curcumin, although research shows there may be other beneficial compounds we haven't fully discovered yet.
For optimal absorption, consider making it into a 'latte' with some milk of choice and a pinch of black pepper. The combination of pepper and fats will aid with the absorption of turmeric's goodness.
Tea for Digestion: Fennel
Maybe you've eaten too much. Or you might have some long-term digestive issues. Either way, fennel can help.
Fennel aids in boosting your digestive system by relaxing the muscles in the GI tract. This encourages bile flow and reduces symptoms like bloating, gas and discomfort.
Serve yourself up a cup after dinner for a nice wind-down to your evening. If you have chronic digestive issues, consider a cup after every meal for best results.
Tea for Detox Support: Dandelion
Is it time to reboot your health and support your liver? Dandelion is perfect for you to add in.
Dandelion stimulates bile flow, which is an important elimination channel for waste from the liver. It also helps to remove excess fluid from the tissues. This makes it an ideal supportive tea during a health kick or a cleanse program.
It also makes a good coffee replacement, thanks to the pleasantly bitter flavor. You can add your milk of choice to make it into a dandelion latte.
Tea for Relaxation: Chamomile
When people come home after a hard day, they often reach for the wine. But chamomile might be a healthier and more effective alternative.
Chamomile is a calming tea, relaxing the nervous system. It encourages the down-regulation of the fight-or-flight nervous system, aiding the rest-and-digest system to take over.
It's also soothing on the digestive tract, making it ideal for an evening beverage. It can double as a sleepy-time tea, if you like. Some people like to sweeten it with a little honey.
Tea for Sleep: Valerian
Do you toss and turn at night? Sleeping pills don't have to be the answer. A gentle tea like valerian might do the trick just as well.
Valerian acts as a gentle sedative, calming the body for sleep. It may also aid in rebalancing calming neurotransmitters, allowing your mind and body to rest deeply.
For best results, brew yourself a cup nightly, about 30 minutes before bed. Remember to follow a basic sleep hygiene routine for maximum benefits.
A very small percentage of people find that valerian actually keeps them awake. If this is your experience, try switching to chamomile instead.
Tea for Pain: Ginger
Are you recovering from an injury? Or maybe you suffer from chronic pain? Whatever the reason, it looks like ginger may be a good option for controlling pain naturally.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of ginger are believed to reduce pain on a cellular level. It may also help you to heal quickly by boosting your circulation.
Ginger can also aid with digestive pain, thanks to its calming properties.
For an extra-potent herbal mix, combine your ginger into a turmeric latte for a pain-killing anti-inflammatory beverage.
How to Prepare Your Herbal Teas
Every tea is a little bit different. However, there are a few basic rules to try out.
- Use about 1 teaspoon of dried herb/spice or 1 tablespoon of fresh herb/spice. This will make 1-2 cups, depending on your strength preference.
- Don't use straight boiling water. Instead, combine about 20% cold water and 80% boiling to make the water hot, but not boiling. This is particularly important for delicate teas like green tea.
- For gentle flavors like green tea, brew for 2-3 minutes. For a stronger taste, brew for up to 10 minutes.
- Try to avoid adding sugar. If you need to sweeten it, consider ½ tsp of honey or some stevia.