By Dr. Tarvinder Jeet Kaur *
Around the globe, Tea is the most widely consumed drink after water and herbal teas is proven to be one of the healthiest beverages loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
The term “herbal tea” refers to ‘an infusion or tisane of dried herbs, spices, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, roots or other plant material that contains no Camellia sinensis’. The origin of herbal tea dates to Ancient Egypt and Ancient China, who have been using tea for its great taste and medicinal properties. Vast varieties of herbal teas are available, all with varying tastes and benefits.
Furthermore, herbal tea is naturally caffeine free as do traditional teas, hence can be a great alternative to daily empty calories and caffeinated beverages, while still providing great aroma along with natural immunity booster properties.
In present prevailing scenario, herbal tea is a blessing from nature to mankind as it gives limitless benefits-from refreshment, relaxation to detoxification and protection against chronic diseases and most importantly it is calorie-free. Following are some general benefits it offers to our body:
- Showing antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory effects
- Fight against infection
- Protects and relieves common respiratory ailments
- Protects against oxidative damage
- Prevents radical damage
- Maintain flawless skin,
- Prevent allergies
- Helps in scavenging toxins
- Acts as diuretics
- Helps to maintain proper kidney health
- Reduces bad cholesterol
- Prevents blood clotting
- Helps weight loss and reduces obesity
- Improves blood pressure
- Improves heart functioning
Skeletal and Muscular system:
- Improve bone health
- Reduces pain and soreness
- Helps in relaxing
- Relieves muscular tension
- Soothes stomach, nausea, and vomiting issues
- Acts as an appetite suppressant
- Helps to boosting metabolism
- Stimulates brain function
- Improves alertness
- Relieves stress and anxiety
- Relieves headaches
- Relieves insomnia and improves a good night sleep
- Acts as an anti-depressant
- Prevents brain deterioration
- Reduces and relieves menstrual discomfort
- Reduces menopause discomfort and complications
- Regulates blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity
- Rejuvenates tissue cells
- Aids detoxification
- Helps to prevent chronic diseases
Huge variety of herbal teas are available with their specific medicinal benefits. Some of the commonly consumed herbal teas along with their therapeutic effects are:
Cinnamon tea aids in digestion, improves metabolism and helps in weight loss. This tea has calming properties along with good support for healthy circulation. Improves blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity. It also prevents heart problems caused by high cholesterol and triglycerides. It protects the brain from neurological disease such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by improving the production of dopamine, which helps to normalize neurotransmitters.
Chamomile tea is a perfect bedtime tea that improves general quality of sleep by soothing, calming and relieving anxiety. Research studies report improvement in generalized anxiety disorder. The calming effects of chamomile soothes stomach by relieving cramps and alleviating symptoms of heartburn. The daisy-like flowers of Chamomile contains ‘apigenin’, a flavonoid that effectively relieves stress along with protecting bones from damaging effects of stress hormone – keeping in check levels of cortisol. Chamomile also boosts another antioxidant flavonoid ‘luteolin’ Luteolin reduces fever, calms muscles spasms, and reduces blood pressure. It also has immune-boosting properties, making it especially appropriate during cold and flu season.
Cardamom tea helps treat indigestion, prevents stomach pain, and relieves flatulence. It is helpful to drink a glass of cardamom tea for relieving anxiety disorders. Fights pulmonary disease where lots of phlegm is present and works to relieve cough as well. Drinking a cup of cardamom tea is also helpful for women who experience mood swings during their menstrual period.
Cayenne tea helps to get rid of persistent coughs and heals scratchy, sore throats. The active ingredient, capsaicin, comforts breathing by reducing inflammation and clearing congestion.
Chrysanthemum tea reduces body heat resulting from fever. It also helps in neutralising toxins and protects against liver damage.
With strong diuretic properties, antioxidant rich Dandelion tea aids immune system against infections by detoxifying, flushing, and eliminating toxins. Tea made from roots and leaves contains supplements for bone foundation like vitamin C and D, magnesium, zinc and potassium. These are important aspects for bone rejuvenation and maintenance.
Dandelion tea reduces inflammation and offers bone-restoring antioxidants.
Echinacea tea treats common cold, sore throat and stuffy nose as it improves immune system which in turn, helps the body to fight off viruses and infections.
If you are suffering from digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, indigestion, and heartburn, then ginger tea is at the top. Drinking ginger tea is one of the best methods for organically treating digestive problems as it contains phenols ‘gingerol’ and ‘shogaol’ found in the roots that stimulate digestive juices which aids in food digestion. It is widely used to treat nausea from motion sickness and morning sickness, since it interferes with serotonin receptors, which sends messages to the brain that makes one feel like vomiting. The roots of ginger plant enhances brain function by improving blood flow to the brain, resulting in better focus and natural antioxidants that protects brain health by reducing free radicals, menstrual discomfort and is also considered as an ideal treatment for joint pain, muscle pain, inflammation and weight loss.
Ginseng tea acts as an energizer to improve overall health by supporting the reproduction of white blood cells whilst preventing replication of bacteria in the body – to flush out the common cold or flu from the human body.
A deep red Hibiscus tea being abundant in polyphenols, minerals and vitamin C have been stated to help prevent cancer and heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol, lowering hypertension, and fight bacteria (E. coli).
Lemon Balm Tea:
Lemon balm tea works to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone), causing drowsiness, and helps to aid the nervous system disorders. It also cures the digestive system, liver system and reduces premenstrual syndrome like irritability and insomnia.
Peppermint tea contains menthol, a naturally occurring muscle relaxant that encourages total body relaxation. This tea aids digestion with relieving symptoms of abdominal gas, bloating and, muscle spasms along with cold and nausea.
Passionflower tea contains alkaloids chrysin and benzoflavone known to increase GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid)- inhibitory of neurotransmitters, that prevents the brain from over-excitement and helps to attain balance. It acts as powerful nervine tonic to treat nervousness, stress, anxiety, and aids in restoring restful sleep. It also aids low blood pressure effects and relief from menopause related complications.
Parsley tea is rich antioxidants, strong immune-booster, natural detoxifier, and gives relief from respiratory issues and aids cholesterol and healthy blood pressure maintenance. It aids diuresis which helps in proper kidney functions and prevents kidney stones. Moreover, this tea helps the circulatory system in strengthening blood vessels, improving blood circulation, and prevents anaemia – being good source of folic acid.
Rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants aspalathin, prevents blood sugar spikes-making it a good choice for people with diabetes or heart disease. Also improves the signs of ageing by reducing wrinkles, relieves acne and eczema. Furthermore, it is great for bone health and reduces the chances of developing arthritis and joint pain as it is rich in calcium and fluoride. Additionally, is recommended for treating headaches, asthma, and allergy.
Prepared from rose plants, rosehip is a natural source of bioflavonoids and vitamin C, which is great for skin, tissues, and the immunity system. This tea is considered a good remedy for cold, cough and fatigue. It also helps to repair kidney, liver, and blood disorders.
Red Clover Tea:
Red clover tea acts as a natural medicine for menopausal symptoms, cancer, mastitis, joint disorders, asthma, bronchitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
High level of antioxidant properties of rosemary helps fight diseases like cancer and other bacterium. Has immuno-boosting properties, in addition to its remarkable antibacterial influence that makes it effective in the treatment of bacterial infections.
Turmeric tea has anti-inflammatory properties that soothes aches and pains such as migraines, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. Can be used to eliminate minor aches and pains after tough workouts at the gym or from menstrual cramps. It is a blood purifier and best for flawless and healthy skin.
Tulsi leaves possess antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. In Ayurveda, Tulsi is the key ingredient to boost the immune system during and after illnesses. The medicinal properties of tulsi tea are recommended for relieving respiratory ailments. Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol by regulating cortisol levels reduces risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart-related issues. Helps relieve headaches, lessen anxiety and depression, treat indigestion, remove intestinal parasites, ulcers, vomiting, gastric disorders, and preventsstomach or menstrual cramps, reduces pain caused from kidney stones, inflammation, joint pain and also helps to reduce inflammation, and joint pain.
Herbal teas come under the list of beverages due to its aroma, taste, and natural healing properties. Several scientific evidences are present regarding the therapeutic benefits of herbal teas. However, an overdose may cause medical issues.
Hence, before the consumption of herbal tea, it is suggested to get it prescription from a dietician to consume systematically.
It is rightly said that it is not just about the foods but also what you drink, that contributes to your health. Hence, with the right ingredients, methods, and quantity the properties of herbal tea acts as nature’s blessings in the form of immense health benefits.
* The author is a Food and Nutrition Professor in the Department of Home Science, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.