Written by Dylan Gerstley

Medicine in a mug: the benefits of herbal teas

Drinking water is boring.

Sure, sometimes it hits the spot better than any beverage really could, but no one considers water a fun drink, regardless of its array of health benefits. And even though it shouldn’t be hard to access good water, going out in public for some high-quality H2O can be hit or miss. I mean really, why is restaurant water so bad?

Enter herbal tea, a healthy and low-calorie alternative to water that provides hydration along with several other benefits. Herbal teas let you play around with natural flavors while enjoying calming and soothing effects, or an energizing boost. Certain blends even help boost your immune system, help you get better sleep, and improve digestion.

Herbal teas are different from the standard fare of green, black, and oolong teas because they are not taken from the Camellia sinensis plant. Instead, herbal teas, as the name implies, come from a variety of herbs, spices, and dried flowers. As a bonus, most herbal teas are caffeine-free and pack vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants across different blends.

For restless nights

Some one in three Americans have trouble getting to sleep at night. Lying in bed without being able to shut your brain off and power down can make you want to pull your hair out, and tea’s relaxing properties offer a natural and wholistic remedy to insomnia.

Valerian tea, my personal favorite when it comes to helping me sleep, delivers strong but natural sedative properties that help you get to sleep faster and feel more rested. Its taste is as strong as its effects: it may not be for everyone, and it is not recommended to consume it for more than two weeks consecutively.

For a soothing and calming experience, brew up some chamomile tea and enjoy a natural calm. Chamomile is a popular pick to help deal with anxiety and is often considered the perfect bedtime tea.

Lemon balm tea, another personal favorite, helps reduce cortisol, a stress hormone. This relaxing tea may not directly aid sleep, but it’s a nice daily tea that can help you wind down.

For a relaxing recovery

There are more factors making us tired than our day jobs. A busy parenting schedule, a committed workout routine, and constant social commitments can make us all feel a little overwhelmed at times. Beyond bringing relaxation in a mug, tea can deliver anti-inflammatory benefits to help soothe aches and pains and promote recovery.

Peppermint teas contain menthol, a natural muscle relaxant that can help you enjoy an evening of recovery. Cup of Calm, by Traditional Medicinals, combines mint and lavender to deliver an encompassing feeling of calm, perfect for those days that feel a little too much.

Turmeric tea is another that helps soothe muscle aches and pains with anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s been used to combat migraines, relieve pain from arthritis, and more. Another migraine or headache soother is feverfew, though it has a strong taste that may put people off. Combine it with passion flower or lemongrass for a more palatable experience.

For a stronger immune system

A piping hot cup of tea is a common companion for a seasonal cold, and for good reason. Many herbal teas offer antibacterial or antifungal properties, boosting your immune system when you need it most.

Dandelion tea, an earthy tea that is made more palatable by adding honey, contains a high concentration of antioxidants to help fight against toxins and infections. In Asia, ginseng tea has been used for generations to improve health. Ginseng tea aids in the reproduction of white blood cells, improving recovery times. And it’s a favorite of a certain General Iroh.

Cayenne tea is a spicy and sinus clearing tea that soothes a sore throat and knocks out a constant cough. It might not sound like a spicy drink and a sore throat pair well together, but the active ingredient, capsaicin, thins mucus, reduces inflammation, and clears congestion. One cup of cayenne tea and you can enjoy breathing normally again!

For better digestion

Tea improves digestion on several levels. It can absorb gas, improve blood flow to the digestive tract, and calm an upset stomach or soothe indigestion. Phenols included in herbal teas strengthen stomach and esophagus muscles, helping to reduce acid reflux and cut down on heartburn symptoms. And to top it off, tea helps your digestive system absorb nutrients more efficiently.

Ever had a ginger ale for an upset stomach? The real star here is the ginger, and ginger tea is a healthy alternative to calming nausea symptoms by aiding in digestion. Skip the sugar and fizz next time you have a stomachache and enjoy some ginger tea instead.

Other herbal teas with digestive benefits include chamomile and chai. Chamomile offers a number of calming benefits, helping to relieve cramps and heartburn. Chai tea packs a punch with a variety of spices that improve overall digestive health.

Everything in moderation (including benefits)

Some people turn their noses up at the idea of tea being so beneficial, but neglecting to try it on that basis means you don’t even have a shot at those benefits. Overstated health perks or not, a nice cup of hot tea could help you unwind, if nothing else.

Drinking too much tea, or anything really, has adverse effects. You probably shouldn’t have more than four cups a day, but for those that drink in moderation, you can enjoy a variety of health benefits with a hot, relaxing cup of herbal tea.

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