The Health Benefits Of Herbal Teas

Loose leaf herbal tea
Loose leaf herbal tea

I’m a big fan of herbal teas, or tissanes. When I started drinking them, I had a difficult time, as like many people initially I did not enjoy the taste. But I had always drunk my coffee and tea without milk and I think that this helped me make the switch. I still find herbal tea with milk added just weird (unless it is chai of course).

The problem for me was that the first herbal tea I tried was peppermint, and I tried it during pregnancy because it was recommended for treating the nausea of morning sickness. However it made me feel even sicker at the time and every since whenever I sip on peppermint tea it comes accompanied with a wave of nausea – the power of suggestion!

Peppermint is well known as a wonderful digestive – and it is, for just over about half the population. For the other half peppermint can have a very different effect. It is a herb that has a relaxing effect on the sphincters of the body. It can have that effect on the sphincter at the top of the stomach, allowing partially digested food to flow from the stomach into the oesophagus, resulting in heartburn and indigestion. It is definitely not the tea of choice for anyone who suffers from heartburn.

This is a wonderful reminder of the power of herbal tea. Herbal teas not only offer a tasty warm drink, they also deliver a dose of medication at the same time. If you have a negative sensitivity to the effects of that particular plant then you are certainly going to feel the negative effect in your body.

The medicinal effects of the plants in the tea you select can also build up. Chamomile is widely recognised as a great herb to relax people sufficiently so they can drift off to sleep. It has a soothing effect on the nervous system. But take too much chamomile tea and you could find yourself far from relaxed. Instead you become a nervous, irritable, difficult to please, pain-in-the-neck.

Herbs are a wonderful way to treat all manner of illnesses, with their prescribing origins going way back into the depths of time. But it is certainly valid to investigate whether consuming herbal teas in any quantity is going to be harmful to you. There are a number of teas that are not good during pregnancy. But there are also other health issues that may make you choose to stay away from certain herbal teas. Licorice for example can cause an increase in blood pressure and is better avoided if you suffer hypertension.

One great benefit of drinking herbal teas is that they are alkalizing when they are metabolized by the body. Too many acidifying foods create inflammation in your body, which contributes to many diseases. Balancing out these foods with alkalizing foods, including herbal teas, helps to bring your body back into balance also.

I try to vary the teas I drink in order to avoid problems from too much of any one herb in my system and so I have a whole shelf in my cupboard devoted to herbal teas. I am continually on the lookout for new ones to try. I occasionally dry my own herbs, although my current garden is not so great for growing the herbs I prefer. Growing and drying your own herbs is very easy and provided you don’t use any chemicals on them an excellent way to make your own organic teas.

My herbal tea cupboard with some of the herbal teas we drink
My herbal tea cupboard with some of the herbal teas we drink

Here are some guidelines for growing your own tea herbs. Home grown herbs are often more flavoursome than bought varieties.

If you prefer to buy packaged herbal teas there are many great brands out there, so you don’t need to buy those made by Liptons or other big companies. I love quite a few. Pukka teas are made according to Ayurvedic medicine principles and there are some great blends in their range. Tea Tonic  is the brainchild of a naturopath and herbalist Lisa Hilbert and teas in the range are formulated for good health. Healing Concepts make a big range of awesome teas, including an excellent dandelion root tea, which is great for your liver. Plus there are many other companies making great, often organic, teas. If you want quality tea that not only tastes good but is really good for you, source your teas carefully. I read a few months ago that many of the teas from a well-known and long established herbal tea company were found to contain worrying high levels of pesticides.

If you are using the herbal teas for a specific health issue you need to drink about drink two to four cups a day for a few weeks. By then you should know whether it is helping to improve your problem.

photo credit: Khairil Zhafri
photo credit: Khairil Zhafri

 

12 HERBAL TEAS TO TRY

Chamomile

One of the most popular herbal teas, it is calming and soothing and helps people who lose their appetite when stressed. It soothes tense stomachs or digestive problems like heartburn or nausea. Because it relaxes it is useful for PMS or abdominal cramps.  It is also excellent for nervousness or anxiety and is a wonderful relaxant before bed. It’s a great stress buster and usually available.

Dandelion

The part of the plant used dictates the benefit. The leaves are a diuretic and increase your urine output. The root however gives excellent liver support and helps bile secretion. It is also helpful for skin conditions. Dandelion ‘coffee’ makes an excellent liver tonic, helping it in its detox role, for those times when you have eaten too much rich food or drunk too much alcohol.

Fennel

It is often drunk by new mothers to improve production of breast milk. A good stomach tea, it eases indigestion by increasing the secretion of digestive enzymes. It increases the appetite and has been used for cancer patients to help them put weight on. Like dandelion it is also a gentle liver and bile stimulant. Also good for coughs and colds. It can be blended with chamomile for colicky babies.

Lemon Balm

Another tea helpful for stomach problems particularly cramping and it relaxes the muscles around the bowel. It also helps to lift your mood if you drink it regularly and is fantastic for the nervous system.

Ginger

Excellent for anyone with a cold or flu, especially combined with lemon. It increases blood flow and helps clear blockages. It is also wonderful for upset stomachs, nausea, indigestion and diarrhea. You can simply grate fresh ginger but will get more flavour from the dried herb.

Rosemary

Rosemary is fairly strong tasting and helps to ease joint pains and headaches. It also has antiseptic properties so is useful to relieve mouth ulcers and sore throats.

Hibuscus

Pretty dark rose coloured and delicious tasting hibiscus is great for lowering blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol. It is a diuretic like dandelion leaves, useful in cystitis. It is high in antioxidants, is a rich source of Vitamin C and strengthens the immune system. It is useful for colds, sore throats, gum disease and other inflammations of mucous membranes.

Lemongrass

Good for reducing blood pressure and improving circulation. Also an antioxidant, it boosts the immune system, calms the nervous system, helps tone muscle and tissue and detoxifies the organs. It can aid digestion particularly bloating and flatulence.

Nettle

A great tea to drink for seasonal allergies, excessive mucous discharge, difficulty or burning when urinating, and skin disorders.

Rooibos

Rapidly gaining popularity, this wonderful antioxidant tea is up there with green tea. Great for irritability or mild depression, it helps maintain a healthy nervous system. It is a broad anti-inflammatory. It is useful for hypertension, headaches, heartburn, nausea or stomach cramps. Known as the ‘complexion tea’ it is good for your skin.

Tulsi

This is one of my very favourite teas, it has a strong flavour with just a hint of mint. Tulsi, or Holy basil, has held a significant place for centuries in Ayervedic medicine. You can read all about the extraordinary benefits of Tulsi here.

Peppermint

Generally used as an excellent digestif, it reduces bloating and flatulence and helps indigestion (for some people). It can also ease stuffed-up colds. Very cooling, it can be drunk iced in the summer.

In fact many herbal teas are wonderful cooling summer drinks. When my children were small I often made them iced blackcurrant tea on hot days. They were happy to drink it unsweetened and it made an excellent fruity alternative to soft drink (soda) or cordials with the extra benefit of being sugar-free and artificial sweetener-free.

These are just a few of the herbal teas available. There are many other herbal teas and herbal blends for you to enjoy. If you find you don’t like one, then keep trying them out until you work out your preferences.

What’s your favourite herbal tea? Do you grow any yourself?

Herbal tea
Herbal tea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended
as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

 

Source articles

http://www.naturalnews.com/040501_herbal_teas_healing_natural_remedies.html#ixzz2Ujzot3Gc

http://blendhappy.com/herbal-tea-benefits

http://www.littleecofootprints.com/2012/05/growing-herbal-teas-at-home.html

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/nutrition+tips/a+guide+to+herbal+teas,1336 1

http://blendhappy.com/herbal-tea-benefits

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