Herbals teas have been used for a wide variety of purposes for many centuries. China has used teas for centuries, and the herbal craze that is currently sweeping the United States and England has gotten on board with herbal teas and their supposed treatments and health benefits.
Do herbal teas work? What exactly is an herbal tea? Do they have any proven health benefits, or can they cure disease? We will answer all these questions and explain in detail what herbal teas are in this article.
Read the entire article below to find out everything you need to know about herbal teas and their benefits.
What is Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is a drink made from infusing herbs, plants or flowers with water. Herbal teas are also called tisane, though this is less common. Herbal teas are also not traditional teas which are made from the leaves of tea plants.
Herbal teas do not contain caffeine, nor have they had caffeine removed. Regular or non-herbal teas include black tea, yellow tea, green tea, white tea, and oolong tea. Like true teas, though, herbal teas can be taken hot or cold and are easily made at home.
Cause for Alarm
You may think of tea as a relatively harmless drink that you can, for all purposes, drink at will. However herbal teas don’t fall under the same category as true teas, they aren’t as regulated and can contain herbs, spices or plant material that can be toxic or cause allergic reactions.
The two most common toxic plants that have made their way into herbal teas at times are foxglove and lobelia.
Foxglove is a poisonous plant found commonly growing wild in the United Kingdom. It closely resembles the comfrey plant which is how it came to be ingested with herbal tea.
Comely isn’t that safe either, though and can cause nausea, indigestion, and diarrhea if ingested for long periods or in high doses. Lobelia can cause allergic reactions and also cause gastrointestinal issues if taken in high doses.
It is recommended to stay away from teas that may contain either of these ingredients. If you suspect foxglove may be in the brew, you should avoid it altogether. Foxglove can easily be misidentified as comfrey. However, foxglove is poisonous and can be fatal if ingested.
Herbal teas made from fruits or citrus plants can be highly acidic and may result in acid reflux symptoms, gastrointestinal issues if you are susceptible to citric acid, and can lead to cavities and other dental issues.
For the most part, though, herbal teas are safe to drink in moderation. As with anything else you ingest, moderation is the key. While you can’t overdose, technically, on herbal tea, too much doesn’t make the effects more potent and can cause you to fall ill, become dizzy, nauseous or have other adverse effects.
Types of Teas
There are many types of tea. In fact, we would need several pages just to create a single list of all of the possible herbal tea types. Some, though, are more common than others.
Chamomile tea is one of the most common herbal teas and is commercially produced and widely available. It has been studied for the claims of being a sleep aid and stress relieving tea. It is said that drinking Chamomile tea for two weeks will greatly reduce depression and give you the ability to fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer.
Chamomile is arguably the most studied of all the herbal tea options and is thought to treat over a dozen different ailments ranging from stress and sleep, as discussed, to repairing ulcers, fighting off nausea and even help with premenstrual syndrome and diabetic related insulin issues.
Another very common herbal tea is peppermint tea. It may be even more popular than Chamomile, but that is debatable. Peppermint tea is thought to have benefits to digestive health as well as contain antibiotic and anticancer properties.
However, to date, no human trials or test have been conducted on peppermint tea to determine the actuality of these claims. Studies have shown that small doses of peppermint tea can improve digestive health, though.
Ginger has been used for centuries for its alleged disease-fighting antioxidants. ginger tea is an herbal tea that is tart and spicy that many people enjoy the flavor.
For health benefits though, the belief is that ginger tea can help with nausea caused by morning sickness, motion sickness and from cancer treatments.
It is further believed that it also helps with ulcers and can reduce pain associated with periods. Further studies are being conducted on a regular basis with the benefits of ginger tea and other ginger products like oils and topical creams.
Hibiscus tea is one that is growing in popularity, though you should be cautious with it. Hibiscus tea can be taken as an iced tea or a hot tea. However, the medicinal properties are still under investigation.
Any study that has been conducted was either too small of a scale to be informative or was of poor quality to substantiate any results.
It is thought, though that hibiscus tea helps lower high blood pressure and has antiviral capabilities. You should drink the herbal tea with some caution though; if you take aspirin, for example, hibiscus tea can shorten the effectiveness and duration of the medicine. It may also interact adversely with diuretic medicines and should be avoided if you take them.
If you suffer from the common cold, echinacea tea is thought to help prevent the cold as well as shorten the lingering effects of suffering. From running noses to chest congestion and coughing, echinacea tea is thought to help with it all.
There haven’t been conclusive studies conducted to prove one way or the other, though, and those that have been conducted were of too poor a quality for any results to be established.
Sage tea is thought to help with the brain function. Cognitive function has shown to be improved when taking sage, though the studies were done with oils and not the tea. It is also shown that the plaques involved with Alzheimer’s disease have effectively been diminished.
While more studies are needed, science is beginning to show positive signs that sage tea may help with cognitive function in healthy adults. Though it is unclear if the elderly that have or are potential threats to have Alzheimer’s will have any benefit from drinking sage tea.
The Best Tea
While there can’t be a clear winner for best tea when it comes to herbal teas, there are some that exhibit more benefits than others. However, the title of best tea is an opinion and one best left to the person drinking (or buying) the tea.
Just because chamomile tea has some tremendous effects, doesn’t mean it is the best tea. If you do not suffer from those ailments, the tea won’t be beneficial to you, unless, of course, you like the taste.
One of the most studied teas of all time is white tea. While this is a true tea and not an herbal tea, it is worth a mention here. It is curated and made the same way as herbal teas and has shown signs of some exciting benefits.
More studies will be conducted and concluded for years when it comes to white tea. However, some of the known benefits of white tea that are being investigated further have promise and look like it is only a matter of time before science can back up the substantial claims that white tea drinkers claim.
White tea is thought to reduce the likelihood of tooth decay and prevent cavities in dentin. It is also believed that white tea benefits include:
- Reduce cardiovascular risks.
- Aid in weight loss.
- Reduce the signs of premature aging.
- Promotes healthy skin.
- Manage diabetes.
- Prevent lung cancer.
- Prevent the effects of overexposure to UV rays.
While these claims are being studied, there are millions of people worldwide that already believe most, if not all, of the claims and continue to introduce white tea into their diets regularly.
Herbal teas shouldn’t be confused with true teas such as white, black, green or oolong teas. Herbal teas are made from the flowers, stems, and leaves of herbs, spices, and flowers. Everything ranging from hibiscus flowers to peppermint oils is used to create herbal teas, and each one is thought to have specific health benefits.
While we wait for further studies and proof of these claims we should enjoy the flavors and aromas of these natural teas. Each one will add new flavors and excitement to your diet and when consumed in moderation show no ill effects.
Always consult a doctor when starting an herbal tea regimen for its alleged health benefits. Some may not be as helpful as it seems and can have adverse interactions with current medications.