Herbs have a long history of being used as medicine. While modern western medicine is much more gung-ho on pills than teas and tinctures, plant-based medicine can still be a powerful means of healing in the modern world. Herbal teas are an easy, low-risk way to try the benefits of herbs. Whether you’re sniffly, sleepless, or stressed, we’ve got some suggestions for herbal teas to try.
If you’ve got a stomachache or indigestion
Most people know about the digestive benefits of ginger — it’s benefits are backed by science, too, with a 2015 analysis finding significant reduction of nausea and vomiting with the use of ginger. So if you’re struggling with a sick stomach, a piping hot cup of ginger tea can both rehydrate you and provide some relief. There’s ginger tea available at every grocery store, but you can easily make your own with chopped ginger root, too. Peppermint is another tried-and-true herb that helps soothe stomach problems.
If you’ve got a UTI
Stinging nettle is an herb with a long history of use for everything from general aches and pains to insect bites. Today, a common usage is for the urinary tract infections. This herb is a diuretic, meaning it increases the production of urine, so it helps your body flush out excess fluid.
If you’re stressed
Holy basil is an adaptogen, a plant that can enhance the body’s natural stress coping mechanisms. This herb, which hails from India, is well-known in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Modern research finds it can help cognitive abilities in humans. Drinking holy basil can help you mitigate and manage your stress because of the properties of the herb, but taking some time out to chill over a cup of tea won’t hurt either. Holy basil tea blends are easy to find at your local natural foods store, with all sort of other herbs or flavors added for specific purposes or to change the taste.
If you’ve got a cold
One word: echinacea. This immune-boosting herb can really help hasten your healing if you’ve got a simple virus. There are all sorts of tea blends made with echinacea, including ones for sore throat or congestion. Drink up several times a day, and don’t be afraid to add lots of honey and lemon. If you have a ragweed allergy, you should steer clear, as echinacea and ragweed are in the same family.
If you’ve got menstrual cramps
Red raspberry leaves are high in flavanols, a type of antioxidant compounds, and have been used for centuries as a gynecological tonic, both for menstrual cramps as well as during pregnancy and labor. Red raspberry leaf is a common component in most teas marked “menstrual” or “women’s support,” but it’s quite easy to buy in raw leaf form, as well. It won’t do much if you just drink a cup here and there, as continuous use seems to provide the biggest benefits. You can drink it in the days or weeks leading up to your period as a preventative against cramps, or just during the days you’re actually having your period.
If you can’t sleep
You probably already know about the calming benefits of chamomile, but have you heard of valerian? This herb has been used for centuries to help people with insomnia and anxiety. A 2006 meta-analysis found that valerian could help with sleep quality with very few side effects. It has quite a strong odor and taste, so it’s usually blended with other herbs to make it more palatable to drink before bed.
If you’re experiencing general inflammation
Turmeric is a magical, bright-yellow plant that can help with inflammation of all sorts, from chronic pain to diabetes and acne. You can get it in different forms, from the basic spice to capsules or tinctures, but tea is always a great way to experience turmeric. A regular turmeric tea regimen might help your body heal and respond better to overall stressors. If you don’t like the taste, look for a blend with rooibos or ginger to mask the flavor. Golden milk, a drink made made with powdered turmeric, is another great option.
Most of these teas and herbs will available at any local natural foods store, or online at a reputable source like Mountain Rose Herbs. Consider adding herbal tea to your get-well arsenal — drinking a mug of steamy tea might just be a way to avoid stronger medication for common ills.