Love, observed the Roman poet Ovid, cannot be cured by herbs. Maybe not, but in the 21st century, herbs in the form of tea can help a heck of a lot of other things.
Tea-wise, you may have stashed some chamomille for sleep or green tea for immunity, but you’re shorting yourself if you stop there. Herb tea, which accounts for one-fourth of our tea consumption, is growing steadily and ranks right behind your basic black tea. There are many time-tested, drug-free botanicals that can address common complaints such as headaches, stress, and insomnia and also help build your immunity against cancer and chronic diseases like hypertension.
Here what’s up with six under-the-radar herb teas that will do better than give you a morning caffeine buzz. Note that herb teas are not technically “teas,” since they’re based on infusions of non-tea plants.
Peppermint Tea: Got the blues or need to improve your alertness, lift your mood naturally? According to the American Botanical Council, Mentha Pipenta has been used for centuries as a non-toxic remedy for indigestion, flatulence, even IBS — as well as stress, fatigue, even for enhancing long-term and working memory. Peppermint has antibacterial properties that fight bad breath. Tasty as spearmint is, it lacks the medicinal menthol that Peppermint delivers.
Rooibus (pronounced “roy-boss”) aka red tea or red bush tea is made from the fermented leaves of a South African bush. It has an alluring sweet earthy taste. But a better effect is its effects on your whole body. Rooibus contains three compounds, including quercetin, that help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Rooibus provides 50% more antioxidants than green tea for fighting free radical damage that can lead to cancer and various autoimmune disorders. Because it increases secretions of leptin, the “hunger” hormone, regular Rooibus drinking helps fight food cravings and leads to weight loss according to findings in the Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology.
Other studies suggest Rooibus may have a significant effect on type 2 diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar spikes. To boot, Rooibus is a good source of bone and tooth building minerals, magnesium, calcium, and fluoride.
Rosehip Tea: Produced from the berries below the petals of the rose plant, rosehips are especially rich in Vitamin C (as well as vitamin E). Rosehips, in fact, trump other small fruits like blueberry and black currants for their high ascorbic acid content. With a sweet-tart flavor, rosehip tea is notable for reducing the inflammation and pain associated with both osteo and rheumatoid forms of arthritis. Rosehips are high in flavinoids which have been shown to help normalize blood pressure. Because Vitamin C boosts collagen production, Rosehips have also been shown to improve skin elasticity, reduce skin wrinkles, and slow skin aging, according to studies reported in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology.
Pau D’Arco—Antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal. Derived From the inner bark of the flowering evergreen Pau D’arco tree, in South America, this tea is floral and foresty in flavor and contains two bioactive chemicals that have been shown to kill fungi, bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Said to be a powerful immune booster, it is high in selenium, a mineral that fights DNA damage and cognitive decline, and has proven to be an effective tea for detoxifying the body.
Passion Flower: Got anxiety, insomnia, depression? Get out your teapot. So named because of the Passion Flower’s resemblance to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, was used as botanical medicine by Native Americans for colic, dysentery, infections, muscle spasms, and high anxiety. With a grassy, earthy taste, Passion Flower, a tropical flowering vine, boosts GABA (a naturally occurring amino acid) levels in the brain which in turn promotes relaxation and even sleep. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Passion Flower may help to enhance your mood, provide pain relief, and help with the symptoms of menopause. And it may even prove a help for stomach disorders like ulcers.
Hawthorn: The red berries of the Hawthorn tree have been used in Chinese traditional medicine for centuries to treat heart-related issues like both low and high blood pressure and later, by Native Americans, to treat everything from the heart to the gut, from diarrhea to TB. The Cherokees used it to improve circulation. Hawthorn, because of its high antioxidant content, appears to be a multitasking medicine.
What about leftover tea? Dump that goodness? Not at all.
* Try substituting herbal tea for some of the liquid in a smoothie, soup, or fresh juice,
* Steam your whole grain or vegetables using leftover herb tea
* Freeze your prepared tea for ice cubes for lemonade or another cold drink
* Use as a base for a cocktail or mocktail
* Water your beloved houseplants
Note: check with your Health Professional if you are pregnant or on medications that may contraindicate the use of any of the teas above. Nothing is 100% safe for 100% of us no matter how non-pharmaceutical.