Is herbal tea really good for you? What does it do for you? What does it do to you? In this article, we will explore the benefits and side effects of drinking herbal tea. Read on to learn more.
What is herbal tea?
There are thousands of types of herbs used for medicinal, culinary and beverage preparation purposes worldwide. Beverages made with herbs are more correctly called tisanes or decoctions because “tea” is a particular type of plant and not a method of brewing. Nonetheless, tea-like beverages made using herbs are popularly called herbal teas, and we will continue to use this terminology for this article.
10 ways herbal tea can help you
Because each type of herb used has its own, unique chemical composition and characteristics, the benefits you can derive from drinking herbal tea vary depending upon the type of herb you select and where and how it was grown. Nonetheless, here are ten of the common benefits you may enjoy when you drink herbal teas.
1. Relief of cold and flu symptoms
To prevent catching a cold, drink a cup of Echinacea tea weekly. If you do catch a cold, increase the amount to one or two cups a day to help relieve symptoms and speed recovery. Other teas that are good for relieving cold and flu symptoms include elder tree, lemongrass, licorice root and any of the mint teas.
2. Herbal teas can help fight aging
Many types of herbal tea contain high amounts of anti-oxidants which help fight aging. German chamomile tea is a good choice for anti-aging benefits.
3. Combat nausea
If you have a sensitive tummy, several types of herbal tea can help. Chamomile tea is a classic when it comes to settling the stomach and soothing the nerves. Ginger tea may also be helpful.
4. Reduce stress
As mentioned, a cup of chamomile tea has very soothing properties. Relaxing quietly with any cup of tea is a good stress reduction technique. Rooibus tea is also quite calming.
5. Improve your digestion
In addition to settling your stomach, having a cup of herbal tea after a meal can also aid digestion and improve elimination.
6. Regulate your blood sugar levels
Sage and bilberry teas have been proven to help reduce blood sugar levels. Many people who control their diabetes with diet and exercise have found drinking these teas to be helpful.
7. Improve blood circulation
Many types of herbal tea act as blood thinners, and thereby, improve blood circulation. Ginger tea can be very helpful in this way. Sage and bilberry tea have proven helpful in addressing diabetic neuropathy, which is caused by reduced blood circulation to the extremities.
8. Reduce inflammation
Inflammation is the cause of all disease. Drinking ginger tea improves blood circulation, thereby reducing inflammation. When you reduce inflammation, you reduce swelling and pain, so people suffering from problems such as rheumatism, arthritis and other conditions that cause redness, swelling and pain may benefit from adding ginger tea to the diet.
9. Improve kidney function
Increasing water consumption helps detoxify the kidneys. Choosing herbal tea as a beverage instead of regular tea, coffee, soft drinks or alcohol helps flush the kidneys and keeps them clean and properly functioning. Some herbs, such as:
- Uva Ursi
…act as a tonic to the kidneys.
10. Lower your blood pressure
Herbal teas typically do not contain caffeine and do contain flavanoids and phenols, which are very good for heart health. Choosing herbal tea over coffee or regular tea is a great way to lower your blood pressure and keep your heart strong.
6 Side effects & drug interactions
It’s easy to see that there are many good reasons to choose herbal tea. Are there any downsides? Most teas are safe for most people to consume, but overdoing it can lead to problems. It is important to understand that herbs really do have medicinal effects and may have negative interactions with any medications you may be taking.
The herbs listed here are often used as or in herbal tea. Here are some of the side effects they may cause if used improperly.
1. Dried peppermint steeped as tea is typically safe for most people; however, peppermint oil can burn or irritate your skin and may cause allergic reactions such as skin rash, mouth sores or headaches.
Peppermint may also have negative interactions with drugs in the Cytochrome 450 class (Cyclosporine) which must be broken down in the liver. It may also interact negatively with medications intended to increase the production of stomach acids. Examples include:
- Over-the-counter antacids
- Proton pump inhibitors
- H2 blockers
2. Ginger is typically safe, but excessive consumption can cause heartburn and stomachache. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding or taking any medications, check with your doctor before adding ginger to your routine. It interacts negatively with quite a few medications, including:
- High blood pressure medications
- Diabetes medications
3. Lemon balm may have negative interactions with sleeping pills and other calming medications. Taken to excess, it can cause quite a few problems, such as:
- Stomach pain
It is inadvisable for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding to consume lemon balm. If you are planning surgery, stop drinking lemon balm tea a couple of weeks before your surgery date.
4. Chamomile has some blood thinning effects, so it is a good idea to check with your doctor before taking it with medications such as Cyclosporine or Warfarin. If you are allergic to flowers or weeds (e.g. daisies, chrysanthemums, ragweed) you may be allergic to chamomile.
5. Milk Thistle may also cause allergy symptoms for people who have ragweed allergies. Additionally, because it can act as a laxative, it may cause problems such as:
- Stomach cramps
People with diabetes, hormone imbalances, plant allergies and women who are pregnant or nursing should not drink milk thistle tea.
Milk thistle can have negative drug interactions with:
- The Cytochrome P450 drug group
- Glucuronidated drugs
- Artificial estrogen
If you are taking any medication, check with your doctor before drinking milk thistle tea.
6. Rose seed pods are known as rosehips, and they are a very good source of vitamin C, which can act as a blood thinner. If you have a condition such as hemophilia, sickle cell disease or an iron deficiency, rosehip tea may not be a good idea.
Rosehip tea may have minor drug interactions with:
If you are planning surgery, stop use of rosehip tea several days before as it may increase bleeding.
Are there any completely safe herbal teas?
Red Bush (Rooibus) and Honey Bush are closely related African herbs that are often consumed as tea. These herbs have shown no side effects, risks or drug interactions. Red Bush tea is very popular, tasty and good for your health. Be sure to look for pure, organic versions to avoid risk of negative effects caused by pesticides, chemicals and other contaminants.