Your Guide to Herbal Teas: Indulge in a healthy comfort!

Herbal teas are a steamy delight, whether you’re sharing a companionable brew or savoring a moment of solitude. Also known as “tisanes,” herbal infusions have no caffeine; drink a cup and you’ll feel an instant soothing effect. Better yet, that moment of bliss brings long-lasting health benefits. Herbal teas have been used for medicinal purposes for generations, and science backs up their effects. Consider chamomile tea, for one. An ancient medicinal herb, it’s been shown to be helpful in improving cardiovascular conditions, stimulating the immune system, and even offering some protection against cancer. Remember, you should always check with your healthcare practitioner before using herbs to treat medical conditions, as they can interact with supplements and prescribed medications. To return to the example of chamomile, it’s important to note that a few people, particularly those who are sensitive to ragweed and chrysanthemums, are allergic to chamomile. What benefits are you deriving from herbal teas? Here’s a sampling of some favorites. Herbal Tea Ingredient Flavor Benefits Notes Chamomile Mild and sweet Soothes nerves and calms tensions (including PMS anxiety); reduces inflammation; promotes sleep; prevents gas and infections May contain allergens Cinnamon Warm, sweet-and-spicy bite May prevent skin infection; antibacterial and antifungal; soothes nausea and indigestion; balances blood sugar levels; improves circulation; relieves joint pain Large amounts of cinnamon tea may cause mouth irritation Echinacea Strong and rooty Helps prevent and reduce duration and symptoms of common cold and upper respiratory tract infections; immune system stimulant High amounts can cause nausea; can interact with medications and increase their side effects; people with allergies to the chamomile and ragweed family should avoid consumption Ginger Robust and spicy Digestive aid; relieves nausea, morning sickness, and motion sickness; reduces joint inflammation; relieves cold and flu symptoms Check with your doctor before use for nausea; to prevent motion sickness, consume 30 minutes before travel; people with gallstones or those on anticoagulant medication should consult a healthcare practitioner before use Ginseng Zingy, rooty May enhance immune function, energy levels, fight cancer, and reduce blood sugar May interfere with medications; don’t take if you have history of hypoglycemia Holy Basil Licorice- or fennel-like Fights stress-induced illness; reduces cognitive impairment; relieves pain; lowers blood sugar levels Used in Ayurvedic medicine Lemon Balm Lemony, minty Improves sleep; may help reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms; eases indigestion; treats cold sores (applied topically) Often paired with valerian to fight against insomnia and anxiety Licorice Licorice-y, sweet Soothes coughs, sore throats, congestion, and ulcers; possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties; calms dyspepsia Large amounts can have adverse effects; drink in moderation. People with liver disorders and severe kidney insufficiency should consult a healthcare practitioner before consuming licorice. Not recommended during pregnancy. Peppermint Fresh and crisp High in antioxidants; relieves irritable bowel syndrome; eases indigestion and bloating caused by too much gas Avoid peppermint tea if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); a tea that combines peppermint, chamomile, or lemon balm can help ease headaches, insomnia and stress Red Clover Delicate Eases symptoms of PMS and menopause; used to treat cancer; may be cardioprotective Children and women who’ve had breast cancer should not drink this tea