Something healthy is brewing in the world of tea. I talk to people daily who are in search of teas to either help soothe upset tummies, aid sleep, lower blood pressure, or fight inflammation. These are people who, two years ago, never thought of entering a tea shop. What’s amazing is that some of these new tea seekers visit my store on the recommendation of their physician!
My first reply to these constant medical questions is “I have two college degrees and neither one qualifies me to dispense medical advice.”
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s look at a few caffeine-free herbals that are popping up in those health magazines you scan as you wait in the grocery check-out lane.
Ginger is the main ingredient in one of my favorite after dinner teas blended with orange peel and lemongrass. This caffeine-free herbal hot beverage cleanses the palate, settles the tummy and leaves diners with a “less full” feeling, even after a multi-course meal with dessert.
Ginger also has the benefit of being an anti-inflammatory. I often suggest a ginger blend for expectant mothers and chemotherapy patients.
The dried petals of the Hibiscus flower is a common ingredient in fruit tea blends because it steeps a strong red liquor with a tart citric flavor. It can be used for treating loss of appetite, colds, heart and nerve diseases, upper respiratory tract pain and swelling (inflammation), fluid retention, stomach irritation, and disorders of circulation. Hibiscus tea is high in Vitamin C has been prescribed for dissolving phlegm; as a gentle laxative, and as a diuretic to increase urine output.
Some researchers think that other chemicals in hibiscus might be able to lower blood pressure; decrease spasms in the stomach, intestines, and uterus; and work like antibiotics to kill bacteria.
Turmeric is the hot topic in all the health magazines this year. A customer told me she sprinkles the herb on her ice cream! When used in tea blends, it is often combined with citrus, ginger or other ayurvedic herbs which compliment or disguise its bright yellow hues.
Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin. Curcumin and other chemicals in turmeric might decrease inflammation. Because of this, turmeric could be beneficial for treating conditions that involve such as arthritis.
It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, and fibromyalgia, Other uses include diabetes, water retention, lupus erythematosus (SLE), tuberculosis, urinary bladder inflammation, and kidney problems.
No “sleepy tea blend” would be complete without including this ancient flower known for its relaxing qualities. The flavonoid, chrysin, found in the flower is partially responsible for this herb’s reputation as a sleep aid. In fact, many pharmacies stocked chamomile a century ago because it was so often prescribed as a sleep aid or eliminate gas.
This flower has been found to contain numerous bioactive components such as coumarins, flavonoids, terpenoids, and mucilage. Together, these properties give chamomile its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, antispasmodic, anti-ulcer and astringent healing properties.
But be cautious because the pollen found in chamomile may cause allergic reactions. If you are allergic to ragweed pollen, you may not be able to drink chamomile tea blends and it may interfere with blood thinners (anticoagulants).
If heartburn and indigestion are keeping you up at night, drinking peppermint tea an hour before bed may help reduce your symptoms. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that peppermint can calm muscles and improve bile flow in your stomach, which allows food to pass through your stomach more quickly. According to MedlinePlus, peppermint appears to help improve symptoms of heartburn — like acid reflux.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, if you’re pregnant and suffer from morning sickness, peppermint tea can help you feel more comfortable and may make it easier for you to get a good night’s rest, which benefits both you and your unborn baby. The Association also notes that while some ingredients in herbal teas have questionable safety ratings, peppermint tea is likely safe during pregnancy.
Tea was a medicine before it was a beverage and, for over two thousand years, teas – both “real tea” and herbals have been used to sooth what ails us. Thankfully, the science and medicine communities are now able to identify those amazing compounds found in the plant kingdom which help us heal naturally. And they taste so good!