10 Herbal Teas That Can Heal You Slideshow
July 12, 2011
Gentler than its essential oil form, lovely-smelling lavender is said to have benefits that range from aiding digestion and soothing heartburn to helping with insomnia and anxiety. The latter is attributed to the components found in the essential oil of lavender, namely perillyl alcohol, linalool, and geraniol. Lavender tea's ability to help with indigestion, meanwhile, is due to gas-relieving properties.
To make the tea, steep one to two teaspoons of lavender leaves in a cup of hot water for about 15 minutes.
Ginger root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to help cure conditions ranging from upset stomach and indigestion to arthritis. The laundry list of alleged health benefits also includes acting as a remedy for the common cold and flu, preventing nausea, and helping lower cholesterol. The healing power of this tea is generally attributed to its essential oils and the high amount of oleoresin it contains.
Fix yourself a cup by peeling the outer layer, cutting the root into thin strips, and simmering in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes before straining.
In addition to being a singularly delicious and vitamin-rich herb, lemongrass also makes a fine tea. The tropical plant has traditionally been used for relief from pain and fever, aiding with upset stomach, and helping soothe muscle tension, just to name a few. Perhaps of greatest interest, however, is the more recent research on the tea's potential cancer-fighting properties. Tea sachets of the herb can be found in many stores, but you can just as easily brew a batch from fresh leaves, which are increasingly more available in supermarket's fresh herb sections.
Rose Hip Tea
A common ingredient in many herbal tea blends, this fruit of the rose plant lends a pleasant sourness to a brew due to its high content of ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C). Indeed, many naturally-derived vitamin C supplements are made from the little fruit. So if you want to quench your thirst and get a mega-dose of vitamin C, this tea is the way to go.
Subtle, gentle, and aromatic chamomile tea has long lulled the sleepless and overly anxious. The flower, similar to a daisy, has deep-rooted associations with relief of stress, insomnia, and indigestion. Easily found in any market's tea section, it can be bought either loose or in pre-made bags.
Wikimedia Commons/Jon Sullivan
Yes, people can have catnip too. But don't worry — unlike the stimulating effect the plant tends to have on cats, it's actually said to have a sedative effect on people who drink tea made from the dried leaves. A member of the mint family (it's also known as catmint), the plant is also thought to help soothe stomach aches.
Also known as Flor de Jamaica, hibiscus tea has been shown to possibly help reduce hypertension and is being studied in India as a complementary medicine in the care of diabetes. It also makes a lovely, fruity herbal beverage popular in various forms the world over. Many countries of the West Indies boil the dried flowers and add spices and sugar or honey to make a delicious drink called sorrel.
Cooks are no doubt well familiar with this aromatic plant as a wonderful flavoring agent, but herbal tea drinkers are more likely to talk to you about health benefits. Teas made from the seeds have been said to help treat colic, loss of appetite, and digestive problems.
Licorice Root Tea
As a tea, licorice root is naturally sweet and — for those that like the candy — has the same great flavor. It also has an almost ancient history as a healing herb, with ascribed benefits that range from healing stomach aches and ulcers to having antiviral properties. Though many of these benefits have yet to be proven without a doubt scientifically, Western researchers do acknowledge some health benefits to consuming licorice. Just be warned: the herb can interact with certain medications so it's advised that people consult their physician before making the tea a part of their regular health routine.
Many people swear by this not-so-delicious tea as a means of calming nerves and getting a better and more restful sleep. It is commonly paired with other sleep-inducing herbs like chamomile and passionflower in tea mixtures sold specifically as sleep aids. Made from the root of the valerian plant, the tea is a great way to get the benefits of the herb without having to worry about the potential side effects of the stronger pill and tincture forms. But as with licorice root tea, it's best to consult your doctor before consuming this drink to avoid potentially bad interactions it might have with other medications you take.