The best herbal teas for you, according to your ailments
We reach for the wine when we’re stressed, the prunes when we’re constipated, pop the probiotics when we’re bloated, and consume *way* too much coffee for a guaranteed boost of energy. But what many people often forget is that there is one thing that can naturally help all of these problems without the unnecessary calories: tea.
Now, countless modern studies have proven time and time again the health benefits of tea thanks to its high levels of antioxidants, catechins and polyphenols.
“Herbal teas have long been used alongside a healthy diet to support day-to-day wellbeing,” says naturopath, author and Pukka expert, Reece Carter. “They’re an easy thing to add into our daily routines, and offer an opportunity to rest, relax and take care of yourself.”
But the problem is, with more than 300 varieties out there, where in the world do you begin when you’re looking for the right one to help your ailment? Here we reveal the best teas for the most common health problems.
A Medibank survey found five million Australians suffer from stress, with a lack of sleep, work pressures and social media being the major culprits. But instead of reaching for that bar of chocolate or glass of rose, Reece wants you to grab the lavender.
“Lavender is my favourite herb for when I want to unwind. It’s traditionally been called an anxiolytic herb, meaning it may help reduce feels of stress,” he explains.
“Even the aroma alone is enough to send me into a more relaxed headspace, but some people find the flavour of it on its own a little intense. That’s why it works so well in blends with other herbs.”
Not getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep doesn’t mean you just wake up groggy the next day. We’ve come to learn that a lack of sleep can lead to: weight gain, bad eating habits, lack of concentration, poor athletic performance, an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, a slower metabolism, depression, weaker immune system and inflammation.
To avoid all of this, Reece reaches for valerian and chamomile.
“Valerian and chamomile are two common ingredients in traditional tea blends to be enjoyed before bed.”
Most studies have proven valerian can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep by approximately 15 to 20 minutes, and can also improve the overall quality of sleep. When taken with chamomile – commonly regarded as a mild tranquilizer or sleep inducer thanks to an antioxidant called apigenin – you’ll be dozing off in no time.
To maximise its sleeping effect, Reece suggests developing a habit between your night time routine and tea.
“My top tips would be to develop a mindfulness ritual around brewing and drinking your tea to allow yourself to let go of the day’s stress and invite restful night’s sleep.”
If that’s not enough to convince you to get some decent shut-eye tonight, we don’t know what will.
Bloating and indigestion
Ahh yes, it’s safe to say everyone has suffered from a bloated stomach. However, the problem with treating it is the fact that no two guts are identical and therefore what causes you to inflate like a balloon may not affect others.
What we can agree on is the fact that certain lifestyle tweaks (i.e avoiding sugary and processed foods, fitting in exercise, staying hydrated etc.) can make all the difference – and adding peppermint and fennel tea into your diet can also help by a milestone.
“Peppermint and fennel are two plants traditionally considered carminatives, meaning they were used in traditional remedies to support normal digestion,” Reece explains.
“Both contain oils that have been the focus of research into their possible effects on the tummy.”
A quick search on the net and you’ll find the best teas for good skin are dandelion root and nettle leaf – and Reece recommends one tea that combines the two.
“When it comes to clear skin, some people swear by teas that contain ingredients like dandelion root and nettle leaf. Pukka’s ‘cleanse’ blend contains both.”
Although some people may advise you to limit your intake of caffeinated tea when it comes to your skin, Reece suggests natural teas can actually help keep your skin hydrated and glowing.
“One of the biggest benefits for your skin that comes from tea is actually going to be the actual hydration itself, so feel free to have multiple cups every day on top of your usual water intake.”
It’s the c-word that make us feel heavy and blah. Constipation is characterised by less frequent bowel motions, which is often caused by slow moving stools, where more water is then reabsorbed. This results in harder, larger stools that are difficult to pass, or small hard ‘pellet’ like lumps. This then leads to feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and in some extreme cases, nausea.
On top of upping your fibre intake, increasing physical activity and drinking plenty of water, ginger tea can help get things moving.
“Constipation is commonly caused by dehydration, so a few cups of herbal tea each day may go a long way to help, and ginger is one of my favourite teas to turn to when I’m feeling a little sluggish in that department,” Reece explains.
“I’ll admit I enjoy a coffee each morning, but too much of it and I’m still wired at night when I want to go to bed. Not good,” Reece notes. “So, after my one long black in the morning, I enjoy matcha instead whenever I need a little pick-me-up. It still delivers some caffeine—just enough to perk me up—but at a much lower level than coffee.”
It’s important to note that while teas are an awesome addition to your daily wellness routine, they’re not a substitute for medical care. If you have any of the above concerns, always run it by your doctor or trusted health professional.