Drinking herbal tea may protect you against liver disease, according to a recent study.

Journal of Hepatology tea and coffee issueResearchers at Erasmus MC University Medical Centre at Rotterdam in the Netherlands have concluded that frequent consumption of herbal tea or coffee is inversely related with liver stiffness. Liver stiffness develops in livers that have been scarred extensively, resulting in liver fibrosis. Publishing their findings in the August issue of the Journal of Hepatology, researchers said that herbal tea gives people who drink it often a protective effect on their livers.

Researchers at Erasmus collected data from 2,424 participants who did not have liver disease, looking at their medical records, examining their liver scans, and collecting questionnaires on their consumption of green tea, black tea, herbal tea, and coffee. Even in small amounts, the researchers concluded that drinking herbal tea was significantly associated with lower liver stiffness values.

We’re all for herbal tea, but take these results with a grain of salt, as the study had several key limitations:

First, the participants were not a very varied group. All were over 45, Caucasian, and lived in Rotterdam.

Second, the control groups were rather small.

And third, the researchers relied on questionnaires to analyze participants’  drinking habits, not on hard data they’d compiled from drinks that participants had consumed regularly under observation.  That introduces human error.  And with the vast array of herbal teas on the market, two participants drinking herbal tea could be consuming beverages with very different compounds.

Still, the findings are exciting and may encourage more consumers to seek out herbal teas for their health benefits.  With so many delicious options on the market, doing so will a smart investment for both liver health and taste bud satisfaction.

The journal’s Lay Summary of the study’s findings is as follows:

Lay summary

The Rotterdam Study is a large ongoing population study of suburban inhabitants of Rotterdam in whom data on liver stiffness, as proxy for liver fibrosis, presence of fatty liver on ultrasound and detailed information on coffee and tea consumption were obtained in 2,424 participants. The consumption of herbal tea and daily consumption of three or more cups of coffee was related to the presence of lower liver stiffness, independent of a great number of other lifestyle and environmental factors. Previous studies have found a protective effect of coffee on established liver disease and we now show for the first time that this effect is already measurable in the general population.

For more information on liver health, check out the European Association for the Study of the Liver or the American Liver Foundation.

For more information on other ways that herbal tea can help your (love) life out, check out our post on these aphrodisiac herbal teas!