Herbal tea isn’t technically tea. Unlike black, green, and white tea, herbal tea doesn’t come from the tea plant camellia sinensis. Instead, herbal tea is made by combining herbs, spices, bark, seeds, peels, fruits, grasses, roots, flowers, and other plants with water. By swapping camellia sinensis for these ingredients, herbal tea is naturally caffeine-free. As far back as prehistoric times, people have been making herbal teas in hopes of curing ailments and promoting health. Today, many use herbal tea in the same way, with the added appeal of taste. Herbs come in different grades, or quality tiers, from “inferior” to “food grade” to “pharmacopoeial grade.” That last, vowel-dominant word means that the herb has been scientifically verified to be what it says it is and can do what it promises it can do. If you want quality, look for pharma-grade herbs. Here are a few popular herbal teas and how they can help you, per Livestrong and Tea Blossoms.
CHAMOMILE | Can’t sleep? Chamomile tea has been shown to promote relaxation and decrease anxiety in animal studies, two factors that can affect your asleep. Try drinking this before bed if your mind won’t stop racing at night. A 2005 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry also found that chamomile tea boosted participants’ hippurate and glycine levels, which promote the immune system and alleviate muscle spasms and nerve tension, respectively. Those spasms and tensions include PSM-related ones, so chamomile tea is a smart choice if you’re experiencing menstrual discomfort.
GINGER | Upset stomach?
Ginger tea is great for a turbulent digestive tract, calming nausea, relieving gas, promoting digestion, and fighting motion sickness. It may also help lower fevers, too, so pick ginger whether you’re battling a cold or get queasy on airplanes.
DANDELION | Hitting the sauce too hard?
Dandelion tea helps your liver function better. It has also been used to treat gout, one possible side-effect of alcohol abuse. Dandelion tea boasts blood cleansing and detoxifying properties, and has been used to counteract the effects of arthritis, high blood pressure, and skin outbreaks.
TURMERIC | Don’t want cancer? Turmeric has been shown to prevent gastric and colon cancer in rodents. Are humans next? For thousands of years, herbalists have used turmeric to dissolve gallstones, promote liver function, help digestion, and promote regular menstrual cycles as well.
LEMON BALM |Pounding headache? Lemon balm tea is used to alleviate headaches in addition to mitigating stress, anxiety, and heart palpitations. It may also reduce the appearance of cold sores from herpes.
PEPPERMINT | Temperature too high? Peppermint may naturally lower your fever. It also promotes respiratory and digestive function.
ROSEMARY | Going bald? Don’t drink rosemary tea—massage it into your scalp to promote hair growth after shampooing. If you combine rosemary tea with the mineral borax, you can create a dandruff shampoo as well. While we’re talking about the head, note that drinking rosemary tea may boost your brainpower as well. Studies suggest that rosemary enhances memory speed in the elderly and may support blood flow to the brain.
HIBISCUS | Blood pressure boiling over? Hibiscus has been proven to reduce blood pressure in several studies. Bonus points: several studies have also shown hibiscus to lower or maintain cholesterol levels.