Herbal teas are a great way to stay hydrated and support the health of the cells, tissues and organs. With literally thousands of medicinal herbs on the market, it may be confusing to know what herbs are safe and effective for many common complaints. While by no means a comprehensive list, these herbal teas are gentle, effective and readily available.
Peppermint and its relative spearmint make a tasty herbal tea with numerous benefits. Peppermint -- known scientifically as mentha piperita -- promotes digestion, relieves spasms of the respiratory and digestive tracts and naturally lowers fevers through its diaphoretic -- or pore-opening -- properties, according to "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth," by naturopathic doctor Sharol Tilgner.
Another excellent herbal tea for digestive complaints, chamomile is also useful to relax the mind and body, promote sleep and relieve anxiety and irritability. According to an article published in “Molecular Medicine Reports” in November 2010, chamomile has been used for thousands of years to treat ailments like ulcers, menstrual complaints, inflammation, seasonal allergies, rheumatic pain and hemorrhoids.
This little weed packs a huge medicinal punch. Dandelion root is the premier herb to support healthy liver function and is used to treat arthritis, gout, skin outbreaks, high blood pressure, swelling and abnormal blood pressure, according to Tilgner. Master herbalist Michael Tierra also suggests that dandelion root is an effective adjunct treatment for cancer and other chronic inflammatory diseases due to its gently blood cleansing and detoxifying qualities.
As tasty as its name implies, lemon balm -- or Melissa officinalis -- is an effective treatment for stress, anxiety, heart palpitations and headaches, particularly when related to hyperthyroidism, according to Tilgner in "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth." Lemon balm also makes an excellent tea to treat digestive upset caused by anxiety and stress. A study published in the journal “Phytomedicine” in June 2006 found that a combination of valerian and lemon balm drastically reduced restlessness and trouble sleeping in children with chronic sleep problems.
While used extensively as a culinary herb, ginger also has a plethora of medicinal qualities. Ginger soothes the digestive system, calming nausea and relieving gas, colic and sluggish digestion. It can help to lower fevers and is gentle enough to use with children and the elderly. It is useful for colds, influenza and other acute febrile illnesses. Research published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" in 2005 has shown ginger to possess strong anti-inflammatory properties, rivaling pharmaceutical pain relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Another panacea of the herbal world, turmeric is much more than the key spice in curries -- it has been used medicinally for at least 4,000 years. According to Tierra, an expert in Ayurvedic herbology, turmeric regulates the menstrual cycle, relieves cramps, aids digestion, dissolves gallstones and helps support healthy liver function. Turmeric has been shown to prevent gastric and colon cancers in rodents, according to research published in the November 2002 issue of “Anticancer Research.”
- Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth; Sharol Tilgner, N.D.
- Molecular Medicine Reports: Chamomile: An Herbal Medicine of the Past With a Bright Future
- Phytomedicine: A Combination of Valerian and Lemon Balm Is Effective in the Treatment of Restlessness and Dyssomnia in Children
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Ginger - An Herbal Medicinal Product With Broad Anti-Inflammatory Properties
- Planetary Herbology; Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D.
- Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, Second Edition; Sahdeo Prasad and Bharat B. Aggarwal
- Anticancer Research: Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) and Curcumin Inhibit the Growth of Helicobacter Pylori, a Group 1 Carcinogen
Amy Myszko is a certified clinical herbalist and nutritional consultant who has been helping people find greater health and balance through diet, lifestyle and natural remedies since 2006. She received her certification from the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism in Boulder, Colo. Myszko also holds a BA in literature from the University of Colorado.