Tea is one of the easiest and safest of nature’s medicines. The benefits of green tea have been touted for years now, but there are many more options when it comes to tea. Whether you’re struggling with a stubborn cough, inflammation, or digestive issues, there’s a tea to help you. Just add hot water (and seek advice from your doctor first).
1. Licorice root
We’re not talking about licorice candy here, although that’s good, too. Unrelated to anise, licorice root is known as the “sweet root” and can alleviate sore or irritated throats.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), licorice root can act as a soothing agent and expectorant, which makes it useful for reducing phlegm and other upper-respiratory symptoms, such as sore throat and coughing. In 2009, the medical journal Anesthesia & Analgesia reported that licorice root soothed patients’ throats and diminished coughing after surgery.
Studies have also shown that licorice has been used in the successful treatment of the cold and flu, coughs, bronchitis, gingivitis and tooth decay, and canker sores.
Licorice root is typically sold in woody slices, although prepared licorice teas and extract, which you can add to hot water, are also available. Aim to steep the root slices for around five minutes.
Licorice should not be consumed on a long-term basis and is unsuitable for pregnant women.
Mullein, also called velvet dock, is another fantastic option for easing respiratory symptoms. The Greek physician Dioscorides first recorded it as an agent to heal the lungs nearly 2,000 years ago. Stories of Mullein’s healing capabilities have accumulated from the ancient Greeks and African and European history.
Mullein leaf tea can be used for coughs, colds, and rheumatism. It’s considered it to be analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic. Mullein has expectorant properties, which is why it is an ingredient in herbal cough remedies, according to Steve Brill in “Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not-So-Wild) Places.”
A study by Joy R. Borchardt, published in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, showed mullein to have antimicrobial activity. It has been shown to be effective against influenza and the herpes simplex viruses.
The mullein plant has soft leaves, similar to lamb’s ear, but grows in a foliage rosette and produces a large stalk with yellow flowers. Every part of the mullein plant is safe to consume except the seeds.
Angelica is a member of the parsley family and was once thought to be a remedy against witchcraft, poison, and plague. Its green, celery-like stalks stimulate production of digestive juices, improving the flow of bile into the digestive tract, and combat digestive spasms.
Research from the Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology has demonstrated that Angelica has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects, making it a good choice if you’re dealing with bronchitis, chest complaints, or rheumatism.
Early studies at the Mayo Clinic have found promising results for the use of Angelica in combination with other herbs to treat menstrual cramps.
It can be found growing wild in much of North America and reportedly makes a very good tempura.
It should be noted that Angelica is unsuitable for pregnant women.
Chicory root has generated interest for its potential role against harmful organisms. It’s typically consumed as a “chicory coffee” and has a dark, roasted flavor. (It was a common drink for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.)
Along with its reputation as a cleansing herb, it is full of antioxidants, boosts digestion, aids in the body’s ability to absorb calcium, and can help regulate blood sugar levels. It even has fungal cleansing qualities and is toxic to strains of Salmonella at high amounts.
The International Journal of Research in Pure and Applied Microbiology found chicory root to have a tumor-inhibiting property, as well as anti-fungal and antimicrobial effects. It’s also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and act as a decongestant for internal organs.
Combined, all these properties make chicory root tea a great choice for liver and gallbladder disorders, and in helping to fight fungal infections.
This is one of the tastiest tea remedies you’ll find, and it has wide-ranging benefits. Spearmint tea benefits women with hormone imbalances. UMMC notes that spearmint tea helps improve the hormone balance of women with hirsutism — excessive hair growth caused by abnormally high levels of testosterone — making it a potential treatment for mild hirsutism, hormonal acne, or PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
Researchers in Turkey also found that spearmint has potential as an alternative to other forms of antiandrogenic treatment when hirsuitism is in a mild form.
Digestive disorders such as indigestion and diarrhea are sometimes relieved by spearmint, along with irritable bowel syndrome. Used in relieving sore throats, toothaches, and headaches is common, and some people find relief by using spearmint as a local painkiller or as an antispasmodic medication for cramps.
If you’re struggling with hormone-related issues, give spearmint a try; it’s a delicious choice. In addition, as opposed to some traditional medicines, it comes with no side effects.
Fennel tea will become the new staple drink for those of you with touchy stomachs. Fennel is an antispasmodic, so it relaxes the digestive tract, eases cramps and gas, and treats irritable bowel syndrome.
Boosting digestion and acting as a diuretic, it will aid in the removal of excess water and some waste. The fragrance of the tea may be calming to some people, but it’s fennel oils that possess antiseptic properties, assisting in the treatment of gastrointestinal infections.
Its muscle-relaxing benefits also make fennel useful for calming coughs and helping heal chronic bronchitis. Antioxidants in fennel may be partly responsible for these benefits, according to a study published the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. The study found high levels of vitamin C and vitamin E in the young shoots of the plant.
Although the flavor takes some getting used to, the digestive benefits of fennel tea are reason enough to try it!
7. Marshmallow root
No, this isn’t the fluffy snack that you’ll find on a s’more or floating in your hot chocolate. In fact, marshmallow root’s Greek name, althea, literally means “to heal.”
Marshmallow root contains mucilage, a gel-like substance that becomes slippery when wet. According to UMMC, this mucilage coats both the respiratory and digestive tract, helping soothe irritation and ulcers that may be present.
Traditionally, marshmallow root has been used to ease sore throats and to treat bronchitis. Because its coating properties go beyond the throat, regular consumption of marshmallow root can help with the pain of ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease, as well as prevent stomach ulcers from perforation.
The tea can also be applied topically to soothe irritation in the skin caused by rashes or skin infections, as well as by allergic reactions such as hives. Marshmallow extract is sometimes added to creams and used to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and contact dermatitis.
Additionally, marshmallow root’s soothing effect can help inflamed and irritated tissues of the digestive tract and respiratory organs.