When maladies strike, you might find relief on a grocery store shelf, and we’re not just talking about the pharmacy aisles. Many varieties of herbal tea are praised for their healing properties. Whether you have an upset tummy, a scratchy throat or a pounding head, a cup of tea could be the solution.
If you’re looking to expand your arsenal of at-home remedies for everyday aches and pains, add a few varieties of tea to your next grocery list.
Which teas might help you feel better? That depends on the problem.
Note: the following is for information only and isn’t intended to diagnose, treat or cure any health or medical condition. Talk to your doctor before enjoying tea in a medicinal way, especially if you take medication regularly. Some teas may interfere with OTC and prescribed drugs.
Tossing and turning all night long is frustrating and exhausting. A cup of tea may help you settle down, like valerian, chamomile or lavender.
Valerian tea is a top option. This plant boosts brain production of a chemical called GABA. And increased GABA production has been linked to reduced anxiety. Some people seem to experience the benefits of a nightly cup of valerian tea at once, but don’t give up if it doesn’t work for you right away. Studies suggest that it can take up to four weeks to see results.
A cup of chamomile tea might be effective as well. In one study, women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported better sleep than the control group. Four weeks after the tea routine ended, the two groups were once again getting comparable amounts of sleep. In other words, for chamomile tea to make a difference, you’ll need to turn tea drinking into a daily habit.
Lavender tea might also help. The scent of this flower is associated with calm and relaxation. Now, there’s limited evidence that lavender tea produces the same effect. But the simple routine of sitting with a mug of warm, aromatic tea may be enough to help you unwind at the end of a long day. And since lavender tea is caffeine free, it could be a perfect choice for this daily indulgence.
Willow bark has long been used as a natural pain reliever. That’s probably because it contains salicin. In the body, this chemical turns to salicylic acid, which is in the same family as aspirin’s active ingredient. Research has demonstrated willow bark’s anti-inflammatory effects in animals. And small studies show it may help reduce people’s pain levels, too.
Willow bark tea could be harder to locate than some of the other teas on this list, but you may find it in health food stores or online. Also, because willow bark and aspirin share properties, you shouldn’t mix this tea with over-the-counter pain relievers.
If willow bark tea isn’t for you, consider lemongrass tea instead. This one may be easier to find at your local grocery store. Lemongrass has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to ease aches and pains, including headaches and muscle spasms.
If you suffer from regular migraines, then you know the value of finding more ways to keep them at bay — and to alleviate pain when it hits. Some reports suggest that drinking feverfew tea might provide relief. You may find this particular tea at your store in a feverfew-lemongrass blend.
Feverfew seems to provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies also show that it limits spasms in smooth muscle. Plus, feverfew may keep platelets from releasing substances that encourage blood vessels to constrict.
These effects may work together to help prevent migraines. Some people claim that feverfew does the trick for them. Official studies, on the other hand, have produced mixed results. That said, it might not hurt to see what a daily cup of feverfew tea could do for you.
Ginger ale is often touted as a nausea remedy. Surprisingly, some modern versions of this soda don’t actually include any real ginger. You may have better luck with a cup of ginger tea instead.
Ginger contains chemicals called gingerols. These chemicals help shorten the amount of time that food spends in your digestive tract. As a result, ginger tea may help reduce feelings of nausea.
Ginger tea is commonly recommended as a treatment for pregnancy nausea, too. Studies have shown that ginger really does help with morning sickness, and it’s typically safe.
You might also have luck with using ginger to deal with the stomach-turning effects of anesthesia, chemotherapy or vertigo, but there’s less scientific evidence to support those uses.
Peppermint tea can relax the muscles of your digestive system. And this relaxing effect offers great relief when you’re dealing with a case of indigestion.
This type of tea can also increase how much bile is in your GI tract. With increased bile production, the food that’s causing the upset will move through your system with greater speed.
As an added benefit, the muscle-relaxing effects of peppermint may help with gas pain. Loosening tight muscles allows gas to pass so that you’ll no longer feel so full and bloated.
While peppermint tea can be great for indigestion, it’s not so useful for heartburn. In fact, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are cautioned against using peppermint because it can make symptoms worse.
Instead, consider licorice root tea for heartburn issues. Licorice might increase the amount of mucus along the walls of the esophagus. Then stomach acid wouldn’t be so bothersome.
Use licorice tea with caution, though.
This plant contains compounds that can cause health problems when consumed in excess. While a cup of licorice root tea here and there should be just fine, talk to your doctor about alternative treatment options if you suffer from frequent heartburn.
When you were little, warm tea might have been your mom’s go-to remedy for a cough. Even today, steeping a cup of tea might immediately help you feel better. Some of this is pure comfort. A warm cup of water may soothe a sore, inflamed throat and the urge to cough even without the tea.
But herbal teas offer their own potential benefits, such as sage tea. The Shoshone people, for instance, traditionally used white sage to treat colds and coughs. Sage contains camphor, which is often used as an ingredient in cough drops.
For double the cough-taming protection, stir a few drops of honey into your sage tea.
If sniffles and sneezes have you down, chamomile tea may be able to help.
Chamomile seems to help people fight off the common cold. Research indicates that people who drink plenty of chamomile tea have higher levels of hippurate in their bodies. And hippurate can signal increased immune system activity.
Also, sipping chamomile tea might provide sore throat relief. This may be related to its anti-inflammatory properties. The jury’s still out on whether chamomile will truly reduce the inflammation of a sore throat. But as we said earlier, you can at least count on a warm drink to feel good as it goes down.
Monthly period pain can be miserable, but some herbal teas might offer relief, such as raspberry tea. Raspberry leaves are known for relaxing the muscles of the uterus.
Few studies have specifically focused on raspberry leaves and menstruation. Anecdotally, though, many women claim that drinking raspberry leaf tea has made all the difference for them. You can safely drink 1 cup of raspberry leaf tea up to 6 times a day, so it might be worth a try for you.
Not every twinge warrants a trip to the doctor or a trek through the pharmacy. And while there’s nothing wrong with using ibuprofen for your back pain, a more natural approach to common ailments could provide the same level of relief in a soothing, comforting form.