We have been using medicinal teas (or, herbal teas) since long to keep ourselves healthy and disease-free. Now, even the science has begun to support most of their traditional uses and discover their new benefits.
Herbal teas are packed with antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antibacterial properties.
These teas heal your body in the most natural way possible and strengthen your immune system. To summarize, they are the health-boosting gifts of nature for humankind that even science endorses.
Here’s a list of 11 best medicinal herbal teas with their scientifically-proven health benefits & possible side-effects.
Table of Contents
A. What are Herbal teas?
Teas can be divided into two groups-
- TRUE TEAS– Those teas that are brewed from the leaves of a single plant, i.e., Camellia sinensis.
- Examples- Black tea, oolong tea, white tea, green tea
- And, they contain caffeine in varying quantities.
- HERBAL TEAS/TISANES– they are made by using flowers, fruits, leaves, and roots of various herbs.
- Examples- Chamomile tea, hibiscus tea, peppermint tea etc.
- They offer a wide variety of tastes and flavors due to the involvement of many different herbs.
- Plus, herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free.
B. 11 Medicinal/Herbal Teas- Benefits & Side-effects [Facts-based]
1. Chamomile Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Chamomile tea is an infusion made from dried chamomile flower heads in hot water for 3-5 minutes.
- TASTE– The tea has a golden color with a delicious fruity flavor.
- TRADITIONAL USE– This medicinal tea is commonly known for its calming and soothing properties.
1.1 What are the benefits of Chamomile herbal tea?
- Chamomile tea helps in getting better sleep by reducing depression (1).
- Also, it has liver protecting, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties (2).
- Preliminary evidence also suggests that chamomile may help protect from stomach ulcers and fight diarrhea (3).
- What’s more, chamomile herbal tea reduces the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. (4).
- A study even saw chamomile improving blood glucose, insulin and blood lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes. (5).
1.2 What are the side-effects of Chamomile tea?
- People allergic to plants in daisy family such as chrysanthemums and ragweed can develop an allergy to chamomile as well (6).
- Direct contact with cosmetic products containing chamomile can irritate (7). This can result in conjunctivitis.
There is no evidence regarding the safety of drinking chamomile tea in pregnant women, children, and people with kidney or liver disease.
2. Ginger Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Ginger tea is the made by steeping ginger root in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
- TASTE– It has a spicy and invigorating taste.
- TRADITIONAL USE– This medicinal tea is popularly used as a home remedy for cold, cough, and nausea.
2.1 What are the benefits of Ginger tea?
- Ginger tea boosts immunity and improves the body’s defense mechanism (8).
- Studies found that it is an effective remedy for nausea occurring during (9) (10)–
- early pregnancy
- cancer treatments
- motion sickness
- Not only that, this herbal tea can also effectively help reduce blood pressure (11).
- Plus, ginger tea eliminates constipation, prevents stomach ulcers and relieves indigestion (12).
- Evidence even suggests that ginger or ginger capsules can reduce period pain (dysmenorrhea). In fact, it is as effective as painkillers like ibuprofen (13).
- Few studies have reported that this medicinal tea may also help control blood sugar and blood lipid levels (14) (15) (16).
2.2 What are the side-effects of Ginger tea?
Ginger tea is overall a healthy beverage. However, minor side effects such as the following are possible.
- Ginger tea can cause an upset stomach or heartburn that feels similar to how you feel when you eat spicy food.
- People allergic to ginger can experience rashes or discomfort in the mouth or stomach (17).
- One can also experience lightheadedness due to its blood pressure reducing property.
- Ginger tea contains salicylates, due to which it has a blood-thinning effect. Therefore, people with bleeding disorders should avoid consuming more than 4 grams of ginger a day (18).
3. Hibiscus Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Hibiscus tea is made by steeping dried hibiscus flowers in boiling water for 5 minutes.
- TASTE– The tea has a pink-red color with tart & cranberry-like flavor. It is mostly served hot or cold by adding honey or sugar.
- TRADITIONAL USE– This medicinal tea is known for its blood pressure reducing properties.
Here’re its other evidence-based benefits-
3.1 What are the benefits of Hibiscus tea?
- Hibiscus tea increases the number of antioxidant enzymes and reduces the damaging effect of free radicals by up to 92% (19).
- Also, this medicinal tea can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering the blood pressure (20) (21) (22).
- Moreover, it may increase “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol (23) (24).
- Studies found that hibiscus extract can protect your liver from failure by reducing the liver damage and accumulation of fat in the liver (25) (26).
- Evidence also suggests that this herbal tea can promote weight loss by reducing body weight, body fat, hip-to-waist ratio, and body mass index (27) (28).
- Hibiscus tea may also help prevent cancer as it rich in polyphenols, which have anti-cancer properties (29) (30) (31).
- What’s more, this tea could help fight bacterial infections (32) (33).
3.2 What are the side-effects of Hibiscus tea?
- You should avoid hibiscus tea with hydrochlorothiazide (medication to treat high blood pressure) to avoid possible interaction.
- In extremely high doses, hibiscus tea is toxic to the liver. However, that much quantity isn’t easy to be consumed in tea form (34).
- The tea is known to help with irregular periods. What this also means is that consuming it during pregnancy might induce premature labor (35).
- Also, avoid taking it as a medicine during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it can cause constipation, nausea, headache, or shakiness.
- Hibiscus tea also reduces blood sugar level and blood pressure. So, avoid it if you’re diabetic, have low blood pressure or are going for a surgery soon (36).
4. Peppermint Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Peppermint tea is made by steeping fresh or dried peppermint leaves in hot water for 5 minutes.
- TASTE– The tea has a sweet and menthol flavor.
- TRADITIONAL USE– This herbal tea is also commonly known as ‘the stomach healer’ due to its ability to soothe stomach ailments.
4.1 What are the benefits of Peppermint tea?
- Peppermint medicinal tea keeps your digestive tract healthy with its antibacterial, anticancer, antioxidant, and antiviral properties (37).
- Specifically, it helps in soothing stomach aches, heartburn, gas/flatulence, stomach cramps, stomach pains, and indigestion.
- Daily consumption of chamomile tea promotes cancer chemoprevention (38). Or, in easier language- chamomile tea assists the clinically administered drugs in stopping the development of cancer in people who are at a higher risk.
- Studies indicate that preparations of peppermint oil relieve stomach pain, nausea, and indigestion (39) (40) (41).
- Also, peppermint oil effectively reduces spasms in the colon, esophagus, and intestines (42) (43) (44).
- One study has even found that peppermint oil alleviates the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (45).
4.2 What are the side-effects of Peppermint tea?
- Higher than the normal dose of peppermint tea can disturb the male reproductive system by reducing the testosterone level (46).
- Peppermint tea is too strong for small children and babies. It can cause burning sensation in mouth and breathing difficulties.
- Also, peppermint can interact with medicines. So, the people with gastrointestinal problems such as Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or Hiatal Hernia should avoid it (47).
5. Rose Hip Tea
Rosehip is the fruit of the rose plant, which is typically red to orange.
- HOW TO MAKE?– Rosehip tea is made by steeping fresh or crushed dried rose hips in boiling water for 10 minutes.
- TASTE– The tea has a dark red color with a tarty and sourish flavor.
- TRADITIONAL USE– This herbal tea stimulates the immune system and strengthens body defenses.
5.1 What are the benefits of Rose Hip tea?
- Rosehip tea is loaded with anti-inflammatory properties due to its high vitamin C and plant compounds (48).
- Rosehip tea can also help lose weight by decreasing BMI and belly fat (52).
- Not only that, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of this tea can even reduce wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, and increase the moisture content of the face (53).
5.2 What are the side-effects of Rose Hip tea?
Rosehip tea is mostly safe for adults. However, certain side effects such as the following can occur-
- The abundance of vitamin C may increase the possibility of getting kidney stones.
- Also, its high vitamin C content increases iron absorption and can make conditions such as anemia, thalassemia, or hemochromatosis worse.
- Moreover, rosehip contains a chemical; Rugosin E, which slows down blood clotting. Hence, people with bleeding disorders should avoid it.
For its other adverse effects, read in detail here
6. Lemon Balm Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Lemon balm tea is made by steeping lemon balm leaves in simmering water for 10 minutes.
- TASTE– The tea has a light and refreshing citrusy smell and flavor.
- TRADITIONAL USE– This herbal tea has a soothing effect on the body and relieves stress or anxiety.
Here’re its other health-benefits-
6.1 What are the benefits of Lemon Balm tea?
- Lemon balm tea reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, or mental decline by improving the elasticity of arteries (54).
- The same study also suggested that the tea increases skin elasticity as well.
- Furthermore, it boosts antioxidant enzymes in the body and helps protect body cells and DNA from oxidative damage (55).
- One study also suggested that lemon balm reduces high blood lipid levels too (56).
- The tea is also good at relaxing you and improving memory (57) (58).
- One study indicated that lemon balm extract reduces stress and even improves math processing skills (59).
- And finally, lemon balm tea reduces heart palpitations (abnormal or irregular heartbeat) (60).
6.2 What are the side-effects of Lemon Balm tea?
- Lemon balm tea has a dependency risk. This means you might experience withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, vomiting, and depression if you stop its consumption abruptly (61).
- People who have thyroid disease should avoid it as it interferes with thyroid hormone replacement therapy (62).
- This tea can also cause drowsiness when taken with medicines that are used during/after surgery.
7. Rooibos Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Rooibos or red bush tea is made by steeping dried rooibos leaves in hot water or hot milk for 5 minutes.
- TASTE– This medicinal tea has a refreshing nutty taste and is very delicious.
- TRADITIONAL USE– It is rich in antioxidants. South Africans have been using this herb for medicinal purposes.
The preliminary evidence speaks of the following benefits of rooibos tea.
7.1 What are the benefits of Rooibos medicinal tea?
- Rooibos tea is good for your bone health as it, along with green and black tea, stimulates the activity of osteoblast (cells from which bone develops) (63).
- Also, this herbal tea increases bone density by lowering the markers of cell toxicity and inflammation (64).
- In a study, rooibos tea was found to inhibit an enzyme that constricts blood vessels. This effect was quite similar to the functioning of a blood pressure medication (65).
- Not only that, rooibos tea increases “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and fat (66).
- The abundance of antioxidants such as quercetin and luteolin enables it to kill cancer cells and limit the growth of the tumor (67) (68).
- Studies done on animals also reveal the anti-diabetic effect of rooibos tea due to the presence of aspalathin (an antioxidant) (69).
- Moreover, this aspalathin also reduces insulin resistance and balances blood sugar.
7.2 What are the Side-effects of Rooibos tea?
Although rooibos tea is very safe, still rare side effects such as the following can occur-
- Consuming large amounts of rooibos tea on a daily basis increases liver enzymes, which can indicate a liver problem (70).
- Certain compounds in rooibos tea encourage the production of estrogen; a female sex hormone (71). So, the people with hormone-sensitive conditions should avoid this tea.
However, the effect is very mild and is only seen with its consumption in large amounts,
8. Echinacea Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Echinacea tea is made by brewing Fresh or dried Echinacea leaves, roots, flower for 15 minutes.
- TASTE– This herbal tea has a tongue-tingling taste.
- TRADITIONAL USE– It is a popular remedy for the common cold.
Here’re its other benefits
8.1 What are the benefits of Echinacea tea?
- Echinacea tea stimulates the immune system to fight off viruses or infections (72).
- Few conflicting studies say this medicinal tea alleviates the symptoms of common cold or can even prevent it (73).
- Not only that, this warm herbal tea can also shorten the duration of common cold.
- Echinacea tea can also help pre-emptively deal with an incoming cold by clearing up a stuffy nose and soothing sore throat (74).
- Echinacea tea when consumed in supplement-form helps control blood sugar (75).
- Also, echinacea tea reduces the risk of developing or spreading breast cancer (76).
- Echinacea is also highly effective at managing anxiety (77).
8.2 What are the side-effects of Echinacea tea?
- Nausea and mild stomach pains are the most common side effects of Echinacea tea (78).
- People allergic to Echinacea may develop rashes and skin redness (79).
- It can also cause insomnia (sleep problems), headache, confusion, or dry mouth (80).
- And, the people with autoimmune diseases should avoid it completely as the tea strongly affects immune reactions.
9. Sage Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Sage tea is made by steeping ground sage in hot water for 15 minutes.
- TASTE– It tastes very bitter which is why it is combined with other teas and herbs such as Echinacea, lavender, peppermint.
- TRADITIONAL USE– This medicinal tea is known to promote brain health.
However, its flavor can never outweigh the number of benefits it provides such as-
9.1 What are the benefits of Sage tea?
- Sage tea boosts cognitive function such as memory, attention, and learning in healthy adults (81) (82).
- Not only that, studies even found that oral sage drops also improves the cognitive function in Alzheimer patients (85) (86) (87).
- This herbal tea is also full of antidiabetic properties and therefore can also improve the blood lipid profile (88).
- Also, the tea prevents colon cancer from developing by decreasing DNA damage and cell proliferation (89).
9.2 What are the side-effects of Sage tea?
- Taking Salvia officinalis species of sage in an amount higher than the dietary amount can trigger seizures (90).
- Spanish sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia) can increase the blood pressure, while common sage (Salvia officinalis) might decrease the blood pressure.
- Spanish sage can also interfere with hormone-sensitive conditions such as ovarian cancer and uterine cancer as it has an effect similar to estrogen (female hormone).
- Besides, sage can also lower blood sugar levels in diabetic people. Therefore, monitor your blood sugar levels to rule out the possibility of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
10. Chaga Tea
Chaga is a mushroom that grows on birch trees.
- HOW TO MAKE?– The tea is made by brewing Chaga chunks or powder in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
- TASTE– This herbal tea has a pleasant earthy and slightly bitter taste. So, you can add maple syrup, lemon, or honey to boost its flavor.
- TRADITIONAL USE– Chaga is full of antioxidants, with ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity) value of 146,700. Hence, it is highly capable of protecting your body from disease-causing free radicals.
Here’re the other benefits of drinking Chaga mushroom tea.
10.1 What are the benefits of Chaga tea?
- Lab studies on animals indicate that chaga can inhibit cancer cell growth by 25-60% (91) (92) (93).
- Chaga tea can also boost immunity by stimulating spleen lymphocytes (94).
- Moreover, chaga has potent anti-viral properties. In fact, it reduced the viral properties of hepatitis C virus by 100 times (95).
- Also, this medicinal tea decreases inflammation, by blocking the expression of chemical mediators of inflammation (96).
- Finally, chaga tea improves physical endurance by increasing glycogen levels and decreasing lactic acid levels in the bloodstream (97).
There is a lack of information on the possible side effects of chaga. However, following are the few adverse effects of the chaga herbal tea.
10.2 What are the side-effects of Chaga tea?
- A case reported that taking chaga for 6 months caused liver cancer in a 72-year-old Japanese woman (98).
- People with autoimmune diseases should avoid chaga as it makes the immune system more active (99).
- Also, avoid chaga tea if you have a scheduled surgery or have bleeding disorders, as it increases the risk of bleeding.
- Chaga tea can also lower blood sugar levels. Monitor your blood sugar if you use chaga products and are diabetic.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid chaga tea, as there is no info on the safe use of chaga for them.
11. Passionflower Tea
- HOW TO MAKE?– Passionflower tea is an infusion of passion leaves, stems or flower leaves in hot water for 5 minutes.
- TASTE– This medicinal tea has a grassy flavor, which requires adding honey, milk or sugar to mask that baseline taste.
- TRADITIONAL USE– This herbal tea is popular since long to relieve anxiety and get a sound sleep.
11.1 What are the benefits of Passionflower tea?
- Studies found that passionflower tea improves sleep quality scores with just one week of its consumption (100) (101).
- Moreover, studies also support its effective role in reducing anxiety and is as effective as an anxiety-relieving medication (102).
- Passionflower also alleviates the opioid withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and anxiety, when taken in combination with opioid detoxifying medication (103).
11.2 What are the side-effects of Passionflower tea?
Passionflower herbal tea is safe while consuming in the food amount. However, following side effects may sometimes occur-
- Possible side effects of the passionflower tea include- dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and inflamed blood vessels (104) (105).
Avoid it before/during/after surgery as it can increase the effect of anesthesia and other medications on the brain.