Most people simply think of tea as a drink they enjoy on a hot summer day or cold fall evening. However, many use the beverage for more than hydration. It’s not uncommon for people to brew peppermint tea for nausea or chamomile tea to relax or go to sleep. In fact, “true” teas and herbal teas are popular for a score of illnesses, including one we all suffer from many times in life: inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response to stimuli that are harmful, whether its bacterial, chemical, genetic, or mechanical. An infected cut on your finger may hurt and turn red. Arthritis-affected joints may become painful and swell. You may sprain an ankle while walking or running, or you could contract bronchitis, which causes inflammation in the lungs’ bronchi. In each of these instances, there is an injury that the body is responding to in order to heal itself. That response includes rushing more blood to the area, which allows more defense cells to flood around the injury.
In most instances, inflammation is a good, natural part of healing, but there are diseases, particularly involving the immune system, where inflammation is harmful, and there are times when a little less inflammation may lead to more comfort. In these cases, supplementing a regular routine or medication with natural remedies, such as herbal teas, may be helpful, but as long as it is safe. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if herbals may interact with medications you are taking (e.g., decrease absorption or increase metabolism).
How do teas help inflammation?
It all depends on what kind of tea you drink! Green tea works well due to its antioxidants, whereas herbal teas, such as ginger, have their own mechanisms of action because they’re all made up of different compounds. For instance, turmeric gets its antiinflammatory feature from curcumin it contains, but cayenne pepper acts because of its capsaicinoids.
“True teas” and inflammation
Numerous studies show the benefits of good, old-fashioned tea in reducing inflammation. For instance, according to a 2012 study from India’s Bengal School of Technology (A College of Pharmacy), both green and black teas protect the body’s proteins from harm and destruction via their antiinflammatory effects. This is of great importance because proteins are vital for the body’s functions, including building and repairing tissues, which is the reason the Arthritis Foundation recommends drinking tea regularly.
Studies have also found that, of the real teas, green tea has the best antiinflammatory effect, largely thanks to its antioxidants. Add that to the list of reasons to regularly drink green tea.
Herbal teas and inflammation
A quick search on the web shows a laundry list of herbs that people claim provide antiinflammatory benefits. But are they all what they seem? As with everything else on the Internet, it’s best to do your research and not believe the first thing you read. Not all of these herbs and spices are as good as they claim. When in doubt, check Google Scholar out!
When searching for the right tea for your needs, you’ll find that here are quite a few of well-known herbs and spices that have a mound of data to back up their claims. Will they all work spectacularly for you? Of course not. Every person is different. However, with the amount of evidence proving their worth, these well-researched items should be the first to try.
Here is a list of those used in teas, including links to studies that support their use to fight inflammation:
Willow bark contains a chemical called salicin, which is similar to aspirin. It is good for not only for pain and inflammation but also has been used for fever and weight loss.
In addition to pain and inflammation, turmeric is used for indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, gallbladder disorders, and a whole long, long list of other conditions.
Ginger is great for stomach problems, from morning sickness to chemo-induced nausea, and its extract is even sometimes used to treat insect bites.
Cinnamon flavors your favorite desserts and drinks, but like ginger, it is also used for stomach problems.
Just like many of the other items on this list, cayenne pepper is used for stomach issues; however, it is also proven to treat pain associated with many conditions others may not, including fibromyalgia, migraines, neuropathy, and muscle spasms.
Next time you need the perfect recipe for an illness or injury, try one of these popular ones!