Are Herbal Teas Really Helpful? 

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The body goes through a lot of bashing, pushing as we go through our life processes.
We encounter most of this at one time or the other. These could cause our bodies to lose some vital nutrients and functions.  And in so doing, there is a need to give the body a helping hand. And this could be in various forms, and one of the most popular is through  the consumption of herbal teas.
What then are herbs ?  Herbs are plants with savoury or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring food, in medicine, or as fragrances. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs refer to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits.
Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, and, in some cases, spiritual. General usage of the term “herb” differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs; in medicinal or spiritual use, any parts of the plant might be considered as “herbs”, including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, root bark, inner bark (and cambium), resin and pericarp.
They to plants or parts of them, including grasses, flowers, berries, seeds, leaves, nuts, stems, stalks and roots, which are used for their therapeutic and health- enhancing properties.

What are the benefits of herbs?
Fresh herbs not only add flavour without calories, they may also serve up health benefits as healing foods. Herbal medicine has been used as kitchen medicine for thousands of years, and while our body’s response to these natural treatments has not changed, we now have more global choices than ever, There is no substitute for competent medical care and routine checkups. However, to avoid disease and live strong, a good diet and sensible eating is critical. A basic knowledge of how food and herbs can help what ails you is key to your sensible eating plan.

Benefits of Herbal Teas
Herbal tea is made by steeping the flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, stems, and petals of a multitude of plants and flowers. The herbal teas come in hundreds of different varieties, some common and others that are more obscure, and depending on your area of the world, different types will be more widely available. The health benefits of each type of herbal tea depend on the composition, which may be a single ingredient or a combination of different herbs and flowers.
Another name for herbal tea is “tisane”, although this is less commonly used.
Herbal teas are all the rage for the many medicinal qualities they are supposed to possess. It’s claimed they can help with everything from easing a cold and indigestion to fighting infection and nausea.
But when choosing a herbal tea remedy, make sure you pick the right one. While fruit flavoured teas – such as rosehip, apple and orange – tend to be delicious, they are developed for their flavouring more than anything else. Herbal teas on the other hand, such as thyme, peppermint and ginger have greater therapeutic virtues.
Fruit teas  tend to be blended from synthetic ingredients, but herbal teas often contain real herbs. This means they make effective remedies if drunk at least three to four times a day.
If the label mentions real herbs then the quality will be good.  Avoid any teas with artificial flavourings. The best quality herbal teas tend to be organic.

Benefits of Drinking Herbal Teas
Drinking herbal tea is highly recommended for people who want to naturally improve their health while enjoying a delicious and refreshing brew. Unlike coffee and standard tea (black, white, green, etc.), most herbal teas do not include caffeine. Most herbal teas offer some variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, but the specifics depend on the particular herbs and plants that you choose. Common health benefits include relaxing the body and mind, aiding sleep disorders, reducing inflammation, easing the pain, protecting against common diseases, boosting the immune system, optimizing the digestive system, detoxifying the body, and stimulating cognitive function.
• Diuretic & Laxative
Diuretics and laxatives help eliminate toxins rapidly from the body, relieving stress on the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver. The best diuretic teas include dandelion, hibiscus, green, hawthorn, and juniper teas.
• Boost Immune System
Stimulating the immune system, with antioxidants and vitamins, helps prevent infections, protect against oxidative stress, and lower the risk of chronic disease. Excellent immune-boosting herbal teas include elderberry, echinacea, ginger, and licorice root teas.
• Reduce Sleep Issues
Some types of tea are able to balance neurotransmitter levels, reduce anxiety and promote sleep through sedative effects. The best choices for sleep problems include valerian, kava root, chamomile, and lavender teas.
• Analgesic Properties
Pain relief is crucial for people who suffer from chronic discomfort, or those recovering from illness, surgery or injury. Top analgesic herbal teas include allspice, bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus, and kava root teas.
• Anti-inflammatory Properties:
Reducing inflammation can help everything from gastrointestinal distress and arthritis to headaches and hemorrhoids. Herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, turmeric and eucalyptus teas are great for inflammatory problems.
• Relieve Stress & Anxiety
Soothing stress and anxiety can also help lower levels of depression, boost energy, and lower the incidence of inflammation and chronic disease in the body. Drink kava root, valerian, St. John’s Wort and chamomile teas to lower stress levels.
• Prevent Chronic Disease
Antioxidant capacity can help eliminate free radicals and prevent oxidative stress in the body, which lowers the risk of cancer and chronic disease. Herbal teas that are high in antioxidants include peppermint, rooibos, thyme and nettle teas.
• Aid in Digestion
Indigestion, cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea can be eliminated with herbal teas, particularly varieties like dandelion, chamomile, cinnamon, peppermint and ginger teas.
• Boost Brain Health
Preventing oxidative stress in the brain, while also boosting focus and concentration, can be achieved by adding rosehip, ginger, mint, rooibos, and dandelion teas to your healthy diet.

There are various popular teas, and they are listed below
1. Green Tea:
Japanese green tea leaves strengthen tissue cells found all over the body, and so protects the body from ageing. This is because green tea is high in antioxidants – compounds produced in the body that protect the cells from damage such as pollutants.
2. Peppermint:
A traditional remedy used for  nausea and vomiting. By stimulating bile production in the gall bladder, peppermint breaks down fat in the digestion system, thus relieving nausea.
3. St John’s Wort:
St John’s Wort is an extract of a small yellow flower commonly found in Britain and Europe. It is a mild anti-depressant and shown to be an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Recent medical research shows that St John’s Wort helps with depression by raising chemical levels in the brain.
4. Fennel:
A Mediterranean herb that has anti-spasmodic properties. This means it works on relaxing the intestinal muscles and is particularly good for constipation, colic and flatulence. Fennel is also a good detox because it is a diuretic – meaning it creates the urge to urinate. This helps to clean the kidneys and so rid the body of impurities, which then promotes a clearer skin.
5. Chamomile:
The small golden buds of chamomile give many people relief from mild insomnia. Chamomile is the principal ingredient in many ‘sleepytime’ tea blends. This is because chamomile contains tryptophan, an amino acid known for its tranquilizing effects. When taken as an infusion, these properties act as a relaxant in our bodies and help to promote sleep.
6. Nettle:
A British herb that is good to take when feeling run down. This is because of its rich mineral content. Nettle is a good source of iron, calcium and silica. Iron produces red blood cells, essential for energy. Calcium and silica are important for building bones, hair and teeth.
7. Ginger:
Ginger is an excellent remedy in the early stages of an infection because, as a warming spice, it can promote a fever and hasten healing. Ginger’s warming effects are also said to relieve rheumatic aches and pains by widening the blood vessels and stimulating circulation .
8. Lemon Verbena:
Lemon Verbena – like citrus
liqueurs such as Poire William and Calvados – are traditionally used in France as a digestive aid. This is because the citrus content helps to break down fats in the digestive tract.
9. Elderflower:
The white blossom from the Elder tree is a traditional cure for colds. It is an effective decongestant because it helps clean the nasal passages of catarrh. It is also a good diaphoretic – meaning it encourages the body to sweat. Naturopaths believe that viruses are unable to breed in a raised body temperature.
10. Echinacea  Tea :
Boosts the immune system, protects the skin from infections, and eliminates inflammation in the body.
11. Rosehip Tea :
Very good for the immune system, due to high vitamin C levels, and can also detoxify the body.
12. Turmeric Tea :
Stimulates antioxidant activity in the body, prevents cancer, soothes inflammation, and promotes good digestion.
In as much as herbal teas are beneficial, they are to be consumed with much caution.  I would  suggest  that you must engage the advice of a qualified nutritionist and your physician , if you have any health challenge or on medication.

Side Effects of Herbal Teas
Herbal teas do come with certain side effects, due to the potent effect of the active ingredients, potential allergic reactions, mistaken identity of herbs, excessive consumption or drug interactions
Toxic Herbs – While the majority of herbs are safe for human consumption, in moderate amounts, certain toxic herbs are easily mistaken for perfectly safe ingredients. For example, foxglove can be deadly but looks very similar to comfrey. Similarly, water hemlock can be fatal if ingested but looks almost identical to elderberry, which is a popular ingredient in herbal teas. Do not collect wild herbs for teas and tisanes unless you are trained in herbal arts or are extremely confident about your knowledge. Most herbal ingredients are readily available in natural health stores.
Allergies – Herbal teas span a wide range of plant genera and families, meaning that many potential allergic reactions are possible. Allergic reactions can range from mild stomach upset or inflammation to breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, skin rash and other more serious symptoms. Speak to your doctor or an allergist to determine your allergies before exploring new herbal teas.
Moderate Use – Herbs are used because of their powerful active ingredients and chemicals; in moderate amounts, they are generally safe, but excessive consumption can lead to toxicity and negative side effects. In most cases, small amounts of tea (1-2 cups per day) are more than enough to enjoy the tea’s health benefits.
Drug Interactions – If you are currently taking any medications, it is best to check with your doctor before adding herbal teas to your health regimen. Many herbal teas have hypotensive, hypoglycemic, sedative, and anticoagulant properties, which can be dangerous if you are already using medication that has similar effects.