Tips, Tricks & Tales from the SESA Beverage Lab
Tea has historically been used in myriad ways to benefit health. While the tea plant is loaded with antioxidants, some of the most healing “teas” don’t contain tea at all! Often, these “herbal teas” or tisanes are comprised of a variety of dried herbs and spices steeped and drunk just like a cup of traditional tea.
Herbal teas have long been used to help fight the symptoms of cold and flu, and since it is flu season, we thought there wasn’t a better time to dive into some options if you’ve got the winter crud.
Why Does Herbal Tea Help Cure Cold + Flu?
The various herbs in the blends below all have healing properties that can help the immune system fight back against cold + flu. From vitamin C to antioxidants to sedative properties, these herbs are well-known ancient healers used for centuries in homemade remedies.
One of the best ways to fight cold and flu is with the power of Vitamin C (1). This essential vitamin helps the immune system work at its best, thus helping to rid the body of disease. Regular intake of Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the length of colds (2, 3).
Which Teas are the Best for Fighting Cold + Flu?
1. Chamomile Citrus
Chamomile has long been renowned for its soothing properties. Some studies indicate that chamomile may be helpful in reducing cold symptoms (4). Additionally, chamomile is a great relaxer and has been shown to aid falling asleep and promote relaxation. Often, when we have colds or the flu, it is hard to get to sleep because the symptoms are so distracting! That’s where chamomile comes in to play – it can help you get to sleep and stay asleep allowing your body to spend its energy healing you while you sleep. The citrus element in our Chamomile Citrus blend adds a kick of immune boosting Vitamin C (and lends a bright flavor for a dynamic blend).
2. Lemongrass Ginger
Lemongrass & ginger blend to create one powerhouse of a cold-busting beverage. Lemongrass is loaded with antioxidants that help the body fight disease and is antimicrobial. As an antimicrobial agent, lemongrass can help the body fight off the viruses that cause colds & flu.
Ginger is a well-known cold-buster. Ginger contains Gingerol a powerfully medicinal substance that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. As an anti-inflammatory herb, ginger helps relieve some of the swelling associated with cold & flu symptoms, such as in the sinuses. It may be gross, but post-nasal drip can lead to nausea, and ginger is a great cure for nausea. There is even some evidence that ginger is as effective as a prescription at curing sea-sickness (5). Gingerol can also help lower the risk of infection, preventing cold & flu from even starting. But if you’ve already got the crud, then ginger can still help fight inflammatory disease and its antioxidants help boost the immune system.
3. Inner Wellness
Inner Wellness is an Ayurvedic blend featuring Fennel and Tulsi (or holy basil). Fennel has a licorice-like flavor and has been used for centuries in home remedies. Fennel is a great source of Selenium which stimulates the production of killer T-cells which help fight infection. Studies have shown that selenium can help boost immunity through promoting T-cell growth (6). Fennel also contains Choline which helps maintain the structure of cellular membranes and helps reduce chronic inflammation. It is well known that inflammation can make one more susceptible to infection and disease, so making sure inflammation is under control is key to living a healthy life.
Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, has long been used in Ayurvedic remedies to treat cold, congestion, cough, and flu. Research has shown it to be a powerful adaptogenic herb that can reduce stress and increase vitality. Tulsi is also anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, thus helping the body stave off disease. Moreover, tulsi is “immune-modulating” meaning that it is able to manipulate the immune system’s response to make sure it is functioning perfectly. Tulsi helps detox the body, and studies have even shown tulsi can help protect the body from toxic chemicals (7). It is antifungal, antiviral, and an analgesic (or pain killer), so can seriously remedy some of the more unsavory symptoms of cold and flu.
Breathe tea is an Ayurvedic blend designed to help you do just that, breathe! Featuring a combination of star anise, tulsi, licorice and Malabar nut, this blend helps open the airways and promotes healing to allow clear breathing and fewer coughs. Star anise is rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, all of which help fight free radicals and help prevent disease. Moreover, star anise contains shikimic acid which is a powerful antiviral compound. It is even one of the ingredients in Tamiflu! Star anise is a powerful herb for fighting the flu in particular. Star anise also contains the flavonoid anethole which is a strong antifungal. Early studies indicate that this compound can help suppress fungal infection (8). Star anise is also antibacterial and helps fight pathogenic bacteria. Say goodbye to strep throat with star anise!
Licorice has been shown to soothe the stomach and cleanse the respiratory system. It promotes the production of healthy mucus in the lining of the lungs. Being sick can be stressful, but licorice helps with that, too! By soothing the adrenal glands and lowering cortisol production, licorice helps reduce stress, which allows your body to heal that much faster.
Malabar nut has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to open up the airways, loosen chest congestion, and heal upper airway infections. Malabar nut also acts as an expectorant, helping those with congestion expel some of the ick. It is also known to have anti-microbial properties, helping the body get rid of cough and bronchitis.
The Takeaway: Drink Herbal Teas for Immune Health
There are many reasons to turn to herbal tea when sickened with cold and flu, but herbal tea is also a great way to help stave off illness during the winter months. With strong antibacterial and antioxidant properties, these four teas will go a long way towards helping you fight cold and flu and recover quickly! While you should always talk to your doctor about herbal supplements before taking them, these herbal teas can provide a safe, inexpensive, and delicious addition to your cold and flu fighting arsenal!