St. Mark's Hospital - February 22, 2019

When fighting a nasty cold, a steaming mug of herbal tea can make you feel better. Teas from dried fruits, flowers, herbs and spices have been used for centuries to soothe scratchy throats, stuffy noses and achy joints. But did you know that herbal teas are packed with antioxidants that may bolster your defenses against allergens and illnesses like the flu?

Here’s a look at a few teas that may help soothe your symptoms when the sniffles strike. Keep in mind that research into the benefits of herbal remedies is not always as strong as tea purveyors might lead you to believe. Still, there’s little risk in trying a cup or two.

Chamomile

  • Flavor: Earthy, sweet and calming
  • Benefits:
    • Relaxes and lubricates throat, easing coughing and hoarseness
    • Relieves anxiety from coughing and congestion
    • Reduces swelling and redness
  • Try with: Fresh lemon, honey or lemon balm tea, which boosts relaxation and antioxidants

Peppermint

  • Flavor: Cool, minty and refreshing
  • Benefits:
    • Soothes sore throat
    • Eases swelling in nasal passages and breaks up mucus in chest
    • Relieves nausea
  • Try with: Green tea or eucalyptus tea, which supports lung function

Ginger

  • Flavor: Spicy, warm and invigorating
  • Benefits:
    • Blocks release of histamine — the chemical triggering allergies
    • Opens up stuffy nose and sinuses
    • Relaxes muscles involved in coughing spasms
    • Alleviates nausea and muscle soreness
  • Try with: Rooibos tea, cayenne pepper or turmeric to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi

Echinacea

  • Flavor: Rich, fragrant and mildly sweet
  • Benefits:
    • Supports immune system function
    • Relieves throat and sinus pain
    • May help prevent or shorten colds
  • Try with: Mint leaves, lemon, honey or elderberry tea, which may lower inflammation

Hibiscus

  • Flavor: Tangy, tart and fruity
  • Benefit: Lowers blood pressure, which helps clear lungs of fluid and infections
  • Try with: Honey or rosehip tea for extra sweetness and vitamin C

Note: If you’re coughing up mucus or blood or experiencing fever, chills, fatigue, nausea or shortness of breath, call your doctor first before trying herbal remedies.