We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Having a cold sucks. But luckily, relief from some symptoms is just a cup of tea away. Read on for eight types of teas that could help fight a pesky cold—or at the very least temporarily alleviate your sore throat and congestion.
1. Rooibos Tea
Consumed in southern Africa for centuries, rooibos is a flavorful, caffeine-free alternative to black and green tea. Many of its health benefits stem from its high levels of antioxidants, including aspalathin and quercetin. The antioxidants can also help support your body when it’s under attack by environmental factors or an infection. Plus, a Dutch study found that the specific antioxidants in rooibos are linked to a healthier heart.
2. Echinacea Tea
Echinacea is a plant whose roots and leaves have been traditionally used for medicinal purposes. Per researchers at Hungkuang University in Taiwan, the plant has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties, and is an immune-strengthening agent. Echinacea tea is also a fabulous option if your cold worsens into the flu as it has been found to be effective in shortening the duration of flu symptoms.
3. Chamomile Tea
A cup of chamomile has been one of our nighttime rituals for a while, but did you know it can also help soothe an upset stomach? Chamomile contains flavonoids—naturally occurring plant pigments that are present in many nutritious fruits and veggies. Foods with flavonoids have a host of health benefits, including the potential to reduce risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke, according to promising research. In terms of a cold, chamomile tea is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce swelling and redness, as well as antioxidant properties to aid with tissue repair and health.
4. Ginger-Honey Tea
It’s common knowledge that a hot cup of tea with honey can soothe a sore throat. But did you know that ginger and lemon are also natural remedies? Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties help kill bad bacteria while boosting blood circulation. While the acids in a lemon shake up the pH of your throat to kill off bacteria, as well. Best of all? You can whip up this hot beverage with items in your kitchen, no special tea bag required.
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5. Elderberry Tea
You’ve already heard of elderflower, right? Well, elderberries are the dark purple fruits from the same tree, the European elder (Sambucus nigra, if you’re fancy). The nutrient-dense berries are packed with antioxidants (like flavanols and phenolic acids), vitamins (A and C) and minerals (iron, potassium, phosphorous and copper). And they’ve been a staple in traditional medicine for hundreds of years, thanks to their immune-boosting properties. In one study published in the journal Nutrients, a random sampling of airline passengers were given elderberry supplements for about two weeks before and during travel, and noticed shorter cold duration and reduced respiratory symptoms.
6. Mushroom Tea
Steaming cup of fungi, anyone? OK, so mushroom tea might sound a little gross. But with its distinctly earthy taste (sort of like miso) and slew of potential health benefits, you may want to give this bitter brew a shot. Made by grinding up mushrooms into powder and infusing in water, studies suggest that mushroom tea can reduce stress, boost immunity and increase energy. Not too shabby.
7. Peppermint Tea
While most peppermint-related studies focus on peppermint oil, it’s widely believed that the same benefits can be reaped from peppermint tea. The minty leaves, which contain the essential oils menthol, menthone and limonene, which can be used medicinally for nausea, menstrual cramps, abdominal gas and bloating. As far as a cold goes, the menthol also works as a decongestant and may offer relief from a cough.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is a health superfood. It’s packed with flavonoids that can help reduce inflammation, it aids in lowering bad cholesterol and it can lessen your chances of heart attack or stroke, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School. It’s also a great source of polyphenols, which studies have shown can help fight cancer, and it might even help you lose weight thanks to its fat-burning and metabolism-boosting abilities. Oh yeah and green tea is very high in antioxidants, which help support your body when it’s under attack.