Herbal Tea Revolution

June 21, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

It’s not uncommon for me to have a glass of biodynamic or organic red wine with my evening meal. As I was planning dinner last night, I got to thinking about why I enjoy wine and also about the rather substantial number of people who can’t or choose not to include alcohol in their lives. That thought process lead me to a decision to brew a cup of chamomile tea instead of having my usual glass of Pinot Noir. I remembered a study from last year that described the anti-anxiety properties of chamomile. So I wondered whether this herbal brew could provide a similar soothing effect as I’d come to expect from wine. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did. This experience is the basis for my Healthy Monday tip of the week: Drink more herbal tea! (1)

I’m taking this opportunity to focus on three specific herbal teas that I think deserve a more prominent place in many kitchen cupboards: ginger tea, hibiscus tea and rooibos tea. This is as good a time as any to take a gander at what science is telling us about each of these healing decoctions.

Ginger or Zingiber officinale has been the subject of a great deal of medical research over the past few decades. Just this month there was a study published in the journal Biofactors that elucidated some of the cancer fighting effects of a ginger component known as gingerol. Nigerian scientists explain that gingerol’s anti-cancer activity likely comes from its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antitumor promoting properties. Other papers appearing in the Annual Review of Nutrition and the Journal of Pain reveal that ginger may be: a) useful in managing obesity because of an insulin sensitizing effect; b) a viable alternative to synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs for reducing common aches and pains such as those caused by intense exercise. (2,3,4)

Hibiscus sabdarifa is a pleasant tasting tea that is capable of improving several markers relating to cardiovascular health, including blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, insulin resistance and triglycerides. However, the most interesting piece of research of late will be published in the August 2010 edition of the journal Meat Science. That experiment shows that adding hibiscus to meat marinades can significant reduce the levels of carcinogenic HAAs (heterocyclic aromatic amines) in cooked meat by up to 50%. Perhaps the best news of all is that the hibiscus extract was able to accomplish this feat without affecting the desired flavor of the end product. My hope is that further experiments will examine whether or not drinking hibiscus tea during meals containing HAAs can similarly reduce harmful effects. (5,6,7)

Ginger Tea May Protect Against Gastric Damage

Source: eCAM Advance Access July 1, 2009 (link)

It may seem hard to believe, but a humble tea derived from a wild bush that grows in South Africa is currently under evaluation for its potential use in the natural treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). So says a report in the May 2010 issue of the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. The authors of the paper describe a link between oxidative stress and the pathophysiology of AD. They go on to mention that specific antioxidants present in rooibos (aspalathin and nothofagin) could one day be used “as a therapeutic strategy in the amelioration of this illness”. Other research from the past few months documents: a) an anti-wrinkle effect found in a topical cream containing green tea extract and rooibos; b) ACE-inhibiting properties in rooibos tea which could lend its use in the natural management of hypertension. (8,9,10)

Beyond any potential health benefits, one of the best reasons to increase your consumption of herbal teas is to make your days and nights more interesting. Anyone can drink a can of soda or a glass of orange juice! But why not try something different instead? You probably know what ginger tea tastes like. On the other hand, you might not be able to say the same about hibiscus or rooibos tea. Also keep in mind that you’ll be doing yourself a world of good by simply replacing one or two sugar-laden beverages a day with nutrient-packed, sugar-free options such as herbal tea. All this and you’ll probably save a pretty penny too – my idea of genuinely healthy bargain.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Heart Health

8 Comments & Updates to “Herbal Tea Revolution”

  1. Nina K. Says:

    Good Morning, JP 🙂

    fall is back here, 14°C brrrr cold! It seems that you have all the sun 😉 🙂

    I have to say, that i really love ginger tea, especially with dinner. helps to digest, tastes very good, my hubby drinks chamomille tea first in the morning (religously), every day, after breakfast he drinks matcha, he likes that. and in the evening he drinks every day an common yarrow tea (hope thats the right term), he say this brew helps to digest and calm down before bedtime.

    i personally don’t like the taste of chamomille tea, i prefer cistus incanus tea (tastes more like black tea, is very high in polyphenols, has antibacterial antiviral and antifungal properties, no coffein), hibisus tea and a mixture of common yarrow, ginger and dandelion or some ayurvedic mixtures – but without green or black tea- thats it 😉

    did i mentioned that i ordered some of the gula java blocs? its the coconut blossom sugar


    Have a great day!
    Nina K.

  2. bitkisel tedavi Says:

    Herbal teas are always useful rather than wines.

  3. CW Says:


    Are there any concerns in herbal dosage levels in herbal tea? I know that in some herbal supplements, there is some concern with varying dosage levels of the active ingredients.

  4. JP Says:

    Good day, Nina!

    I’m in awe of your tea drinking habits! You must be one of the healthiest couples in your “neck of the woods”!

    Have you been enjoying the effects and taste of the gula java blocs?

    Thank you for including that link as well. Interesting. 🙂

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:


    Similar benefits and risks are likely to apply with herbal teas, IMO. However this is only an educated guess because the majority of controlled studies (on herbs) have utilized concentrated and standardized herbal extracts rather than crude, herbal teas. Therefore it’s difficult to provide a direct comparison.

    I think one would have to look at this issue on a case-by-case basis.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Update 10/15/15:


    Nutrition. 2015 Aug 14.

    Chamomile tea improves glycemic indices and antioxidants status in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

    OBJECTIVES: Oxidative stress is a major factor in the pathogenesis of diabetes complications. The objectives were to investigate the effects of chamomile tea consumption on glycemic control and antioxidant status in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2 DM).

    METHODS: This single-blind randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted on 64 subjects with T2 DM (males and females) ages 30 to 60 y. The intervention group (n = 32) consumed chamomile tea (3 g/150 mL hot water) 3 times per day immediately after meals for 8 wk. The control group (n = 32) followed a water regimen for same intervention period. Fasting blood samples, anthropometric measurements, and 3-d, 24-h dietary recalls were collected at the baseline and at the end of the trial. Data were analyzed by independent t test, paired t test, and analysis of covariance.

    RESULTS: Chamomile tea significantly decreased concentration of glycosylated hemoglobin, serum insulin levels, homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance, and serum malondialdehyde, compared with control group (all P < 0.05). Total antioxidant capacity, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase activities were significantly increased by 6.81%, 26.16 %, 36.71 % and 45.06% respectively in chamomile group compared with these variables in control group at the end of the intervention (all P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Short term intake of chamomile tea has beneficial effects on glycemic control and antioxidant status in patients with T2 DM. A larger sample population and a longer intervention period may be required to show significant clinical improvements. Be well! JP

  7. JP Says:

    Updated 03/24/16:


    J Complement Integr Med. 2016 Mar 15.

    Evaluation of the effects of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on oxidative stress and serum levels of lipids, insulin, and hs-CRP in adult patients with metabolic syndrome: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.

    BACKGROUND: Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) is a plant with antihyperlipidemic and antihypertensive effects. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of roselle calyces on the serum levels of lipids and insulin, inflammation, and oxidative stress in patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS).

    METHODS: Forty adult patients with MetS were randomly assigned to receive either 500 mg of H. sabdariffa calyx powder or placebo once daily for 4 weeks. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures (SBP and DBP) and BMI (body mass index) as well as fasting serum levels of glucose (FPG; fasting plasma glucose), insulin, lipoproteins, triglycerides (TG), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), and malondialdehyde (MDA) were determined pre- and post-intervention and compared.

    RESULTS: H. sabdariffa significantly reduced serum TG (p=0.044) and SBP (p=0.049) compared to placebo. All other variables were not significantly affected by the interventions.

    CONCLUSIONS: Daily consumption of 500 mg of H. sabdariffa L. calyx powder can decrease SBP and serum TG in MetS patients.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 10/15/16:


    J Diet Suppl. 2016 Oct 13:1-12.

    The Effect of Green Tea and Sour Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) Supplementation on Oxidative Stress and Muscle Damage in Athletes.

    OBJECTIVE: Additional oxygen consumption during intense exercises may lead to oxidative stress and contribute to muscular fatigue. Green tea and sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.), which contain various flavonoids and polyphenols, have many healthful properties such as anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and heart protecting effects. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of green tea and sour tea supplementation on oxidative stress and muscle damage in soccer athletes.

    METHODS: This randomized, double-blind control trial was conducted on 54 male soccer players. Participants were randomly assigned to three groups to receive: 450 mg/d green tea extract (GTE) in the first group (n = 18), 450 mg/d sour tea extract (STE) in the second group (n = 18) and 450 mg/d maltodextrin in the control group (n = 18). Fasting whole blood samples were taken under resting conditions at the beginning and the end of the study to quantify the serum levels of muscle damage indices, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), creatine kinase (CK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and oxidative stress biomarkers, malondialdehyde (MDA), and total antioxidant capacity (TAC).

    RESULTS: After six weeks intervention, athletes who received GTE and STE supplements compared with the placebo had a significantly decreased MDA level (P = 0.008). Furthermore, STE supplementation resulted in a significant increase in TAC level compared with GTE and placebo groups (P = 0.01). However, supplementation with GTE and STE had no significant effects on muscle damage indices.

    CONCLUSION: GTE and STE supplementation have beneficial effects on oxidative stress status in male athletes. However, both kinds of tea extract did not affect muscle damage status.

    Be well!


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