The flu or a common cold is picking a fight with your immune system, and you can almost hear your mother's voice in your head: "Drink plenty of fluids!" While it's true that fluids can help keep you hydrated and therefore fight off infections more effectively, some fluids offer other health benefits on top of hydration. Even if you're not a tea drinker, there's just something about a warm, steaming cup of tea when you're stuffed up or have a sore throat that makes you instantly feel a bit more human.
But some teas are better than others in this regard. Below you'll find 10 teas that research has proven help most people fight a bout of the flu or a common cold better than others.
Echinacea Tea: The Immune Booster
Echinacea tea, often sought after at the onset of cold or flu symptoms, comes from the echinacea plant, which has been traditionally used as a home remedy. A review published in the journal "Phytotherapy Research" suggests that echinacea can shorten the duration of the common cold. The tea's natural compounds are believed to reduce inflammation and have mild antibacterial properties, so it may also help the immune system combat infections and viruses, which could help alleviate symptoms.
Ginger Tea: The Soothing Spice
Renowned for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, ginger tea provides a warming and soothing effect for those suffering from a cold or flu. The rhizomes of the ginger plant contain gingerols and shogaols, compounds that may help relieve a sore throat, diminish nausea, and reduce inflammation. A study published in the "International Journal of Preventive Medicine" supports ginger's immune-boosting abilities, suggesting it can help soothe a range of cold and flu symptoms.
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Chamomile Tea: The Gentle Relaxant
Chamomile tea, derived from the flowers of the Matricaria chamomilla plant, is an herbal tea that can act as a gentle relaxant to help improve sleep and rest — vital when recovering from the flu. Research highlighted in "Molecular Medicine Reports" has also noted its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce symptoms like sore throat, sinus congestion, and muscle aches associated with the cold or flu.
Green Tea: The Antioxidant Powerhouse
Sourced from the camellia sinensis plant, green tea is rich in antioxidants known as catechins, which have been researched for their health benefits, including potential antiviral effects. According to the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition," the compounds in green tea may help boost overall immunity and reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms. Its mild caffeine content can also provide a gentle lift in energy without overstimulating a flu-ridden body.
Peppermint Tea: The Congestion Clearer
Peppermint tea contains menthol, which is a natural decongestant, helping to break down mucus and soothe sore throats — a blessing when dealing with the flu. A study in "Phytotherapy Research" suggests that peppermint has antibacterial and antiviral qualities, and its natural cooling effect can also help reduce fever, a common symptom of flu.
Licorice Root Tea: The Throat Comforter
Licorice root tea, used for thousands of years for its therapeutic effects, has components that may help alleviate sore throat, reduce cough, and clear the respiratory system. According to research in "Food Science & Nutrition," it has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, making it an effective home remedy to ease symptoms.
Black Tea: The Classic Remedy
Black tea, another variety from the camellia sinensis plant, is a traditional staple in many households. Break it out when a cold or the flu hits, as its flavonoids can help support immune function. A study from the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" also suggests that black tea may enhance the body’s defenses against infections.
Honey Tea: The Natural Sweetener with Benefits
Though not a tea in the traditional sense, adding honey to any cup of tea can be beneficial when fighting a cold or flu. Honey tea, made by adding a spoonful of honey to hot water or your tea of choice, can be a soothing remedy. Honey has antimicrobial properties and is a natural cough suppressant, as supported by the World Health Organization (WHO). It can coat and soothe an irritated throat, providing relief from incessant coughing.
Peppermint Tea with Honey: The Ultimate Comfort
Combining peppermint tea with a spoonful of honey can create a potent drink for alleviating cold and flu symptoms. The peppermint provides a soothing menthol effect, while the honey offers cough-suppressing and throat-soothing properties. This tea can also act as a natural expectorant, reducing congestion and making breathing easier.
Green Tea with Echinacea: The Immune-Enhancing Blend
A cup of green tea mixed with echinacea brings together the antioxidant benefits of green tea with the immune-boosting properties of echinacea. This powerful combination can help fortify the body's defenses and has been advocated for by several studies in nutrition and immunology journals for its potential to lessen the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms.
The Bottom Line
By incorporating these teas into your wellness routine during cold and flu season, you can harness their natural health benefits and potentially mitigate the impact of illness. Always remember that while teas can complement recovery, they should not replace medical advice or treatment when necessary. Enjoy a warm cup of therapeutic tea and allow your body the comfort it needs to heal.