A hot tea in the cold winter is more than just a source of warmth. The right infusion can also help relieve discomfort. Which herb should end up in the tea strainer and when.
Bring on the tea: Especially in the cold season, the hot drink is a popular comforter. But the infusion can do much more than provide warmth and quench thirst. Medicinal teas can naturally help to relieve symptoms such as insomnia, coughing and gastrointestinal problems.
"So that the respective tea can develop its effect, the right dosage is important," says Ursula Sellerberg from the Federal Union of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA). The information can be found on the package insert. If the tea is underdosed, the desired effect may not occur. It is important to infuse the leaves, blossoms or roots with boiling water and then steep the tea according to the instructions. This can take up to 15 minutes.
However: "Even teas are not a miracle cure," emphasizes Ursula Sellerberg. They can support a recovery process, for example from a cold. But nothing more. But a cup of tea is often a moment of self-care. "You're doing something good for yourself," says the pharmacist. The ritual of preparation alone can trigger positive effects.
Which tea is good for which symptoms? Here follows a small, incomplete ABC:
The essential oils of the aniseed help especially with coughs and hoarseness. Because anise tea has an expectorant and antibacterial effect.
In the case of digestive problems, anise tea also ensures that cramps in the stomach and intestines are relieved. A tip from Ursula Sellerberg: "It is best to squeeze the aniseed lightly before infusing the tea, then more of the essential oil will dissolve in the hot water."
Side effects: Some people show allergic reactions to aniseed - they shouldn't drink aniseed tea.
"The stinging nettle is an integral part of many kidney and bladder teas because it is excellent against urinary tract infections," says naturopath René Gräber from Preetz (Schleswig-Holstein). But nettle, which also contains many vitamins and minerals, can also have positive effects on rheumatic complaints or gout. Because it has a water-flushing and pain-relieving effect. And it doesn't burn your tongue at all.
Side effects: Those who have water retention - i.e. edema - should be careful. "If you have edema due to impaired kidney function or heart failure, you should avoid the tea," advises Gräber. And: "To be on the safe side, pregnant women and children should also avoid tea made from nettle leaves, as there is not enough experience," says Ursula Sellerberg.
Fennel seeds contain essential oil that can soothe digestive discomforts such as mild gastrointestinal cramps, bloating, or gas. "In high doses, fennel tea can relieve cramps and also stimulate the appetite," says Ursula Sellerberg. It can also be a blessing when you have a cold.
Side effects: Be careful when consuming fennel tea if you have known allergies. "This applies above all to allergies to umbelliferae and pollen allergies," says René Graeber. And with a celery allergy, there is an increased likelihood of an allergic cross-reaction.
Goldenrod herb is considered to be dehydrating, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving. In concrete terms, this means: "In the case of kidney stones or kidney gravel, the medicinal plant often helps extremely well due to its diuretic effectiveness," says Gräber. The tea ensures that the kidneys and bladder are well flushed.
Side effects: "In the case of edema, however, you should refrain from flushing therapy," advises Ursula Sellerberg. And: "In the case of pollen allergies, the risk of allergic symptoms is significantly higher," warns René Gräber.
Whether restlessness, difficulty falling asleep or upper abdominal pain - in such cases lavender tea can be helpful. "In the case of chronic anxiety, the tea can alleviate the symptoms, but this should not be a substitute for causal therapy," says René Gräber. So the tea doesn't fix it alone, it needs treatment that starts at the cause. Lavender tea can also have a calming effect on flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome.
Side effects: Lavender tea is generally considered to be wholesome, and there are no known side effects worth mentioning.
Thyme tea contains essential oil. "The infusion has an antispasmodic, expectorant and antimicrobial effect," says Sellerberg. Thyme tea is recommended for bronchitis and whooping cough.
Side effects: "In rare cases, hypersensitivity can lead to shortness of breath," says Sellerberg. Pregnant women should ask their pharmacist or doctor whether thyme tea is recommended for them.
A tea with this medicinal herb is said to have calming and antispasmodic properties. Such an infusion can help with nervous-related problems falling asleep and gastrointestinal complaints.
Side effects of lemon balm tea are not known.
(This article was first published on Sunday, January 29, 2023.)