Store aisles are full of herbal brews claiming to do everything from boosting your immunity to lowering your weight. While there is not a great deal of science supporting benefits, some studies show promise.
Here’s the skinny on teas that say they’ll help you lose weight:
Green, white and oolong tea (all of which come from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis) have chemicals called catechins, which have been shown to impact fat metabolism in the lab and to lower body weight and fat mass in animals. Green tea is especially rich in catechins.
Rooibos tea contains a chemical called aspalathin, which a 2015 study found improved fat metabolism.
Peppermint tea may help you eat less. Studies have shown the smell of peppermint can help curb appetite.
Anxiety and insomnia
Some herbal teas may reduce anxiety and improve sleep:
Chamomile tea may be calming. In a 2009 study, chamomile extract helped people with generalized anxiety disorder.
Kava tea has been suggested for the management of anxiety, but should be used with caution, as kava supplements have been linked to risk of severe liver damage, according to the US FDA.
Valerian tea before bed could help you get a better night’s sleep, according to some research.
Some herbs often found in teas are said to boost immune function.
Echinacea tea has been touted to boost immunity. Echinacea is being actively studied for the treatment of upper respiratory infections and for its potential effects on the immune system. Results have been mixed so far, but it’s promising for treating colds.
Ginseng tea may be a good choice this season. Some evidence shows American ginseng might help prevent colds and flu, or at least improve symptoms.
Reading the tea leaves
Functional teas are required to carry labels saying, “these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA,” but scientists studying the compounds in these warming brews are finding some promising, if not yet conclusive, results. Meanwhile, there’s no doubt that the caffeine in a cup of tea can pick you up, the steam from a hot cup of floral or minty herbal brew can make you feel relaxed, and the hot liquid can loosen mucus and warm away the chills.
By Judith C. Thalheimer, R.D., L.D.N. / Environmental Nutrition Newsletter