While many people drink tea as an alternative to coffee or perhaps as part of their wind-down ritual before bed, some teas can also be used medicinally. But what are the best medicinal teas and how do they help? If you feel a cold coming on, here are some teas that may ease symptoms like a sore throat or cough, and maybe even help you sleep.
Used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and mild astringent, chamomile contains various bioactive phytochemicals that provide therapeutic effects. Studies show that chamomile has been helpful in treating common cold symptoms, such as sore throat, cough, and inflammation.1 Other studies have proven that chamomile can help you sleep better, which is another powerful and natural way to recover from colds and keep them at bay.2 It’s easy to incorporate chamomile into your diet because there are so many tea products available. In addition to drinking the tea, also take some time to inhale the steam, which can help clear and lubricate your sinuses.
If you’re already a fan of incorporating ginger into your recipes, you’ll probably enjoy the spicy taste of ginger tea. Thanks to the bioactive molecules of ginger like gingerols, ginger has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which are useful in battling common cold symptoms and strengthening your immune response.3 Ginger also has anti-nausea properties, so if you’re dealing with this less common (but possible) symptom of a cold, ginger tea can help ease your stomach woes too.4 For an even stronger defense, pair ginger with turmeric, as there is evidence that both can strengthen immunity, reduce pain, and fight inflammation.5 While ginger tea can easily be found at many grocery stores, you can save a few dollars by making it at home with fresh ginger root.6
Lemon tea is powered by its heavy dose of vitamin C, which can benefit your cold best if taken at the first sign of symptoms.7 One whole raw lemon provides 83 mg of vitamin C (or 92 percent of your daily value), which also acts as an antioxidant.8 While a simple squeeze of lemon into your favorite herbal tea does the trick, you might want to just mix lemon with hot water and a dash of honey for a throat-soothing, immunity-boosting effect. Stomach aches can also occur alongside colds, so if you feel constipated, lemon tea may also help aid digestion.9
Like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, elderberries are teeming with antioxidants, which can counteract oxidative stress and boost the body’s immune system. Elderberries are also a good source of protein and offer a variety of vitamins and minerals, including health-boosting vitamin C. In folk medicine, elderberry has been used extensively for respiratory illnesses, including colds and flus thanks to its presence of polyphenols.10 Some studies show that elderberry can actually reduce the length and severity of colds and flus.11 Elderberry teas are widely available at many supermarkets and health food stores, often paired with another immunity-booster, echinacea.
Another potent source of antioxidants, green tea has naturally anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe your sore throat, cough, and congestion. Research shows that compounds found in green tea have the powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease, meaning you’ll have a better chance of warding off illness and recovering faster if you drink green tea.12 But if the slightly bitter taste turns you off, you can still help reduce symptoms like sore throat from simply gargling green tea, reports one 2016 study.13
While drinking tea is a great way to stay hydrated and aid your recovery, there are a variety of other actions you can take to feel better faster, including taking Brillia Health products. Homeopathic formulations designed to help reduce cold and flu severity and duration and control coughing, Brillia Health products help your body heal itself without harsh chemicals or harmful side effects. Using antibody science to precisely target the macromolecules in your system that help respond to illnesses, Brillia Health products efficiently relieve symptoms of colds and flus while relieving your body of the physical stress caused by illness. Find out more about how Brillia Health products work.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.