According to researchers, drinking herbal teas may have several health benefits, including helping to promote sleep and relaxation.
Gill Jenkins, a UK-based primary care doctor who co-authored an article published last January reviewing the health benefits of a range of herbal teas or infusions, said Newsweek that several of these beverages have been shown to benefit sleep.
Herbal teas are becoming increasingly popular around the world. They contain a variety of plant-based ingredients and are often low or free of caffeine. They may also include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and blood vessel dilator properties.
Getting enough, good quality sleep is essential to our mental and physical health. But a large part of the population does not get enough sleep, has poor quality sleep or has difficulty falling asleep due to sleep disorders, medical conditions or mental health problems.
According to the American Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million adults in the United States suffer from a sleep disorder, with insomnia being the most common.
Jenkins pointed to research showing that drinking German chamomile tea daily, in particular, can promote relaxation and promote better quality sleep.
“Chamomile tea contains a mild tranquilizer, apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and helps the body regulate sleep,” she said.
Valerian root tea is also effective in promoting sleep thanks to two natural sedatives called valepotriates and sesquiterpenes.
Another potentially beneficial herbal tea is lemon balm, which may promote sleep by helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
Lemon balm contains a range of substances – phenolics (rosmarinic acid), terpenes and flavonoids – that potentially have a calming effect.
Finally, passionflower tea, like chamomile infusions, contains certain flavonoids that bind to the same brain receptors as benzodiazepines and may help reduce symptoms of anxiety.
“The likely mechanism is that passionflower increases levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain,” Jenkins said. “GABA is an inhibitory substance that counteracts arousal and can therefore have a calming effect.”
These teas should be consumed about an hour before bedtime, although you may want to drink earlier or avoid consuming too much liquid so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night to urinate.
“Add the one of your choice to your bedtime routine,” Jenkins says.
To try to optimize your sleep, you should also practice good sleep hygiene before going to bed, which can involve habits such as avoiding devices at least an hour before, maintaining the same wake-up and going to bed every day if possible, getting some natural light during the day, especially early in the morning, avoiding bright lights late at night, not eating too late, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
In the review article co-authored by Jenkins, which was published in the Journal of Nursing and Women’s Healththe doctor and his colleague found that the consumption of herbal teas could provide “important specific health benefits for women” in particular, based on a review of the available scientific literature.
For example, one study in the review showed that German chamomile had a beneficial impact on premenstrual syndrome (PMS), while in another study chamomile tea helped reduce scores for menstrual pain, anxiety and stress compared to a control group.
In two other studies included in the review, which included both men and women, German chamomile was associated with improved levels of glucose, insulin and blood lipids.
Meanwhile, in another study involving both men and women, spearmint tea was shown to improve pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis.
In a separate study published in August in the journal Annals of Internal Medicinewhich was not included in the review, tea drinking was associated with a lower risk of death.
The study, which looked at a cohort of around 500,000 people in the UK aged 40-69 who were followed for 11 years, found that those who drank two or more cups of tea – in this case , mostly black tea – had a 13 percent lower risk of death and less heart disease and stroke.