Inflammation in our bodies has a good side and a bad side. On one hand, it helps to heal wounds and fight infections. When that inflammation becomes chronic, however, it starts to do more harm than good. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to reduce inflammation in our bodies and combat chronic illness. One of the simplest of these is by drinking anti-inflammatory tea. Just one cup a day of any of these teas can go quite a long way in reducing inflammation in your body.
Anti-Inflammatory Teas You Should Be Drinking
Before we dive into the anti-inflammatory teas you should understand what inflammation actually means. First of all, there are two types: Acute and chronic. Acute is what happens when we have an injury or infection. For example, you sprain your ankle and it swells, or you have a cold and your glands are swollen. This inflammation, or swelling, is your body releasing white blood cells to protect the area. Acute inflammation will cause swelling, redness, and often some pain, but it starts and ends pretty quickly. Usually, symptoms only last a few days. (1)
Chronic inflammation, however, is quite a different beast. This occurs when your inflammation doesn’t go away and you have low-grade inflammation throughout your body. Your immune system continues to send out white blood cells in response to stress and those may end up attacking healthy cells. This is when chronic illness occurs.
There are many causes for chronic inflammation and most of them are diet and lifestyle related. Things such as activity level, obesity, smoking and alcohol habits, diets high in refined sugar, saturated, and trans fats, stress and sleep problems, low levels of sex hormones, and old age can all lead to chronic inflammation.
If something is anti-inflammatory, this means that it reduces inflammation. These can be both natural and artificial. For example, medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are anti-inflammatory. There are plenty of anti-inflammatory compounds found in nature, however. This is where anti-inflammatory teas come in. Try introducing some of these into your daily routines to reduce inflammation naturally.
1. Green Tea
Green tea is already known to be one of the best teas for you. Not only does it have many antioxidant properties, but green tea is also full of compounds called polyphenols. These are highly potent anti-inflammatory compounds that have proven to help reduce flare-ups associated with Crohn’s Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis. It has also been shown to reduce instances of other inflammation-driven diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. (2) If you are on any medications, first check with your doctor to make sure that you are not at risk of any dangerous medication interactions with green tea.
2. Turmeric Tea
Turmeric has been getting a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. The turmeric plant is a flowering plant whose root has been used for thousands of years as a spice in cooking, primarily in India, as well as to dye clothing because of its potent, bright orange/yellow color. The active ingredient, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, is curcumin. It has many health benefits, one of which is reducing inflammation. Curcumin does this by interrupting the pathways that lead to chronic inflammation.
Turmeric and curcumin have been shown to help with conditions such as IBS, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Most of these studies involve large supplemental doses of turmeric with a high concentration of curcumin, so it is not clear what effect drinking turmeric tea has exactly. You can increase its effectiveness of it, however, by adding in a bit of black pepper, which increases your body’s ability to absorb it. (3)
3. Ginger Tea
Ginger is one of the most potent antioxidants in nature. Many of the different antioxidants in the root have been shown to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines in the body. Ginger has been shown to help those suffering from arthritis, as well as gastric stress due to its stomach-soothing effects. (4) This is a simple tea to make by just steeping thinly sliced ginger in boiling water. Add some honey, lemon, and even a bit of turmeric for some additional benefits.
Fennel teas have long been sipped post-meal to aid digestion and keep tummy troubles at bay. The flavor is similar to anise or licorice. Fennel contains many inflammatory phenolic compounds that can reduce pain, including menstrual pain, thanks to these compounds. (5) The only thing to be mindful of with fennel is potential allergic reactions, as with any of the aforementioned teas and plants.
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5. Tart Cherry
Tart cherry juice contains anti-inflammatory compounds known to help reduce inflammation associated with chronic disease such as arthritis. It has been shown to help reduce joint pain and stiffness associated with the disease, as well as other joint-affecting illnesses. Tart cherry juice has also been shown to reduce post-workout inflammation and help with muscle soreness and recovery. Speak to your doctor before using tart cherry juice teas if you are currently taking any medications. (6)
6. Rose Hip
Rose hips are the edible “fruit” left over after a rose bush loses its flowers. They are high in antioxidants and have been used in herbal medicine for 2000 years. (7) Rose hips also contain anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds. These protect your cells from damage and limit the production of inflammatory cytokines, effectively reducing pain for those with rheumatoid arthritis. (8)
7. Holy Basil
Holy Basil, or Tulsi, by its Hindu name, has been called “the queen of herbs” in Ayurvedic medicine thanks to its health-promoting properties. It helps to counteract the environmental, emotional, and metabolic stresses that bring about chronic inflammation. (9) Holy Basil has shown to reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and the resulting pain from inflammatory joint conditions such as arthritis. (10)
Anti-Inflammatory Tea Tips
Loose-leaf teas typically contain higher levels of these various compounds, and therefore better effects, than bagged tea. Be sure to follow the preparation instructions on water temperature and how long to steep your tea. Finally, as always, be mindful of allergic reactions as well as medication interactions. If you currently take any medications, speak with your doctor before using these teas. If you notice any adverse reactions, stop using the teas immediately and if the reaction becomes severe, see your doctor.
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- “Can Tea Help With Inflammation?” WebMD. WebMD Editorial Contributors
- “Green tea polyphenols and their potential role in health and disease.” PubMed. M Afzal, A M Safer, M Menon. July 12, 2015.
- “Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin, the Anti-inflammatory Agent, Against Neurodegenerative, Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, Metabolic, Autoimmune and Neoplastic Diseases.” NCBI. Bharat B. Aggarwal and Kuzhuvelil B. Harikumar. July 9, 2008.
- “Antioxidant properties of gingerol related compounds from ginger.” NCBI. Yuki Masuda, et al. 2004
- “Phenolic compounds from Foeniculum vulgare (Subsp. Piperitum) (Apiaceae) herb and evaluation of hepatoprotective antioxidant activity.” NCBI. Mona T. M. Ghanem, et al. 2012.
- “Tart Cherry Juice: Is It Good for You?” WebMD. WebMD Editorial Contributors.
- “Bioactive ingredients of rose hips (Rosa canina L) with special reference to antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties: in vitro studies.” Dove Press. Winther K,et al. July 14, 2015.
- “Therapeutic Applications of Rose Hips from Different Rosa Species.” NCBI. Inés Mármol, et al. May 25, 2017
- “The inflammation theory of disease.” NCBI. Philip Hunter. November 2012.
- “The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” NCBI. Negar Jamshidi and Marc M. Cohen. March 16, 2017.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.