Top 10 Supplement Reviews on 7 herbal teas to help relieve stress and anxiety

We’re all getting used the idea of COVID-19 and learning to live with the pandemic. However, statistics show that the first half of 2020 has taken its toll on the mental health of millions of people.

Recently, Nuffield Health reported that eight in ten people in the UK report a negative effect on their general mental health due to the pandemic. A further quarter say they’re struggling to relieve stress and anxiety during isolation in particular. As the world begins to move out of lockdown, it’s likely that these effects will continue into the future. So how can we combat them?

Why are so many people searching for ways to relieve stress and anxiety?

Professor Simon Wessely, from King’s College London, says that intense anxiety is part of “the wicked nature of a pandemic.” He goes on to explain that the very measures that we usually use to deal with anxiety are supressed. For example, social interaction was curtailed in an unprecedented way when the UK went into lockdown on 23 March 2020.

Not only are there the concerns of the virus itself, adding in financial worries, family and childcare, job retention and social isolation and it’s a perfect storm for mental health problems.

When it comes to combating stress and anxiety, it’s important to start at home, and start small. While doctors should always be consulted for severe mental health issues, or to get advice on where to start, there are measures we can take in our everyday life. Among these include good nutrition, taking supplements and vitamins, and exercising regularly.

And while the big things are important for self-care, the small things can help too. For example, herbal teas can help to take the edge of anxiety, help you to sleep, calm your mood or help you just feel that little bit better. Of course, herbal teas are very much a supplement to other health measures but are definitely worth trying. It also takes time to find the right blend for you.

It’s worth noting that while herbal teas are not categorised as supplements, it is still possible for interactions to take place to make sure your choice of tea is safe for you.

7 teas containing properties that can help reduce stress and anxiety
 

  1. Mentha piperita – peppermint tea

Easily grown and aromatic, mint has been used for hundreds of years as a flavouring and for its health benefits. While peppermint tea itself hasn’t been studied in dept, mint extracts have. Mint contains menthol, limonene and menthone – it’s the menthol that gives it the cooling properties, flavour and smell.

Studies show that peppermint can help digestion, including nausea, bloating, indigestion and gas. There is also research to suggest that the aroma of mint can help anxiety, tiredness and feelings of frustration.

Many people develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome when stressed and anxious, and in a study of peppermint oil, scientists found that it reduced IBS symptoms by 40% after four weeks, compared with a placebo at 23%.

Separate findings show that inhaling peppermint oil can help calm anxiety in people hospitalised for various reasons, including heart problems and childbirth.

  1. Matricaria chamomilla/Chamaemelum nobile – chamomile

Chamomile tea is frequently consumed by people who feel it helps them relax and sleep. It’s known for its calm-inducing properties. And it seems there is plenty of scientific evidence to back this up.

A study in 2016 shows that in people who drink chamomile tea over a long period of time, the ingredient can significantly reduce moderate to severe generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). However, chamomile works only to reduce symptoms as they appear, and has no affect on whether the anxiety returns.

  1. Lavandula officinalis – lavender

Most people are aware that lavender has sleep inducing properties and can help you feel calm. But there is also evidence to show that it could be as effective as some prescribed medications in lessening anxiety.

A study from 2010 analysed a lavender capsule designed to be taken by mouth. The researchers discovered that it is as effective as lorazepam in people with GAD. Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine, which is used to treat insomnia and anxiety.

  1. Piper methysticum – kava

Kava is used as a ritual tea in the Pacific Islands and is often described as a remedy for anxiety. Scientists think it works because it targets the receptors in the brain that produce anxiety. However, while a review of kava in 2018 suggests that kava extract could be slightly effective against GAD, there needs to be more research.

  1. Valeriana officinalis – valerian

Another common herbal remedy for anxiety-induced insomnia, valerian is a popular supplement. Scientifically speaking there are mixed results with one 2015 study showing that valerian helped to manage anxiety for women about to go into surgery. Drinking valerian tea may well help you relax, but it’s important to ensure it won’t interact with any medications or supplements you’re already taking.

  1. Centella asiatica – gotu kola

Less well known, gota kola is a traditional medicine in Asian cultures, used to treat depression, anxiety and fatigue. In 2012, a study on mice discovered that gotu kola extract could be a good treatment for chronic anxiety, but more research is needed to understand why. It’s easily available in tea form.

  1. Melissa officinalis – lemon balm

Lemon balm is related to mint but has a lemony aroma. It’s used to treat depression, anxiety and insomnia, and appears to boost the neurotransmitter in the brain that helps to soothe stress. A 2018 study discovered that a supplement containing lemon balm worked to reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia in people with angina.

Herbal tea blends to try

There are thousands of different blends of herbs marketed as teas. Easy to find in supermarkets, online and in health food stores, it’s worth trying some blends to find out what works for you. For example, Cup of Clam from Traditional Medicinals blends passionflower, lavender, chamomile and catnip, all of which can help relieve anxiety and insomnia.

Specialist brands offer plenty of mixes, but you can also find a vast range of herbal teas available from traditional tea brands, including Twinings and Lipton. The latter offers Lipton Stress Less, which combines lavender, chamomile and cinnamon, which are all accepted stress relievers.

Whether you brew your own, buy a supplement or stick to tea bags, there is evidence to show that various herbal teas can help with anxiety and depression. They should never be used instead of medication or prescribed treatment, but can be used to supplement your daily diet.

Check the side effects carefully as some can cause problems if drunk in large quantities. Others can be dangerous with certain medications, both prescription and over the counter. Always check with your doctor before adding herbal supplements to your diet and more information on Top 10 Supplement Reviews.

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