When talking about health benefits, we must differentiate between teas made from the Camellia sinensis plant (or true tea) and those made from other botanicals. Herbs contain a multitude of different potential health benefits and, unlike true tea, each botanical contains different properties. Thus, our collection of herbs have vastly different arrays of potential health benefits. The beauty of herbs is in this variety!

Please keep in mind that at Arbor Teas we are conservative in which health findings we discuss. We only relay information that we find to be referenced from peer-reviewed articles and scholarly sources.  For more extensive health findings, we recommend visiting the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center compilation of research on Herbs, Botanicals and Other Products. (Please note: the information below is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.)

Blueberry

It’s no secret that blueberries contain high amounts of antioxidants, making them a well-known fruit when reaching for a healthy option. In 1996 the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center of Ageing at Tufts University tested 41 fruits and vegetables, and blueberries were found to have the highest concentration of antioxidants. Blueberry also contains micronutrients like vitamin C and folic acid. Additionally, their anthocyanin and polyphenol content may have potential anti-cancer properties and the flavonoid content may help with urinary tract infections.

ISHS Acta Horticulture, Blueberry Health Information - Some Mostly New by C.W. Mainland, J.W. Tucker

Current Nutrition and Food Science, Potential Health Benefits of berries, Julie Beattie et al, 2005 pp. 71-86(16)

HortTechnology, Health Functionality of Blueberries, Willy Kalt, Dominique Dufour, 1997, vol. 7, no. 3, 26-221

Burdock Root

Burdock has been cultivated for its root for centuries. Unfortunately, it is better known as a weed in parts of North America and Australia rather than as food. Traditionally burdock root has been used as a diuretic and a digestive aid. Antioxidant compounds have also been found in the root, as well as having active ingredients found to promote blood circulation to the skin surface. Clinically burdock root extract has shown improvement in the appearance of wrinkled skin and the quality/texture of skin when applied topically. Preclinical data has also shown that burdock may have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects.

"A review of the pharmacological effects of Articum lappa (burdock)" by Yuk-Shing Chan, et al., Inflammopharmacology, October 2011, vol. 19, issue 5, pp 245-254.

Chaga

Chaga is a fungi (Inonotus obliquus) that is most often found growing on Birch trees in the wild. It has been used in folk medicine as a medicinal mushroom for centuries in Northern Europe, Russia, China, and Japan to alleviate gastrointestinal ailments and boost immunity. It is also known as an adaptogen which naturopaths believe can help lower stress levels. Chaga contains antioxidants and is considered an immune system modulator. The potential therapeutic effects of Chaga in anticancer activity and suppression of autoimmune diseases has been associated with its polyphenol content and immunomodulating polysaccharides and betulinic acid.

Antiinflammatory and Immunomodulating Properties of Fungal Metabolites Cristina Lull, Harry J. Wichers, Huub F. J. Savelkoul Mediators Inflamm. 2005 Jun 9; 2005(2): 63–80. doi: 10.1155/MI.2005.63

Chamomile

Chamomile may be best known for its relaxing qualities, a calming herb that many drink before bed. It’s also loved for its ability to calm the stomach, particularly because chamomile oil contains anodyne compounds, which are antispasmodic and help reduce constipation, cramping and other stomach pains. Applied topically, chamomile can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. Studies have also linked it with anticancer properties, specifically tested on the skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer types. In addition, it may be beneficial as a sleep aid, and is helpful with hemorrhoids, gastrointestinal distress, and colic conditions according to a study done at the Department of Urology and Nutrition in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future” by Srivastava, Janmejai K et al. Mol Med Report. 2010 Nov 1; 3(6): 895–901.

Chicory Root

Probiotics have received a lot of media attention and scientific inquiry about their benefits to the digestive system. But less attention is given to prebiotics. Chicory has some of the highest levels of prebiotics, which can also be extremely beneficial. Chicory gets its high prebiotic makeup from a soluble dietary fiber called inulin (not to be confused with insulin), which is also found in jicama and Jerusalem artichokes. Prebiotics can promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) in our gut, which act as food for probiotics. This means that prebiotics and probiotics work together, and prebiotics can make probiotics more effective!

Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: updating the concept of prebiotics Glenn R. Gibson (a1), Hollie M. Probert (a1), Jan Van Loo (a2), Robert A. Rastall (a1) Nutrition Research Reviews, Volume 17, Issue 2 December 2004 , pp. 259-275

Dandelion Root

More than just a weed, dandelion root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a variety of ailments including stomach issues and increasing milk flow for nursing mothers. The root of dandelion is sometimes used as a mild laxative and for improving digestion. In vitro studies have shown dandelion root to stimulate growth of bifidobacteria, which is a probiotic. Lab studies have also shown dandelion to lower blood sugar, but thus far no clinical studies have been evaluated on the effect of dandelion on diabetic humans. Studies have also shown dandelion root to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and estrogenic and diuretic activities.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Integrative Medicine

University of Maryland Medical Center, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide

Ginger Root

The health benefits of ginger have long been touted, dating all the way back to 500 B.C. when Confucius wrote that he is “never without ginger when he eats.” Ginger has played a large role in herbal medicine with many people turning to ginger during the cold season. Recent scientific studies have shown that ginger also has antiseptic qualities, can reduce pain, inflammation, and nausea, and can potentially help increase blood flow.

Rebecca L, Johnson, Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. and David Kiefer, M.D., National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs, 2010.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus is loved for its tart and juicy flavor, but is also consumed for its potential health benefits. Research has found that drinking hibiscus tea can help lower blood pressure. According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, daily consumption of hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure in mildly hypertensive patients. Additionally, some studies show that hibiscus tea may contain more antioxidants than any other tea - even more than matcha! For these reasons it has grown in popularity as a healthy beverage.

“Hibiscus Sabdariffa L. Tea (Tisane) Lowers Blood Pressure in Prehypertensive and Mildly Hypertensive Adults” by McKay, Diane L. et al.,The American Institute of Nutrition, 2010

“The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide” by Carlsen MH et al. Nutrition Journal, 2010, Jan 22;9:3.

Licorice Root

Ancient Chinese medicine has been making use of licorice root for many decades, using it to soothe sore throats. Dominican monks supposedly used licorice to ease coughs and settle an upset stomach. Licorice root has demulcent, or tissue-coating, properties that can form a protective film and give relief to a sore throat. In vitro and animal studies have demonstrated that licorice root may also have anti-inflammatory and estrogenic properties as well.

Rebecca L, Johnson, Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. and David Kiefer, M.D., National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs, 2010.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Integrative Medicine

Nettle

Nettle leaves dried for a tisane can boast a number of health properties. Contrary to its fresh form, dried nettle does not sting! It is a common ingredient in folk medicine because of its high iron content and diuretic properties. Research has also linked nettle extract with antiproliferative (prevents spread of cells, especially malignant cells) effects on human prostate cancer cells. Nettle comes with the warning that drinking an excessive amount may result in an increased amount of estrogen in the body.

“Antiproliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells by a stinging nettle root (Urtica dioica) extract” by Konrad et al; Planta Med. 2000 Feb;66(1):44-7.

Peppermint

One of the most popular herbs used throughout the world, peppermint has a long history of being beneficial for the body. Peppermint can be used to ease upper respiratory infections, as published by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. More well known is peppermint's effect on stomach issues. Folk medicine has used peppermint to ail stomach aches and digestive problems, and peppermint oil has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on those with IBS in a double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial.

“Peppermint oil (Mintoil®) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial” by G. Cappello et al. Digestive and Liver Disease, June 2007 Volume 39, Issue 6, Pages 530–536.

Spearmint

Spearmint has been used in folk medicine to help alleviate symptoms of nausea, indigestion, and gas. A few recent studies have focused specifically on spearmint’s antifungal and antioxidant properties. A study in Molecules concluded that spearmint oil “possess great antifungal potential and could be used as natural preservatives and fungicides.” In 2011, another study presented at the International Conference on Environmental and Agriculture Engineering further discussed how spearmint could be used as a natural pesticide. And a report published in Food Chemistry studied the effectiveness of spearmint as a natural antioxidant.

"It is concluded that essential oils of Thymus and Menthaspecies possess great antifungal potential and could be used as natural preservatives and fungicides." by D. Sokovic, J. Vukojevic et al, Molecules 200914(1), 238-249

"This study showed the antifungal activity of spearmint essential oil which can be used in control management of Forc." by S. Nosrati et al, IPCBEE vol.15(2011) © (2011) IACSIT Press, Singapore

"A positive correlation was found between the reducing power and the antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activity of ME was found to be comparable to the synthetic antioxidant, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)." by S. Kanatt et al, Food Chemistry Volume 100, Issue 22007, Pages 451-458

Turmeric Root

With a rich history in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been gaining popularity in the West ever since scientists started studying the plant in the 1970s. Turmeric contains the chemical compound “curcumin,” of which numerous pharmacological activities have been attributed. However, turmeric is most well known for its potentially potent anti-inflammatory effects. The curcuminoids in turmeric work to inhibit molecules that mediate inflammatory reactions - thus preventing inflammation. Turmeric has also been shown to contain antioxidants and display antimicrobial properties.

Rebecca L, Johnson, Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. and David Kiefer, M.D., National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs, 2010.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Integrative Medicine

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is traditionally considered to be “the drink of the gods” by South American people. Yerba mate contains matteine, which is similar to caffeine, but is described as creating a slightly different caffeine “buzz” when consumed. It contains antioxidants, and one study found yerba mate to contain acids that are potentially beneficial in fighting cancer cells and other inflammatory diseases. Yerba mate also contains several bioactive compounds including vitamin C, B1 and B2, polyphenols, amino acids and minerals.

“Dicaffeoylquinic acids in Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) inhibit NF-κB nucleus translocation in macrophages and induce apoptosis by activating caspases-8 and -3 in human colon cancer cells” by Puangpraphant et al.; Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Oct;55(10):1509-22..

“Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants.” by Duke JA. 1992. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.