5 Powerful Herbal Teas for Immunity
Updated: Mar 28
Herbal teas are traditionally made with a range of different herbs and spices that have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Herbal teas are packed with immune-boosting nutrients and antioxidants, so it makes sense to introduce these into your every day to stay well during the colder months. Whilst there may be a need for more research, anecdotally herbal teas have been used by countless generations for their therapeutic properties. There is strong evidence that teas have been used for health-related purposes in ancient Chinese, Ayurvedic, Japanese and European cultures.
What is the difference between a herb and a spice?
According to Brittanica, the terms herb and spice are often used interchangeably, but they are two distinct types of seasonings, made from different parts of plants that are also processed in different ways.
Generally speaking, spices come from the bark, roots, aromatic seeds, and flowers of plants that have been dried and crushed, whilst herbs come from the leafy part of a plant.
Here is our list of top immune-boosting teas for optimal health:
Ginger is one of the best immune-boosting spices to have in your tea because of its high Vitamin C & antioxidant content. It is known to be anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial (kills bacteria). As a warming spice, it can naturally open nasal passages, helping to clear congestion from colds & flu.
Ginger is also helpful in treating nausea, motion sickness & other gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions. This is important as our gut health is closely linked to a healthy immune system.
Lemongrass benefits those with coughs, sore joints, fever, common cold, and exhaustion. This hardy herb has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, diaphoretic, and antispasmodic actions. Lemongrass helps break fevers and cools the body.
Considered one of the oldest spices, licorice root has been used in traditional Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cultures to treat upper respiratory ailments such as colds, coughs, bacterial and viral infections, and asthma. It is also known as a powerful adrenal tonic, with anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and antiviral properties.
Echinacea is often used in many herbal medicine formulations to combat colds & flu. With its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits, it promotes healing after a bout of illness. Several laboratory and animal studies suggest that echinaceas active substances not only boost immune function but can also help relieve pain.
Research shows that turmeric can decrease inflammation and has a high level of antioxidants, which support immune health. Countless research now supports the finding that curcumin, the primary active ingredient in Turmeric may be a positive way of keeping the immune system healthy. Turmeric is also known for its antimicrobial, depurative (purging), and purifying properties.
Tips when choosing herbal teas for therapeutic benefits
Always buy the best quality herbal teas you can afford.
Organic is best. Research conducted by CBC News in Canada found that more than half of the supermarket-bought teas they studied had high levels of pesticides. Many of these pesticides were above the legally acceptable level. In addition, many of these same teas also contained high levels of chemicals.
Where possible, purchase loose leaf teas. Some studies have found that some commercially available teas contain microplastics in tea bags. Another Canadian study at McGill University found that steeping a plastic tea bag, at a brewing temperature of 95°C, releases around 11.6 billion microplastics into one single cup.
Try mixing different herb combinations for improved benefits and taste. For example, ginger and lemongrass work well together.
Adding 1/2 teaspoon of Manuka honey, known to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, can further help soothe a sore throat.
Whilst most herbal teas are safe, it is important to practice caution when taking specific medications such as anticoagulant (blood thinning) medications such as warfarin. Always check any contra-indications for your specific health concerns.