The Top 5 Teas for Women’s Health
These top five herbal teas for women’s health are truly restorative on every level. Here, in the UK we have a saying,” everything stops for tea!” and indeed, kicking back with a cup (china, of course) of quality loose leaf tea (no dusty teabags, please) is not only a national ritual, but with a few key herbal teas and infusions in our tea repertoire, taking tea becomes an important element of therapeutic self-care.
I’ve been enjoying Hibiscus tea for some time, for its rich colour, slightly sour taste and versatility (it’s delicious hot, cold, solo or mixed with kombucha and mineral water) and was keen to discover more about its health benefits. When I recently had the opportunity of meeting up with Natalie Chandra Saunders, an acupuncturist, author and student of traditional Chinese herbal medicine living and practising in Birmingham, UK, I felt that the ‘unseen hand’ was moving quietly behind the scenes!
Natalie’s interest in tea was ignited when living and studying in China and as we chatted about our individual approaches to women’s health and to working with clients, it quickly became clear that we were both singing from the same functional health page and I wanted to share with you a little of Natalie’s tea-wisdom!
So, it’s a real pleasure to feature Natalie’s guest post here on IzabellaNatrins.Com – I hope you enjoy it and, if you’d like to learn more about the health benefits of teas, herbal infusions, her book The Qi of Tea is available for purchase from Amazon.
Being a woman can be hard work. Juggling work and home life while dealing with an ever-changing sea of hormones has the potential to really take it out of you… but help is at hand!
Relaxing with a cuppa is a classic way to unwind at the end of a long day, but the benefits of tea go way beyond that. Add herbal teas into the mix and suddenly you have a whole host of soothing beverages with a diverse range of health benefits. But with so much variety available, how do you even begin to choose the right tea for you?
To help you get started, I have put together this list of my top five teas for women’s health. So put the kettle on, put your feet up, and read on to find out more…
White Tea – The Powerful Antioxidant
Most people have heard about the health benefits of green tea, but did you know that white tea could be even healthier? White tea and green tea actually come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference is that while green tea is made from the young leaves of the plant, white tea is made using only the youngest, most tender buds. The leaves are steamed and dried before they have a chance to oxidise, meaning that they have the highest antioxidant content of any tea. But what exactly are antioxidants and what can they do for you?
When your body is exposed to environmental toxins or pathogens such as bacteria or viruses, your immune system responds by activating white blood cells. These cells respond to the potential threat in a number of different ways. One of these is producing a special type of molecule called reactive oxygen species, more commonly known as free radicals. These are unstable molecules which react with damaged cells and destroy them in an attempt to clean up the bloodstream. These molecules have an important function, but when we are bombarded with toxins on a daily basis, they can begin to get out of hand. They then begin to attack healthy cells in a process called oxidative stress. This has been linked to many serious health conditions including chronic inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Antioxidants are molecules which neutralise these harmful free radicals, stopping them from causing further damage. White tea contains a high concentration of plant chemicals called flavonoids. These act as a powerful antioxidant, which is what makes white tea one of the healthiest drinks around!
Schisandra – The Stress Reliever
Schisandra is an adaptogen, a herb which is thought to help your body adapt to physical and emotional stress, relieving symptoms such as anxiety and fatigue. Although the term “adaptogen” is fairly new, many of these herbs have been used for centuries in traditional Indian (Ayurvedic) and Chinese medicine and Schisandra is a prime example.
A popular Chinese medicine, Schisandra is a berry which grows in the cold north-east of China and Siberia. Its Chinese name wu wei zi means “five flavour berry”, and this herb is special because it contains all five flavours: bitter, sweet, pungent, salty and sour. According to Chinese medicine theory, this gives it the ability to act on all of the major organs, giving it far-reaching benefits throughout the body.
The actual taste of Schisandra is slightly sour, and it has astringent properties. Its ability to draw fluids back into the body means that it has historically been used as a beauty herb, keeping the skin looking supple and youthful. It is also great for issues such as night sweats, and recent research has found Schisandra helpful in controlling menopausal symptoms, making it one of my favourite teas for women’s health.
Rose – The Beauty Enhancer
This fabulous flower has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, and roses are also a popular addition to Iranian cuisine. As well as having a sweet, fragrant flavour, roses are rich in antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds, giving them a wide range of health and beauty benefits too.
In China, the rose is especially associated with beauty and smooth, flawless skin. The dried petals can be drunk as a tea or added to hot water for steaming the face.
Another reason why roses make such good tea for women’s health is their benefits during the menstrual cycle. One research study carried out in Taiwan found that drinking rose tea relieved menstrual cramps and improved mental well-being in teenage girls with painful periods. What a star!
One word of caution though; Due to its effect on the female reproductive system, rose tea should be avoided by women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive.
Roselle – The Heart Protector
Roselle (or Hibiscus sabdariffa) is another flower with an amazing range of potential benefits. It is packed with antioxidants, and its wide range of traditional uses include weight loss, alleviating depression and relieving inflammation. Although there is a lack of evidence for many of the benefits of Roselle, there is plenty of research out there on its ability to reduce blood pressure and lipids. This makes it a fantastic tea for protecting against cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Roselle has also traditionally been used to relieve symptoms such as menstrual cramps and PMS in women. It contains phytoestrogens which are plant chemicals which have a similar action to oestrogen within the body. This means that although it could potentially help with menstrual symptoms, you should avoid roselle tea if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any form of hormonal medication.
Jujube – The Blood Builder
Jujubes, also known as red dates, are a popular food and medicine throughout China and East Asia. According to Chinese medicine, these small fruits have the ability to nourish the blood, making them great for women who suffer from irregular periods or following childbirth. Women in China often brew jujubes into a tea along with ginger and brown sugar and drink it around the time of their period to soothe cramps and replenish lost blood. Other traditional uses include treating insomnia, anxiety and fatigue.
Jujubes are also packed with nutrition. They are rich in vitamin C and also contain B vitamins, vitamin A and a wealth of essential minerals including calcium, potassium and iron. However, Jujubes are also high in sugar, so you should not consume more than 7–8 of these magical fruits each day.
Choosing Your Ideal Tea for Women’s Health
Teas and herbal infusions are a great way to improve your health and well-being naturally. However, not every tea is suitable for every woman and you should talk to a qualified healthcare professional before self-medicating with tea.
Most teas are not strong enough to cause any side effects if they are drunk occasionally, but if you wish to drink a particular tea regularly, you should exercise caution, and take extra care if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any other medication.
There is one school of thought suggesting that the more palatable a tea is, the more suitable it is likely to be for you. So find a tea that you like the taste of, grab your favourite mug, and enjoy!