What’s the Best Tea to Help Manage Anxiety?
Everyone probably has some experience of anxiety. It’s a normal part of life and often happens in response to situations that make you worried or nervous about something, such as taking an exam or starting a new job.
However, for some people anxiety can become an all-consuming problem and even simple everyday activities can trigger a state of anxiety, or even panic attacks.
Anxiety can manifest itself with both physical and emotional symptoms and is related to the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response, an automatic evolutionary response to situations that we perceive as dangerous or threatening.
The response results in the body releasing stress hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones help to prepare the body to fight the danger by increasing feelings of alertness, and make the heart beat faster, carrying blood quickly to where it’s needed to help to run away from the danger.
The physical symptoms of anxiety include feeling nauseous, light-headed, or dizzy. An individual may also experience tense muscles and headaches, faster breathing, and difficulty sleeping. Psychological symptoms include feeling nervous and on edge, feeling restless, and having a sense of dread.
Although talking treatments are sometimes prescribed to treat anxiety, medication is typically used to help treat the physical and psychological symptoms.
Medications prescribed include antidepressants to make a person feel calmer, beta-blockers to help deal with the physical symptoms, and sometimes even tranquillisers. However, prescribed treatments are typically only used in cases of severe anxiety, such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
For the majority of people who only suffer from occasional anxiety, there are many alternative options to help to restore feelings of calm and alleviate any negative symptoms. Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the different herbal teas that are available to help deal with temporary feelings of anxiety.
And ultimately we will help you decide which is the best tea for your anxiety.
Chamomile tea is probably the most well-known anti-anxiety tea. Containing essential oils and antioxidants, chamomile tea is made from the dried flower heads of the chamomile plant. The medicinal use of chamomile dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was prescribed as a cold remedy, and the Romans also used it to flavour drinks.
Studies have found that drinking chamomile tea can help to increase serotonin levels and aid restful sleep. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to improve mood and low levels have been found to be associated with generalised anxiety and negative thoughts.
A 2006 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry also found that chamomile tea increased urinary levels of an amino acid called glycine. Glycine has been shown to relieve muscle spasms and is a known muscle relaxant, therefore helping to relieve the tension that many people with anxiety experience.
Peppermint tea is made simply from dried peppermint leaves and has many health benefits besides being an aid for reducing anxiety, such as being a natural analgesic, contributing to cardiovascular health, and aiding digestion.
Peppermint contains many essential oils, including menthol which can help to relax muscles, therefore helping with tension felt when anxious. It also contains rosmarinic acid, which has a light sedative and antidepressant effect, to boost relaxation and help to restore calm.
Another benefit of peppermint tea is its ability to sooth an upset stomach, something which can also affect those suffering with anxiety.
Green tea is considered one of the healthiest drinks on the planet. It’s claimed that it can help to protect the body in various ways, such as lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes and various forms of cancer, as it’s packed full of antioxidants.
One of the antioxidants in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been shown to have a similar effect to certain benzodiazepine drugs, which are often prescribed to those with anxiety, by normalising the activity of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter which is often disrupted by anxiety.
Green tea may also help to reduce stress, a contributory factor to anxiety. A large-scale epidemiological study in Japan found that participants who drank five cups of green tea a day experienced significantly less psychological distress compared to those who drank less than one cup a day.
Green tea can either be purchased as standard tea bags or in the form of Matcha powder, which is claimed to contain more antioxidants compared to normal green tea.
Passion flower is an herbaceous climbing vine with white or yellow flowers and is said to help relieve anxiety, as well as stress and insomnia. Tea is usually made from the dried leaves of the plant. In Europe, passion flower is commonly used in over-the-counter medicines for insomnia, something which commonly occurs with anxiety.
Studies have suggested that passion flower helps to boost the level of GABA in the brain, therefore reducing anxious brain activity and aiding relaxation and restful sleep. One study found that participants who drank a cup of passion flower tea everyday reported better sleep after seven days.
Another study found that orally administered passion flower helped to reduce preoperative anxiety in patients scheduled for surgery. According to a review in the European Neuropsychopharmacology journal, several human trials have provided evidence of the anti-anxiety effect of passion flower.
If you’re not a fan of herbal teas then Rooibos, or Red Bush, is a great substitute for black tea. Rooibos is made from the South African Aspalathus linearis plant and is almost 100% free from caffeine, something which people who suffer from anxiety should try to avoid.
Rooibos tea contains antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation, thereby helping to boost mood and memory. It also contains magnesium, which helps to reduce nervous tension, and potassium which is important for adrenal function.
Following a period of sustained stress and anxiety, the body may suffer from adrenal fatigue. Potassium is therefore required to help the adrenal glands to function properly again. Studies have also found that rooibos is able to reduce the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that contributes to feelings of anxiety.
Lemon balm, also known as balm mint, is a perennial herb in the mint family that has been cultivated and used as a healing herb for over 2000 years. The earliest known therapeutic uses of it were in ancient Turkey, where it was used in a tea for anxiety and depression.
Animal studies have suggested that lemon balm acts in a similar way to benzodiazepines, essentially increasing GABA in the brain and therefore having a calming effect.
There is a wealth of evidence supporting the use of lemon balm as a treatment for anxiety. One study found that people who were given a high dose of lemon balm extract reported increased feelings of calmness. Another study, which purportedly provides evidence for lemon balm’s ability to help reduce anxiety, used 20 volunteers suffering from anxiety and sleep disturbances.
Half of the participants received a specialised lemon balm extract and the other half were given a placebo. After 15 days of treatment, participants who received the lemon balm reported a 49% reduction in their state of anxiety and a 72% reduction in anxiety-associated symptoms.
Tea made from the flowers of the linden tree, or lime tree, have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, migraines, flu, and anxiety.
Research into the anti-anxiety properties of linden have mainly focused on pure extracts from the flowers. One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that laboratory animals displayed less anxious behaviour after being given extracts of linden flowers.
Like many of the other teas on this list, linden tea contains a high number of antioxidants, which can help to reduce damage in the body which may contribute to anxiety.
Although these teas may help to reduce feelings of temporary anxiety, if your symptoms are persistent and debilitating then it’s recommended that you speak to your GP.
Some people may also experience certain side effects with different types of herbal tea, so make sure to thoroughly research a product before you begin using it.