As the bitter cold weather sneaks up on more and more Americans this winter (yes, even us poor Californians are affected), more and more folks are likely to reach for a hot beverage to warm their body temperature. The shift in beverage choices throughout this season may be doing wonders for our health, researchers say. Hot drinks—especially certain teas like cinnamon, ginger, and chamomile—give the immune system a much-needed boost during cold and flu season; they may also help to ward off a long list of health problems.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, drinking hot water helps promote the flow of life force or life energy throughout your body. This force is known as prana in Hindi. Hot water infused with different herbs is thought to activate your prana by carrying beneficial substances into your body while encouraging waste products and toxins to be eliminated.
In this article, we’ll discuss the three best teas to keep you warm and healthy this winter.
Many common culinary herbs can help you feel warmer this winter by boosting blood flow. Cinnamon is one of these herbs. It helps dry out any dampness in the body. Because of its warming properties, cinnamon tea may be especially beneficial for people who are chronically cold or those suffering from poor circulation.
Cinnamon scavenges for harmful free radicals in your body and works to destroy them. This powerful, invigorating herb is renowned for its ability to ease stomach and digestive disorders by increasing your body’s ability to break down the nutrients in food and properly absorb them. Other ways cinnamon may help the body include the following:
- Eases congestion
- Relieves nausea
- Fights off fungal infections
- Cuts cholesterol and fat levels
Because of its effectiveness in reducing insulin sensitivity, cinnamon is also found in supplement form and commonly used as a holistic treatment option for type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the intended action of a tea is dependent on the time it is taken. Therefore, it becomes highly important to drink the right tea at the right time to reap the greatest health benefits. Because cinnamon tea is most readily available in black tea bags, aim to drink this spicy, caffeinated concoction in the morning or at midday so that you can be warm, alert, and ready for the duties of the day.
Like cinnamon, ginger is an herb that promotes warmth and improves blood flow to all parts of the body. Ginger has been grown and used by people in India and China for over 5,000 years to treat a wide array of health problems, including coldness. It is one of the oldest cultivated herbs on the planet.
Caffeine-free and also containing no sugar, the ginger root is a natural antioxidant and antiseptic. Antiseptics are substances that stop disease-causing microorganisms in their tracks. Because of its powerful properties, Eastern healers have used ginger in tea preparations for thousands of years. Preparing ginger tea releases the compounds, gingerol and protease, which are thought to boost blood flow. These are some of the other ways ginger tea may help your body:
- Reduces inflammation
- Bolsters the immune system
- Eases the symptoms of stress
- Aids in digestion
To make authentic ginger tea at home, follow these simple 1-2-3 directions:
- Add two inches of sliced, raw ginger root to two cups of water.
- Boil the mixture for 15–20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let your ginger tea cool for a few minutes. Add honey or lemon for flavor.
If slicing up ginger root is not your cup of tea, premade ginger tea is readily available in natural food stores and online. You can purchase standard teabags or invest in some fancy ginger tea powder.
You may also wish to use the warming properties of ginger in a bath. Simply add eight ounces of ginger root to a half gallon of water and let simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the healing tonic into a tub of warm water. Ginger baths can help relieve sore, tired muscles and may also reduce winter cold and flu symptoms.
Although chamomile does not improve circulation like cinnamon and ginger teas, its mild, flowery flavor and effective calming properties make it a go-to beverage for keeping you warm this winter. More than one million cups of this popular tea are consumed every day. Known by health experts and healers around the world as a mild sedative, chamomile has long been used to help ease the following health conditions:
- Nervous disorders, such as hysteria
- Insomnia and other sleep conditions
- High blood pressure
One study measured the effects of drinking one cup of chamomile tea daily for two weeks. Researchers found that chamomile tea drinkers had lower levels of creatine in their urine samples compared to non-tea drinkers. Creatine is a substance produced by the body; too much of it impairs kidney function. The results of this study indicate that chamomile tea consumption promotes antioxidant activity in the body, disrupting the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut and reducing creatine levels.
Most moms know a thing or two about chamomile as it is one of the safest herbal remedies for children coping with a persistent cough or cold. If your little ones don’t like the taste of plain chamomile tea, add some cream and honey to tempt their palates (it works every time). If this winter season has brought a cold or flu bug into your household, give chamomile a try. This soothing herbal tea is sure to warm you up and calm you down before bedtime.
Other Ways to Keep Warm This Winter
Looking for some other ways to keep warm this winter? Try wearing vibrant colors like red, yellow, and orange. Wearing warm colors may actually help you feel warmer. Certain vegetables are also touted for their warming properties, including mustard greens, arugula, and watercress. And if you’re looking for a quick snack to bring up your body temp, grab a handful of your favorite nuts or seeds to munch on. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds can be especially satisfying during the long winter months.
Mars B, Huffington Post. 7 herbs and spices that warm you up. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/brigitte-mars/7-herbs-and-spices-that-w_b_384883.html. Updated December 2017. Accessed February 26, 2018.
LIVESTRONG. Green tea & cinnamon benefits. https://www.livestrong.com/article/409351-green-tea-cinnamon-benefits/. Updated October 2017. Accessed February 26, 2018.
Dr. Joseph Mercola. Ginger tea: An ancient solution to today’s common ailments. https://articles.mercola.com/teas/ginger-tea.aspx. Accessed February 26, 2018.
Lloyd R, Live Science. Hot and healthy winter drinks. https://www.livescience.com/3956-hot-healthy-winter-drinks.html. Updated December 2005. Accessed February 26, 2018.
Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901.