Herbal teas for stress relief and brain healthShare on Pinterest
Are there any teas you can drink for stress relief or brain health?

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For thousands of years, people have used herbal teas to improve their health and to simply enjoy. Herbal teas may help reduce stress, anxiety, and may even help you sleep better.

They also affect everyone differently due to varying stress levels and taste buds. Finding the right tea for you may take a few tries, or you can keep an assortment in your cupboard to satisfy different needs and tastes.

Research supports that some herbs can have some powerful effects on our stress levels, and, as a result, our mental and physical health. This list of 13 herbal teas will help you find the best tea for your current needs.

Herbal teas contain multiple types of natural anti-inflammatory compounds that may benefit the human body, such as:

  • antioxidants, which help protect the body from stress
  • antiviral and antibacterial compounds
  • herbs that may reduce inflammation
  • herbs that may reduce the risk of blood clots and high blood pressure

Drinking a cup of herbal tea each day may help protect your health in the long term and reduce stress levels. For example, a 2021 study found that lemon balm, which can be consumed in tea blends, may be effective for improving feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, though more research is needed.

A 2018 study suggests that even just inhaling tea aroma — black tea, specifically — may help lower stress levels and produce a calmer mood.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before introducing any herbal teas (or herbal supplements for that matter!) to your diet. Some teas can affect health conditions or medications. For example, chamomile acts as a mild blood thinner and can interact with the medication warfarin (Coumadin) if consumed in large amounts.

We chose the following herbal teas by diving into what the research says about their stress-reducing properties.

Herbal tea is generally considered safe for most people, but certain types may cause an allergic reaction. Before trying a tea or adding one to your routine, research any possible drug interactions or how it may affect certain health conditions.

Be sure to follow brewing instructions, and check expiration dates on the packaging to get the maximum benefits out of these teas.

  • $ = under $0.40 per serving
  • $$ = $0.40—$1 per serving
  • $$$ = over $1 per serving

Best tea overall

Lemon balm

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for feelings of calmness and mood boosting

People have used the herb lemon balm to reduce stress for hundreds and hundreds of years. Lemon balm is available in capsules, tablets, creams, and as a tea. Anecdotal reports and scientific research suggest that lemon balm may help with relaxation, boost mood, and ease the symptoms of stress.

Although some human studies have shown that lemon balm products have a positive effect on mood and stress, existing studies have used concentrated doses of lemon balm, not lemon balm tea, so it’s unclear if lemon balm tea has the same effect.

Lemon balm tea pros

  • historically used to reduce stress
  • may help with relaxation and mood boosting

Lemon balm tea cons

  • studies showing positive results typically use concentrated lemon balm, so the tea’s effect is inconclusive
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Best tea for antioxidants

Green tea

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for high health benefits

Green tea is jam-packed with polyphenol antioxidants that are known to offer many health benefits — including some protection against oxidative stress, which could damage cells.

Green tea may improve brain functions like mood, memory, and reaction time, thanks to the amino acid L-theanine, which works with caffeine found in the tea.

Research has shown that green tea may benefit health in other ways. For instance, drinking green tea on a regular basis may benefit heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease in some groups of people.

Green tea pros

  • comes with many health benefits thanks to the high antioxidant amount

Green tea cons

  • large amounts can cause side effects from caffeine, like irregular heartbeat or headache
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Best tea for cramps

Ginger tea

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: those who have stomach or abdominal cramps

Ginger has been used for centuries to treat health issues including coughs and colds, nausea, and cramping. It’s made into tea by boiling peeled ginger root in milk or water.

If you suffer from menstrual or other abdominal cramps, you’re in luck.

Studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger, including shogaols and gingerols, may help relieve menstrual cramps when taken at the start of your period. However, doses shown to be effective for treating period pain are generally much higher than what’s found in ginger tea.

Ginger tea pros

Ginger tea cons

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Best tea for digestion

Senna tea

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: those looking to improve digestion and avoid indigestion

Senna tea is herbal tea containing the senna plant’s leaves. You can drink it straight or in combination with other herbs like milk thistle, chamomile, or turmeric.

The tea’s sennoside chemicals encourage contractions and bowel movements due to them breaking down in the colon. Additionally, the tea effectively acts as a laxative to relieve constipation caused by various things.

Senna tea pros

  • may help relieve constipation

Senna tea cons

  • consuming too much may lead to diarrhea
  • may cause loss of key electrolytes, minerals, and fiber
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Best tea for stress relief

Honey lavender blend

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: those looking to de-stress at the end of the day

Lavender tea is made with a brew of the Lavandula angustifolia plant’s purple buds in hot water. This plant is frequently found in Mediterranean climates. It’s easy to add complementary flavors to lavender tea, like the honey in this blend from Yogi.

Lavender tea has been found to have some great benefits, such as easing tension, calming nerves, and improving sleep. However, research and studies are limited.

Honey lavender tea pros

  • can be a great way to relax, de-stress, and unwind
  • smells lovely, making it ideal for aromatherapy

Honey lavender tea cons

  • potential side effects on the nervous system, so you should consult with a healthcare professional prior to drinking it
  • studies on benefits and safety for breastfeeding or pregnant people are rare or inconclusive
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Best tea for anxiety

Herbal blend tea

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s for: those looking to relieve anxiety

Herbal teas have been a long-established way of bringing calm to daily life. They include ingredients like rooibos, rose petals, lavender, passionflower, and chamomile that have been shown to reduce stress and mild anxiety or depression when taken in certain doses.

In fact, the flavonoid apigenin, an active ingredient in chamomile, may have beneficial effects on memory, mood, and reduce stress. That being said, no tea can act as an alternative or substitute to receiving professional mental health care or taking medications.

Herbal tea pros

  • may reduce stress and mild anxiety and depression in certain doses

Herbal tea cons

  • natural doesn’t always mean safe, as some herbal teas have caused liver damage
  • some herbs may not be good for pregnant people (consult with your doctor)
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Best tea for stomach health

Chamomile tea

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: those who have stomach or intestinal issues

Today, many people associate chamomile tea with a good night’s sleep. However, this herb was traditionally used to treat stomach and intestinal issues, including gas, upset stomach, stomach inflammation, and anxiety-related loose stools.

A 2014 study found that chamomile extract has the potential to protect against diarrhea in rats, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Another study from 2014 noted that chamomile was powerful in protecting rats against stomach ulcers.

In addition, research suggests that chamomile can help reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Chamomile tea pros

  • effective at treating intestinal and stomach issues, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • calming and a great sleep aid

Chamomile tea cons

  • though rare, side effects can include dizziness, nausea, and allergic reactions
  • safety for kids and nursing or pregnant people is inconclusive
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Best tea for brain health

Rosemary tea

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: those looking to sharpen their memory

Rosemary is a popular herb for cooking and fragrances. One of its less common uses is as an herbal tea. Still, some research suggests that it may have beneficial effects on cognitive health. While there isn’t much concrete data to conclude that rosemary can help with Alzheimer’s disease, research is promising — though more studies are needed.

The research shows that the compounds in rosemary can help reduce inflammation, prevent ulcers, and improve overall brain health.

Although encouraging, the research on rosemary tea itself is still insufficient and it’s difficult to know its long-term effects.

Rosemary tea pros

  • regular consumption may help with brain health
  • may help reduce inflammation
  • smells good

Rosemary tea cons

  • limited or lacking research exists
  • tough to know long-term effects with certainty
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Best tea for improving mood

Lavender tea

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: those looking to reduce feelings of depression and boost their mood

Lavender tea may benefit your digestive and mental health. Lavender extract has long been used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, and research suggests that there may be mental health benefits from drinking it, too.

A 2020 study in 60 older adults found that drinking lavender tea in the morning and night reduced anxiety and depression scores in the participants.

Lavender itself may also help promote relaxation and sleep and improve your mood.

Lavender tea pros

  • great for improved mental health and relaxation

Lavender tea cons

  • found to possibly produce side effects like diarrhea, headache, and constipation
  • tea taste and smell can vary widely across brands or types
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Best tea for a caffeine-free boost

Rose tea

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for a yummy, caffeine-free beverage

Rose tea is a naturally caffeine-free drink. It can serve as a great morning or afternoon boost.

While caffeine does have some positive benefits, it can also increase blood pressure or cause feelings of anxiety. Some people choose to avoid caffeine due to uncomfortable crashes or jitters.

Over the years, people have added rose petals to cakes, jams, and hot teas for flavoring. Rose petals are also a good source of antioxidants like vitamins C, A, and E.

There have been some side effects found, especially in those who have asthma, allergies, or take certain medications. You should talk with your doctor prior to introducing the tea to your diet.

Rose tea pros

  • naturally caffeine-free
  • offers antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E

Rose tea cons

  • may adversely affect those with asthma or allergies
  • can react with some medications like antidepressants
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Best tea for deep sleep

Valerian root tea

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: those who want a good night’s sleep

The deep stages of sleep are believed to be the most restorative and essential to feeling well-rested in the morning. Valerian root is widely used to help improve sleep quality and quantity, especially for deep sleep.

Studies suggest that the herb valerian works by blocking an enzyme that interferes with gamma-aminobutyric acid’s (GABA) function. GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain, leading to increased feelings of calm.

In addition, there’s research to support valerian root tea as a sleep aid.

Research from 2020 found that the herb valerian is effective in increasing time spent in deep sleep and reducing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. However, it’s important to note that these findings are on valerian supplements, which aren’t the same as valerian tea.

Valerian root tea pros

  • can improve deep sleep quality and length
  • can trigger feelings of calmness

Valerian root tea cons

  • effectiveness is mixed and mostly anecdotal
  • side effects vary and can include heart palpitations and vivid dreams
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Best tea for IBS

Peppermint tea

  • Price: $
  • Who it’s best for: those needing to treat indigestion

Peppermint tea is brewed from the dried leaves of a peppermint plant. Research from 2018 suggests that peppermint can help soothe bloating, abdominal pain, and other uncomfortable symptoms of IBS.

Peppermint is an herb commonly used to relieve digestive issues. A 2014 study found that people with IBS who used peppermint oil for at least two weeks experienced significant relief.

Additional research suggests that even the smell of peppermint may help reduce anxiety and stress: A 2019 study on 80 cardiac patients found that peppermint aromatherapy helped reduce pain and anxiety in those who received an IV.

Peppermint tea pros

  • may help with constipation and stomach pain
  • a caffeine-free way to possibly feel refreshed and alert

Peppermint tea cons

  • may exacerbate acid reflux
  • can interact with certain medications and health conditions (consult with a healthcare professional)
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Best tea for inflammation

Oat straw tea

  • Price: $$
  • Who it’s best for: those who are in the market for a natural way to possibly reduce inflammation

Oat straw tea is made from the stems, seeds, and flowers of the oat plant. Oat tea extract has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to help relax, increase mood, and reduce fatigue. A 2011 study on older adults found that oat herb extract helped improve their attention and concentration.

There’s minimal research on how oat straw affects health when consumed as a tea, even though it has been long used for traditional medicine. However, oat straw extract is rich in antioxidants, including avenanthramides, which have been shown to reduce inflammation.

Oat straw tea pros

  • may help with reducing feelings of tiredness or fatigue
  • can boost your mood and promote relaxation
  • may reduce inflammation

Oat straw tea cons

  • limited research on benefits but has been used in traditional medicine for many years
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Tea typePricingWhat it’s best forCustomer rating (out of 5)Who should try it
Lemon balm$$overall wellness4.7those looking for better overall balance, calm, and positivity in their lives
Green$antioxidants4.7those looking for high health benefits
Ginger$$cramps4.7those who have stomach or abdominal cramps
Senna$digestion4.5those looking to improve digestion and avoid indigestion
Honey lavender$$stress relief4.8those looking to destress at the end of the day
Herbal blend$anxiety4.6those looking to relieve feelings of anxiety
Chamomile$$stomach health4.6those who have stomach or intestinal issues
Rosemary$$$brain health4.6those looking to sharpen their memory
Lavender$$$mood boosting4.5those looking to reduce feelings of depression and boost their mood
Rose$$$caffeine-free boost4.7those who want to reduce their consumption of caffeine
Valerian root$$deep sleep4.5those needing a good night’s sleep
Peppermint$IBS4.6those who want to treat indigestion
Oat straw$$$inflammation4.3those who want a natural way to possibly reduce inflammation

When picking out an herbal tea, you should first research how well it can reduce stress or deliver the outcome you’re looking for. It’s also important to abide by expiration dates to get the maximum benefits.

Additionally, you should consider if you have allergies, health conditions, or any other reasons to believe you could react to specific ingredients. If so, consult a healthcare professional or investigate potential drug interactions and effects on certain health conditions.

Finally, check out reviews and how the teas are brewed for the best results before choosing your tea.

It’s important to treat your stress or anxiety so your symptoms don’t linger or get worse. Additionally, while certain teas can help with some health benefits, they can’t serve as an alternative for receiving help from a professional.

You should consider seeing a doctor if you:

  • find that your anxiety, worry, or fear is too stressful and tough to control
  • feel that you’re worrying to the point that it’s interfering with daily life (this can include things like personal hygiene, social interactions, school, or work)
  • feel your anxiety is due to an underlying mental health issue
  • feel depressed, are using drugs or alcohol to deal, or have other, larger mental health concerns

How many cups of tea is an okay amount to drink daily?

Daily tea consumption can depend on whether or not the blend is caffeinated. Generally, you shouldn’t have more than 3 cups of caffeinated tea a day. You may be able to drink more cups of non-caffeinated tea each day, however, you should be wary of any potential side effects specific to the brew.

Pay attention to any effects and adjust if this is too much for you.

You should talk with your doctor about any questions you have.

Does green tea relieve stress?

Green tea may relieve stress and anxiety, thanks to the high amount of L-theanine amino acid.

Can drinking iced tea relieve stress?

Though some people find hot tea more comforting than iced tea, most teas should have the same properties and stress-relieving benefits whether they’re iced or hot.

Herbal teas are an excellent addition to any self-care routine, or are perfect for a bit of stress relief. Enjoy both the taste and scents of these teas to gain their full benefits.

Many of the herbs mentioned here are also available in blended tea varieties, so you can reap the benefits of multiple herbs for stress management. If you’re considering adding new herbal teas or supplements to your daily routine, talk with your doctor first, as some may interact with certain medications and health conditions.

Ashley Braun, MPH, RD, is a health and wellness writer based in Michigan. Her work helps people understand what affects their health, so they can make informed choices to take back the control in their health and wellness journey.