Every year it’s the same, old routine. What you optimistically brush off as a sniffle slowly evolves into a suspicious cough. By the end of the week, you reek of menthol and your co-workers are shamelessly avoiding you like the plague. Sound familiar? This cold/flu season, why not give yourself a leg up by strengthening your immune system before trouble hits. Let’s explore three antioxidant rich teas that can do exactly that. Your body, and colleagues, will thank you.
1. Ashwagandha Root Tea
Ashwagandha root brews up an energizing tea that can provide excellent support to our immune system. When left unchecked, free radicals harm our body and lowers our system’s ability to thwart infection. Ashwagandha root tea contains powerful antioxidants that protect our bodies from the damaging effects of free radicals. Studies also show that ashwagandha helps to boost white blood cell count which is key for countering illness1.
The best part? Ashwagandha root aids in combating stress.
Stress has its place in our lives such as pushing us to complete last-minute tasks or creatively explain ourselves out of a sticky situation. But too much of a good thing is well, never good. Excess stress has the ability to compromise our immune system, which is a welcome mat for illness. Ashwagandha root supports the immune system by regulating the release of the stress hormone cortisol. If that’s not enough to relax you, keep reading.
Research shows ashwagandha root extract enhances the ability of macrophages (immune cells) to destroy pathogens when compared to the control group that did not receive ashwagandha root extract2. Just another reason to curl up with a cup this cold/flu season. Here’s how to make it.
1. Bring 8 ounces of water to boil.
2. Add one teaspoon of dried ashwagandha root.
3. Simmer tea on low for 10 minutes.
4. Strain and enjoy.
2. Ginseng Tea
Next up is ginseng. No stranger to warding off illness, ginseng has been used for thousands of years thanks to its restorative health benefits. Studies have shown that Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng) aids the immune system by increasing white blood cell count when our bodies need to fight disease and infections3. By bolstering the performance of immune cells such as macrophages, natural killer cells and T cells, ginseng can help strengthen our immune system as a whole.
Ginseng also works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals that like to guzzle our healthy cells as if it’s an open bar. And guess what? You’re picking up the tab in the form of a weakened immune system. According to researchers, American ginseng packs the most punch when it comes to maximizing antioxidant benefits4. This heavy-hitter is readily available as a prepared tea. However, if you want to make a soothing cup from scratch, here’s how.
1. Use a vegetable peeler to shave 1 tablespoon of fresh ginseng from the root.
2. Steep in one cup of hot water (just under boiled) for 5 minutes.
3. Strain and enjoy.
3. Rose Hip Tea
When it comes to immune boosting power, there is more to this delicately scented rose plant than a beautiful bouquet. As if saving the best for last, once the rose petals have fallen this plant bears the fruit we know as rose hips. But what does this have to do with your immune system, you ask? Well, rose hips are a potent source of vitamin C. Studies show that regularly consuming vitamin C can reduce the frequency and duration of the common cold 5.
Here’s something else to sip on. Rose hip tea also contains vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells and also helps to regulate immune responses. A key factor when it comes to combating bacterial and viral infections. Rose hips is another tea that you can readily find pre-packaged. But for those looking to tap into their apothecary roots, here’s how to steep your first cup from scratch.
1. Add one teaspoon of dried rose hips to one cup of boiled water.
2. Steep for 10-15 minutes.
3. Then, strain and sip to enjoy.
- Agarwal R, Diwanay S, Patki P, Patwardhan B. Studies on immunomodulatory activity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) extracts in experimental immune inflammation. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Oct;67(1):27-35.
- Davis L, Kuttan G. Immunomodulatory activity of Withania somnifera. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Jul;71 (1-2):193-200.
- Soowon Kang and Hyeyoung Min. Ginseng, the ‘Immunity Boost’: The Effects of Panax ginseng on Immune System. J Ginseng Res. 2012 Oct; 36(4): 354–368. doi: 10.5142/jgr.2012.36.4.354
- Ehrlich, S. D., NMD. (n.d.). American ginseng. Retrieved September 28, 2016
- Douglas RM, Chalker EB, Treacy B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD000980.
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