What could be cozier than a warm cup of tea on a cold, rainy morning? If you feel like you need to shake the blues before you snuggle up with your favorite throw and relax, consider that some types of tea can actually help alleviate unpleasant feelings like sadness, anxiety and stress. Here's the tea on the six best mood-boosting herbal blends to try.
1. Feel Calm With Chamomile
You're probably familiar with the tiny, adorable chamomile flower buds that commonly show up in bedtime tea blends. In addition to its relaxing scent, chamomile can create a soothing, warm sensation that helps with restful sleep. Research published in the journal Phytomedicine in 2016 even found that a regular regimen of chamomile tea reduced symptoms of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder.
2. Turn It Up With Tulsi
You might not even realize that you have the ingredients for tulsi tea growing in your garden. Sometimes called holy basil, tulsi has been shown in studies to improve mood and sharpen concentration when consumed in tea form. Simply steep the leaves along with a bit of ginger and cardamom for about five minutes, then add your preferred amount of honey and lemon for an instantly revitalizing brew.
3. Savor St. John's Wort
Although St. John's wort is a common supplement for depression in capsule form, it can also benefit your mood when taken as a tea. Some research suggests that this herbal ingredient can relieve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, insomnia, anxiety and depression. In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that St. John's wort may work as effectively as prescription antidepressants for some people who have mild to moderate symptoms, though it's important to make sure it doesn't interact with other meds you take.
4. Adapt With Ashwagandha
Look no further than this ancient tea if you need relaxation. Ashwagandha actually qualifies as a substance called an adaptogen, which allows your body ADAPT (get it?) to stress. Humans have been drinking this herbal tea for thousands of years to support maximum function of the brain, lower stress-causing cortisol levels and resolve symptoms of anxiety and depression. A 2019 study published in Medicine (Baltimore) found that drinking ashwagandha tea effectively reduced feelings of anxiety among participants.
5. Love That Lemon Balm
Part citrus tang, part minty zip, this tea is nearly guaranteed to become your new go-to. Lemon balm has a long history as a remedy for stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression, and it can also help sharpen your mental focus. It's no wonder that this herb, native to West Asia, North Africa and Europe, is now a popular potted plant all over the world. A study published in the journal Nutrients in 2014 even backed up lemon balm's ability to relieve anxiety and soothe stress.
6. Go for the Green
Why is green such a great color for foods and beverages? You know your green veggies are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and green tea has similarly impressive health effects.
First and foremost, it contains an anxiety-alleviating amino acid called L-theanine. An animal study published by the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences also linked green tea to higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, two mood-regulating chemicals in the brain. In addition to the mental health benefits of green tea, it's packed with antioxidants that help fight cancer-causing free radicals and may support loss of fat cells.
When adding new herbal teas to your diet, check with your health care provider to make sure they don't interfere with any prescription or over-the-counter remedies you take. Some supplements can have unwanted effects when combined with other medications.