The Benefits of Teas - Physical Self-Care

The Witch's Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit - Arin Murphy-Hiscock 2018

The Benefits of Teas
Physical Self-Care

Tea offers physical benefits beyond the comforting feel of a warm cup in your hand or a shot of caffeine. L-theanine is a nondietary amino acid found in tea leaves. L-theanine encourages relaxation and promotes dopamine levels. It’s a compound that relieves stress and affects brain-wave patterns to behave as they do when the body is relaxed, raising alpha-frequency waves to foster an alert, calm state. It’s found in both green and black teas, with levels highest in green tea like matcha.

Note that you should research any herb before using it in a tea. Check interactions with any medications that you already use and any possible contraindications for your existing allergies.

Here are some common components of herbal teas and information about them.


Daisylike plants from the Asteraceae family, the chamomile used in medicinal and herbal applications is most commonly Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla). Chamomile tea is often used for antianxiety, its sedative effect, and the promotion of relaxation in general. (It should not be used by pregnant women, as it can trigger uterine contractions.)


If there is a classic herb associated with serenity, relaxation, and calm, it’s lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). It’s particularly good for addressing emotional stress, although it functions for physical and mental stress as well. Try adding a pinch of lavender flowers to any black tea, or blend it with chamomile, verbena, and a bit of mint for a pleasant, destressing herbal tea.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) has relaxing properties that help soothe headaches, calm anxiety, and treat insomnia. It’s good to take when you’re coming down with a cold, too, as it has antiviral properties. The flavor is delicate and lemony.

Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora, also called Lippia citriodora) promotes restful sleep, works as an anti-inflammatory, improves digestion, calms nerves, eases stress, and functions as an antioxidant. The flavor is fresh and lemony.

Passion Flower

Passion flower (Passiflora spp.) combats anxiety, panic, insomnia, and depression. It also has analgesic properties, which means it calms nerve pain. It can help balance mood as well. The taste is mild and fresh. Pregnant women should avoid passion flower, as it can stimulate uterine contractions.


American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is used to treat anxiety, headaches, and insomnia. It’s a nervine that promotes relaxation and a sense of well-being in the face of stress. (Make sure the skullcap you use is American skullcap; Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) is an entirely different plant with different applications.)


Vervain (Verbena officinalis) possesses an antianxiety, relaxant, sedative effect, as well as functioning as a strong antioxidant; it packs a lot of vitamin C. The taste can be bitter, so it’s good to mix it with other herbs or add some lemon and honey. Note: Thanks to its botanical name, vervain is sometimes confused with verbena (see earlier entry).