Sipping on a hot cup of tea doesn’t just make it feel as though your anxiety is melting away with every sip—according to research, it may actually be easing your anxiety on a scientific level.
Although people have been drinking tea for centuries to soothe ailments like sleep, sore throats, and anxiety, researchers are just now finding evidence to support these effects.
While more research is needed, scientists have started to identify the major active compounds that give all kinds of tea (both herbal and “true” tea) its mental-health benefits. We scoured research journals and found 4 teas that have a solid foundation of research to support their anti-anxiety benefits. Read on, and for more, check out What Happens to Your Body If You Drink Tea Every Day.
There’s a reason why people recommend pouring yourself a cup of chamomile before bed. Studies show that this herbal tea has some calming properties. In fact, a 2016 study published in Phytomedicine found that sipping on chamomile tea helped those with generalized anxiety disorder report feeling less anxiety symptoms than those who drank a placebo.
Fennel isn’t just a great pairing with other root vegetables. Steeped as tea, fennel may help to calm anxiety. A Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology study found that fennel helped to reduce feelings of anxiety in menopausal women with anxiety disorders, although the authors say more research is needed as the study was small.
Ashwagandha has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. More recently, this root has started to appear in popular products due to its recognition as a treatment for anxiety and stress. A review of 5 human trials published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found evidence to support that ashwagandha has significant anti-anxiety properties. You can get ashwagandha in powder form to brew as tea or add it to smoothies and other tonics.
As detailed in Nature, tea is rich in catechins—antioxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)—that may help people feel calmer and even improve memory. Green tea, specifically, is a good source of L-theanine, an amino acid that has been found to reduce anxiety. For example, one Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin study found that students who drank green tea experienced consistently lower levels of stress than students in a control group. The one catch is that the study used a form of green tea that had only 1 milligram of caffeine, whereas a typical brew has about 45 milligrams. So lookout for a decaffeinated green tea if you want to use this leaf to ease anxiety. For more reasons to pour yourself a cup, don’t miss 7 Amazing Benefits of Drinking Green Tea.