03/03/2011 10:10 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Herbal Teas Really Do Have Health Benefits

If you've never considered giving up your coffee habit, perhaps there is something you could learn from your herbal tea-sipping friends after all. Because whereas coffee may have some health benefits, so do some herbal teas, say researchers writing in the journal Agricultural Research.

Some herbal teas may have more health benefits than we realise. Photo: Corbis, Clinton Hussey

The benefits of herbal teas aren't just old wives' tales, the researchers explain. The problem is that there's little clinical evidence on the effects of drinking herbal teas. But the researchers, who work at the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, set out to examine the existing scientific data on three of the country's most popular herbal teas - namely chamomile, peppermint and hibiscus.

Take chamomile tea, for instance. Herbal folklore suggests it's a soothing brew, but the researchers didn't find any evidence to back that up. They did, however, discover studies that showed chamomile tea is antimicrobial (that is, it kills bacteria) and has antiplatelet-clumping activity (in other words, it helps prevent blood clots).

As for peppermint tea, the researchers discovered trials that showed it too is antimicrobial. But the data also suggests peppermint is antiviral and antiallergenic, as well as being a strong antioxidant and having anti-tumour actions.

The researchers also discovered a trial involving human volunteers that showed how hibiscus tea may help lower blood pressure.

Who knows what researchers might find if they decided to explore what other herbal teas can do (and as anyone who's dabbled knows, there's a huge range to choose from).

Are you a herbal tea fan? Or are you committed to caffeine?

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