Pain and inflammation can throw life off course, affecting both our physical and mental health.
A pretty common response is to reach for the painkillers, but there are other more natural pain management treatments you can consider.
We’ve done our scientific research and created a compilation of the 12 best teas for pain relief and inflammation:
1. Turmeric Tea
No doubt you already have turmeric in your spice rack but you probably didn’t know it’s great for alleviating pain.
The rheumatology community swears by it as an effective pain relief remedy.
Don’t think it’s just hearsay either. Turmeric is one of the very few plant products that has been studied in multiple clinical trials.
There’s an active ingredient within it called ‘curcumin’, which has been proven in a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food to be effective when it comes to relieving joint arthritis pain.
That’s because curcumin restricts the molecules in the body that cause inflammation.
Let’s turn to the science to demonstrate how it helps:
20 healthy males took part in a trial to study the effects of curcumin on the human body, specifically in relation to inflammation.
The group were randomly split between those given a placebo and those given curcumin.
Both groups took part in a 4-day downhill running test and were then tested using a combination of MRI, lab tests and muscle samples to monitor the effects of the exercise.
The curcumin group had fewer people suffering any evidence of muscle damage, and experienced less pain and inflammation overall than those given the placebo.
Approximately 1000mg per day of curcumin can do wonders for those suffering.
Turmeric isn’t just for people with a health condition either. Even the most active and healthy people can experience discomfort, as keeping fit can lead to muscle soreness and exercise-induced inflammation.
Good news! Turmeric has been scientifically proven to assist with recovery and enhance our performance.
2. Peppermint Tea
There’s nothing worse than stomach bloating. It’s so uncomfortable, painful and is normally caused by the body reacting to something we have ingested. In the abdominal area it can range from mild to severe.
Thankfully peppermint tea can come to the rescue!
In her book Beat Your Bloat, nutritionist Maeve Madden explains that mint contains a compound called menthol that helps with intestinal contractions and the associated pain.
For any of our readers suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) you’re going to want to pay closer attention right now:
Madden says it’s:
The perfect home remedy for anyone suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The natural oils found in mint help to break down and remove gas from the digestive tract.
Her claims have been supported in another study by researchers from the University’s Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory.
They discovered compounds in peppermint can activate an anti-pain channel in the colon which can soothe inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract.
This channel is called ‘TRPM8’ and may actually reduce the discomfort linked to eating some spicy foods.
3. Ginger Tea
Another great herbal tea for pain and inflammation is ginger.
An eye-watering 50 different antioxidant compounds have been identified in ginger.
The Arthritis Foundation advocates drinking four cups of ginger tea daily to reduce pain and disability caused by arthritis.
They even liken ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties to that of ibuprofen, without any of the negative side effects!
Researchers from Georgia College and State University and the University of Georgia also discovered that ginger can actually quash pain.
Their study, shared in the Journal of Pain, blinded the scientists and participants, as it proved that ginger could ease the muscle pain we experience when we play sport or do gardening.
Research focused on the effect of ginger capsules and heat-treated ginger compared to ‘dummy’ capsules.
Participants were asked to take part for 11 days. During this time they carried out strenuous arm exercises and rated their muscle pain over three consecutive days.
The ginger capsule taking group rated their pain lower than the placebo group.
With ginger’s pain relieving effects you’re going to be thirsty for this post-workout tea!
4. Holy Basil Tea
You’re probably well-acquainted with the herb basil, but what about Holy Basil?
We know what you’re thinking, what is so holy about it?
Originating in India and often found growing around shrines, it is in fact considered sacred by Hindus.
Holy basil also goes by the name ‘tulsi’ (from the Hindu “incomparable one”), and we can certainly see why it is considered so uniquely special.
It is brimming with anti-inflammatory properties that promote wellbeing by reducing pain, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
And there’s more:
In the leaves and seeds of the holy basil plants there are compounds that may reduce uric acid levels. High uric acid can lead to inflammatory conditions and arthritis, like gout.
5. Lavender Tea
If you’re asking yourself — what can I drink to reduce inflammation? Try lavender tea.
Not only does it smell wonderful, but it’s brilliant when it comes to tackling anxiety.
And when we look at its impact on pain, we realise this tea has more anti-inflammatory properties than you probably realise.
Studies have shown it can reduce inflammation and stop other serious conditions that can leave you suffering in pain.
Through reducing inflammation you decrease the risk of blood clots that are caused by inflamed arteries that can lead to heart attacks.
It also has the ability to limit pain by reducing inflammation of the muscles and joints, and minimizing spasms.
The perfect tea if you want to be placed into a calm state and reduce pain at the same time.
6. White Tea
Do you know where white tea gets its name from?
Its buds and leaves are covered in little white hairs because this variety of tea is picked while still partially closed.
Like green tea, white tea is packed with polyphenols and micronutrients that offer protection against a wide range of diseases.
Although from the same family as green and black tea, white tea has even more antioxidants than its siblings as it undergoes the least amount of processing.
Lab based studies using human skin cells have shown that white tea powder can be highly effective at fighting inflammation.
Plus for osteoporosis sufferers, whose bones are generally weaker and more brittle, regularly drinking white tea increases bone density and reduces the risk of hip fractures.
7. Willow Bark Tea
Dubbed ‘nature’s aspirin’, willow bark is a wonderful pain-relieving tea.
The main active ingredient is ‘salicin’ which is a chemical very similiar to the over-the-counter pain reliever, aspirin.
In fact, if you trawl back through the history books, you will learn that in the 19th century, salicin was actually used to develop aspirin.
Due to willow bark’s anti-inflammatory properties, it’s also believed to be powerful when it comes to combating joint pain.
In a community trial, comprising of 100 men and women with a history of joint pain, participants were given either a joint pain supplement containing white willow bark extract or a placebo.
The results showed a significant improvement for those who took the supplement, minimizing joint pain and making daily activities for those with knee pain a whole lot easier.
8. Fennel Tea
Did you know that fennel is an aromatic plant in the carrot family?
Although many love eating fennel for its mild, licorice flavor, others are now turning to fennel for its anti-inflammatory effects.
By helping people sleep, relieving gastrointestinal issues and brimming with antioxidants, it’s understandable that fennel is gaining even more popularity recently.
Research has shown that fennel and fennel seeds contain just shy of 30 powerful plant compounds including anethole, which has many anti-inflammatory benefits.
9. Green Tea
Green tea packs a strong medicinal punch!
This has led many doctors and scientists, including world-renowned Dr William Li, to regard green tea as a powerhouse when it comes to keeping you healthy and fighting disease.
Lots of studies have shown that the active ingredient Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea helps reduce inflammation, because it interrupts processes in the body which cause inflammation.
If you’re suffering from arthritis, this one is going to spark your interest:
Lab studies by Case Western Reserve University researchers in Cleveland showed EGCG has the power to stop arthritis progression.
And, that’s not the only important piece of research that’s going to make you reach for a cup:
University and medical researchers in China published their findings on EGCG in the BioMed Research International publication, and discovered it can shut down chronic inflammation.
Matcha tea has become increasingly popular and trendy in the last few years. It’s essentially finely ground green tea which can be added to hot water for a more concentrated cup of yummy goodness.
10. Rosehip Tea
Rosehip comes from the rose plant and is known for its delicate, floral taste.
It’s become increasingly popular in the last few years, because it’s bursting with antioxidants.
Antioxidants are our first line of defense when it comes to fighting free radical damage and keeping our cells healthy.
A study combining the results of several randomized trials, found that levels of inflammation, joint pain and stiffness were significantly reduced because of the anti-inflammatory properties of rose hip powder.
Other pieces of research have investigated the effects of rose hip specifically on arthritis (both osteo and rheumatoid).
Results show that it can radically reduce inflammation and be used therapeutically to lower the oxidative stress found in the tissues of sufferers.
11. Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea is also known as ‘red tea’ or ‘red bush tea’, and is grown on the western coast of South Africa (it tastes delicious!).
More importantly for you, rooibos has many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to help ease any aches or pains you may have.
To be more precise, there are actually several different types of antioxidants including quercetin, which has been found to have a number of anti-inflammatory properties.
If you’re prone to stomach pain this one may be a great aid for you too.
A Japanese Study published in Pediatrics International found that rooibos tea may reduce colitis inflammation.
The South African Rooibos Council also recommends the tea as a remedy for colic and stomach cramps.
12. Cinnamon Tea
Cinnamon has a positive effect on cholesterol levels in the body, increasing levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) levels.
Lowering your cholesterol is vital for optimal heart function and inflammation in the body, caused by excess fat in your bloodstream and excess weight.
Best of all, in a trial from 2013, researchers found that taking as little as a teaspoon a day of cinnamon is enough for you to get all the benefits!
Pain sometimes leads to disrupted sleep. If you’re someone failing to get a decent night’s rest, take a look at our list of the best teas to help you sleep better.