10 Immune-System-Boosting Teas, According To A Functional Medicine Doc
Tea is packed with nutrients, each variety (white, green, black, oolong, and herbal) boasting its own unique set of benefits. And while I like to drink all types, there are certain varieties I gravitate toward depending on the benefits I am looking to tap into.
When I feel a cold coming on, I reach for the varieties I know will build up my immune system to fight off illness completely or at least reduce my symptoms. Here are the top 10 I like to curl up with during cold and flu season:
Elderberry is so powerful that even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, praised its healing abilities, referring to it as his "medicine chest." Its antimicrobial and antiviral properties1 have been borne out in many studies, and it has been shown to be a viable remedy against both pathogenic bacteria and influenza viruses.
In addition to being steeped in tea, elderberry can be found as a syrup and is a common ingredient in cold and flu medicines.
This herb is also known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. You might even recognize echinacea as a common ingredient from your pharmacy's cold and flu aisle.
I prefer to take echinacea in tea form, so I can sip it throughout the day. Pro tip: Increasing the steep time will increase its dosage and potency.
5. Slippery elm
Slippery elm, also known as the red elm tree, is widely used in cough drops and teas. This is because it forms a substance called mucilage when mixed with water, which coats the throat and provides relief. It is also commonly used to ease the symptoms of laryngitis and other respiratory problems, like coughing.
Slippery elm contains bioflavonoids, tannins, calcium, and vitamin E, all of which provide their own unique health-boosting properties.
6. Licorice root
When I'm feeling under the weather, I typically find it difficult to get good-quality sleep. But sleep is so important for healing and repairing from illness. Sip a cup of chamomile in the evening for its powerful ability to help you wind down and catch some restorative Zzz's.
8. Lemon Balm
Pu-erh tea is made from the true tea plant, Camellia sinensis (which is where black, green, white, and oolong teas come from). Because of this, you can find Pu-erh varieties in green, black, or white tea.
Pu-erh is classically known to come from the Yunnan province in China. Studies have pointed to Pu-erh having antibacterial properties, which means it can help fight off harmful bacteria.
So next time you are feeling under the weather, grab your largest mug, your coziest blanket, and curl up with one of these cold- and flu-fighting teas!
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian,The Inflammation Spectrum, and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.