Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan and Physician Anita Pee
Elders Share 6 Herbal Tea Benefits to Help Them Age Gracefully
Published | 8 min read
Packed with nutrients, herbal infusions are one of the healthiest drinks around. We talk to seniors about herbal tea and its benefits.
Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, herbal tea has proven to be one of the healthiest drinks in the world. Seeing the lifestyle of people in modern times, drinking tea can give you a lot of health benefits. They range from boosting your immune system to aiding in your digestion to helping you relax.
Herbal tea is widely available in Asia, including wet markets, grocery shops, supermarkets and online shopping platforms. Herbal tea, or tisane, is an infusion of leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, bark, roots, or spices steeped in boiling water. Traditional tea, such as oolong, white tea, and black tea, is derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Other herbal teas, meanwhile, are derived from various parts of the plant.
Based on research published by the University of Cambridge, the origins of herbal tea date back to Ancient China. For thousands of years, many consumed tea for its taste and medicinal properties.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician Anita Pee says that herbal tea is not only good for health but also generally suitable for everyone. “Herbal teas typically consist of different types of herbs. Everyone can add different herbs to customise their tea to suit their needs and body constitution,” she says.
“For example, for someone who feels fatigued easily, he or she can consume ginseng and red dates tea. This can boost qi and blood production. If a person has problem sleeping, he or she can consume herbal teas that contain rose petals, lily bulbs, and dried longans. This concoction helps calm the mind and regulate liver qi,” explains physician Foo from Eu Yan Sang.
However, it is advisable to consume in moderation. According to physician Foo, “Everyone has different body constitution. So, a consultation with a physician would be helpful in knowing what kind of herbal tea suit you best.”
There are many different herbal teas you can drink today. Each of them has its distinctive taste and health benefits, depending on what you want to achieve. We talked to 4 citizens at their golden age about their habit of drinking herbal teas and asked them to share some of the benefits they’ve enjoyed from herbal teas.
Supports the Immune System
The vitamins and antioxidants found in herbal teas are great in helping to boost your immune system and to fight diseases and infections. A few of the best herbal teas for the immune system are elderberry, echinacea, and chrysanthemum.
A 2019 study by Molecules states that chrysanthemum flowers produce various types of flavonoids, phenolic acids, and lignans. They have exhibited diverse biological activities such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, neuroprotective, and anti-allergic effects.
Ng Mei Ling, 63, says she feels good when she drinks herbal teas. They help balance and maintain her health. She feels that her condition is better than most people her age. “It’s important to take notice of your body’s needs. Besides nutrition, we should always get enough rest and stay active,” she adds.
Calms the Mind
“It is important to relax and enjoy whatever you are doing, including eating or playing,” says Ivy Ng, 69. “As you age, you must keep your mind active and exercise regularly. Walking is an excellent form of exercise. Try to do things that require thinking and energy.”
A cup of herbal tea at the end of the day could help release stress and anxiety. It could also help those who have insomnia. To calm the mind, brew chamomile or goji berries and drink the concoction before your bedtime. Physician Foo also recommends herbs such as sour dates (酸枣仁), rosebuds, and lily bulbs to help calm the mind and improve sleep quality.
The Polish Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences says goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are classified as superfruits. This is because they have many nutrients and bioactive compounds. Moreover, the Turkish Journal of Biology finds that goji berries have an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect on human and non-human organisms.
Meanwhile, the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine notes that the Chinese date or jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) benefits our brain by calming down the mind and improving sleep quality.
Besides drinking herbal tea to help you relax before sleep, you could also put calming essential oils for relaxation, such as lavender, in a diffuser.
Enhances Mental and Physical Performance
You can use herbal tea to improve health and vitality. Some herbal teas are known to be energising and nourishing. They can also help to boost up the body’s physical health and enhance mental performance. Physician Foo notes that people in their 70s and 80s are prone to experiencing fatigue, poor digestion, poor eyesight, hearing loss, and poor memory. “Taking herbs such as dried orange peel, ginger slices, ginseng, red dates, and goji berries can help relieve the symptoms,” she explains. “Acupuncture can also be used to improve organ functions, promote better qi and blood circulation.”
Ginseng has long been known for its positive effects on health. Based on the Journal of Ginseng Research, actoprotective properties of Panax ginseng (administered as an extract) can increase mental performance and enhance physical performance without increasing oxygen consumption.
68-year-old Choong Kon Yin says that she’s been consuming ginseng tea as it helps boost her energy. She feels good and energetic most of the time and is fit and healthy for her age.
“Besides good nutrition and drinking herbal tea, stay away from harmful habits like over-eating or indulging in unhealthy food,” Choong suggests. “Do exercise regularly, have adequate sleep, engage in some good hobbies, and spend quality time with your family and friends.”
Drinking herbal tea after a meal helps in digesting your food, which can also reduce symptoms of indigestion and bloating. If you want to improve your digestive system, try making a cup of herbal infusion from chamomile, cinnamon, or ginger.
According to the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, ginger has the potential for treating many ailments. They include degenerative disorders (arthritis and rheumatism), digestive health issues (indigestion, constipation, and ulcer), cardiovascular disorders (atherosclerosis and hypertension), vomiting, diabetes mellitus, and cancer. The same study states that ginger also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties for controlling the process of ageing.
Tan Eng Keow, 66, a long-time ginger tea drinker, says it helps dispel “wind” and promotes a good appetite. She feels energetic and doesn’t have constipation. She believes that drinking cold drinks is bad for her health, so she prefers hot or warm beverages.
“Besides getting adequate nutrition and drinking ginger tea, it is important to have a positive mindset,” Tan says. “Be positive for a happier and healthier life.”
Apart from using ginger in tea, other ways to consume it are taking ginger supplements.
Slows Down Skin Ageing
Some herbal teas are also nutritious and have nourishing qualities and antioxidant effects. For example, antioxidants in goji berries neutralise the harmful effects of free radicals. This helps to keep the body’s cells healthy.
In traditional Chinese cuisine, many pair goji berries and red dates to brew tisane because they have restorative properties.
“Regular drinking of tea helps to keep my body warm and my complexion pinkish,” Ivy Ng says. She also says that she frequently feels refreshed and active. Moreover, she seldom falls sick, and if she does, she will recover fast. Her current favourite tea is red date tea.
Besides brewing it in tea, other ways to consume goji berries include drinking fruit juice or taking supplements. You can also consume fresh goji berries as a healthy snack.
Fights the Cold
A warm cup of herbal tea can do wonders for you. They hasten recovery for certain illnesses, such as cough, cold, and flu.
Luo Han Guo is the Chinese name for Monk Fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii). It is a perennial herb and generally cultivated in Guangxi province of China.
“Luo Han Guo tea helps to soothe my throat, especially when coughing. I feel better after drinking this. It helps to calm the discomfort till the condition improves,” says Choong.
In addition, you can also try other healthy and nutritious beverages containing black sesame, which is high in protein, fibre, and calcium. Black sesame is beneficial for preventing osteoporosis, grey hair and hair fall, and delays ageing too.
Now you know that herbal teas host a ton of health benefits when consumed regularly. They taste wonderful as well. If you haven’t, why not try brewing some of these herbal teas soon?
- Applied Ecology and Environmental Research. 2019. A Review of Chrysanthemum, the Eastern Queen in Traditional Chinese Medicine with Healing Power in Modern Pharmaceutical Sciences. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017. A Review of Dietary Ziziphus jujuba Fruit (Jujube): Developing Health Food Supplements for Brain Protection. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
- Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd edition). 2011. Chapter 7: The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
- International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013. Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
- Journal of Ginseng Research. 2013. Actoprotective effect of ginseng: improving mental and physical performance. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
- Molecules. 2019. Phytochemical Composition and Antioxidant Activities of Two Different Color Chrysanthemum Flower Teas. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
- Pantnagar Journal of Research. 2019. Monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii) – health aspects and food applications. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
- Polish Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2016. Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum): Composition and Health Effects – A Review. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
- Turkish Journal of Biology. 2020. Anxiolytic, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects of goji berry polysaccharides in ovariectomized rats: experimental evidence from behavioral, biochemical, and immunohistochemical analyses. [Accessed 2 June 2021]
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