Green tea may be the health world’s heartthrob, but recent research suggests that it won’t be king for long.
In a small clinical trial, Iranian researchers found that participants who drank hibiscus tea after each meal for four weeks saw a 44% drop in blood pressure, 4% more than the green tea-drinkers.
Researchers point to the tea’s nitric oxide-maximizing properties, which help dilate blood vessels, as the most likely reason for the result, in their paper published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements. Ultimately, these major cuts in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure couldn’t be definitively pinned to the tea regimen in this particular study, but experts in the field say hibiscus is a hidden health gem.
“In earlier studies on hibiscus there have been significant effects on blood pressure as well as positive changes in cholesterol and triglycerides, a measure of risk for a cardiac event,” says Kevin Spelman, PhD, a medical herbalist and National Institutes of Health researcher. “Hibiscus is looking really good right now.”
But Hibiscus isn’t the only one having a healthy spotlight moment: marigold and chamomile are emerging from behind green tea’s shadow, too. Serbian scientists chemically evaluated the cancer-fighting effects of calendula (aka marigold) and chamomile teas recently. What they, found: both brews attacked malignant cells, but calendula tea was the standout. It not only knocked out the nasty cells, especially those associated with melanoma, cervical cancer, and chronic leukemia, but stopped short of wiping out healthy blood cells, too, according to the study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.
Both brews have high concentrations of phenolic compounds, which are believed to have cancer-combating, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant powers. This study also failed yield drinkable results, however. Calendula and chamomile may battle cancer in a petri dish, but trying match those concentrations in your bloodstream would be toxic.
Still, you should aim to fill your cup with these two herbal brews more often. Relaxing chamomile tea is gentle enough for children and can soothe stomachaches, says Spelman. “If you have any gastric distress, it will relax the gut,” he explains.
Calendula also has a few perks of its own. While Spelman says it has traditionally been used to improve lymphatic flow in the body, but can be applied topically to wounds to aid healing. “It actually does work,” Spelman says. “It strengthens the wound so it doesn’t open up as easily, and improves the speed at which it heals.”
Watch your back green tea. Now that researchers have seen benefits from these outliners, be sure that they’ll want to investigate more.