Herbal teas can be a great way to improve your health and lift your mood when you’re struggling with withdrawals, or you’re trying to adapt to a healthier lifestyle after spending many years in the shadow of more nefarious and less natural substances. In this guide we’ll look at some of the very best teas for this reason, including a lesser known tea that could work wonders.
Why Tea is Important
The best way to beat an addiction is with a healthy diet and lifestyle. It is a statement that is sure to cause a few eye rolls, because when you’re in the throes of addiction you want a quick fix, a single pill or program, and you don’t want to hear that the road ahead is long and painful. But that’s so often the case.
Not only will a healthy diet and lifestyle help you to feel better and to get those synapses firing normally again, but it will improve your cardiovascular system and your mental health. It’s easier to relapse when you’re feeling depressed and lethargic, and it’s more common to feel that when you’re eating poorly.
Also, it’s true that you are what you eat. The simple fact is that if you eat well, then you will feel good, while regular exercise will help to trigger a release of endorphins.
Tea plays a role in all of this. A daily dose of several healthy teas will not only ensure that you stay hydrated, but they’ll also give you something soothing and relaxing to drink, provide your body with a huge number of antioxidants, and in some cases provide you with naturally relaxing and soothing compounds.
The Best Teas
Many of the AddictiveAddiction team have been there and worn the t-shirt. We’re not going to claim that tea was an integral part in helping us to beat addiction, but it was certainly a significant part of the big picture. However, it’s important to drink the right teas in the right way, and to avoid any blends that contain nasty chemicals or recreational drugs (no kratom or kava, because they don’t always work like you think).
We have discussed some of our favourites and the reasoning behind them below.
Greek Mountain Tea
This is a truly amazing tea that is far less common than it should be. It is consumed throughout Greece and surrounding countries and it has been for hundreds of years. In recent years it has attracted a lot of attention following some very promising studies that suggested it could help with an array of chronic diseases, while also improving memory, boosting the immune system, and more.
We also find that it helps to relax us down. Not quite in the same way that a sleeping tablet would, but more like camomile without the lethargy. It’s hard to describe and it’s not in anyway psychoactive, but the research does back these claims up and suggest that it can be used to improve mood and help people to relax.
Greek mountain tea, which is also known as sideritis, isn’t as easy to come across as we would like, and a lot of the suppliers you find on eBay and Amazon marketplace have a low quality product that is not organic and could be months or years old. The best supplier we have come across is Shelgo Tea, who sell this tea and more out of the UK. You can find their sideritis scardica tea here. They also have an extensive guide on the benefits and are very open and honest (linking to research etc.,) which makes for a refreshing change.
They ship across Europe, but they don’t ship to the US. However, our team in the US tell us that it’s a lot easier to find up there, with smaller brands like Klio Tea and big ones like Yogi Tea selling it.
Black Tea and Green Tea
Caffein can be a problematic substance when you are in withdrawal and we would advise being very cautious when consuming it. We don’t recommend coffee, nor do we recommend large amounts of black tea, but there’s nothing wrong with a couple cups of black tea a day, or several cups of green/white tea.
It’s satisfying, it’s packed full of antioxidants, and it will also provide you with an uplifting amount of caffeine. Also, it’s far more preferable to green tea extracts, which have recently been linked with all kinds of worrying side effects. Tea and antioxidants are great in natural forms, but when you start mega dosing with extracts it’s a different story.
We have tried making tea out of lavender and it can be quite bitter. We’ve also tried buying spray and oils, but while these can be effective, they are super concentrated and you never know what you’re getting.
Lavender is effective though when it is used properly. We find that it’s best to consume it in small amounts alongside other teas, camomile being the best one. Shelgo Tea, who we linked above, actually have an organic blend that combines these two herbs along with lemon verbena (another relaxing herb) but we have yet to try it.
The go-to tea for sleep disorders, chamomile is widely used and effective. It will not knock you out though and we don’t find it to be very effective when used on its own for sleeping disorders. This is especially true if you’re in withdrawal, in which case even a blow to the head won’t send you off to sleep.
However, it’s important not to dismiss it entirely. It can help when used in combination with other teas as part of a nightly ritual, and we also find that it is very effective at reducing day time anxiety. By all means take it on a nighttime at first to assess tolerance, but if you find that it doesn’t send you to sleep or make you lethargic, then you can start consuming it through the day.
For us, chamomile actually became a good barometer for progress. To begin with, we would drink a few cups throughout the day to relax, and found it to be ineffective as a sleep aid. But when the withdrawals faded and we returned to full health, we found that a single cup on a nighttime was as effective as those several day time cups had been, if not more.
Teas to Avoid
There are many healthy teas out there that are great most of the time, but can be damaging when you are in withdrawal. This is true of our personal favourite herbal teas: dandelion root. It’s healthy and it can help you to detox, but we wouldn’t recommend it during withdrawal as it can increase urination at a time when you may be consuming little fluids. As a result, it can dry you out potentially make conditions like diarrhoea worse.
It’s a similar story with nettle and liquorice root, and you soul also avoid things like aloe vera and senna like the plague, as they can make for one messy nightmare during withdrawals.