Can herbal teas help treat high cholesterol?

Some research suggests specific herbal infusions may help manage certain health concerns, such as high cholesterol. However, people need to avoid using teas in place of medication.

For centuries, societies around the globe have turned to herbal teas for comfort, ritual, and healing. People brew these infusions from the roots, bark, leaves, flowers, and fruit of various plants known for their flavor and potential wellness benefits.

Some evidence presents herbal teas as potential natural options alongside conventional treatments. However, there is little research on herbal teas for cholesterol, and more studies are necessary to understand the effects entirely.

This article looks at herbal teas for cholesterol and their potential benefits.

Herbal teas may have a role in cholesterol management. While many claims about herbal teas and cholesterol derive from traditional use or preliminary studies, some scientific evidence suggests that specific herbal teas can influence cholesterol levels:

  • A 2020 review of 31 trials noted that, in general, green tea intake significantly lowered total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries.
  • Hibiscus tea is a herbal infusion that comes from the dried petals of the hibiscus plant. Some studies  show that hibiscus extract reduces total and LDL cholesterol and may lower blood pressure.
  • People drink sage tea to boost brain health. Research also suggests that sage may help lower levels of total and LDL cholesterol levels and balance blood sugar.

However, people need to approach these claims with caution and consider herbal teas as a complement to, not a substitute for, traditional cholesterol-lowering interventions.

Potential benefits

Several herbal teas have components that might be beneficial for cholesterol management.

For example, many herbal teas contain antioxidants, which can help prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. Oxidized LDL is a significant contributor  to atherosclerosis.

Some teas may also enhance the function of the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels, thereby supporting cardiovascular health.

Herbal teas to try

Here are some herbal teas that a person can try:

  • Green tea: Green tea derives from the Camellia sinensis plant and is abundant in catechins. Research indicates these compounds may help lower LDL cholesterol and enhance the overall cholesterol profile.
  • Hibiscus tea: Deriving from the dried petals of the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant, hibiscus tea has shown potential in studies  for reducing LDL cholesterol.
  • Ginger tea: Ginger, known for its myriad health benefits, might also play a role in modulating cholesterol levels , given its active compounds, such as gingerol.
  • Turmeric tea: Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has potential links for its potential anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering effects.

Tea and drug interactions

While people often consume herbal tea for potential health benefits, they need to understand that some varieties may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications. These interactions can alter the efficacy of drugs or lead to unexpected side effects.

Here are some notable interactions to be aware of:

  • St. John’s Wort: People have traditionally used this herb for its mood-enhancing properties, but it can interfere with antidepressants, birth control pills, and anticoagulants. It may also decrease the effectiveness of some cholesterol-lowering statins.
  • Ginkgo biloba: People often consume ginkgo for cognitive health, but it can interact with anticoagulants and increase the risk of bleeding. It might also interfere with medications that manage high blood pressure.
  • Ginseng: This popular herbal root might reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulants, interfere with blood sugar control, counteract immunosuppressants, and affect drug metabolization.

Note that this is not a complete list, so people need to inform a doctor about any herbal teas they consume.

Cholesterol management tips

Although herbal teas may contribute to cholesterol management, Individuals can also employ other common strategies. These include:

  • Dietary adjustments: People can increase the intake of fiber-rich foods such as oats, beans, lentils, fruits, and vegetables. They need to reduce saturated fats in red meats and full fat dairy products and eliminate trans fats present in many processed foods.
  • Exercise regularly: A person can engage in moderate aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes or vigorous aerobic activity for 75 minutes per week.
  • Maintain a moderate weight: Achieving and maintaining a moderate weight can help reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Stop smoking: If applicable, giving up tobacco can improve HDL cholesterol levels and benefit overall heart health.

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