A better way to start your day

Coffee may not have originated in the United States... but these days, it's about as American as baseball and apple pie.

Every day, some 150 million of us -- that's half the country! -- have at least one cuppa joe.

And if you like the taste... and you aren't sensitive to caffeine... feel free to have a cup or two. Odds are, it won't hurt you, and it might even pack a few benefits.

But if you want a drink that'll really boost your health, try an herbal tea.

There's one for every mood -- and there's even one that can make you sharper, more alert and ready for your day without the risk of caffeine jitters.

And if you ask me, this one has a much more pleasant taste than coffee.

New research finds that peppermint tea can help boost the brain, sharpen the mind and improve the mood, especially in seniors -- and the benefits kick in almost immediately. Specifically, a little peppermint tea can help with both long-term memory, working memory, and alertness, according to the study on 180 seniors.

The study focused specifically on those brain benefits, but other research has shown peppermint tea can do even more for you -- as it helps you fight off inflammation, which in turn cuts your risk of chronic disease.

It's also great for digestion, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.

The new study didn't stop with peppermint.

While a minty brew can help perk you up, another blend can help bring you down -- helping you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

It's chamomile tea, a time-tested herbal remedy I recommend to my own patients who have trouble sleeping.

The same new study confirms that this simple brew has a mild sedative effect on the brain, slowing both memory and attention so you can relax... or just what you need when you're trying to catch a few winks.

The study focused on peppermint and on chamomile -- but for an even better rest, look for a tea blended with other proven herbal remedies, like valerian and passionflower. They both can help you to relax and sleep -- and you can often find them combined in a tea with chamomile.

And those are just two benefits of herbal teas.

Other blends can help fight cancer, protect the heart, burn fat, fight infection, and even boost your immune system. And since there's no caffeine, you can feel free to have them anytime, day or night.

If you're not sure which ones are best for you, speak to a doctor skilled in herbal medicine.

Then, put the kettle on the stove and start brewing. Herbal teas are great right off the boil... or stick them in fridge for a delicious iced tea.