For centuries, people who’ve felt sick or stressed have tried drinking chamomile tea as a medicinal cure-all. Now, researchers in England have found new evidence that the popular herbal tea may actually help relieve a wide range of health ailments, including colds and menstrual cramps.
“This is one of a growing number of studies that provide evidence that commonly used natural products really do contain chemicals that may be of medicinal value,” says study leader Elaine Holmes, PhD, a chemist with Imperial College London.
The study involved fourteen volunteers (seven women and seven men) who each drank five cups of the herbal tea daily for two consecutive weeks. Daily urine samples were taken and tested throughout the study, both before and after drinking chamomile tea.
The researchers found that drinking the tea was associated with a significant increase in urinary levels of a breakdown product compounds known as phenolics, some of which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. This could help explain why the tea appears to boost the immune system and fight infections associated with colds, according to the researchers.
Drinking the tea also was associated with an increase in urinary levels of glycine, an amino acid that has been shown to relieve muscle spasms. This may explain why the tea appears to be helpful in relieving menstrual cramps in women, probably by relaxing the uterus, say the researchers. Glycine also is known to act as a nerve relaxant, which may also explain why the tea seems to act as a mild sedative.
American Chemical Society, Jan 4, 2005