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Chamomile tea: New evidence supports health benefits

For centuries, people whove 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.

Their study is scheduled to appear in the Jan. 26 issue of the American Chemical Societys Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, one of the Societys peer-reviewed journals. ACS is the worlds largest scientific society.

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, Ph.D., a chemist with Imperial College London. The healthcare industry is placing increasing emphasis on functional foods including natural remedies, yet little work has been conducted on the long term effects of such products on human biology.

The herbal plant used in this study was German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), also known as manzanilla, whose flowers and leaves are brewed as a fragrant, flavorful tea. 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 hippurate, a breakdown product of certain plant-based 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 expl
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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-6042
American Chemical Society
4-Jan-2005


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