Updated: May 23, 2019
Drinking tea daily can improve your mind and body. It’s that simple.
What is it about tea that makes people feel good about what they are putting into their bodies? What does Camellia sinensis, the beloved tea plant, really do to us when we drink it? And why are Americans finally catching on?
The natural health and organic food movement has opened the door wide for tea culture in America. With more knowledgable and empowered consumers taking charge of their bodies comes more health conscious people who are choosing tea. We in America are in a ripe place for tea to be at the forefront of holistic health, individually and community-wide. In contrast, when my husband and I were growing up, very few people ate organic, scheduled regular massages or acupuncture, did yoga, or really drank tea. The internet didn’t exist either. You get the picture.
The Tea Plant
The scientific name for tea is Camellia sinensis, a species of evergreen shrub that is native to Asia and can grow up to 13 feet high. Tea farmers harvest the leaves and buds of the plant for making tea. White, green, oolong, and pu-erh teas all come from a variety of the Camellia sinensis plant. The processing method and oxidation level is what determines the type and taste of tea.
Tea's popularity goes hand in hand with the stimulating effects of caffeine. But there is much more to this precious plant namely the antioxidants which are the key to tea’s health promoting effects. It is well-known amongst acupuncturists that tea began as a medicine and turned into a beverage, and here's why:
Antioxidants destroy free radicals, reduce heart disease, slow aging, prevent cancer, and prevent auto-immune disorders.
Most people are familar with drinking green tea to help lose weight. Studies using green tea extract have shown that one of its constituents called epigallocatechin gallate (aka. EGCG, an antioxidant) is responsible for burning fat and boosting metabolism. Eating nutritious whole foods, drinking 3 or more cups of high quality tea a day, and exercising regularly is a recipe for weight loss success.
Tea contains a substantial amount of L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and boosts mood. Theanine is now available in supplement form to assist with anxiety, insomnia, ADD, high blood pressure, and PMS. The ultimate chill pill!
Theaflavin, the antioxidant in black tea and puer (fermented) tea, has cholesterol lowering effects. Green tea now has two health promoting unsuspecting friends.
Antioxidants in tea are highly effective at improving liver function. Drinking tea daily can help you purge toxins and free radicals accumulated in the liver. Stress, poor diet, and environmental toxins all take a toll on the liver. We recommend that you love your liver and drink more tea!
There are many other health properties in tea including lowering the risk of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and osteoporosis. As tea continues to become more popular, more positive research is emerging.
So skip the coffee and reach for tea instead. Your adrenals will be happier, and your body will thank you. Much of the tea sold in grocery stores is full of pesticides and artificial flavors. Be sure to buy only organic, and always read the label.
Nicole Peterson, LAc, MAcOM is a licensed acupuncturist in Ashland, Oregon. She loves sharing her passion for natural approaches to health through her online blog and at her clinic, Ashland Family Acupuncture located in downtown Ashland at 208 Oak St, Suite 106E. Contact us for an appointment or free consultation. 541-631-9649