Originally published in issue #14 (May/June 1998) of Dr. Leung's newsletter, this post provides several remedies using tea. -ed
Tea (Camellia sinensis) has been consumed in China for several thousand years. Besides being a beverage, it is often used as a medicine. Its general health benefits (especially antioxidant effect) have recently been attributed to its flavanoids (catechin, epicatechin, etc.). These compounds are also present in abundance in black catechu (2-20%) and pale catechu (30-35%), the former from the heartwood of Acacia catechu while the latter from the leaves and twigs of Uncaria gambir. They are also present in the wood, root, leaf, and bark of many other plants. Consequently, “standardized” tea extracts artificially high in these polyphenols may not be tea extracts at all. Hence, such extracts should not be called tea extracts but should more accurately be called “tea flavanoids” or “catechin concentrates.” The reason is that the benefits of tea are not due to these polyphenols alone. Billions of people over the centuries have benefited from tea drinking, and not from ingesting these chemical units of condensed tannins! In any case, let’s get back to the wholesome tea.
The following are a few folk remedies for some common conditions from a compilation of mostly folk medicinal uses of tea, with some from classic herbals [Luo, Q. F. and G.Y. Yang, Zhongguo Yao Cha Da Quan (Compendium of Chinese Medicinal Teas), Lin Yu Cultural Enterprise Co., Ltd., Taipei, 1995]:
Flu and associated symptoms (fever, dry mouth, runny nose, etc.): (1) Heat 3 g of green tea with 6 g of gypsum in an oven or pot until crispy dry. Grind together to a fine powder. Disperse the fine powder mixture in warm boiled water, add a little honey and drink the mixture. (2) Boil 6 g of black tea with 20 g of honeysuckle flower buds (available in Chinese herb shops or food markets) for 20-30 min. Strain and add an adequate amount of sugar. Drink the tea once daily. Do this for 2 to 3 days. (3) Break up 30 g of mung bean into small pieces. Add 1 big bowl of water. Cook down to half a bowl along with 9 g of black tea wrapped in muslin or cheesecloth. Remove the tea bag. Add adequate amounts of red sugar (in thin brick-like form, available from Chinese grocers) and eat the mung bean soup. (4) Briefly boil 7 g of black tea with 10 slices of fresh ginger. Drink the tea after meals. This is also reportedly good for coughs that accompany cold and flu.
Dry cough: Steep 2 g each of black tea and dried chrysanthemum flower in boiling water for 6 min. Drink the tea after meals.
Herbal tea pillow for hypertension, dizziness, and neurasthenia: This pillow is made with used tea leaves that have been oven or sun dried. Add a small amount of jasmine tea, mix together thoroughly and stuff into a pillow case. Simply use this pillow on a regular basis. It is said to prevent or relieve hypertension. It appears that the jasmine tea is added here only as a fragrance because in another remedy for the same purposes, only spent tea is used.
Diarrhea: Soak 30 g of lotus seeds (available from Chinese grocers or food stores) in warm water for a few hrs. Add an adequate amount of rock candy and simmer until the lotus seeds are well done. To this thick soup add a cup of tea made by steeping 5 g of black tea in boiling water. Eat the soup/tea.
Insomnia: Make tea with 15 g of green tea and drink it all before 8 A.M. Grind 10 g of sour jujube kernel (available in Chinese herb shops) to a fine powder and take it with water at bedtime. Be sure not to drink any water or tea (e.g. black tea) after 8 P.M.
Hyperthyroidism: Boil 12 g of dried chrysanthemum flower in 600 ml of water for 5 min. Add 1 g of green tea and 25 g honey. Let steep for a few min. and drink the resulting tea over a period of several hrs. More boiling water can be added and the resulting tea again drunk during the rest of the day. Do this on a daily basis.
Sprained back muscles: (1) Mix 200 ml of a strong black tea (e.g., from 3-5 American/English brand tea bags) with 100 ml rice vinegar. Heat it up and drink it all at one time while warm. (2) Mix 5 g of cooked black sesame seed powder (can be prepared by baking the seeds in an oven at medium heat until dried and then ground to a powder) and 25 g red sugar in 400-500 ml hot tea prepared from 1 g green tea. Stir well and drink the thin soup while still warm in 3 portions. Do this once daily. (3) Bring to a boil 300 ml of tea made from 1 g green tea. Add 2 eggs and 2.5 g honey. Continue to simmer until the eggs are cooked (a few min). Drink the tea and eat the eggs once daily in the morning.
Shingles (herpes zoster): Simply use a very strong tea (e.g., several times stronger than the usual American tea) to wash the afflicted areas. This is also recommended for contact dermatitis, eczema, and painful inflammations.
Contact dermatitis, erythema, blisters, itching, etc.: Soak 60 g each of black tea and alum in 500 ml of water for 30 min and then boil the mixture for another 30 min. Use the resulting tea to wash afflicted areas.
Reduced vision, dizziness, and night blindness: Stir fry equal amounts of salt and lycium fruit (heating the salt first), until the fruit swells up. Remove the fruit and discard the salt. Save the fruit for later use. When ready to take this recipe, place 1 g of black tea and 10 g of chrysanthemum flower in a teapot. Add boiling water and let steep for 5 min. Pour the tea into a cup with 10 g of the stir-fried lycium fruit. Drink the tea and eat the fruit.
Garlic breath: This folk remedy calls for simply chewing black tea leaves or gargling with a strong black tea.
These and more herbal remedies are available from the volumes of Dr. Leung’s newsletter, of the same name as this blog (Leung’s Chinese Herb News). This newsletter was published and sent to subscribers (most were industry-insiders) from 1996 to 2004. The collected works now serve as an excellent reference work, created with Dr. Leung’s frank, honest opinions and down-to-earth communication style.
For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit www.earthpower.com. To order the newsletter containing the remedies mentioned above, visit the bookstore, click “Buy Now” on the newsletter, and select Issue # 14 from the drop down list.
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