It happens nearly every week in our retail shop. A new customer - often a man - will enter and say something like this, "Dr. Oz says I should be drinking a tea that begins with the letter P. Do you have any?"
My answer is, "You mean Pu-erh?"
"Yeah! That's it!"
I call it the Oz Effect. Whatever Dr. Oz touts on his show is what viewers go in search of.
Fortunately, for us in the tea business, the popular television health guru is a huge proponent of tea being an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, and a recent episode featured an herb found in every tea shop: Chamomile.
The National Institutes of Health funded a study at the University of Pennsylvania on people with generalized anxiety disorder where the anxiety interferes with their lives. Chamomile was shown to to have promising results in reducing the participants' anxiety. And not only did it reduce the anxiety but in a certain number of people who also had depression, it improved their symptoms of depression.
Chamomile binds to the same receptors in your brain that Valium-like medications do, but it's not habit forming.
20 million Americans received prescriptions for mental health illnesses in 2011. Chamomile may be a natural alternative for some patients.
You need to drink two to three cups daily over a period of about 30 days to get the therapeutic amount needed in your system.
What happens when Chamomile is used over a longer period of time?
The University of Pennsylvania study not only confirms Chamomile's usefulness for anxiety and depression, but that its effects can increase over a longer duration.
Traditional herbalists will typically recommend the use of anti-anxiety herbs such as Chamomile, Lavender, St. John's Wort and others over a period of three months to a year in order for them to reach their full effectiveness. After that, they are often recommended to be continued at least periodically or as needed.
The good news about Chamomile, as evidenced by this and other studies, is that it has no known adverse side effects and is non-addictive. This is in stark contrast to anti-depressant pharmaceuticals, some of which are known for being significantly addictive in addition to having numerous other adverse effects.
Do I get the health benefits of tea in Chamomile?
No. Chamomile is an herb and not a tea plant. The antioxidants found in green tea - specifically EGCG - are not present in Chamomile. Both caffeine or theanine are absent as well.
As always, consult a physician before beginning any natural treatment for illnesses. Until you do, keep calm, carry on, and drink Chamomile!
TeaMaestro Bruce Richardson is a Contributing Editor for TeaTime magazine.