Weeds in a Cup


If you ask for a cup of tea these days, chances are that you will be getting more than Lipton’s finest. Tea has become more than orange colored hot water.

If you ask for a cup of tea these days, chances are that you will be getting more than Lipton’s finest. Tea has become more than orange colored hot water.

Those tiny little tea leaves are now know to contain a large variety of chemicals which may or may not make you live to 120, look eternally 29, and shed pounds, PMS, colds and indigestion. Black teas which are what we traditionally consume and green tea, the stuff you might drink in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant contain substances known as catechins. The phytochemcials (phyto=plant) may help the aging process by fighting those nasty substances called free radicals. Free radicals damage cells and may be responsible for everything from wrinkles to tumors. According to some scientific journals, Green tea may also have some protective effect against elevated blood pressure.

However, black and green teas are only the beginning of a long list of dry crunchy grass, twigs and blossoms that can be steeped in water. Chamomile, Echinacea, yarrow, hyssop, and ginseng root supposedly help relieve the symptoms of colds. Some people who consume these beverages testify to their astonishing effects in relieving symptoms of the flu and cold rapidly and totally. Others who have not had such good results are usually coughing or sneezing too much to communicate the lack of efficacy of these herbs. Drinking tea when in bed with a cold certainly cannot hurt. We all know that we are supposed to drink plenty of fluids when suffering from the sniffles and if the fluid has some funny stuff floating in it what makes our sinuses better…? Who knows, it might work.

Digestive problems are supposedly helped by the appropriate combination of dried herbaceous material. Some such as licorice, which relieves constipation, is probably well know to anyone who ate too many of those black gummy sticks as a child. In tea, the licorice leaf is combined with dandelion for best effect in clearing up constipation. (It also gets rid of the pesky yellow flowers from your lawn). Plantain and Agrimony (sounds like the grounds for divorce) are to be drunk for the opposite problem, diarrhea; and peppermint and German chamomile are supposedly just the thing for an upset stomach.

There are many more herbal remedies available thorough practitioners of Chinese medicine. Before throwing away your Pepto-Bismol and Tylenol, consider this - The ‘dose’ of active ingredient in an herb is rarely indicated in these remedies. No one has isolated the ingredients in marigold flowers or sage that might relieve the symptoms of PMS or how much licorice will relieve constipation without causing diarrhea. No one has tested different doses to see which are most effective and which may, if taken in too large a dose, cause side effects. The herbs are plants. The content of the active ingredients depends on the condition of the soil where the plants are grown, the amount of rainfall, fertilizer, time of harvesting, drying and processing. This may vary widely from batch to batch. The herbs are not monitored for insect, bacterial or other contamination since their packaging is not under the control of any government agency. 

Drinking or consuming herbs in any form for medicinal purposes is like conducting an experiment on your self. Be careful. Notwithstanding, drug-free, natural products based on scientific research have been proven to be effective in treating PMS – for more information, check out the resource library at http://www.pmsescape.com.


Dr. Judith Wurtman is Research Scientist at MIT, and the founder and director of Harvard University's TRIAD Weight Management Center. She is the inventor of the leading natural product for treating PMS – PMS Escape. She received her Ph.D. in cell biology from MIT; took additional training as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in nutrition and obesity; and then established a research career on the topics of nutrition and obesity, becoming a recognized authority on the causes and treatments of various types of obesity. She has written 5 books and co-edited others, 40 peer-reviewed publications, and has had extensive media experience (television, radio, magazines) describing her and related work.

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