The newspaper of Imperial College London
 Issue 148, 19 January 2005
Taking Imperial from strength to strength«
UK-Thai scientific collaboration boosted by new agreement«
Cirque du Soleil in the main entrance«
A nose job«
Frizzy hair today, gone tomorrow«
New microscope gives boost to UK nanotechnology«
Lord Sainsbury visits Imperial«
Imperial leads the way in surgical training and innovation«
New programme will train next generation of health leaders«
Tea off to good health«
Success halts trial«
The perfect Formula«
Spotlight on new R&D solutions«
Imperial students are best trainees«
Cash boost for Wye’s top new scholars«
In Brief«
Media mentions«
What’s on«

Tea off to good health

Researchers at Imperial have found new evidence that those who believe that putting the kettle on cures all ills, may well be on the right track.

MMR spectrometer at Imperial
MMR spectrometer at Imperial

In the case study, 14 volunteers each drank five cups of German camomile, Matricaria recutita, also as known as manzanilla, daily for two consecutive weeks. Daily urine samples were taken both before and after consumption. It was found that there was a significant increase in urinary levels of hippurate, a microbial breakdown product of certain plant-based compounds known as phenolics, some of which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. This could help illustrate why the tea seems to boost the immune system and fight infections associated with colds. Increased levels of glycine, an amino acid known to relieve muscle spasms, were also found, which explains why women find drinking the tea beneficial for menstrual cramps. Glycine is also known to act as a nerve relaxant and therefore explains the mild sedative quality of the tea.

Dr Elaine Holmes, study leader at the College said: “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. 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 research team stress that additional studies are needed before a more definitive link between the tea and its alleged health benefits can be established.

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