Chamomile Tea May Help Beat Colds, Cramps

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Alison McCook, "Chamomile Tea May Help Beat Colds, Cramps", Reuters, January 17, 2005, Link:
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Tea drinkers, rejoice: new research supports claims that chamomile tea can protect the body from a host of ills, including colds and menstrual cramps.
During the study, researchers tested the urine of 14 healthy volunteers who drank five cups of chamomile tea every day for two weeks. They found that drinking tea produced changes in the urine that suggest there was an increase in a substance that helps the body fight off colds.
Tea drinkers also produced higher levels of a substance called glycine, which can ease muscle spasms. This finding may help support claims the tea can relieve menstrual cramps, the researchers note.
The study clearly shows that chamomile tea produces changes in the body. What remains unknown, study author Dr. Elaine Holmes told Reuters Health, is whether these changes are good or bad overall.
"There are good reasons why the tea may be beneficial, but these hypotheses require further testing," said the researcher, who is based at Imperial College London in the UK.
According to Holmes' report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, chamomile is used as an anti-inflammatory, sedative and ulcer-fighter. Research also suggests that chamomile may act as an antioxidant and antimicrobial.
However, so-called "natural" products are not without risk, experts warn. For instance, chamomile tea can cause a severe reaction in people allergic to ragweed. Chamomile can also affect the absorption of iron, Holmes noted.
During the study, Holmes and her team tracked urine samples from seven men and seven women who drank multiple cups of chamomile tea every day. The researchers also tested urine samples from the two weeks before and after participants' weeks of tea drinking.
The researchers found that when participants drank the tea, their urine showed significantly more hippurate, a substance that can act as an anti-inflammatory. Drinking the tea also increased urinary levels of glycine, which may relieve muscle spasms, perhaps explaining reports that chamomile can ease menstrual problems.
After participants stopped drinking the tea, glycine and hippurate stayed elevated for up to two weeks, which suggests the effects of chamomile tea may be long-lasting, the study authors note.
Since hippurate is produced by substances in the gut, "it would appear that chamomile, which is known to have antibacterial properties, has changed the bacteria living in the gut," Holmes said.
"Even two weeks after stopping the intake of chamomile tea, the urine profile did not return to the starting profile, and therefore, the effects of chamomile tea are prolonged," she added.
The study was funded by Oxford Natural Products plc, which develops plant-derived products. SOURCE: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, January 26, 2005.
Reply to
Roman Bystrianyk
Sounds like neat research, but it also sounds a tad correlational. I wonder what else those people had been drinking that week to add to the amount of glycides or whatever else chemicals that the researcher found?
I always get a little worried whenever I see anything in the following sentence pattern, "doing x which is a known x CAN LEAD TO x" simply because it's dangerous to imply that correlation = causation.
Chamomile tea is good for you, though; helps in relaxation. Drinking a hot substance also helps in relaxation. Whether it's by a biological means that occurs after ingestion or it's because the media says "Chamomile aids in relaxation," I wonder if we will ever truly know. Science is so very difficult to practice these days where the media controls nearly everyone psychologically whether it be on a conscious or subconscious basis.
Mydnight
-------------------- thus then i turn me from my countries light, to dwell in the solemn shades of an endless night.
Reply to
Mydnight
Actually, the 26th is next week. Next Wednesday, to be exact.
Press releases are often made public before the article itself is distributed in a journal.
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Derek

"In the spirit of diversity, anyone offering food for thought must
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Reply to
Derek

It would be correlational, except that they used a pre-mid-post testing procedure. They had baselines with which to compare.
The question is, as you noted, what else they might have consumed. Unless they controlled the diet of these individuals, which is possible, there's room for it to have been something else.
Yes, it is. However, short of seeing the actual research article, we don't know about how they structured their research design. If they controlled for other factors, they may well have mapped a relationship and not just a correlation.
Science is no more difficult to practice now than it was 20 years ago. The problem is that the mainstream media hires people with no research background to right about research for a population with no research background.
Confusion and error are the obvious results.
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Derek

If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made
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Reply to
Derek

Using a baseline comparision is still correlational and correlation doesn't equal causation. I'll be more impressed when the study is replicated a few times with perhaps more controls...but we don't know the procedures. I'm not saying it's a bad study; I just want to see the finer points of what exactly they were doing.
A double blind would impress me more than some baseline correlation with a single subject design.
Anything posted in a sort of news forum like Reuters should be questionable. I dig that i was from Oxford Research or something, though.
Indeed, but I am still led to believe it's more difficult to get true information these days because of what you just said; people with no right doing research are the ones that are getting their fallacious data published in the New York Times. At least it's hard to find real data from researchers with background.
Mydnight
-------------------- thus then i turn me from my countries light, to dwell in the solemn shades of an endless night.
Reply to
Mydnight

It's those missing "finer points" that would clarify a lot.
In this case, I'd laugh that study right off of the table. The participants were drinking chamomile. There's no way to hide that fact from both the participants and the researchers.
Elaine Holmes, Ph.D., Imperial College London.
And even she admits that the hypotheses need further testing.
It's no harder than it ever was. We're simply spoiled by how quickly information gets around these days. Journals and online indexes are still available at your local university or college - at least in the U.S.
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Derek

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
Reply to
Derek
Beg to differ, again:
Not everyone knows about tea or herbs so they could easily not know what they were being tested for or drinking. It would be fairly easy to hide from both to avoid any media contamination or outside thoughts in the minds of the subjects or perhaps influencing the results. Double-blind is considered one of the better methods for testing for anything, actually.
Mydnight
-------------------- thus then i turn me from my countries light, to dwell in the solemn shades of an endless night.
Reply to
Mydnight
Oh, I love it when you beg. ;)
My comment had nothing to do with knowledge of tea or herbs, and everything to do with the senses. Unless you give them bottles of Chamomile tea that has been doctored to be tasteless and odorless, they'll know what they're taking. And, if you did that, it wouldn't really be Chamomile tea.
And it wouldn't be easy to hide the purpose of the study. Institutional Review Boards require a great deal of convincing before they'll let a researcher be deceptive about the purpose of the study.
Yes, it is. It's also often technically impossible.
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Derek

Sometimes the end doesn't justify the jeans.
Reply to
Derek

"Derek" wrote in message
Chamomile has a very light taste and odor, it's very easy to cover it.
You can easily give people 2 ressembling mixed tisanes, one with camomille the other without. I am unable to feel if there really is camomille in most of the Chinese "dessert drinks" (I mean the little bags containing sugar, herbs and dry fruits to diluate in hot water for after-meal).
Kuri
Reply to
kuri

My nose must be screwy. I find Chamomile's odor to be quite fragrant.
I stand corrected. I should know better than to assume the rest of the world smells the way I do...
... that didn't come out quite right.
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Derek

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Reply to
Derek
And how exactly are the people supposed to know what Chamomile tea tastes like? Unless they knew about teas, or herbs (Chamomile being a herb), they wouldn't know what they were drinking. Even if they knew what they were drinking 100%, you didn't have to tell the purpose of the study even if you were trying to measure behavioral effects.
Have you ever been in front of one? I have, and it's not so difficult to convince them; it especially would be easy to convince in the case of this study. Deception comes into play more often when the study could prove to be harmful to the subjects if they aren't informed the wiser; not when just drinking a benign substance like Chamomile tea. Also, it is required to debrief your subjects at the end of the study to some extent as well, so the deception is resolved.
You could do a pretesting screen using a multiple choice test asking them if they have any serious allergies such as ragweed or even put Chamomile amongst many other options as to not let them know exactly what they will be drinking.
It's quite easy, and it's done in most important studies. Most scientists don't accept less than this when the study is on serious topics like medicines and treatments. Reason being because if the effect that the scientist doesn't want occurs, he may try to throw out the subject or the evidence to try and prove his point with contrary data with different subjects. A baseline design isn't seen as the preferred method; it's the method used when you cannot find a better design to use or if the study doesn't merit one. If you take any Medical or Behavioral science 101, this is discussed throughly when the lecture is about tests and measures.
Why are you trying to refute Medical Science for the past 100 years?
Mydnight
-------------------- thus then i turn me from my countries light, to dwell in the solemn shades of an endless night.
Reply to
Mydnight

No, you wouldn't have to tell the purpose of the study. But in a true double blind experiment, IRB would require that the participants be told what the control and experimental groups will be taking. What will not be told is to which group the participant is assigned.
It's called "informed consent." And IRBs are sticklers over this.
Have I ever been in front of one? No. Have my research proposals? Yes.
And, particularly when your study involves the ingestion of some substance, informed consent will require that they know what they might be ingesting.
Possibly.
No, it's not "quite easy." It actually takes a lot of effort, which is why the "most important studies" have such value.
I've spent the last 10 years of my life learning about research methods and statistics. You're not saying anything with which I disagree.
I'm not. I'm refuting your description of how easy it is to perform a double blind study.
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Derek

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Reply to
Derek

Ok, that's not entirely accurate, because obviously you're saying something with which I disagree. Duh.
What I disagree with is whether it is easy and how much information the subject would be required to know. That baseline comparison is not as rigorous as double-blind is *not* something with which I disagree.
I just thought I should clarify that.
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Derek

The nice thing about losing one's marbles is that you only have to
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Derek

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