A worker waters a tea plantation on a farm in Di Linh District, in Vietnam's Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. Green tea, one of the oldest beverages known to mankind, is a cooling drink for summer with various medical benefits and also a cure for many external ailments, say local herbalists.
Green tea has some surprising medical properties. Our ancients knew them, and modern science is gradually discovering them.
Dr Pho Thuan Huong, a herbalist, says green tea, one of the oldest beverages known to mankind, is a cooling drink for summer with various medical benefits.
In a story in monthly magazine Suc Khoe & Doi Song (Health and Life), Huong says green tea cools the body, strengthens blood vessels, discharges toxins, cures rheumatism and scurvy, heals injuries, and is a diuretic.
The doctor lists several remedies offered by green tea.
To improve bladder operation and regulate menstruation, boil green tea leaves with motherwort seeds for 20 minutes, and drink the water hot twice a day.
Appetite loss and indigestion can be cured with porridge made using green tea decoction. The remedy is popular in Japan.
For diarrhea, boil green tea leaves with lotus leaves and drink it hot.
In case of cough and fever, respiratory inflammation, people should drink water boiled with green tea and honeysuckle two to three times a day.
Liver and acute gall bladder inflammation, nosebleed, and blood in the urine and stools can be cured with tea and tulip water.
Green tea cooked with ripe mango prevents vomiting.
But green tea is to be avoided in case of stomach inflammation, sleep loss, constipation, and high fever. Pregnant women and young children too should not use it.
A research report published by the US-based Western University of Health last December listed various benefits of green tea, including reducing bad cholesterol.
The conclusion, drawn from tests of 1,415 people, said this was due to the catechin in the leaves.
The tea was not found to have any effect on good cholesterol.
Herbalist Vu Quoc Trung, a member of the Vietnam Association of Traditional Medicine, says green tea decoction is also a cure for many external ailments.
Firstly, it is a good skin cleanser.
It removes dead skin cells, producing soft and bright skin and preventing acne.
But since it makes the skin dry, it should only be used once or twice a week.
There are different ways in which it helps in case of skin damage.
For bee stings crush the leaves or soak them in boiling water and apply on the bitten area.
For skin inflammation due to too much contact with water, which often occurs to farmers and others in the countryside, boil some old green tea leaves with alum, wait until the water cools, and rub it on the affected areas.
Green tea decoction, once it cools, can also be used for slight burns to reduce pain, prevent swelling, and heal it faster.
Rashes and pimples can be cured by direct contact with crushed leaves or regular rinsing with tea water.
To treat cracked skin, chew or crush the leaves to put on the chaps, and bandage it with a piece of cloth at night.
For sunburns, rub the affected areas with tea water, dry them, and rub with vinegar.
Tea water also stimulates hair growth thanks to its antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate, according to a 2007 study conducted by the Seoul National University College of Medicine.
People can soak the comb in tea water, which is left through one night, and brush the hair.