Camellia Sinensis
06-Feb-2007

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Botanical Name: Camellia Sinensis
Common Names: Camellia Assamica, camellia tea, catechin, Chinese tea, theifers, camellia
 
Overview
Camellia sinensis is used to make black tea and green tea. The tea has been used in China since ancient times. The plant is native to Asia, and the best tea is made from the leaf buds in early spring, which are called the first flush. When leaf buds are picked to make tea, new ones grow in their place. This is how Camellia sinensis is cultivated.
 
Tea has been a crucial part of ceremonies throughout history. The tea created from Camellia sinensis is a natural source of caffeine, which helps people to stay alert. The Turks introduced tea to the west. Black tea came to America with the Europeans. It was black tea that was dumped into Boston Harbor during the famous Boston Tea Party incident.
 
Today people around the world drink black and green tea for their medicinal properties. Many believe that these herbs help in losing weight. There are many other supposed medical benefits of Camellia sinensis.
 
Asthma
 
Because Camellia sinensis tea contains caffeine, it is believed to help airflow to the lungs. There has been little scientific research done on asthma patients as to the actual benefit of Camellia sinensis in treating asthma, but many report some relief when drinking the tea.
 
Cancer
 
There is a possible connection between black tea and the prevention of certain cancers. In societies that drink large amounts of black tea, cancer rates are significantly lower. It is believed that the antioxidant components of black tea work against the development of tumors. This has been proven in animal studies, but not yet in human studies.
 
Preventing Dental Cavities
 
Some believe that using black tea from Camellia sinensis helps prevent cavities in the teeth. The study of this prevention is still relatively new, and no conclusions have been drawn at present.
 
Cardiovascular Health
 
There is promising research being done on the effect of black tea on the health of the heart. It is possible that tea reduces the aggregation of platelets, which helps prevent arteries from becoming blocked. This research is still in its infancy, and therefore the long-term benefits are not yet known. But there is no harm in drinking some tea, so those at risk for heart disease may wish to incorporate black tea into their diet.
 
Mental Acuity
 
One of the things that black tea drinkers swear by is the fact that the tea helps them have greater memory and mental performance. This may be due to the presence of caffeine in the drink. Preliminary studies seem to indicate that tea may have an effect on short term and long-term memory.
 
Osteoporosis
 
There is some indication that regular consumption of black tea may lead to greater bone density. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone density. If this effect were true, then black tea would be able to help control osteoporosis.
 
Other
 
Tradition seems to indicate that camellia sinensis is helpful with weight loss, kidney function, circulator function, energy, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and anxiety.
 
Plant Description
The Camellia sinensis plant is a perennial evergreen shrub. It is native to Southeastern parts of Asia. The plant can grow quite tall, as high as forty feet. Those who cultivate the plant usually keep them small, around two to three feet tall, to make it easier to harvest the leaf buds.
 
What is interesting about tea plants is that they reflect the areas they are grown. Sri Lanka and India are the places where the majority of today’s black tea is harvested, although it originated in China.
 
What’s It Made Of?
Camellia sinensis contains caffeine, which is responsible for its effects on attention and alertness. Camellia sinensis also contains polyphenols, which have great antioxidant properties. These are the main effective properties of the leaf. They also contain tannin, carotene, riboflavin, and several essential acids. Catechine, epigallocatechin, and epigallocatechin gallate are ingredients that work as antioxidants.
 
Available Forms
Dried Camellia sinensis leaves and leaf buds are brewed in water to create tea. White, black, oolong, and green teas al come from Camellia sinensis. Camellia sinensis seeds can be pressed, which yields tea oil. This oil is used for cooking, and is in no way related to tea tree oil.
 
How To Take It
 
Pediatric Dosage
 
It is not recommended to give tea to children, as the long-term effects of tea have not been studied when given to children.
 
Adult Dosage
 
Tea should only be given to adults over eighteen years of age. Those who wish to use tea for preventing heart disease should consume between 250 and 900 mL of tea per day. Those who wish to drink tea to improve cognition should drink 400 mL of tea three times a day. For those who want to prevent cavities in their teeth, they should gargle 20 mL of tea for 60 seconds.
 
Camellia sinensis is taken when brewed with water to create a tea. Tea can be made using the dried leaves or leaf buds of the plant, and seeping them with water. The essential nutrients of the leaves are transferred to the water. The leaf is then discarded. Tea bags make this process easier by allowing leaves to be soaked in the hot water, while being easily discarded simply by removing the tea bag. 
 
Precautions
Those who have an allergy to either caffeine or tannin should not drink any beverage made by Camellia sinensis. If hives or a skin rash develops soon after drinking tea, then that person should not drink it any more. Since caffeine is a stimulant, some people report insomnia after consuming caffeine. Caffeine can worsen incontinence and stomach ulcer problems.
 
Those who are diabetic should use extreme caution when drinking tea, as tea causes blood sugar levels to increase. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, agitation, and even psychosis. Caffeine intake can delay conception in couples that are trying to have a baby. Also, caffeine can be addicting, and those who drink caffeine on a regular basis and then stop drinking it may have intense headaches, irritation, and dizziness as their body goes through withdrawal.
 
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should only take minimal doses of caffeine. A large amount of caffeine consumption has been related to spontaneous abortion of the baby, or a later problem with sudden infant death syndrome. Caffeine is transferred to breast milk, so lactating women should limit their caffeine consumption.
 
Possible Interactions
Caffeine, and therefore black tea, should never be combined with ephedrine, a common weight loss drug. Doing so can lead to life-threatening heart problems, including, high blood pressure and heart attack.
 
Those who are on beta-adrenergic agnostics should use caution when drinking tea, as the caffeine may increase the stimulant properties of the drug. Methylxanthines may also have this affect.
 
Disulfiram, hormone replacement therapies, ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, fluvoxamine, cimetidine, verapamil, and mexiletine, when taken in conjunction with caffeine consumption, may increase the levels of caffeine in the blood stream. Use caution if you are on one of these medications.
 
Avoid drinking too much tea if you are taking herbs or supplements that contain their own caffeine, such as cola nut, guarana, or yerba mate. Too much caffeine leads to problems. Other herbs, such as ephedrine, that work as stimulants, may have an increased affect if taken with caffeine.
 

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