Greek mountain tea has been used for centuries as a cure for colds, flus, viruses, digestive conditions and anxiety. The tea is known by many names in Greece including Shepherd’s tea, Tea of the Gods and τσαϊ του βουνού (pronounced tsah-ee too voo-noo). It is an extremely hardy plant that grows wild on the side of mountains at an altitude of over 3,300 feet and is found throughout Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania. Known by its formal name of Sideritus, or Ironwort, the health benefits of mountain tea have been known as far back as the time of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine who praised the tea for its healing effects on the respiratory and immune system. Modern clinical trials have shown the tea to be effective in treating conditions such as osteoporosis, stomach ulcers, bacterial infections and cancer.
Properties of Mountain Tea
Mountain tea has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. A study performed in Italy in 2006 found that Sideritis italica was effective at killing almost 20 different strains of bacteria including Helicobacter pylori and Salmonella typhi. Another study performed in Greece at the University of Patras found that mountain tea increased the antioxidant activity of the midbrain by 72 % in mice. The tea is also packed with flavonoids, saponine, diterpenoids and essential oils.
A study performed in Turkey in 2011 tested the antioxidative effects of Sideritus caesarea against tricyclic antidepressant toxicity in rats. The experiment separated the rats into 3 groups consisting of a control group, a group treated with tricyclic antidepressants, and the final group was given tricyclic antidepressants and Sideritus caesarea. After 50 days, the third group displayed no significant changes when compared to the first group. This led researchers to conclude that “the constituents present in Sideritis caesarea impart protection against chemical-induced oxidative injury that may result in the development of cancer.”
Researchers at the University of Athens found that the water extract from Sideritis euboea was able to promote the formation of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for building bones. The results of the study showed that Sideritis euboea extract was able to reduce the secretion of three important molecules (IL-6, OPG and RANKL ) that play a part in the formation of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. The study also found that the extract is rich in flavonoid glycosides, and phenylpropanoid glycosides. In 2004, another study in Greece tested the effects of four different herbs namely Sideritis euboea, Sideritis clandestina, Marticaria chamomilla, and Pimpinella anisum on the prevention of bone loss that occurs with increasing age. Researchers found that “all the plant extracts stimulate osteoblastic cell differentiation and exhibit antiestrogenic effect on breast cancer cells without proliferative effects on cervical adenocarcinoma cells.” The research concluded that the extracts could form the basis for nutritionists to design ‘functional foods’ that may be able to prevent osteoporosis.
There have been a wide number of studies performed on the effects of Greek mountain tea on various gastro-intestinal disorders. Researchers in Turkey found that Sideritis caesarea amongst other herbs had the ability to treat the symptoms of peptic ulcer including stomach pain, acid reflux and heartburn. The study concluded that “pharmacological experiments clearly demonstrated that the extracts of all plants given orally showed significant gastric protection against the ethanol-induced gastric ulcer model in rats.” Mountain tea has also been proven to be effective against H. pylori, a strain of bacteria found in the stomach that is responsible for the formation of ulcers.
Possible Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Mountain tea contains no caffeine and is generally considered safe for use. However, there has been no research into the effects of Sideritis on pregnant and nursing mothers so it is essential to exercise caution before drinking the tea. Pregnant women, children and those with underlying medical conditions in Greece have all used the tea for centuries without any reported problems, but check with your regular medical practitioner if you are unsure.
How To Use Greek Mountain Tea
Mountain tea works perfectly as a replacement for coffee or caffeinated tea in the morning. As it helps to promote a sense of calm and relieve anxiety, it can also be consumed immediately before bed. Put 8oz of water into a small pot. Take 2 or three stems of mountain tea and break into 2 inch sections. Add the buds, stems and leaves to the water and boil for 5 – 10 minutes. Leave to cool slightly and add fresh lemon slices and honey to taste.
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My Favorite Brand of Greek Mountain Tea
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