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The Body

The Return of Age-Old Remedies

Whether we wish to treat wrinkles or serious ailments, the future of medicine may well be heavily influenced by ancient folk remedies. Scientists from London’s Kingston University, in collaboration with Neal’s Yard Remedies, a brand of beauty products in Britain, recently have “rediscovered” some of the benefits of rose, white tea, and witch hazel. Their research suggests that these plants contain a number of naturally occurring substances that appear to block inflammatory processes.

The research team investigated 21 plant extracts and found that white tea offered the most beneficial results. “Indeed, it appeared that drinking a simple cup of white tea might well help reduce an individual’s risk of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or even just age-associated wrinkles,” Kingston University professor Declan Naughton said. Encouraged, the scientists launched a new study seeking to replicate the findings in human skin cells. Their main concern was to monitor anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. As reported on the Kingston University website, “the researchers added three different concentrations of white tea (freeze-dried powder), witch hazel (dried herb) and rose extract (in a medicinal tincture form) to see what effect the mixtures might have on suppressing rogue enzymes and oxidants, which play a key role in cellular inflammation and aging.”

All three remedies were remarkably effective in keeping inflammation in check. Whenever inflammation starts, the body produces a compound known as interleukin 8 to assist the process. The researcher’s goal was to interfere with the body’s signal to produce the compound, and substances in white tea, witch hazel, and rose appear to do that successfully. These findings pave the way for future research into natural remedies that someday may offer effective therapies for a wide range of inflammation-related diseases.