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A Time for Tea

By: Mary Bemis
Posted: June 16, 2008, from the August 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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“All teas are good and unique, and have wonderful benefits,” maintains Howard Murad, MD, founder of Murad, Inc., and associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California Los Angeles. He has included extracts from green, red and white teas in a number of skin care formulas since 1992.

“The trend to use tea for its antioxidant properties began a number of years ago, when it was used in topical preparations,” notes Ben Kaminsky, co-founder of B. Kamins, Chemist skin care line, and a pharmaceutical and dermatological chemist. “The theory is that tea and other antioxidants will help protect the body and skin from harm. Antioxidants do their work very quickly, but the effects wear off rapidly. Reapplication of such products is required. The flavonoids found in tea also are very helpful in combating environmental damage and wear. Green tea has the greatest percentage of flavonoids and antioxidants, which makes its benefits greater and more potent than other varieties.”

Tea sampling

When it comes to types of tea, Murad says that red tea in skin care is used as a barrier precipitator and an antioxidant, while green tea is chosen primarily for its antioxidant and soothing benefits. “White tea has been found to have antimicrobial benefits when used topically,” he explains.

Although a comprehensive study among a variety of populations and age groups has yet to be conducted, adds Kaminsky, he cites an article recently published in the journal Archives of Dermatology that concluded that drinking three glasses daily of oolong tea reduced eczema symptoms for more than half of the participants in the study. “Although there are no clear conclusions to its use as an anti-inflammatory agent, we do know that the various shades of tea—green, red, white and black—are natural sources of antioxidants,” says Kaminsky. “In addition, we know that in some cultures tea has been used for thousands of years for infusions and medicines to treat all types of illnesses.”

An ancient culture

A year and a half ago, Erich Worster took a trip to the Andes Mountains, only to return home with more than he anticipated. The owner and founder of Anakiri BioEnergetic Skin Care, as well as The Healing Arts Spa on Green Street in Gainesville, Georgia, set out in search of a place where salt comes out of the ground as a liquid and is dried by the villagers. “I thought this would make a great body treatment, so I started researching healing traditions in the Andes,” recalls Worster. “One of the things I found was churana tea—an ancient indigenous tea that uses many of the herbs in Western herbology.” This potent tea contains more than 22 hand-harvested and dried herbs, such as basil, dandelion, lemon balm and lemon verbena—a detoxifying combination designed to promote an overall sense of well-being.