Chamomile Tea Might Protect You from Dropping Dead

While mom wisdom has long held that chamomile is an effective folk remedy for calming you down on bad days that verge on nigh-postal rage, the gentle daisy-like flower may have another power: keeping you alive.

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May 22 2015, 5:00pm

Tea-sipping mamacitas, today is your lucky day.

While mom wisdom has long held that chamomile is an effective folk remedy for calming you down on bad days that verge on nigh-postal rage, the gentle daisy-like flower may have another power: keeping you alive.

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Indeed, researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found that drinking chamomile tea may reduce the risk of death from all causes. ("All causes" is medical-speak for the natural ailments that might do you in, like heart disease and cancer. Chamomile will not protect you from falling meteorites or swarms of killer bees.)

The study, recently published in the journal The Gerontologist, followed more than 1,600 Mexican-American men and women aged 65 and older from Texas, California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona for a period of seven years. About 14 percent of those people drank chamomile tea on a regular basis.

While there didn't appear to be much of a statistical difference between men who drank the herbal tea and those who didn't, the benefits of chamomile were far more clear for women: drinking chamomile tea reduced the risk of death from all causes by a whopping 29 percent.

To say that this is astounding would be an understatement.

The researchers themselves aren't quite clear on why the humble flower could be so effective in reducing Hispanic women's risk of death. "It is ... unclear how chamomile use is associated with reduced mortality," the study authors write. "It is possible that other unmeasured factors, such as frequency and duration of chamomile, level of physical activity and quality of diet, which were not measured in the survey, could influence the results."

The power of belief might play a role, too. "In addition, women as care takers of family health may be more likely to employ folk remedies such as herbs in their health behaviors," the study notes.

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Of course, it's important take all of this with a grain of salt. The researchers caution that all of the tea-drinkers self-reported their tea consumption, but didn't state the dose or frequency. And because the role that chamomile might play in protecting against various ailments is not yet understood, it's not a good idea to forgo a decent diet in favor of sipping tea just now.

Still, there's likely no risk in reaching for the occasional cup might to chill you out when a bottle of sauvignon blanc isn't at hand.

Then again, that's just for the ladies. Dudes, keep drinking your bulletproof coffee.

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