Many of the patients I see have chronic skin issues, like eczema. Other patients are simply interested in looking their best. They want to know how to restore a youthful look to their skin – improve the tone, color and maybe even get rid of some of those “laugh lines”. Recently, I started telling my patients about the benefits of drinking a special type of tea to help with these very issues. If you have eczema, or just want to look younger, you’ll want to know about the skin benefits of this ancient tea…
Ancient Tea Improves Skin Youthfulness
Many patients seem shocked when I tell them about research out of Japan’s Shiga University of Medical Sciences, which showed a certain tea’s ability to improve eczema and restore youthfulness to skin. That’s right, just simple tea, not some expensive, anti-aging serum. Drinking a few cups of this special tea a few times a day has been shown to have amazing skin benefits which include:
- Brighter, improved color
- Diminished/clearing of dark, age spots
- Diminished wrinkles
- Improved tone and resiliency
- Effective sunscreen
This special tea is called oolong – or wu liang – after the Chinese tea leaf harvester of the same name who created it many centuries ago. The name means Black Dragon which it is also called. You may know oolong tea as “Chinese restaurant tea”, because it is the type of tea frequently served in Chinese restaurants with meals.
Oolong is a delicately flavored tea from the same Camelia sinensis family as white, green, and black teas. The difference between them lies in how early or late their tea leaves are harvested. Oolong tealeaves are harvested later than the leaves used to make white or green tea with black being harvested the latest.
Oolong tea possesses many of the same, healthy properties of green tea with just slightly less antioxidants. However, the antioxidants that oolong tea does have do the same thing as green tea – fights free radical formation, which causes oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is what damages cellular DNA and speeds up the aging process. In skin, this aging, DNA damage shows up as dark spots. I frequently see these “age spots” in my older patients. DNA skin damage also results in wrinkles that are caused from the breakdown in skin cells. As it ages, skin loses the ability to knit itself back together and results in wrinkles.
In research out of the University of California, only 15 days consumption of oolong tea showed an amazing 50% reduction in free radicals. Other research shows that the antioxidant value of oolong tea may be increased, though, by steeping the tea in hotter water, for a longer time.
In fact, in one patient of mine, I noticed a distinct brightening and smoothing of her skin after she had started drinking oolong tea after only about 3 weeks. Even her skin tone/elasticity seemed more resilient giving her a younger appearance.
Oolong Shown To Improve Eczema
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is a chronic skin condition associated with rash, itching, redness, swelling, and sometimes infection of lesions from scratching at them. In the Shiga University research, published in Archives of Dermatology, researchers noted that the frequently stubborn condition of eczema showed remarkable improvement in over half of the people tested.
And, these results were in eczema sufferers where traditional treatments like Benadryl, prednisone and other corticosteroids had failed. In their research, drinking 3 cups of brewed oolong tea per day yielded these results:
- Relieved itching
- Relieved swelling
- Relieved redness
- Reduced scarring
Now, I wouldn’t suggest to my eczema patients to forego their traditional treatments and just drink oolong tea. Nor would I tell my patients wanting to improve their skin’s youthfulness to just rely on a few cups of oolong a day. Keeping a healthy skin routine is always important.
Yet, the research is compelling enough to me, as a dermatologist, that I feel confident in recommending that you might add some oolong tea to your daily routine. Its antioxidant properties have a lot of benefit for your entire body as well – helping to decrease triglycerides/bad LDL cholesterol, lower blood sugar and blood pressure. Just be sure not to load your oolong tea with skin-damaging table sugar. Use stevia, or even the new monk fruit sweetener, if you like a little sweetness.
If you have eczema, or just want brighter, younger looking skin, 2-3 cups of oolong tea could make a big difference for the appearance of your skin.