The benefits of Puerh Tea + Getting beyond the weight loss hype
The press has recently brought up (and hyped up) the benefits of drinking puerh tea for the breakdown of fats - something that has been appreciated in China for thousands of years.
From athletes and gym bunnies to people looking to lose weight, puerh is being hailed as a new ‘superfood’ with several animal studies showing that puerh can significantly reduce accumulation of visceral and adipose fat, along with raising levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL-C) and lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL-C).
These studies showing beneficial effects on the levels of fat around organs and in the blood stream are growing in number and with them, as ever, a growing surge in media attention.
In light of this, I’m increasingly asked by patients about the benefits of puerh in clinic, whether it is safe to drink and how it might help them. This situation provides a great example of how our Chinese Medical wisdom can bring some clarity beyond the hype to help patients make an informed choice.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective the energetic effects of raw puerh (Yunnan Peak) and cooked puerh (Hidden Amber) are very different. They have different cha qi and hence have different applications for patients.
Benefits of Raw Puerh
Yunnan Peak will dry Fluids and disperse Damp - and in so doing creates a perceived sense of the tonification of Qi i.e. the Clear Qi can rise as the Turbid Qi is dispersed. To a patient with very little Damp pathology this can make Yunnan Peak feel pleasantly stimulating - hence its name - it quite literally makes you feel like you can climb mountain peaks.
As we would expect, in a patient who has a lot of Damp / Fluid accumulation the dispersing effect is no less beneficial, but is less dramatic - easing the burden on the Spleen. Patients tend to report feeling ‘lighter’, ‘more energised’ or ‘clearer’ rather than ready to sprint up Everest.
Benefits of Cooked Puerh
Hidden Amber, on the other hand, as a cooked/fermented puerh is much more nourishing, tonifying and building of Qi, Blood and Yang where there is depletion.
A gentle tonic for the Lower and Middle Jiao - it is more beneficial where there is deficiency rather than excess. Hidden Amber feels thick and viscous - patients easily detect its feeling of warming deep in the belly - helping them to feel more robust and energised through the rebuilding of Qi, Blood and Yang.
Safety & Contraindications
It should go without saying that you and your patients should know where your tea has come from. Elixir Living Teas are some of the cleanest teas on the planet - wild harvested and 100% certified organic by the Soil Association.
As for contraindications, if the teas we suggest fit with our diagnosis and we do not abuse their potential (i.e. consuming puerh tea in place of meals or to suppress the appetite) then - like all foods and herbs - puerh is a safe, plant medicine.
With trusted and balanced information as practitioners we are in a better position to advise our patients about the benefits of puerh tea in a much more nuanced way - getting beyond the superfood hype and suggesting the tea that is right for them based on their diagnosis and treatment plan.
Education for Practitioners