Bog Labrador Tea (Rhododendron Groenlandicum)

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Bog Labrador tea is an herbal plant, the shoots, and leaves of which possess medicinal properties. It is a slow growing shrub and is evergreen.

The flowers and leaves of the plant are used to prepare tea. However, frequent intake of the same have some side effects like headaches, indigestion, cramps, and vomiting.

Labrador tea has found its uses in ethnopharmacology as well. It has been used for treating bad breath, diarrhea, cough, sore throat, lung infection, kidney ailments, headache, diabetes, and cancer.

Facts

Botanical NameRhododendron Groenlandicum
Plant FamilyEricaceae
Botanical SynonymsLedum Groenlandicum; Ledum palustre ssp. Groenlandicum; Ledum palustre var. latifolium
Common NameLabrador tea, Bog Labrador tea, Muskeg Tea, Hudson’s Bay tea, Swamp Tea
Don’t ConfuseMarsh tea (also called Marsh Labrador Tea) belongs to different plant species botanically known as Rhododendron Tomentosum.
Labrador Tea Leaves
Labrador Tea Leaves

Phytochemicals in Labrador Tea

The plant Labrador tea is rich in medicinally important phytochemicals like quercetin, epicatechin catechin, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, arbutin, coumarin, scopoletin, umbelliferon, esculin, esculetin, methyl gallate, Myricetin, pyrogallol, and procyanidin B2. This makes the plant very potent bioactive herb, and these compounds are ascribed to its medicinal benefits.

Medicinal Uses and Benefits of Labrador Tea

Labrador tea is a phytochemically rich plant which aids in the treatment of various diseases including but not limited to oxidative stress, diabetes, and inflammation. It inhibits nitric oxide release, which can be attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds in it.

However, highly concentrated tea prepared from its parts may lead to adverse effects, and therefore low to mild tea is advised. The medicinally beneficial properties of Labrador tea that have scientifically researched are listed below.

Diabetes

This plant has been identified as an antidiabetic plant by the Cree nations of North Quebec, Canada.

Labrador tea has been found to control the elevated blood glucose levels in the pre-clinical trials. It mitigates insulin-resistance and resists the development of high-fat-diet-induced hyperglycemia and obesity. A 13 percent drop in the blood glucose levels of the diabetic animals has been reported after the administration of Labrador tea extracts. Interestingly, the extract also significantly improves the insulin levels in the subject by 62 percent, and also reduced the concentrations of hepatic triglycerides by 42 percent.

Thus, along with hyperglycemia, this plant is also capable of combating the hypertriglyceridemia.

Rhododendron groenlandicum

Maintenance of homeostasis by adipogenesis

The phytochemicals catechin, epicatechin, and quercetin extracted from Labrador tea have been reported to increase adipogenesis in a research study. The stimulation of generation of the adipocytes ranged from 187 to 311 per cent, showing the strong ability of the Labrador tea to contribute in maintaining the homeostasis by cell proliferation.

Inflammation and oxidative stress

Research studies have shown the Labrador tea controls the production of free-radicals, and ameliorate the stress generated by them. It has been found to decrease the production of nitric oxide by at least 28 per cent. Nitric oxide is one of the key players in the occurrence of the inflammation and oxidative stress.

Cancer

Some recent studies have also shown the anti-cancer potencies of the Labrador tea. The extract prepared from the twigs has shown inhibition towards the colon carcinoma cell lines and lung carcinoma cells. However, advanced studies in this context are still lacking and are warranted.

Labrador Tea Leaves with Flower
Labrador Tea Leaves with Flower

Side effects of Labrador tea

Labrador tea has narcotic effects. Highly concentrated tea prepared from its parts may lead to paralysis or even mortality.

Frequent intake of the same may cause intestinal ailments, diuretic effect, dizziness, vomiting, exhaustion, and drowsiness. The presence of the alkaloid grayanotoxins is mainly attributed to the adverse effects of the Labrador tea.

Pregnancy

The intake of Labrador tea is strongly not suggested for pregnant women. It may lead to an abortion.

Lactation

However, there are no studies confirming the effect of Labrador tea on the breastfeeding, keeping in view the adverse effect of Labrador tea on the pregnant women, the intake of this supplement for breastfeeding women is not advised.

References
  1. Ouchfoun, M., Eid, H.M., Musallam, L. et al. Eur J Nutr (2016) 55: 941. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25916863.
  2. Eid, H.M., Ouchfoun, M., Saleem, M., et al. J Ethnopharmacol (2016) 178: 251-257.
  3. Gaponenko, V.P., Levashova, O.L. Gaponenko (2015) 11. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15587/2313-8416.2015.54483.
  4. Jetter R. Phytochemicals – Biosynthesis, Function and Application. Springer Science & Business Media (2014).
  5. Dufour, D., Pichette, A., Mshvildadze, V., et al. J Ethnopharmacol (2011) 111: 22-28.
  6. Dampc, A., Luczkiewicz, M. J Sci Food Agric (2014). DOI 10.1002/jsfa.6889.
Photo Attribution Joshua Mayer


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