'Chamomile tea may control or prevent diabetes': Popular herbal drink ...

Chamomile tea could prevent or control diabetes, an expert claims.

The herbal beverage helps to manage people's blood-sugar levels through its effects on carbohydrate digestion, according to Associate Professor Richard Blackburn, who is head of the Sustainable Materials Research Group at the University of Leeds.

Professor Blackburn, who researches the yellow flower's historical significance as a fabric dye, worked with other scientists to discover the same compounds that give the plant its colour also control carbohydrate digestion and absorption.

He believes these compounds could be extracted and used for medical purposes.

Professor Blackburn added: 'Simply put, drinking chamomile tea may be helpful in controlling or even preventing diabetes'.

Around 4.6 million people are living with diabetes in the UK, of which approximately 90 per cent suffer from type 2. 

In a piece for The Conversation, Professor Blackburn discusses how chamomile could unlock diabetes treatments.

Chamomile tea could prevent or control diabetes, an expert claims (stock)

Chamomile tea could prevent or control diabetes, an expert claims (stock)

Chamomile was initially used as a dye 

Chamomile – that yellow flower so often made into a tea, enjoyed before bed – is a very interesting plant. 

It was recently discovered that the humble flower may control or even prevent diabetes – and now my research into historical textile dyes has helped to identify the specific compounds involved. 

That bedtime herbal tea may be doing many people a lot of good.

I've been working with Chris Rayner for over 15 years to develop new techniques to identify the chemistry of natural colourants used throughout history to dye textiles. 

Before William Perkin's serendipitous 1856 discovery of mauveine, the first synthetic dye, textile fibres were dyed with coloured extracts of plants and animals.

Nature makes a complex cocktail of different compounds in these dye plants, and many of these are transferred to textiles during dyeing. 

We analyse historical artefacts to see if these compounds are present to try to determine when, where and how they were dyed and with what plant. 

The chemistry and ratio of these molecules can provide significant information about which plant species was used to dye the fibres or the technique used for the dye process. 

In the context of historical textiles, this information is of paramount importance for conservation and restoration purposes, as well as the generation of information on the ethnographic origins of the artefacts. 

How the herbal tea benefits diabetes patients 

So what does this have to do with diabetes? 

Well, many of the techniques that have been used to extract the dyes from textile samples cause damage to the dye molecule, resulting in a loss of information about the chemical fingerprint potentially available to conservators. 

But we have developed new 'soft' extraction methods using glucose, which can preserve the dye molecule during extraction and analysis, and have used these new techniques to investigate dyes that were

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