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Greek mountain tea: To be taken as tea or extract?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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Many of our visitors wonder whether Greek mountain tea (Sideritis scardica) should be taken as a tea or tablet (extract). That is why we asked Professor Jens Pahnke to answer a few questions on this topic. We would like to point out in advance that this article does not substitute any medical advice and is for information purposes only.

Many tea suppliers of Greek verbena or Greek mountain tea (Sideritis scardica) advertise that drinking their tea is effective against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers. Often there is reference to the research of Prof. Pahnke. But are these statements sustainable? We asked the famous Alzheimers researcher which form of Greek mountain tea was used in his studies. Hello Prof. Pahnke. Thank you for your time with us. In today’s article, we would like to learn more about which formulation of the Greek mountain tea you used in your research. How did you approach the subject at the beginning of your studies with mice?

Prof. Pahnke: The research on plants began in my laboratory when we discovered that there were no drugs available to activate ABC transporters. In the 20s, we discovered that one of these ABC transporters is important for cleaning the brain from the Alzheimers protein Abeta. Therefore, we wanted to activate it to treat patients.

We started with inquiries to the pharmaceutical industry about activating substances, but we only received rejections. Then we focused on medicinal plants from all over the world, beginning with Europe.

Sideritis was known in the Balkans and is used there for various diseases, including brain diseases. Therefore, we have examined ethanolic extracts in mice, which a manufacturer from Germany produced for us. They showed amazing improvements (You may read more about it here).

Since there were no commercial extracts available for patient use, we tried tea and the feedback was very interesting.

The next step was to prepare it with vodka or straw rum. Respondents reported that they achieved an even better effect with it, something that we already anticipated with the mouse experiments with ethanolic extracts.

Therefore, we then had a possible preparation: soak the cut parts of sideritis scardica in straw rum for two weeks and then use tablespoons to administer the brew. Have the patients with Alzheimers or their relatives who contacted you consumed tea or extract?

Prof. Pahnke: As described, the first ones tried tea. That was helpful, but not very effective. The first improvement was with rum and vodka extract.

A pharmacy in Bernburg (Saxony-Anhalt) then produced a 40% ethanol extract for a patient, which, according to relatives, worked great. They even came to see me in 2014 at a congress for plants to thank me personally. Since then, I have been recommending the use of ethanolic extracts. What amount of extract should be taken? Approximately how much tea does someone have to drink to achieve this amount of active ingredient?

Prof. Pahnke: When preparing tea, we initially recommended 2-3 liters, which was a problem for many patients. We then reduced it to 1.5 litres, but the effect was much smaller.
Best thing is to take 2-3 tablespoons of ethanolic extract or 500-1000mg of a dried extract (of an ethanolic extract). The latter can be taken in tablet form in order to save the preparation. Are there differences between the tea infusion and the extract from Greek mountain tea?

Prof. Pahnke: The amounts of tea and extract differ considerably. Important fat-soluble substances are contained in tea in smaller amounts than in the ethanol extract, hence also the much larger amounts that someone has to ingest. What other plants besides Greek mountain tea have you examined regarding their effect against Alzheimers?

Prof. Pahnke: We have examined extracts from over 100 different plants to date. The work is not over yet. We are currently working on Nepalese plants that are used in Ayurvedic medicine.

There are different degrees of effect: from extracts of Ginkgo biloba, which showed no or very little effect, to well-known plants such as St. John’s wort with excellent effect when extracted with ethanol. 

The shape of the extract plays here a decisive role!
St. John’s wort requires 80% ethanol extraction. We have published this research data in scientific journals and it is freely available to everyone. (Here you get to the research data) Do you recommend a combination of these plants?

Prof. Pahnke: This can be very helpful because the plants often have different mechanisms of action and can complement each other. St. John’s wort is known as an antidepressant.

It is particularly effective for older people as an anti-dementive agent because it activates the ABC transporter C1 and can “clean” the brain, especially the temporal lobe and the area of the hippocampus (read more here).

This is where the deposits start and as a result depression and dementia; therefore, it is probably in the same way effective against both of them. Medical St. John’s wort extracts are approved in Germany and are even covered by health insurance companies.

Relatives described the combination with self-produced ethanolic extracts from other plants, e.g. Sideritis scardica, as very helpful. I get regular feedback from relatives who tell me that a combination of St. John’s wort and sideritis is very helpful. You can also read about this on the homepage of our research laboratory.

There are also inquiries from relatives about other combinations, e.g. with coconut oil, bacopa, but I have not yet been able to gain any relevant experience. Thank you for the interview.

Conclusion: An alcoholic extract (plant extract) is recommendable. The recommended daily dose is 500-1000 mg. The advantage of the extract is not only that it is easier to be taken, but also the quality control is more stringent.

Also interesting: some patients’ feedbacks were published on Professor Pahnke’s website. Many people with Alzheimers have benefited from the studies with Greek mountain tea and St. John’s wort. The positive stories of many relatives are worth reading. Here you go to the page.

If you had any experiences with Greek mountain tea and Alzheimers, Professor Pahnke looks forward to receiving your feedback on his page.

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