Teas have long been used as a method for delivering medicinal herbs to the sick, to ease pain, or simply to improve general health. In the 21st century, teas such as bamboo leaf tea are part of the multibillion-dollar nutritional supplement industry. Proponents of bamboo tea claim it has several health benefits, but clinical testing of these claims is contradictory and incomplete as of 2011. As always, check with a doctor before taking on any dietary supplement or drug regimen.
Bamboo Tea Basics
Bamboo tea is not a "true tea," in that it is not brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It is instead an herbal tea, meaning it's brewed from something else. Other than the species of plant involved, the process for making bamboo leaf tea is the same as for true teas. You pick the leaves, dry them, then steep the dried leaves into boiling water to leach their contents into the brew.
Bamboo leaf tea is rich in silica, an ingredient important in bone and other rigid tissue health. Proponents claim that this can improve bone health, strengthen hair and nails, improve your dental health and make your skin more elastic and healthy. Although it's been proven that bamboo leaf tea contains silica, and that silica does these things, no clinical study has connected the dots to prove that bamboo leaf tea has these benefits -- or what dosage of bamboo leaf tea is necessary to do so.
A typical cup of bamboo leaf tea contains 1 g of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids your body's natural cleansing systems. This can contribute to digestive health, as well as help your body clean your bloodstream of harmful LDL cholesterol.
Like other plant teas, the micronutrients in bamboo leaf tea may have an effect on some of your body systems. Polyphenols can reduce free radical cell damage, and may slow aging. Catechins interfere with your processing of dietary fat, which might help you lose weight and reduce your cholesterol production. In his book "The Superfoods Rx," Dr. Stephen Pratt reports that most teas contain high levels of both. Proponents of bamboo leaf tea state that it contains amounts of both similar to those in green tea -- however, no clinical data supports this claim as of 2011.
Market Status Caution
Bamboo leaf tea is a dietary supplement, meaning that it is held to less rigid standards than drugs and medical treatments. The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are not required to prove their claims as to the benefits of their products. Thus, claims about the health benefits of bamboo leaf tea should be taken with a grain of salt.