Cat whisker (scientific name Orthosiphon stamineus) is herbaceous in nature. This plant is a member of family Lamiaceae and grows up to a height of about 1.5 meters. The leaves of cat whisker appear in pairs and are arranged oppositely on the stem. These plants bear simple, green and smooth (glabrous) leaves having serrate margins and a lanceolate shape. The apice of the leaves is acuminate having an acute leaf base. Compared to this, the reddish purple petiole is short, measuring just about 0.3 cm lengthwise. The erect stem of cat whisker has a quadrangular shape, having a reddish hue. Generally, the stems are profusely branched. This species is found growing naturally all over South Asia and even in the tropical regions of Australia. The appearance of cat whisker somewhat resembles that of peppermint, but its flavour is different. This plant tastes dry, bitter and salty.
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The herb Orthosiphon stamineus is extensively cultivated in the tropical regions across the globe. You can easily identify this herb by its flowers, which appear in white or purple hues and bears resemblance to cat whiskers. Popularly known as Java tea, cat whisker is extensively used in the form of an herbal tea in many regions of Asia. It is likely that this herb was introduced to the West some time towards the beginning of the 20th century. Cat whisker or Java tea is prepared in the same way as you brew any other tea. The leaves of this plant are steeped in boiling water for roughly three minutes and subsequently milk or honey is added to the resultant solution. You can easily prepare this herbal tea using the dried leaves of cat whiskers grown in your garden. The quality of this herb can be considerably affected by the region where the plant is grown and the post-harvesting processes.
Findings of several studies have revealed that the leaves of Orthosiphon stamineus possess a variety of pharmacological properties, including antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-angiogenetic and anti-inflammatory attributes. In vitro as well as in vivo studies have shown to be uniquely safe for use by most people. Practically, this herb does not have any toxic side effect. Scientists arrived at this conclusion following systematic examination of the pharmacological attributed of cat whisker. These investigations suggested that the herb has the potential to be a powerful source of new herbal remedies for various critical ailments suffered by humans.
Generally, the leaf of cat whisker is brewed to prepare an herbal tea, which is used for several purposes. Aside from being used as a tea and tasting like tea, this herbal preparation is especially employed for treating inflammatory disorders and also alleviating a number of ailments, including those related to the urogenital tract. This herb has its origin in the oceanic region and was subsequently introduced to mainland areas of Asia. Later, sometime during the early 20th century, cat whisker was introduces in the West.
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Occasionally, people take cat whisker in the form of an irrigation therapy. In other words, this herb is taken together with plenty of fluids with a view to augment the flow of urine. In addition, cat whisker is also employed for treating problems related to the kidneys and bladder, counting bacterial infections as well as kidney stones. This is also an effective remedy for various problems related to the liver and gallbladder, counting gallstones; achy joints like rheumatism and gout.
By tradition, cat whisker leaves are used in the form of a diuretic and also to provide relief from abdominal pain, rheumatism and inflammation of the kidneys and bladder. This herb is also used for treating gout and edema.
Orthosiphon stamineus contains a number of compounds that help in lowering the blood pressure. Some people believe that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of this herb are responsible for its blood pressure lowering effect. This herb contains compound called methylripariochromene A, which has shown to lower systolic high blood pressure in rodents.
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Cat whisker is commonly called the kidney plant, possibly because of the herb's beneficial effects on our kidneys. People in the Java islands believe that when people with kidney stones drink the tea prepared from the leaves of cat whiskers it helps to get rid of those stones, which are roughly 5 cm in size. A number of medical studies have also corroborated this benefit of drinking cat whisker tea. As a result, people in various native regions of the plant drink this herbal tea to cure chronic and intense kidney infections, urinary tract infections, bladder infections, bladder stones as well as too frequent urination.
Some studies have also shown that one can also employ Orthosiphon stamineus for a period of six months to lower the levels of blood sugar in patients suffering from non-insulin dependent diabetes. A dose dependent study undertook an oral glucose tolerance test on diabetic as well as healthy rats found that cat whisker can also considerably reduce the levels of plasma glucose.
A diuretic is a substance that promotes elimination of excessive and unwanted water from our body. Since Orthosiphon stamineus possesses diuretic properties, use of this herb augments fat burning in the cells of our body. Therefore, drinking Java tea will help to get rid of surplus water, thereby preventing edema and also reducing body weight. However, the water loss action of this herb is a temporary effect. In fact, no studies have been undertaken till this day to ascertain the fat burning action of cat whisker or its effect on the metabolic process of the body.
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Normally, the leaves and tips of stems of cat whisker have therapeutic uses. Findings of scientific studies have revealed that the leaves of this herb show potent pharmacological properties like antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, cytotoxic, heptoprotective as well as vasodialative.
Chemical analysis of cat whisker (O. stamineus) has revealed that this herb encloses elevated levels of bioactive proteins, bioflavonoid, flavones, glycosides, polyphenols, a volatile oil and large amounts of potassium. Findings of earlier studies showed that the leaves of this plant also contain betulinic acid, bioactive pentacyclic triterpenes, β-sitosterol, oleanolic acid and ursolic acid. So far, scientists have isolated over 20 phenolic compounds from cat whisker. Some of them include flavonol glycosides, lipophilic flavones and a number of derivatives of caffeic acid, including 2.3-dicaffeoyltatric acid and rosmarinic acid.
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Fresh cat whisker leaves are used to prepare an herbal tea. To prepare this tea, boil this herb in four cups of water. Steep the resultant cat whisker solution for 15 minutes and drink it. You can take half cup of this tea three times every day.
Cat whisker offers several health benefits. This herb has diuretic effects and, hence, helps to reduce the level of body water via urination. It also helps to combat bacteria and stop spasms.