Cat’s Whiskers is an herbal plant with flowers that have protruding hairs that resemble the whiskers of a cat. This herbal plant can be seen growing mostly in Southeast Asian countries like China, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines.
To some extent, it is also seen in Australia, Fiji and Samoa. In the herbal market, Cat’s Whiskers is popularly known as Java tea.
What is Cat’s Whiskers?
Cat’s Whiskers is botanically known as Orthosiphon aristatus and it belongs to the mint family. The herb is popularly referred as Balbas Pusa. Other common names of this herb include the following – kidney plant, Indian kidney tea, Java tea, Kabling-parang, Mao xu cao, pokok misai kucing and Yaa-nuat-maeo.
As a plant, Cat’s Whiskers is an erect shrub with green colored leaves seen in distant pairs, a reddish brown stalk and pagoda shaped white (and sometimes purple) colored flowers with stamens that look like cat’s whiskers. To grow, the herb requires a well drained location and can even survive drought.
How does it work?
The herb contains the following – beta sitosterol, ursolic acid, hedargenin, glycolic acid, methylripariochromene A, bio flavonoids, oleanolic acid and potassium. The following medicinal actions can be seen while using the herb – anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, antispasmodic, anti-microbial and anti-fungal.
The following are the health related benefits of Cat’s Whiskers:
1. High Blood Pressure
The chemicals present in Cat’s whiskers can help in reducing blood pressure levels. Some believe that the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory actions of the herb are the reasons for this benefit. The chemical methylripariochromene A present in the herb could decrease systolic blood pressure in rats.
2. Kidney Disorders
Cat’s Whiskers is also popularly referred as the Kidney plant possibly due to its kidney saving benefits. In Java islands, it is believed that the tisane made using the leaves of Cat’s whiskers can effectively eleminate kidney stones ( up to 5 cm in size). This benefit has been proven in a few clinical studies as well. The herb is used to treat acute and chronic kidney infections, bladder infections, urinary tract infections, frequent urination and bladder stones.
Studies have also shown that Cat’s whiskers can be used for a period of six months to reduce blood sugar levels in patients suffering from non-insulin dependent diabetes. In a dose dependent study on normal and diabetic rats, it was found that the herb could significantly decrease plasma glucose levels during the oral glucose tolerance test.
4. Other Benefits
To make Java tea, use fresh leaves of the herb and add four cups of water to make a cup of the herbal extract. Boil the solution and let it steep for fifteen minutes before use. Half a cup of Java tea can be taken thrice daily.
Allergic reactions are suspected but not proved. Long term usage of Java tea may lead to low sodium levels in the body. Also, avoid the herb during pregnancy.
Cat’s whiskers is an herbal plant. The leaves of this plant are used to prepare Java tea. In the market, java tea bags are also available for sale. The herb is considered safe in tea amounts. Cat’s whiskers is associated with the treatment of kidney disorders, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Avoid the herb while using diuretic pills. The interactions of Cat’s Whiskers with other durgs and herbs are not known.