Posts

Rhodiola rosea is a plant used for its health-giving properties.  The root is harvested from this low-growing perennial plant that grows throughout the northern hemisphere in high elevations in Asia, Europe, and North America, and is native to the Himalaya. Other common names given to this plant are Arctic Root and Golden Root.  The root has a rose-like fragrance and flavor, and is very astringent (drying) on the tongue.   References to this plant for its health benefits are found as early as 77 A.D.
Throughout Russia and Asia, Rhodiola has been traditionally used as a tonic herb that increases physical and mental stamina, performance, and strength.  It is considered an adaptogen, meaning it has the ability to help the body respond better to stress and is safe for long-term use.  It most likely acts on the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis to normalize adrenal function, improve energy, and increase overall health.
Rhodiola seems to primarily effect the nervous system, the immune system, and the HPA axis (adrenals).  Most studies have focused on the physical and mental effects of Rhodiola.  It has been studied on athletes, showing an increase in performance for most people. In one study 89% of participants showed increased speed & strength.  Students are another category of people that have seen improvement when using this herb, improving memory, retention of information, and increasing attention span.
The primary reasons people take Rhodiola are to decrease stress, increase energy, enhance athletic and physical performance, combat fatigue – whether physical or mental, increase attention and focus, combat depression, and to increase immune system function.  Rhodiola also acts as an antioxidant, anti-cancer (in animals, shown to inhibit tumor growth and decrease metastasis), and radio-protective; most of these properties having been indicated in in vitro (lab) studies.  Therefore, it is often used as an adjunct in cancer treatment, for protecting the healthy cells from the effects of chemical and radiation exposure.
Rhodiola is also an herb commonly used to prevent and combat altitude sickness.
This herb can be made into an infusion (tea) and consumed, as it is in our Mental Clarity Tea: 1 Tbsp/cup hot water (just boiled) and steeped for 20 minutes. For the root alone, use 1 Tbsp/2 cups water for 20 minutes.  As a tincture (liquid extract), the dosing is typically 2 dropperfuls (50-60 drops) 2-3 times/day.  Capsules are generally taken at 2 twice/day.
If you find it a stimulating herb, as some people do, it is best to avoid later in the day (after 4 pm) to avoid insomnia.  It may be too stimulating for certain constitutions and should be used with caution in those with high blood pressure and avoided for those with bipolar disorder.

Turmeric root – A medicinal and culinary plant that comes to us from Southeast Asia, its Latin name is Curcuma longa and it is a member of the Zingiberaceae family, the same family as ginger and cardamom.  The root is a striking orange/yellow color, and it is the pigment responsible for this color that gives turmeric many of its prized properties, including its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Attention on turmeric really began when epidemiological studies showed lower rates of inflammatory chronic illnesses and cancer in India, where turmeric is consumed on a daily basis in their foods, but in generally small amounts.  In addition, most anti-inflammatory drugs have unfavorable side effects, and the search is on for compounds in nature that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects without the unpleasant side effects.
Curcuma_longa_roots
Turmeric’s primary actions in the body are: inflammation modulator (anti-inflammatory), antioxidant, antitumor, digestive tonic, carminative, stimulant, cholagogue (stimulates gallbladder to contract and release bile), choleretic (increases bile output from the liver), hepatoprotective (liver protectant), hypolipidemic, hypotensive, antiartherosclerotic, vulnerary (wound healer), anticoagulant, antiplatelet, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal (topically), tumor-preventive.
Based on the above actions, the use of turmeric as a medicine is indicated for prevention of inflammatory conditions and as an antioxidant to prevent cancer and oxidative stress.  It is also indicated preventively for helping to keep a healthy lipid and cholesterol balance, for protecting the liver, and for thinning the blood.
It is also indicated for cases of weak digestion, flatulence, dyspepsia (indigestion or digestive sluggishness), and peptic ulcers due to its tissue-healing and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as its ability to stimulate bile flow and increase digestive function.
As an anti-inflammatory and liver detoxifier, turmeric is useful for skin diseases such as eczema and inflammation of the skin (taken internally and applied externally, although it will stain the skin externally).
As an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and cholagogue, turmeric is used to treat gallstones (although not if there is any chance of obstruction), acute/chronic inflammation of the gallbladder, and inflammation of the bile duct.
For rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, turmeric taken over time has proven effective due to its ability to modulate the inflammatory response.
As an anticancer herb, Curcuma longa acts against several chemical carcinogens, so can be used in adjunct with other cancer therapies.  As an antioxidant it is also useful for precancerous and cancerous conditions, particularly cancers of the colon because of the direct contact some constituents have with the cells of the colon.
As a hepatoprotective herb, turmeric is useful for someone exposed to hepatotoxic chemicals and for liver dysfunction, such as jaundice or hepatitis, where its inflammation modulating effects are useful as well.
As a hypolipidemic, turmeric is used for high cholesterol.  Curcumin has been shown to decrease total serum cholesterol, to increase HDL cholesterol, and to decrease serum lipid peroxides.
Curcumin and the class of compounds in turmeric called “curcuminoids” are the most studied compounds in the root.  These appear to exert the majority of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant/anticancer effects.  Use of just this compound in capsule form may sometimes be indicated for acute inflammation or widespread inflammatory conditions.  However, it is often important to consume the whole herb as well, as there are 100’s of compounds in an herb that can exert their own helpful effects and may prevent side effects.  Many products will be whole-root extracts that concentrate the curcuminoids in a capsule form, and generally that is my preferred method of consumption.
Turmeric appears to be safe in most situations and even in large doses. The most common “side effect” is mild gastrointestinal irritation. Usually this is mitigated by taking turmeric in the middle of a meal, but if someone has a sensitive stomach, they may not be able to consume turmeric in large, medicinal quantities. Turmeric is contraindicated if there is a bile duct obstruction due to the cholagogue (gallbladder stimulating) activity of turmeric.  Caution should also be exercised when taking turmeric concurrently with antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs since it has these actions itself.  Some researchers advise caution during pregnancy because turmeric may stimulate the uterus; this is mostly likely because of its bitter and carminative effects, which stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, and may also have an emmenagogue effect (stimulating the uterus).
Turmeric root is traditionally used as a powder in curry and other foods.  In India and the Ayurvedic system of medicine, the root is often simmered with milk and slightly sweetened with honey for colds and coughs, and for digestion.  This makes sense, as turmeric is best metabolized when consumed with fat, and with black pepper.
A beverage coined as “Golden Milk” can be made by mixing about 1 heaping teaspoon of the powdered herb with a 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and cardamom, 1/4 tsp of ginger powder, a small quantity of black pepper, then adding to 12-16 oz of milk or milk alternative of your choice, heating on the stove, and adding raw honey at the end as desired. Drinking this daily is a good way to consume turmeric as a preventative health ally, as well as to help address inflammatory concerns.
At Herban Wellness, we sell the powder, capsules (either of the powder or of the concentrated extract), and the liquid extract (tincture) of this useful plant.  The root can also be purchased fresh at some natural health food stores or Asian markets and added to food or juiced.  The root has a strong taste, with a pungent, bitter flavor; which is why most people prefer capsules or tincture.
I usually encourage people to find a way to incorporate the powder or capsules on a daily basis for prevention and health maintenance. Adding 1/2-1 tsp to smoothies, making Golden Milk, or taking 2 capsules/day is a good way to consume it. For more acute or widespread inflammation, the concentrated extract capsules, such as Gaia Herbs Turmeric Supreme (which also contains black pepper), or the tincture, is recommended, at a higher dosing. Typically 2 capsules or 2 milliliters of tincture  2-3 times/day is recommended for more acute situations or for widespread or severe inflammation. Sometimes it can take 2-3 weeks of taking this dosing to notice effects, so it is generally not a short-term fix.

Inflammation is a word that we are all familiar with, and most of us have some associations in our own experience that we picture when this word is uttered. For example, if you have acne, you know that this red pustule is inflamed because it is red and may even cause pain. Or, you might have some knee pain when you run, and you know that there is an aspect of inflammation involved in your knee joint that is causing this sensation of pain. You may even notice some swelling in your knee joint area.
Inflammation is a necessary, normal response to injury, to bring leukocytes to the area to “clean up” and destroy pathogens, to immobilize the area of injury, & to heal the tissue. So, we need this inflammatory response in the body in order to draw attention (an alarm) to an area of injury. Even in the case of skin inflammation such as acne, there is stimulus which is bacterial stimulated, and the redness and swelling is the body’s attempt to combat the infection.
Problems arise when inflammation becomes chronic and systemic, when it ceases to be an acute response, when it becomes a constant low-level feature of the body’s physiology that’s always on and always engaged.  Because a big part of inflammatory response is to break the tissue down, targeting damaged tissue and invading pathogens before building it back up, the inflammatory response has the potential to damage the body by targeting healthy tissue. This is the case in chronic acne, where scarring can occur, or in arthritis where the joint tissue (cartilage) becomes damaged by the chronic inflammation.
The question becomes, how does this inflammatory response get out of balance and lead to chronic inflammation?  This is a complicated question, and multi-faceted. Sometimes, something like continual impact such as running on hard surfaces lead to continual injury to the joint tissue, which leads to deterioration of joint tissue, decreasing cartilage and other protective tissues in the joints.. Other causes are food related, as certain foods and compounds we ingest either promote the inflammatory response (trans fats) or can inhibit it (such as Omega-3 fatty acids), chronic stress and the stress response in the body, hormonal imbalance, toxic exposure, food sensitivities or allergies, and many other triggers promote pro-inflammatory pathways in the body.
Here is a list of some of the most common promoters of chronic inflammation:
Toxic diets & toxic exposure in general, which can come from many sources in our modern world, including the paraffin candles burned indoors, flame retardants on our furniture that off-gas into our indoor air, food additives and colorings, chlorine in our water, etc.
Food allergiesif you’re reacting to a food that you’re constantly ingesting, this can cause a heightened immune over-response and worsen seasonal allergies, eczema, weakening of the intestinal lining.
Insufficient omega-3 intake: Omega-3 fats form the precursors for anti-inflammatory eicosanoids, which are an integral part of the inflammatory response.
Excessive omega-6 intake: Omega-6 fats form the precursors for inflammatory eicosanoids, which are an integral part of the inflammatory response.
Lack of sleep: Poor sleep is linked to elevated inflammatory markers. Poor sleep is a chronic problem in developed nations.
Lack of movement: People lead sedentary lives, by and large, and a lack of activity is strongly linked to systemic, low-grade inflammation.
Poor recovery: Other people move too much, with too little rest and recovery, or are putting too much stress and strain on their bodies.
Chronic stress: Modern life is stressful & your body will have a physiological, inflammatory response to emotional stress.
Lack of down time: The parasympathetic nervous system response can help keep many systems in our body running better, including our digestion and immune system.
Lack of nature time
Poor gut health: The intestinal tract houses the bulk of the body’s immune response, so when it’s unhealthy, so is your inflammatory regulation.
Poor acute stressor/chronic stress ratio: We respond far better to acute stressors than chronic, long-term stress, even if the latter is of a lower intensity.
Where do herbal remedies come in, as useful tools in our ability to help our bodies regulate the inflammatory response?
Medicinal plants contain a myriad of phytochemicals, nutrients, and other compounds that have multiple effects, therefore they can be useful for reducing inflammation that is in excess, while preventing potential problems (such as gastric irritation and ulcers) from synthesized anti-inflammatory drugs. Many herbs we know of help inhibit aspects of the inflammatory pathways, such as the cyclooxygenase (COX) pathways: COX-1 and COX-2 which produce pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.
Many over the counter anti-inflammatories (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDS), inhibit the COX enzyme pathways. For example, Aspirin works because it decreases the production of inflammatory hormones/chemicals called prostaglandins, created by the COX-1 enzyme, but because this enzyme is also involved in protecting the stomach lining and the kidneys, it is known that overuse of aspirin can cause damage to the stomach lining, even leading to ulcers.
The advantage of herbs and why there is so much focus on finding anti-inflammatory herbal remedies and compounds within them, is because they do not have the same long-term potential side effects that many NSAIDS have.  In addition, herbs have many effects because of the hundreds of compounds they contain, so each herb can have multiple beneficial effects. Here are some of the herbs that have been most studied for helping reduce inflammation:
Turmeric – anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor. Curcuminoids in turmeric, including curcumin, have been shown to inhibit COX-2 and stimulate glutathione S-transferase, a key detoxification enzyme.
Holy basil – contains compounds like ursolic acid and oleanolic acid that inhibit COX-2 and lipoxygenase. This herb is also anti-ulcer, antimutagenic, radioprotective, anti-tumor on the skin, and increases glutathione S-transferase, a key detoxification enzyme.  
Goldthread (Coptis) & Barberry – both contain berberine, which has been shown to inhibit COX-2. Each also contain other compounds that inhibit COX-2 but not COX-1, and also have anticancer and antitumor properties.
Goldenseal – also high in berberine, and worth mentioning here because it also helps reduce mucus production and tones/tightens sinus membranes, helping reduce congestion and inflammation from the sinuses and mucosal membranes of the gastrointestinal tract as well, in small doses.  It is also a great antibacterial & antifungal herb.
Green tea – contains COX-2 inhibitors, and contains phytonutrients that are anti-ulcer and prevent wounds or facilitate their healing.

Many other herbs are used for inflammation targeting specific tissues. These include Meadowsweet and Yarrow for inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining, Yerba santa for inflammation of the sinuses and mucus membranes, Calendula flowers for epithelial tissue of the skin and gastrointestinal lining, Mullein leaf for lung tissue, and Marshmallow root as a soothing, cooling anti-inflammatory herb for the mucosal lining of the throat, stomach, GI, and urinary tract.

The beautiful hawthorn tree, with its leaves that look like mini oak leaves and its spiny branches, produces abundant flowers (white or pink) that later create red berries.  Crataegus oxycantha and C. monogyna are the two species used most often medicinally, and these produce dense clusters of white flowers and red edible berries that resemble small crabapples.  As a member of the apple family, this makes sense!
The berries have the longest traditional history of use.
Hawthorn is primarily known and used as a fantastic tonic for the cardiovascular system.  A safe, gentle, effective herbal remedy, this herb has been used to generally strengthen the heart muscle, lower blood pressure (by relaxing the nervous system and opening the corony circulation), normalize heart rhythms, act as an antioxidant to reduce and prevent arthrosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries) and weakening of the arteries and veins, to lower blood cholesterol levels (LDL in particular) and to increase circulation to the extremities.  Many of these uses have been born out in clinical studies, where some of hawthorn’s active compounds, mainly flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins, have strengthened contractions of the heart muscle, increased the amount of blood pumped with each contraction, and promoted a stable, rhythmic heartbeat in study participants.
Aside from being a heart remedy, hawthorn also has a calming effect on the nervous system, is used as a gentle diuretic, increasing fluid flow through the kidneys, and as a lung tonic.  It is used for allergy-related reactions such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthmatic conditions, for attention deficit symptoms in adults and children, for insomnia, indigestion, & nervous stomach.
Hawthorn is also used for emotional heart-related pain, such as grief and heartbreak to help protect and support the body, and in particular the heart and lungs which can be affected in times of grief and loss.
Hawthorn berries can be decocted (boiled) to produce a tea, using 1-3 teaspoons of the berries per 12 oz of water and simmering for 15-20 minutes.  The leaf & flower can be steeped in hot water for 15 minutes to make a mild tea.  Both the berry and leaf & flower combinations can be extracted into alcohol and water, or vegetable glycerine, and taken as a tincture or glycerite.  From the berries, syrups and solid extracts are often produced, which is a tasty and easy way to take this wonderful herb.

A hawthorn tree ripe with red berries

The vine of passionflower is used for its sedative, antispasmodic, and muscle-relaxing properties.  Passionflower is often used in tea blends, tinctures, or capsules for anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia, heart palpitations and high blood pressure (especially when related to stress and anxiety), and painful menstruation.  For promoting deep sleep, this herb is often combined with Valerian or Hops, because these are both more sedative, while Passionflower can help with insomnia that is anxiety or stress related.
One of the advantages of using Passionflower or a variety of other herbs for anxiety or sleep is that they don’t tend to produce a sense of dullness, grogginess, or otherwise impair mental function.  In research on the anti-anxiety effects of Passionflower, it was as effective as anti-anxiety medication, including benzodiazepine drugs, plus it had the added benefit of not impairing daytime performance and is not habit-forming.
Passionflower is in our Get Sleepy Tea (a great bedtime tea to send you off to a restful slumber) and in our Sleep Well Drops, a tincture blend of herbs including Passionflower, Hops, and Valerian.  We also have numerous capsule combinations for sleep and anxiety that contain Passionflower and often include it in our custom blends for stress, sleep, nervousness, restlessness, and pain.


When I say the name of this tea, I have had most people respond “I could use some of that!”  Apparently, most of us could use a bit of mental focus and clarity of thought, and why not an improved memory to boot?  Well, I can’t promise or guarantee that this particular blend of herbs will do these things for you, but it can certainly help improve those parameters you’re looking to improve.
By increasing circulation throughout the body, but particularly to the head and brain, and improving energy in a sustainable way, this blend of herbs can help increase “mental clarity” over time, or perhaps immediately when you need a boost during a long or stressful day, or just need to “clear your head”.
Gotu kola is often used to improve mental function, which is does perhaps primarily by increasing circulation.  It also acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps with all types of connective tissue repair and function.  Ginkgo may be the most-recognized herb for memory and focus, and although results are mixed in studies, there is no doubt that it increases circulation and is a powerful antioxidant.  Rhodiola is an adaptogenic root that can help normalize body functions and is best known for increasing energy levels and helping improve recall and retention of information.  As an adaptogen, it somehow acts on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis to balance the body and increase energy and mental function.  Rosemary is another potent antioxidant, cell protective, that increases circulation and is uplifting in its action.  Hawthorn leaf & flower helps improve cardiovascular function and circulation and is antioxidant.  You may notice a theme here.  Finally, peppermint and spearmint add their invigorating scent and taste to open the sinuses and clear the head to complement actions of the other herbs in this mix.
Contains: Gotu kola, ginkgo, rhodiola, rosemary, hawthorn leaf & flower, peppermint, & spearmint.

A general pain-relieving and antispasmodic blend of herbs, this tea is designed to help relieve mild inflammation and cramping or spasm of muscles and/or nerves.  Headaches have complex origins and can be a symptom of a larger problem, but occasional headaches from being tired, sick, stressed, tense, etc. can be helped with remedies other than the over-the-counter pain medications.  Chronic headaches may also be helped, although deeper causes need to be sought as well.
Meadowsweet is described in greater depth in another blog entry, so please refer there for more information, but suffice it to say here that it is in this tea blend as an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving herb.  Two other herbs, feverfew and motherwort, have a long history of being used for headache relief, and in the case of feverfew in particular, migraine relief.  This effect on migraines is most noted when feverfew is consumed daily for a period of weeks (6 or more), when the severity and frequency of migraine headaches often decreases.  Some, however, notice its effects pretty immediately upon consuming this herb.  Peppermint is vasodilating and antispasmodic, both of which can relieve the spasm around blood vessels in the brain or vasoconstriction which can cause/contribute to headaches.  Licorice is antiinflammatory and has a sweet, harmonizing taste in the tea, helping to offset the bitter taste of feverfew and motherwort.  Lemon balm relaxes the nervous system, helping to relieve anxiety and tension.  Black haw is a great antispasmodic for smooth muscle cramping, such as in the case of menstrual cramps or  intestinal cramping.
Contains: Meadowsweet, Peppermint, Licorice, Feverfew, Lemon balm, and Motherwort.

A classic and familiar herb in many culinary and medicinal traditions, ginger is a good example of the confluence of medicine and food.  The benefits of ginger have long been known in Indian and Chinese systems of medicine.  In India, it was even known as a “universal medicine”.  A digestive aid that calms nausea, warms, and promotes digestion, ginger is also known for its overall anti-inflammatory effects.  Ginger root acts as an anti-inflammatory (or, more appropriately, an inflammation regulator) partly by to normalizing prostaglandin action, and therefore helping to regulate the inflammatory cascades of the body.  It also acts to inhibit the enzyme COX-2 (cycloxygenase-2) which when overactive/overstimulated in people can lead to multiple inflammatory issues including arthritis.  Ginger root also has compounds that inhibit the formation of thromboxanes and therefore can reduce platelet formation helping to keep a healthy blood viscosity.  Ginger can also reduce pain by reducing prostaglandins that sensitize pain receptors.
Therefore, ginger root taken in therapeutic doses, can be a useful alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and acetaminophen, without the side effects such as gastritis/ulcers.  In fact, ginger root contains at least 17 compounds that have an anti-ulcer action.
Of the 477 compounds that have so far been identified in ginger root, many have varied desirable effects on inflammation.  It is the whole root that seems to work, as much as some would like to find the “active compounds”.
Primary actions of ginger: anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, circulatory stimulant, warming, digestive, blood thinner (inhibits platelet aggregation), diaphoretic
Primary uses: sluggish or weak digestion, nausea, motion sickness, joint inflammation, arthritis, head aches, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, colds & flu to help break a fever and induce sweating

This tea is the original Herban Wellness store blend, combining the healing properties of gunpowder green tea with two stand-out herbs from Ayurveda (an ancient Indian system of medicine) – holy basil and gotu kola.  The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea are combined with the stress-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and nervine properties of holy basil and gotu kola.  Holy basil is said to be both uplifting and calming, while the mild caffeine in green tea gives an energizing lift.  Lemon verbena adds its digestive and nervous system support with its lovely lemon flavor complemented by lemon peel to round out the tea.  Ginger warms, stimulates circulation, and adds  digestive calming and anti-inflammatory effects.
Holy basil (aka Tulsi) is a revered herb in the Hindu religion and is placed on altars as a plant that helps bridge between the mind & spirit.  Taken as a tea or tincture, this herb has many benefits as a digestive and nervous system support tonic, as well as acting as an “adaptogen”, acting on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis as a stress-relieving and protective herb.
Gotu kola is another powerful herb from India that helps with circulation throughout the body and to the brain, acts to help repair connective tissue including joints & tendons, is anti-inflammatory, and helps lower the stress response.  It is used for chronic venous insufficiency, circulatory issues, chronic injuries, to help with mental focus and nervous system weakness, and in combination with other herbs for stress and anxiety relief.
This tea blend is a great morning or afternoon tea and tastes excellent served hot or iced.
Contains: Green tea, holy basil, gotu kola, lemon verbena, lemon peel, & ginger root.

Pu-erh (pronounced poo-air) is a uniquely fermented tea, made using an old, broad-leafed variety of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), withered and then pan-fried to remove excess moisture like the processing of green tea.  Unlike green tea, however, the heat processing part is shortened so oxidation can occur to the tea leaves.  The tea is allowed to ferment using methods meant to mimic the way it originally was discovered while tea leaves were traveling on the backs of horse or yaks on the Silk Road from Yunnan to the Tibetan Plateau for trade.  The flavor, caffeine, nutrients, & probiotic characteristics of this unique tea made it an indispensible beverage for many in China and in many indigenous communities throughout the Upper Mekong River Region of China, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and India.
Modern-day pu-erh tea is either fermented packed in clay jars, baskets, or buried in the floor of caves and allowed to oxidize and age, some for as long as 60 years. Like fine wine, certain pu-erh are considered more valuable and the flavor more desirable than others. Another method used to make pu-erh is to heap-ferment the loose tea leaves for hours to days to allow interaction with fungi, yeast, and bacteria that ferment the tea.  Some pu-erh is also intentionally inoculated with desirable microorganisms.
Pu-erh tea has many reported health benefits, including acting as an antioxidant, helping to stimulate metabolic processes (thereby increasing calories used), helping with fat digestion (therefore beneficial taken with a fatty meal), increasing mental clarity & energy, improving lipid profiles, & reducing cholesterol levels.  It is a source of polyphenols, like other teas, which are phytochemicals that can protect the body from free radical damage and degenerative processes & diseases.  Other compounds include: caffeine-producing methylxanthines (theobromine & theophylline), amino acids, & amino acid-derivatives including theanine, proanthocyanadins, gallic acid, coumaric & caffeic acids.  Theanine has been shown to help reduce mental and physical stress and improve mental function.
The fat metabolism, and general metabolism-boosting properties, have been the primary focuses of its use in the West, as well as its cholesterol-lowering effect, which has largely been explained by the discovery that pu-erh tea contains natural statins produced by the probiotic activity.  Polyphenols in the tea leaves are oxidized to create fermentation-derived compounds known as statins (a group of hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors), which have been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels & prevent cardiovascular disease.
Generally speaking, you’d need to brew this tea at about 1 tsp/cup hot water for 5 minutes and drink 3 cups/day to achieve some of these desired effects.
There is a lot of interesting information out there on the internet about tea in general, and some on pu-erh.  I learned a lot about pu-erh and its ethnobotanical origins and use from an article in Herbal Gram, published by the American Botanical Council, entitled “Pu-erh Tea and the Southwest Silk Road” by Selena Ahmed, PhD and Michael Freeman.  There are also some research studies that are summarized on Pub Med, a database part of the National Institutes of Health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/).