I've been reading about "RUNA" today and I reckon it could be the next big thing in health giving brews. Well, it's actual name is GUAYUSA (pronounced gwhy-you-sa) - Runa is just the brand - and it's a native Amazonian tree leaf that has been brewed like tea for thousands of years by indigenous communities, most commonly in Ecuador.
It reportedly contains more caffeine than tea (which isn't necessarily a good thing) but much less than coffee so it's a good energy boosting stimulant without doing you much damage. One cup of guayusa contains around 90 mg of caffeine as well as other stimulants from the same family, known as methylxanthine alkaloids of which Theophylline is a clarifying and uplifting compound (also found in green tea) and Theobromine is the pleasure stimulant found in dark chocolate. This stimulants combined supposedly balance out your energy levels and prevent any jitters usually associated with caffeine.
Moreover, guayusa contains double the antioxidants of any tea, thus calming the nervous system, helping with cardiovascular health and giving the drinker clear, focused energy - what the native Kichwa people call "mental strength and courage." Recent studies in respected US labs have confirmed that 1 cup of guayusa has 30% more polyphenols than a cup of green tea. Scientific studies have confirmed polyphenols' anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties, as well as their ability to boost the immune system and promote a healthy heart.
According to the indigenous Kichwa people, drinking the sacred guayusa tea is such a healthful, enlightening experience that before it is offered to a visitor, he/she is warned that once she drinks it, she will forever after return to the Ecuadorian Jungle. Many women say that it relieves symptoms of menopause, and is helpful for the liver and stomach while farmers claim it helps soothe body aches and pains. On a spiritual level, indigenous communities say that guayusa helps them remember their dreams, protects against insect and snake bites, and spiritually connects them to the forces of nature and conquer their fears. Other health benefits include boosting your metabolism (which in turn helps you to lose weight), aiding digestion, balancing blood sugar and helping with diabetes, and increasing your mental alertness.
(Of course it hasn't been approved by the FDA but what naturally occurring, indigenous plant or product ever does get approved by the FDA?).
I'd be willing to try it. Anything to kick my morning coffee habit.
(PS so interesting trivia about caffeine: Caffeine is a natural insect repellent. Botanists believe that plants first produced caffeine in order to give insects an unpleasant jolt to their nervous system when they eat a plant’s leaves. While we on the other hand can't get through the day without it).