Herbal Teas: Know the Risks So You Can Enjoy the Benefits

Herbal Teas: Know the Risks So You Can Enjoy the Benefits Many tea drinkers enjoy the benefits of herbal teas, including the growing range of flavors, ingredients, and blends. Such teas add freshness, originality, subtlety, and nutritional value to tea drinkers. Many tea drinkers also assume that they are receiving the health benefits of herbal tea. Yet an important question to ask is,

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9 thoughts on “Herbal Teas: Know the Risks So You Can Enjoy the Benefits

      1. Hello Peter , I’ve been drinking chaparral,pau d’arco,chanca piedra for three days in large amounts. I assumed I can take it the same way I’ve taken other teas in the past . Yesterday I noticed small sharp pains in my kidney and liver area so I stopped drinking last night. The pain isn’t bad ,but it’s a little nerve wracking because I never felt pain in those areas . Is it possible for the pain to go away on its own with me staying away from the tea for awhile ? I will pay attention to it,if it gets worse then I will go to my doctor .

  1. It sounds like Peter is working for the Drug industry. Just replace the words Herbs or herbal infusions with the words OTC drugs and his cautions are valid. Or how about caffeine or sugar…I have watched many indigenous people handpick herbs for enjoyment and prevention with great success. We need respect for all consumption but the benefits are there.

    1. Agree 100% with Bob Krul: This highly cautionary “Know the Risks!” article would be far more appropriate directed at OTC drugs and supplement markets. It’s a valid point that anyone with chronic disease, pregnant, over a ‘certain age’ or using prescribed medications should check with their physician when considering supplements, herbal remedies, or ‘natural products’ to self medicate. However, very few physicians have any training about botanicals or herbal ingredients other than referring to a PDR (Physicians Desk Reference) for potential issues. A traditional pharmacist would likely have more expertise and information ‘at hand’ to consult for possible drug interactions.

      I am in favor of more stringent oversight regarding the herbal supplement market. Supplements should be tested for safety and be free of contaminants, toxic ingredients, and contain only the ingredients listed on the label. However, my issue with this article is that it would require far more exposure and abnormally heavy consumption of any particular herb to produce some of the side effects described, such as those referenced with chamomile, mint, or hibiscus infusions. Exactly what comprises a ‘heavy dose’ in the author’s opinion? Two cups of chamomile tea instead of one? For example — using sugar as a common and relatively ‘safe’ ingredient: compare using 1 teaspoon vs. 1 cup of sugar daily. Obviously consuming 1 cup of sugar every day would be very unhealthy and produce ill effects (obesity, heart disease, dental disease, etc.). It would certainly be considered a ‘dangerous’ ingredient with serious side effects for people who are diabetic. But used in ‘normal’ amounts, (i.e., 1 or 2 teaspoons) most people are not likely to have an adverse reaction unless they have an endocrine/metabolic disease.

      Additionally, imported teas (not just herbal ingredients) are easily as contaminated as any other ingredients the author lists in his article. There is tea that comes into this country claiming to be ‘organic’ with reassuring logos/stamps by various certification boards that is tainted. With over 28 years in the tea industry and having been an early direct importer, I learned to doubt the veracity of any ‘organic’ claims made outside of the US. Unless you’re willing to cover the expense of re-testing and certifying every batch in the US that is purchased, chances are you may have a product contaminated by pesticide drift, heavy metals, extraneous materials (i.e., hair, fabric threads, small plastic or wood pieces), and possibly soil-borne bacteria. Confronting unscrupulous foreign companies selling contaminated ‘organic’ tea is met with shoulder shrugs and a ‘so what’ attitude. They count on no further testing in the supply chain, and are unconcerned about legal reprisal from smaller US companies. As a result of poor business practices and a shocking lack of integrity, we only buy from two companies that represent two ‘clean’ regions in China and insist on US testing and certification before purchasing and spot check purchases once they arrive. We no longer direct import tea, spices or herbs.

      Yes, ingredient safety and possible drug interactions matter — but the inference of this article is everyone should question ‘the risk’ of their bedtime cup of chamomile or reconsider that cup of mint tea to settle a woozy tummy — or – (OMG) face ill effects. Exactly how much hibiscus tea would have to be drunk to reduce blood pressure by 7 points, to interfere with hormones, or create hallucinations? That would be helpful information.

      Intending no disrespect to the author, this article overstates the side effects of common herbal teas. Granted, there are herbal blends may contain certain ingredients that need to be avoided by those on medications or have specific medical issues. It’s a good practice to share any herbal supplements (including drinks) that you consume with your primary physician. Ultimately, it comes down to common sense and self responsibility. If someone is going to write about the ‘risks’ of drinking herbal teas, please include how much plant material it would take to induce a particular negative side effect. And what would that consumption look like in a daily diet? Since many people are now choosing to consume drinks with less (or no caffeine) in the form of herbal blends, it would be far more beneficial to base an article on ‘real world’ consumption and habits and refrain from using bloated scare-tactics and dire warnings that apply to few people.

  2. Thank you Ann K. Better said than my attempt to support a healthful alternative from kind and generous people associated with ethically harvesting a sustainable product based on historical tradition. We have much to learn.

  3. Is it safe to drink Restful Sleep tea half an hour before going to bed which contains valerian,chamomile,passion flower and skullcap while taking blood pressure pills?

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