Many people, including witches and pagans, appreciate the myriad benefits of consuming herbal teas. Witches use a variety of brews as natural remedies for a whole host of ailments. Chamomile tea is ideal for dealing with stress-related symptoms; Peppermint tea is great for dealing with gastrointestinal issues and Echinacea offers immune-boosting properties. However, with a recent study suggesting that excessive tea drinking can negatively influence one’s health, the amount of how much tea one can safely consume comes into question.
On USA Today, Tanya Wildt writes about a 47-year-old woman who was experiencing chronic pain in her hip, leg, arm and lower back: Pain that doctors now attribute to the amount of ultra-strong tea the woman consumed daily. A medical team from the Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System discovered that the woman had consumed a pitcher of tea every day for nearly two decades; She would make a pitcher of black tea using 100 to 150 tea bags.
On March 21, “The New England Journal of Medicine” shared an article by Dr. Naveen Kakumanu and Sudhaker D. Rao explaining the medical team’s findings. Following complaints about bone pain and with “abnormal findings on radiography,” the woman was referred to the medical team. At the time of referral, she suffered with pain for five years and doctors surmised that the amount of fluoride she was consuming was the cause for her pain. A pitcher of tea containing 100 to 150 tea bags contains about 20 mg of fluoride; The woman consumed the latter amount of fluoride on a daily basis for 17 years. Her excessive tea consumption led to brittle bones and teeth, tooth loss and skeletal fluorosis.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, when adults consume too much fluoride over the course of a lifetime, the individual faces a greater likelihood of body pain, tenderness, bone breaks and tooth loss.
In “The New England Journal of Medicine,” Dr. Naveen Kakumanu and Sudhaker D. Rao explain: “Brewed tea has one of the highest fluoride contents among beverages in the United States.” While it will take years to eradicate the build up of fluoride in her system, after receiving counseling, the woman has since stopped consuming tea entirely."
So how much tea is too much? In a study conducted in 2009 published in “Food and Chemical Toxicology,” Ebru Emekli-Alturfan and Aysen Yarat from the Department of Biochemistry and Serap Akyuz from the Department of Pedodontics at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey, suggest that many herbal teas have low values of fluoride, especially when compared to black tea. The findings reveal that black tea has fluoride levels ranging from 0.57 to 3.72 mg/L, while herbal infusions have a fluoride level ranging from 0.02-0.04 mg/L. The longer the tea is brewed, the higher the fluoride level, with the exception of teas like apple, rosehip and anise. The study also suggests:
“The safe upper limit of daily fluoride intake is 1.5-4.0 mg for adults and 2.5 mg for children. However, black tea bags … from the Turkish market were found to have higher fluoride levels in the range of 1.33-3.72 mg/L. Consequently, some tea bags may exceed the upper permitted safety level of fluoride, especially when consuming water fluoridation.”
In an article on Science News, Dr. Gray Whitford, the professor of oral biology in the School of Dentistry at Georgia Regents University, suggests that consuming two to four cups of tea each day will not harm the tea drinker and only heavy tea consumption leads to health issues.
Basically, consuming herbal teas safely involves a two-fold process. First, a person should speak with a physician before consuming herbal teas or remedies. Second, one should consume all herbal selections in moderation.
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