What do you do when it comes to unfamiliar herbs from the rainforests of the world or from other countries, such as Chinese traditional herbs? How do you know how much to take and when, if you're not familiar with the herbs?
And what are the dosages of those herbs, when small amounts are supposed to help, but drinking more than one to three cups a day is not good? And how will those herbs interact with medicines, or when you're pregnant, or if you're allergic or have an adverse reaction? What can you learn online about the side effects of the herbs in your herbal teas?
Have you always wondered what benefits or side effects teas made from either Chinese or Rain Forest herbs might have on your individual health? Usually people drink one cup of such herbal teas. But if you drink more, the dosage changes. What might be some of the side effects at any dose or at larger dosages of various herbal teas and infusions?
Supermarkets, natural food stores, and health or natural food and vitamin businesses have shelves of various herbal teas. Let's look at the side effects of some herbs.
Also, here are questions to ask when you do your own online research. You can buy herbal teas without caffeine in most any supermarket or health food store. But how will the small amounts of Chinese or Rain Forest herbs in specialized teas and teasans without caffeine affect you? Will the many brands of teas marked with labels about supporting or maintaining healthy blood pressure actually lower your blood pressure?
Will the herbs interfere with your medications?
Or will the teas interfere with your blood pressure treatments from other medicines? Are the teas more of a sedative? Or how will the teas affect your kidneys and liver, especially if you have medical conditions or genetic variations?
As more people use herbal products in teas with labels mentioning specific symptoms, any given adverse events could be found. So be on the lookout to see what certain herbs or mixtures of herbs might do to help or hinder your health.
Side effects of some Chinese herbal teas containing a mixture of herbs. Do you know how the various teas made from Chinese herbs may impact your liver, kidneys, or other organs? Let's take a look at some side effects mentioned a websites on what side effects some of these Chinese herbs might have. They've been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. But how will they affect you and in what dosages when you drink herbal infusions of these plants?
1. Fo-ti. This herb is a part of the formula, for a variety of herbal teas. And fo-ti contains anthraquinones. California has listed these substances as a liver carcinogen. Also, the FDA has recently added a black box warning to Cipro which is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic.
The Chinese have used a mixture of certain herbs in a teasan or tea for thousands of years to help maintain healthy blood pressure function and to 'tone' or 'nourish' the kidneys and liver. In traditional Chinese folkmedicine, specialized herbs are supposed to nourish the kidneys and liver, calm liver yang and clear heat. The FDA hasn't tested or commented on a variety of Chinese herbs.
Read some of the research on certain Chinese herbs and acute hepatitis. Anthraquinones and fluoroquinolones are very different substances in terms of their physiologic effects. Any harm from the use of most herbs comes when excessive amounts are ingested. How small an amount is in your tea? And how many cups a day do you drink for how many years? See, Adverse effects of fluoroquinolones - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Another question to ask is whether small amounts of anthraquinones in fo-ti would be carcinogenic? If you want to read about a case history of acute hepatitis following the consumption of the herb called Shou Wu Pian, a Chinese herbal product derived from Polygonum multiflorum, check out the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine for April 6, 2004.
2. Eucommia. This herb in traditional Chinese folk medicine is called a highly esteemed longevity herb. In modern times, it has been researched for helping to maintain healthy blood pressure function. Again, the FDA has not commented on this herb or published tests. But there have been medical studies. See the site, Eucommia Bark Indications and Combinations.Eucommia Bark Extract.
Also check out the site, Standardized Eucommia Extract in the Treatment of Hypertension. According to the Eucommia study, eucommia is an herb used as a tea in China and by traditional Chinese doctors to treat high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure in Russia were given eucommia with a reduction in blood pressure and without side effects.
The LSU Board of Regents supported this research to develop an herbal product that will maintain a healthy blood pressure. Dr. Liu with the LSU Ag Center extracted and standardized the eucommia.
Dr. Baker with the LSU Vet School conducted safety studies in rats finding that eucommia was without side effects at 7 times the doses to be used in this study and there was a reduction in blood pressure in the rats. Dr. Greenway demonstrated that eucommia extract is a beta-adrenergic blocker, a mechanism used in approved blood pressure medications like propanolol. The location was at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center Recruiting Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Also see the site, Du Zhong - Eucommia bark - Chinese herb - Acupuncture & TCM Blog.
3. Uncaria. See the PDF file, Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC: Cat's Claw, Uña de Gato, or Savéntaro. Uncaria isn't a Chinese herb. Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC., is a large woody vine native to the Amazon and Central American rainforests. It has been used by indigenous peoples since ancient times and studies indicate it can influence the immune system and has anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic and antioxidant activities. Check the site regarding the information on the reversible worsening of motor signs in a patient with Parkinson disease after oral intake of Uncaria tomentosa, and some possible explanations are discussed.
Also see the site, Database Entry for: Cat's Claw - Uncaria tomentosa Cat's Claw. Sometimes labels on boxes of tea, foods, or supplements won't say cat's claw. Instead a label might say, uncaria. Some people reading the words "cat's claw" on a label of herbs from the rainforest might jump to the conclusion to take the words literally. So the plant that may look a little like a claw is an herb, not the clipped claws of any kind of cat. You'd be surprised what people think when they read the words "cat's claw" on a bottle of folk medicinals, teas, or herbs.
Cat's claw is it is a native South American Indian remedy from the mountains of Peru. According to the Uncaria/Cat's Claw website by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon, "The active components of cat’s claw are mainly alkaloids, glycosides (triterpenes and procyanidins), and tannins. The oxindole alkaloids of the stem (including the hooks) are the same as those found in the Chinese plant that is far more intensively analyzed.
"Rhynchophylline, the main alkaloid, has been made into a drug in China for treating hypertension and headache due to vascular constriction. The alkaloids in the root bark of cats’ claw are in the same category as rhynchophylline, but are slightly different.
"The claim made by some investigators appears to be that these unique alkaloids are responsible for the ability of the plant to treat cancer and to inhibit viral infections. Enhancement of phagocytosis in vitro was reported in 1985 by Wagner, a European researcher who has focused efforts on revealing immune-enhancing actions of natural products (his work with echinacea, eleutherococcus, and the liver-protective herb sylibum is frequently reported in the alternative medicine literature).
"It's not clear that sufficient amounts of such alkaloids are consumed so that one would obtain this effect nor how strong the effect might be. Based on his research experience, Wagner believes that polysaccharides, terpenoids, alkaloids, and polyphenolic compounds from plants have immunostimulating activity."
So check out any interactions and side effects of each one of these herbs that you may buy mixed together in any type of herbal infusion, teasan, or tea. Also see the site, Cat's claw extract supplement health benefit and side effects. According to this site, "As of November 2010 no major safety issues have been mentioned in the medical literature and no major side effects have been reported. However, as more people use this herbal product adverse events could be found."
4. Chinese Holly. See the website, Chinese Holly Leaf - ENaturalHealthCenter.com (e2121.com). According to this site, "Chinese holly leaf should be avoided or used carefully by anyone with insufficiency of spleen-yang or anyone affected by yin deficiency with impairment of body fluids because this herb may impair the stomach or damage yin with its bitter taste and cold nature." You could then go to a primary source, Shen Nong's Herbal Classic, Shen-nong.com/herbal glossary, which notes, "For stagnation of qi in the chest and abdomen, accumulation of pathogenic factors, jaundice and dripping urine."
See the sites, Shen Nong 's Herbal Classic | Herbanext and Chinese traditional herbal medicine | Encyclopedia of Medicine. Chinese Holly is supposed to eliminate retained fluids. You might also read the Compendium of Materia Medica (Also see A compendium of materia medica, pharmacy, and toxicology.) You should focus on side effects as Chinese holly leaf contains a variety of alkaloids such as matrine, hydroxymatrine, methylcytisine, anagyrine, essential oil (volatile oil), as well as flavonoid compounds, according to websites describing side effects or any toxic effects.
Also, according to the Chinese Holly website on side effects, "its alcohol extract can eliminate tenacious Trichomonas vaginalis and amoebae. Its decoction can inhibit Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Bacillus dysenteriae, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus coli and a variety of dermatomyces." But you need to check out whether any medical studies actually validate these claims.
According to one of the websites on this herb, some of the benefits comes from the plant's ability to protect itself from insects. For example, one site notes, "For self protection, the outer skin (bark) of many plants contains essential oil, which in turn has elements that serve as an immediate chemical defense against herbivores and pathogens.
"There is an element called hydroxynitrile glucoside in essential oil. This element will release toxic hydrogen cyanide by endogenous plant glucosidase upon tissue disruption (see Anne Vinther Morant, Kirsten Jorgensen, Charlotte Jorgensen, Suzanne Michelle Paquette, Raquel Sanchez-Perez, Birger Lindberg Moller, and Soren Bak, "beta-Glucosidases as Detonators of Plant Chemical Defense," Phytochemistry Vol. 69, Issue 9 (June 2008), pp. 1,795-1,813).
"Glucosidase is a catalyzing enzyme that improves healthy functions of your body. It is a lipase that decomposes fat; it can also check inflammation and improve memory (see Mikako Sakurai, Masayuki Sekiguchi, Ko Zushida, Kazuyuki Yamada, Satoshi Nagamine, Tomohiro Kabuta and Keiji Wada, "Reduction in memory in passive avoidance learning, exploratory behaviour and synaptic plasticity in mice with a spontaneous deletion in the ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 gene," See the study or its abstract, "Reduction in memory in passive avoidance learning, exploratory behavior and synpatic plasticity in mice with a spontaneous deletion in the ubiquit C-terminal hydrolase L1 gene," European Journal of Neuroscience Vol. 27, Issue 3 (February 2008), pp. 691-701).
In traditional Chinese medicine Chinese holly as well as loranthus, chrysanthemum, and epimedium were used for centuries to tone the kidneys and liver as well as help promote the healthy function of the back, bladder, and joints. Of course, the FDA forbids anyone to put a label on any herb regardless of its origin or use saying it can cure or treat any disease.
You can't say an herb can do anything specific to cure or treat, because then it's no longer a food. It's now a drug. So any label on herbal teas can't say it can help any symptom or condition. Labels can only read that any given nutrient maintains healthy blood pressure or supports healthy livers or kidneys. You can't say any herb or other item such as a supplement or tea can help make something unhealthy more healthy.
When you check out the side effects of any Chinese or Rain Forest herb, make sure you know what dose to take. One cup means one cup of any type of teasan, tea, or herbal infusion. Don't drink more than 3 cups when a label says drink one to three cups only. High dosages is not what you want hitting your liver or kidneys or other parts of your system.
To read more about side effects of Chinese Holly, check out the website on Chinese holly side effects, at View Herb. According to this website, "Chinese holly leaf should be avoided or used carefully by anyone with insufficiency of spleen-yang or anyone affected by yin deficiency with impairment of body fluids because this herb may impair the stomach or damage yin with its bitter taste and cold nature."
Chinese holly leaf contains a variety of alkaloids such as matrine, hydroxymatrine, methylcytisine, anagyrine, essential oil (volatile oil), as well as flavonoid compounds. According to the site, Chinese holly leaf's alcohol extract can eliminate tenacious Trichomonas vaginalis and amoebae.
Its decoction can inhibit Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Bacillus dysenteriae, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus coli and a variety of dermatomyces. If decoction is a new word for you, it is defined as a method of extraction by boiling of dissolved chemicals, or herbal or plant material, which may include stems, roots, bark and rhizomes. So, for example, when you brew tea, you brew a decoction.
When plants try to defend themselves against insects, they produce an essential oil on their bark or outer skin. According to the View Herb website, "for self protection, the outer skin (bark) of many plants contains essential oil, which in turn has elements that serve as an immediate chemical defense against herbivores and pathogens." How? There is an element called hydroxynitrile glucoside in essential oil.
The site also notes that, "this element will release toxic hydrogen cyanide by endogenous plant glucosidase upon tissue disruption . See the study "Beta-Glucosidases as Detonators of Plant Chemical Defense," Phytochemistry Vol. 69, Issue 9 (June 2008), pp. 1,795-1,813." Authors of that study are Anne Vinther Morant, Kirsten Jorgensen, Charlotte Jorgensen, Suzanne Michelle Paquette, Raquel Sanchez-Perez, Birger Lindberg Moller, and Soren Bak.
5. Loranthus/Chinese Mistletoe. Mistletoe can sometimes be used for hypertension, according to ancient Chinese medicine. Misteloe also has also found its way into more evolving medical frontlines involving asthma, diabetes, hypertension, HIV and cancer.
The use of liquid Viscum album extracts dates back to the 1920¡¦s in Europe for the treatment of cancer. This is because it contains lectins. These are "glycoproteins [proteins with a carbohydrate group attached] that bind to certain cell surfaces and have cytostatic activities." Check out the Mistletoe (Self Growth) article there by V.R. Prakash.
According to that site, "by the stimulation of insulin secretion from the clonal pancreatic B-cells, mistletoe demonstrates the presence of insulin-releasing natural product(s) in the Viscum album variety." The article at that site notes that for cancer, using mistletoe as companion therapy to radiation therapy and chemotherapy is given to decrease some of the side effects.
According to that article, "Laboratory research indicates that mistletoe extract may actually stabilize DNA, preventing it from mutating. This is important since DNA repair is decreased by therapy. This research is showing much success in cancer patients and cancer-prone patients."
The article also notes that "mistletoe extracts (probably Viscum album agglutinin (VAA))(cite) also have profound effects on the immune system, increasing the growth and activity of various immune cells. Compounds with such immunomodulating effects may help to treat viral infections such as HIV."
According to that article, "the extract, T4GEN, is currently undergoing clinical trials for AIDS treatment. Unlike the most AIDS drugs that target the virus, this mistletoe extract is expected to act by increasing the immune system." Interestingly, this herb also appears in yourlocal supermarkets as an ingredient in a variety of brands of herbal teas or teasans that do not contain caffeine. Did you ever notice how many brands of herbal teas are stocked on supermarket shelves as well as in health food stores?
5. Chysanthemum. See the Web MD site, Chrysanthemum: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings. Also see, Chrysanthemum Tea Side Effects. Don't use chrysanthemum products or tea containing chrysanthemum if you're diabetic and taking insulin, since the tea can interact with insulin. Also, the same goes if your own insulin response isn't normal. For example, you may have problems with insulin in your own body.
According to one chrysanthemum side effects site, chrysanthemum is a traditional Chinese herbal tea made from dried chrysanthemum flowers. This herbal tea has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
Also known as Ju Hua, the flowers are a rich source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, folacin, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium and riboflavin. Chrysanthemum tea has several medicinal benefits and is used for treating high fevers, influenza and flu, strengthening lungs, relieving heat of the upper body, improving eyesight and relieving eye pains. But there are side effects for some people.
The side effects include, dermatitis. Some people may be allergic to the chemical components of the flower with symptoms such as inflammation and itching of the skin or having red patches appear on the skin.
Other side effects for some may be photosensitivity dermatitis, where you break out in a rash when your skin is exposed to sunlight. This may be caused by the chemical alantolactone in the flower.
Chrysanthemum has sedative properties. If your tea contains chrysanthemum, it may be put there to lower your blood pressure, but not say anything like that on the label because the FDA forbids labeling any herb, tea, or other product as being able to lower blood pressure due to the sedative quality of the herb. Instead, the tea might say it supports or maintains normal or healthy blood pressure.
Don't drink tea containing chrysanthemum, especially in teas, none-caffeine herbal infusions, beverages, or teasans that are supposed to affect, support, or maintain healthy blood pressure in any way because if you're already taking high blood pressure medicines or sedatives, chrysanthemum can increase the effects of these medicines.
Due to the tea’s inference with the effects of other medicines, it should be avoided by people who are taking anticancer, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory medicines. You don't want to drink tea containing chrysanthemum if you're taking any other medicines such as antibiotics.
If you're allergic to other members of the daisy family, don't consume chrysanthemum tea. You'd be more likely to have an allergic response to this herbal tea. Skin rash is one of the mild symptoms of allergy to the daisy family of flowers, including chrysanthemum, and can lead to asthma and hives, when the condition worsens.
Don't drink this when pregnant or have a chance of becoming pregnant. The effects of chrysanthemum tea are not known when taken during pregnancy. And if you have hay fever, don't drink any teas that contain chrysanthemum flowers. The fresh flowers and leaves of chrysanthemum can cause dermatitis and eczema. That's why some people wear gloves should be worn while picking the flowers.
6. Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium). According to the eHowe side effects website, (Adverse Effects Horny Goat Weed), horny goat weed (epimedium) can also cause dizziness, vomiting and nosebleed. In one study, epimedium koreanum has been found to cause significant inhibition of the cholinesterase enzyme. This can theoretically increase the risk of loss of muscle coordination and jerky movements due to acetylcholine buildup in muscles."
High doses of icariin, a compound found in horny goat weed, may be toxic to the kidneys and liver, according to medical studies noted at this website. MedTV warns that dangerous drug interactions may exist between horny goat weed and blood thinners, which could cause serious internal bleeding. Hemorrhagic stroke can result. Web MD also warns, "Epimedium seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking epimedium along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low." Also see the site, Side Effects of Icariin | eHow.com.
When you buy a variety of herbal teas with various Chinese or other ethnic traditional folk medicinal herbs used for centuries to treat high blood pressure, you may notice on the label that the herb epimedium, also known as horny goat weed has been added, perhaps in small amounts. But does the label on the tea ever tell you how many milligrams of horny weed is in that tea or other herbal food or beverage?
Also check out the Web MD site noting that WebMd acknowledges that benefits of horny goat weed for women might include the potential to "reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women." Studies continue on other research being done in regard to horny goat weed's effects on breast cancer. Epimedium (horny goat weed) is one of numerous herbs very high in estrogenic activity.
Beware of unregulated supplements or teas where the dosages are not known. Check out the numerous phytoestrogens websites if you're concerned about horny goat weed and are a breast cancer survivor. See the site, Adverse Side Effects of Horny Goat Weed.
The effects of drinking green tea on high blood pressure
Just a half cup of green or oolong tea may lower the risk of high blood pressure by 50 pecent, according to a study of Chinese tea drinkers. But don't drink black tea on an empty stomach. If you do, the tea on an empty stomach will raise your blood pressure temporarily. When you drink tea with a meal, there is no change in your blood pressure from drinking the tea with a meal. What you're lowering is your risk over time.
A study was done using black tea but not green tea. So you'd need to know whether a study with green tea produced similar results or not and whether any studies with green tea taken on an empty stomach compared to with a meal have even been performed.
In another study using green tea, but not checking to see whether the participants drank the green tea on a full stomach with a meal or on an empty stomach, the green tea study was found to lower the risk of getting high blood pressure by 50 percent. Check out this study in the July 26, 2006 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. But as you read the study ask yourself, how large is the cup used in the study on Chinese men and women? In that study more than 96 percent of the tea drinkers drank green or oolong tea. And about 40 percent of the participants drank tea daily, at least a half-cup of tea for more than a year.
Should you drink regular green tea or decaffeinated green tea? That depends upon how your body reacts to caffeine, including whether you get rid of the caffeine fast or slow. But keep in mind when it comes to black tea, the study using black tea found that tea, when administered without a meal, raised systolic blood pressure compared with the participants who drank water alone. Again, the study used black tea.
You need to know how you should drink green tea, with or without a meal? You could play it safe by drinking the tea after you've eaten your meal or with the meal.
Tea, when administered with a meal did not show any increase in blood pressure. So, it was concluded that drinking black tea on an empty stomach may temporarily raise blood pressure. However, eating a meal with your tea seems to negate these effects. And green tea wasn't mentioned in the study. Read the entire article by Jon Stout, Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company, and more about that study at the Ezine Articles website.
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