Can Herbal Teas Help You
Did you know that the herb hops,
a preservative found in
beer, helps create a tranquilizing tea (that's not intoxicating)?
you know that valerian, another herb, has been helping people get to
sleep for over 1,000 years? While herbal supplements have been available
health food stores for quite some time, recently they have gained a
on supermarket shelves in the form of tea. Before you
reach for that cup of
valerian, however, take a moment. While you may
think the valerian drink is
harmless (it's just tea, right?), this
particular herb is easily addictive,
especially if used on a daily basis.
Other herbs should not be used with specific
medications, and some should
never be ingested.
Because of potentially harmful side
surrounds herbal therapy in many countries. The U.S. government
the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994 to help
clarify some of the confusion regarding herbal supplements. This act
herbs as "dietary supplements" and not drugs. While this means
of herbs cannot claim their product will cure or treat
diseases, it also means
that herbs put on the market, even in teas, are
not subject to the same amount
of scrutiny as prescription or over the
Does this mean that contemplating
a cup of herbal tea should
conjure up more tension than it helps dissipate?
Not necessarily. The FDA
says that most major manufacturers and distributors
supplements are responsible and safe. However, regardless of how
reputable any company is, all consumers should educate themselves about
supplements such as herbal drinks. Before you go to your local
pick up a box of chamomile, kava kava, or valerian tea
(herbal teas known for
their relaxing qualities) consider the following
Are you on a prescription
drug? Like alcohol and certain
medications, herbal teas and prescription
drugs can clash. However,
research on mixing the two is incomplete at this
point. St. John's Wort,
for example, is an herb used to treat mild depression.
this popular herb has been found to have extremely adverse
anti-depressants and antiretrovirol drugs. A study by the National
Institutes of Health showed that St. John's Wort should not be mixed with
prescription drugs that treat heart disease, seizures, or certain
In fact, this recent study even recommends that the herb not be
birth control pills, a warning you won't find on the label of
most tea distributors'
- Have you done your research?
plenty of ways to find out more about the herbs that you are
in. Check out http://www.herbalgram.org,
official site of The American Botanical Council (ABC). This nonprofit
organization seeks to inform the public about the safe and effective uses
of medicinal plants. Their site has an extensive list of herbs, and their
benefits and drawbacks. You can also check out the Center
for Food Safety
and Applied Nutrition , and personally search for any
products or teas that you are curious about .
- Are you pregnant, breastfeeding,
under 18, elderly, or chronically ill? If so, it is of the utmost
that you check with a medical doctor or health professional
herbal supplements or drinking any type of herbal tea.
that natural does
not equal harmless. "Think of poisonous mushrooms,"
Yetley, Ph.D., director of FDA's Office of Special
- Always be cautious. Because
including the U.S., have less than-rigorous standards regarding
supplements such as herbal teas, consumers will always run certain
- Don't be shy about writing
to the manufacturer for more
information. Your package of herbal tea should
information: the name and place of business of the manufacturer,
or distributor. Many manufacturers (especially good ones) want their
consumers to know as much about their product as possible. Celestial
encourages its patrons to write with queries or comments about
organic herbal teas.
Remember, most herbal teas are naturally
sugar free. If you're a newcomer to the herbal tea scene,
yourself an ice-cold cup of mint tea (made from some fresh peppermint)
instead of a soda. Herbal teas can be safe and delicious -- just make sure
be smart, so you don't have to stress out about de-stressing!