There are so many more choices at the supermarket when looking for alternatives to coffee and regular tea.
Not just the fruit varieties; there are teas to help you sleep, teas to ease your cold and teas to help you lose weight. That’s great, but they can present unforeseen problems.
Cold/Flu Teas: These will have things to help ease a sore throat, stop a cough and perhaps reduce a fever. There are a lot of herbs that could fit into these categories and some of them require care. Licorice root is a good example. It actually does help a sore throat. I’ve even used it on a horse that had colic treatment…and believe me that gave her a sore throat. However, if you have high blood pressure or are diabetic you may not be able to use this herb safely. Look for products that use marshmallow instead.
It’s also wise to follow package directions. If the tea contains cherry bark, overdosing could be dangerous. A substance in cherry bark turns to cyanide when digested. A small amount is a cough suppressant. A large amount could be deadly.
Insomnia: The best herb on the tea aisle for insomnia is valerian. Unless you are taking prescription medications that cause drowsiness, it isn’t usually a big deal. However, there are two things you should know before purchase. One is that it smells like well-used gym socks. The other is that most cats will go after valerian almost as fast as they do catnip.
Minor Anxiety: For most of us, the teas for anxiety are beneficial. However, if you have bipolar disorder you may want to avoid teas containing lavender, passionflower and chamomile. They can cause a manic episode.
Upset Stomach: Like colds and the flu, many stomach ache teas contain licorice. There is more to this herb than its tendency to raise blood pressure and sugar. The reason it helps a sore throat and upset stomach is that it coats the throat and digestive tract, including the stomach. If you are taking other medications that are absorbed through the stomach, you may not get full potential from the medication.
Weight Loss: There are some very good weight loss teas. There are also some that require caution. There are two ways a tea could benefit a weight loss program. One is by suppressing hunger and the other is to increase metabolism.
In hunger suppression many turn to hoodia. It is a promising herb but it does have a caution. It doesn’t just suppress hunger; it suppresses thirst. You need to make yourself drink fluids, particularly if you are doing intense workouts and/or it’s very hot.
Green tea is one of the options for boosting metabolism. It also has a minor role in appetite suppression. If you have a nervous nature or take medications for anxiety or depression, you may want to avoid green tea. Too much of it can interfere with the medications and make the condition worse.
The best thing to do is talk to your pharmacist about these herbs. The pharmacist knows what medications you are taking and can help guide you to the products that will be beneficial. You should also talk to your doctor, though some doctors know little about herbal remedies. Thankfully that is changing.