Cautions About Tisanes and Herb-Flavored Teas

Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician for your particular needs.

I get a lot of questions from people asking whether a certain tea, or tisane, is “good” for treating a particular medical condition. While I always tell people that they should drink something because they like the way it tastes, not because it may, or may not, cure a health problem, I also think that people need to use caution when drinking herbal tisanes and teas blended with other herbs.

Chamomile

Most consumers don’t have problems drinking commercially-prepared tisanes and flavored teas. However, there are some people who need to avoid certain herbs due to allergies, side-effects, and drug interactions.  Here are some tips for playing it safe with infused herbs:

  • Always read up on an herb before drinking it. For example, chamomile and chrysanthemum are related to ragweed, a common allergen. If you suffer from hayfever, you might want to avoid drinking these herbs. (Incidentally, chamomile is a very popular ingredient in a lot of tisanes, particularly “nighttime” blends. Be sure to read labels before buying and drinking tisane/tea blends!)
  • Tell your doctor about your use of herbs, even as tisanes or teas. Your doctor needs to know this information, particularly if you are using medications or are scheduled for surgery.
  • Be skeptical of package claims. Just because a company advertises its tea or tisane as “good for” a certain condition does not mean that the product is a miracle cure.

Online Resources
Here are some online resources for researching herbs and herbal remedies:

  • PollenLibrary.com: Contains articles on various plants and their ability to trigger allergies. A great resource for folks who are sensitive to certain plants.
  • MedlinePlus.com: This website is sponsored by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health). MedlinePlus offers a database of common herbs with information on their usage, side effects, and any scientific evidence for claimed health benefits.
  • MayoClinic.com: A good source of information on various herbs and dietary supplements.

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

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2 thoughts on “Cautions About Tisanes and Herb-Flavored Teas

  1. Pingback: Review — Stash Organic Cascade Mint « Tea Blog

  2. Meg

    I can second this information.
    I was a certified herbalist for several years, and worked in the meantime as a clerk in a local emergency room. A lady came in one night with a dangerously high blood pressure, nauseated and sweating and the docs couldn’t find a reason. She wasn’t taking any other meds, was otherwise healthy, it was weird. But I overheard her talking to her family about the St. John’s Wort she self-dosed with for depression. I mentioned it to the Physician’s Assistant who then talked to the family. Yes, she made the common mistake of thinking herbs were weaker than drugs and therefore took too much at a time in each dose. I was just happy I was able to help. So if you’re taking anything natural, your doctor does need to know about it.

    P.S., hypertension is also why my mom can’t have tea with licorice root in it, it raises your blood pressure.

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