Sorting Out the Health Claims About Tea and Herbals

The swirl of claims about the health benefits of teas and herbals seems never-ending. How do you sort it all out? The best way to start is to consider the source. While the Internet has made access to good information even easier, it has also made fraudulent and just plain wrong information equally accessible. You have to be more vigilant than ever in separating one from the other. Add to that the convoluted language used on many medical sites, and you can see why more plain English versions abound. But are they real or made up? Often, it is hard to tell.

Tea – it just tastes great! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
Tea – it just tastes great! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

One thing I know for sure: Some brief article written as a fluff filler piece on a site that focuses on news and politics is not a good source of information about any health claims, whether related to tea, herbal infusions (aka, tisanes), or other substances. I have learned over the years to take this things at arm’s length or ignore them altogether.

A better source, at least for some straight thinking about the issue of tea and health, is a tea blog like this one where the authors have looked at the details, not just at the glossy fluff filler piece. A great article popped up recently addressing the cringe-inspiring Dr. Oz. I have wanted to write something here about him, too, but can’t bring myself to watch him at all, so bravo to Nicole Martin for at least being able to stomach him enough to know how bad he is.

Another good tip: When you come across that fluff filler piece, take time to go to any sources the author has bothered to link to. You may even need to follow links in those source articles until you get to the beginning of the trail. The time will be worthwhile since there is so much fakery out there these days. They want your “eyeball time” on their site and try to write things that will attract the search engines to them (it’s called SEO – search engine optimization). In fact, most social media “experts” post something like “10 Tips to Getting More Site Traffic” to give themselves more site traffic (Hee!) and to get you at least to see the promotion for their latest book. (As a side note, this blog recently changed its URL to conform to Google’s new structure designed to have their search engine find it faster but others to not find it at all. It’s a way to shut out the competition.)

Getting back to that latest tea health claim tidbit spreading like wildfire online, just pass it by and go to a reputable source.

Updating a much-seen image off of Facebook. (Screen capture from site)
Updating a much-seen image off of Facebook. (Screen capture from site)

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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4 thoughts on “Sorting Out the Health Claims About Tea and Herbals

  1. bebe croteau

    thank you for this post!.. and i agree with you …i always wonder if there is really that many more antioxidants and health values in green tea, versus black tea … i personally think that its just a way to promote green tea .. i expect that FRESH tea leaves would be better than dried tea leaves, if we could only grow our own tea bushes!… but considering that both black tea leaves and green tea leaves are already dried, then it doesnt really seem that there would be all that much difference between the two, black or green … … but i do know that i prefer to use FRESH herbs for cooking (rosemary, thyme etc) as compared to bottled dried cooking herbs, but since i cant grow tea bushes in my yard due to the climate, i have to use dried tea leaves …so about the only thing that we can do is try to buy our black or green teas from a source that ships out the freshest dried teas that we can find … .. and so hopefully by obtaining the freshest teas we can find, we will be able to get those antioxidants ..

    1. A.C. Cargill

      Fresh tea won’t necessarily have more nutrients, just as green vs. black tea is not a straight call. It’s sort of like saying raw veggies are more nutritious. Not true. When eating veggies raw you actually get less of their nutrients because of the cellulose. Lightly cooking veggies breaks that down a bit so your digestion can get the goodies hidden within. Yes, growing tea takes the right climate, but it is being grown in more and more places, so you might have some luck, esp. if you have the plant potted and bring it indoors at the right times or even build a simple greenhouse-like structure around it. 🙂

      1. bebe croteau

        i live at high elevation, one mile high …so we have a short growing season, but then again, my favorite tea, darjeeling, is also grown at high elevation …i would love to be able to try growing my own tea bushes …i have friends in california who can grow tea bushes, but i am not sure how successful they are with it .. as you say, if its in pots and can be brought indoors …

      2. A.C. Cargill

        I know of a few folks in California growing tea plants. They seem to be doing well. You might give it a go. Could be good.

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