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When It Comes to Tea Health Claims, Consult Your Doctor

(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
(Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The last thing any tea vendor is in a position to do is dispense medical advice. And that includes passing along, either on their store site, their blog, or their social media sites, the many articles floating about the internet touting tea’s health benefits in curing/preventing everything from asthma to zits. Even articles that reference various medical studies or that are supposed to be written by doctors are a bit suspect. Tending to be the type of person that errs on the side of caution, I have avoided on this blog during my years as editor the temptation to do any more than say that such claims exist and that you should consult your doctor.

A big reason for my avoidance is also the litigious nature currently dominating in our country. A major tea brand(not the owner of this blog) had a class action lawsuit brought against them for the many health benefit claims on their packaging and web site. They were able to wriggle out of part of the lawsuit by pointing out the tea contained antioxidants (but they didn’t prove that those antioxidants delivered the health benefits they were claiming). Still, the claims being touted by them and others would have you think that tea was indeed a miracle elixir. It’s certainly tasty, but…

Plus, if you start discussing health benefits, you have to discuss also the dangers (many of which are also unproven). Caffeine (L-Theanine in tea) is on the rise as public enemy #1 in some quarters. It’s a bit like gluten. A small percentage of people have a legitimate health issue but many others convince themselves that they have that health issue, too. And some tea vendors glom onto the idea to sell more decaffeinated or gluten-free products than otherwise would be sold. As for those antioxidants in tea (and other foods), their benefits are being challenged these days. Just as the old ideas about fat causing heart attacks are now being dismissed as having no scientific basis, so the assumption that antioxidants are good for you is in doubt. The debate rages about how they affect cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, for example. A study in Sweden shows it may speed up the progress of lung cancer.

Let’s not even get into the stuff labeled “herbal tea.” Very confusing. And an article about tea and health on WebMD not only lumps the herbal stuff with true tea (made from the Camellia sinensis plant) but doesn’t even use proper tea processing terminology, using the term “fermentation” where it’s obvious they should be using “oxidation,” for example. Makes me wonder what has happened to this site that I used to consider so reliable.

So, you can see why I have steered away from the whole health benefit thing. It’s also why I say, “When it comes to tea health claims, consult your doctor.”

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

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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