Herbal Tea: Reasons to be careful

My friends were shocked when I told them this

  • My friends were shocked when I told them this
  •  Why there’s a potentially dangerous ingredient lurking in herbal teas
  •  Try this spicy alternative bedtime healing drink

After two years of occasional Zoom chats…

It’s so nice to be able to visit old friends again.

Stuttering conversations with wonky computer cameras were fine, I guess.

But nothing can replace seeing real people in the flesh.

So last weekend, Lara and I drove over two hundred miles to see a couple we’ve known for what seems like over two hundred years.

We’d not seen them since 2019.

But within minutes it was like the pandemic never happened!

The older you get, the shorter those passing years feel, don’t they?

Anyway, as usual, I was being nosey about things they ate and drank – all from a nutritional basis, of course!

(Lara was rolling her eyes at me, as usual.)

But as you know, dear reader, I’m not preachy or judgemental, I’m just utterly fascinated by what people do to overcome their health niggles…

Those little routines that calm the nerves, or get them to sleep, or give them a bit more pep in the morning.

Because the truth is we’re all different and we all have our own ways of doing things to get the results we want (which is why I always insist on products that have trial periods for you to test them out).

For a writer like me, it’s useful to get the perspective of other people.

Which is why I love it when Good Life Letter readers email me with their stories, insights, tips and recipes!

And it’s also why I was probing around in my mate’s tea and coffee cupboard.

He had loads of herbal teas in there, which was great.

But he also has high blood pressure, which is not so great.

So imagine his surprise when I pointed out that three of the five herbal tea brands in his kitchen cupboard might be making his blood pressure worse.

“Eh?” he said. “What are you on about now?

Obviously, I felt the need to explain.

The gist of it went like this…

Why there’s a potentially dangerous ingredient lurking in herbal teas

As I revealed in my Good Life Letter, Is Liquorice Healthy for You there is a dangerous side effect of liquorice root.

Scientific studies have shown that the glycyrrhizinic acid in liquorice can set off a chain reaction of biochemical events that leads to high blood pressure.

Yet this potentially problematic ingredient is fast becoming a staple in herbal tea because it is a natural sweetener.

In 2015, a 45-year-old woman complained to her doctor about hot flushes, sweating and headaches, which turned out to be hypertension and mild hypokalaemia.

She had been drinking up to six cups of liquorice tea every day as a substitute for caffeinated drinks.

And yet…

You find this ingredient listed in the small print ingredients list on the box – but usually NOT on the front.

So an example of one of my mate’s tea choices was Turmeric, Ginger and Galangal, but on closer inspection, it also had liquorice root.

Another was Turmeric, Lemon Fruit and Green tea…

This also had liquorice root!

“But the only reason I got those was because of your book!” protested my mate.

(He is referring to The Spice Healer LINK, in which I reveal the wonderful anti-inflammatory powers of turmeric.)

And of course, turmeric is healthy.

And liquorice root is too, in small amounts, and for people who have healthy blood pressure.

Liquorice root herbal tea can calm the stomach, soothe sore throats and there is a link to liver health and good gums, too.

Used as an occasional remedy, it’s fantastic.

But if you were to guzzle two or three cups of liquorice root tea every single day, it could cause health problems.

For example, experts advise caution for children, pregnant people and older people with health conditions as it may cause low potassium levels, muscles weakness, and heart rhythm abnormalities.

So how much is healthy?

Now, I realise that in these branded teas my mate is drinking, the amount of liquorice root is very small – added for sweetness rather than as a star ingredient – but surely it should be something he is made aware of?

A lot of people out there might be heavy drinkers of such teas, with little idea that this is even an ingredient at all!

But it’s worth easing off if you’re a habitual drinker of a herbal tea with liquorice root AND you are worried about blood pressure.

In the meantime, if you’re into turmeric and want a delicious drink in the evening before bed…

There is a traditional Indian recipe called ‘Golden Milk’, which is made from warm milk (oat milk, almond milk, and rice milk work too) blended with turmeric.

You can add spices like ground ginger and cinnamon too.

A little bit of added coconut oil makes it even healthier. That’s because turmeric is fat-soluble, so the coconut oil makes it more available for our bodies to absorb.

Just whisk a saucepan full of milk and the spices, with a bit of coconut oil (don’t worry if you don’t have any) and a dash of honey.

Warm it up, giving it a regular whisk as you go, until it’s hot (but not boiling).

You can then adjust the taste by adding more spice or more sweet honey.

Easy as that!

It’s a regular favourite in the Collins household!

Or for other recipes for healthy spicy food, check out The Spice Healer