Most herbal teas have some medicinal properties that remain active in the body for a period of time after drinking. These chemicals can affect your system in various ways. Because herbal teas are not strictly regulated, you can buy almost any medicinal tea over the counter in health food stores or herb shops. Consult a health practitioner or herbal specialist before using any herbal tea to ensure it is right for your condition.
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Many herbs remain in a woman's system and are transferred to breast milk, affecting the nursing infant. Herbs that are ordinarily deemed safe to drink in tea can have long-term effects on mom and baby. For example, teas like chamomile -- used for calming and soothing irritability -- can cause colic in a nursing infant. Fenugreek -- used to increase the nursing mother’s milk supply -- can cause intestinal upsets in a nursing baby. Because herbal teas are not regulated by the FDA or tested for efficacy, it is not known exactly how long they remain in the system of a nursing mother. Consult a qualified health practitioner before drinking herbal tea while nursing.
Regardless of the helpful effects of caffeine, the chemical affects the body like a drug and can produce an array of side effects. Several popular herbal teas, such as black and green, contain caffeine, which can remain in the body for extended periods ranging from a few hours to a few days, depending on your sensitivity. Caffeine's effects are those of a stimulant and can prevent sleep and cause jitters and nervousness. If you are sensitive to caffeine, but love drinking green or black teas -- both high in caffeine -- decaffeinated versions are available. Consult your health practitioner about using either tea medicinally, especially if you take high blood pressure medications.
Many herbal teas are used medicinally and may contain undesirable substances such as nicotine or alkaloids that can be toxic in large doses. For example, both horsetail and lobelia tea contain nicotine, and comfrey tea contains an alkaloid that can cause liver damage. These chemicals can remain in the system long after drinking the tea. Whether you smoke a cigarette or drink an herbal tea that contains nicotine, it will be absorbed into your blood within minutes and can remain in your system for a day or longer. If you use herbal teas for medical purposes, consult your health practitioner before doing so. Make sure you understand the possible effects of the herbal tea before you decide to include it in your health regimen.
Non-medicinal Herbal Teas
If you love to drink herbal teas, but are concerned with their lingering effects on your health, drink teas that do not remain in the system after consumption. The best choices for these types of teas are those made from fruits like peaches and apples. Teas made of lemon, orange and grapefruit peels are flavorful, but do not linger. Some herbal teas are made with nuts such as almonds, which are healthful additions that add flavor, but do not linger after being consumed.