There is nothing quite like cozying up with a cup of tea on a cold winter day, or relaxing in the sun with a tall glass of iced tea. Tea doesn’t just warm us up or cool us down, though. It also has many health benefits, including the ability to help us build bone. But not all teas are created equal when it comes to bone health. In this article I’ll share my favorite herbal and non-herbal teas, and help you understand the benefits they can provide to your overall health and, of course, your bone health. Let’s dive in!
First let’s talk about what we mean when we say tea. Tea is typically understood to be any plant matter that is submerged in hot water. The most common types of teas are non-herbal teas that are made from the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Included in this classification are green, oolong, and black teas. On the other hand, herbal teas are made from other types of plants (not Camellia sinensis), such as chamomile or rosehip. Herbal teas may also be referred to as infusions.
Now that you know what we mean by tea, let’s discuss some of the main bone health benefits and drawbacks of drinking tea.
One of the greatest superpowers of tea is its ability to pack so many types of antioxidants into a single cup. White, hibiscus, rooibos and chamomile teas are particularly rich in bone-building antioxidants. Antioxidants are critical to protecting bones because they can prevent or stop oxidative damage to them. It’s time to learn more about these two types of tea.
White Tea: White tea is low in fluoride (which can damage bone) and high in bone-healthy antioxidants. It has been associated with cancer prevention because it contains flavonoids called catechins, a class of antioxidants that inhibits the growth and development of cancer cells. It’s also been linked to lower blood pressure, and has antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Hibiscus Tea: Hibiscus Tea can be made from any part of the hibiscus plant, but most of us think of the bright red flower infusion when we think of it. Hibiscus tea also contains flavonoids and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins help facilitate intercellular communication that is important for your bone health. Hibiscus tea helps to lower blood pressure, with one study showing that the consumption of two cups a day of hibiscus tea,
“…had positive effects on BP in type II diabetic patients with mild hypertension. This study supports the results of similar studies in which antihypertensive effects have been shown for ST.”
Rooibos: Rooibos tea contains two antioxidants: chrysoeriol and quercetin, which help promote cardiovascular health. Quercetin also minimizes cortisol levels in the body, thus protecting your bones from the damaging effects of chronic stress.
Chamomile: Chamomile tea helps to relax and fall asleep because it contains a powerful antioxidant known as apigenin, a flavonoid that effectively relieves stress and has a sedative effect. By keeping cortisol levels in check, this tea, like rooibos, can help protect bones from the damaging effects of this stress hormone. But chamomile also contains another antioxidant, luteolin, which can reduce fever, calm muscles and even help lower your blood pressure.
Please note that if you are allergic to ragweed or daisies, or if you are taking blood-thinners of any sort (including aspirin), please check with your doctor before taking chamomile tea.
Tea can be a source of different minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and magnesium. Minerals play an important role in our body, making tea a delicious way to reap the benefits some of these minerals provide.
Rooibos: Rooibos tea is not only rich in antioxidants, but is especially bone-healthy due to the many minerals it contains, such as magnesium, calcium, manganese, and zinc. It also contains iron, and because of its low tannin content, rooibos won’t inhibit iron absorption.
Dandelion: No longer simply a pesky garden weed, dandelion tea made from the roots and leaves of dandelion, contains magnesium, zinc, and potassium, all important alkalizing minerals to help you build bone, in addition to Vitamins C and D.
A strong immune system is important for your well-being and to prevent fractures, since when you’re sick you’re more prone to fall down.
Chamomile: Research indicates that chamomile tea has some immune-boosting effects. Recent studies have suggested that chamomile’s antibacterial properties can help ward of illness and keep your immune system strong
Osteoblasts are bone cells that are essential to regulating the passage of calcium in and out of bones, helping to build bone, so it’s good to know there are teas that contain elements that affect these cells.
Green Tea: Green Tea is known to have three components – epigallocatechin (EGC), gallocatechin (GC), and gallocatechin gallate (GCG) – that affect osteoblasts, which are cells that help us form new bones. EGC is especially powerful in promoting bone growth as it boosts a key enzyme and inhibits osteoclasts (cells that dissolve bone).
At the Save Institute, we believe that your body will be most effective at preventing and stopping osteoporosis if it is cleansed of harmful toxins such as osteoporosis drugs, a highly acidic Western diet, and even the air you breathe. Some teas contain compounds that help us cleanse the liver, which ultimately helps to prevent and stop bone loss.
Dandelion: Dandelion is known for aiding in the detoxification of the liver, which, if overburdened, can lead to bone loss . A word of caution: like chamomile, dandelion contains blood-thinning compounds called coumarins. If you are taking warfarin or any anticoagulant drugs, or if you have ragweed allergies, make sure you check with your doctor before drinking dandelion tea.
Milk Thistle: Milk thistle is known as a cleansing liver tonic because it contains three flavonoids, silibinin, silydianin, and silicristin, which together are called silymarin. Silymarin protects and repairs liver cells and reduces inflammation in the liver.
Speaking of Detox…
No matter how hard we try to avoid toxins, exposure to these acidifying substances is inevitable in our modern world. The best way to give your bones the alkaline environment they need, is to do a periodic cleanse. A cleanse can help create a good foundation for your body to begin fighting osteoporosis and building bone, without being weighed down by the harmful toxins that have entered the body.
Everything In Moderation: The Fluoride Warning
Now, there are also some drawbacks to certain types of tea. While we’ve mentioned that some teas might not be suitable for everyone based on their medical profile, what might surprise you most is that some contain fluoride, which has been scientifically shown to be detrimental to bones. High levels of fluoride in the body can lead to skeletal fluorosis, which causes bones to become more brittle and fracture-prone, while also impairing joints, cartilage and ligaments. Fluoride is present in teas whose plants absorb it from the soil. So which teas and tea types have fluoride?
Green, oolong, and black teas contain fluoride because the plant they originate from absorbs fluoride in the soil, which ends up in the plant’s leaves. These teas are some of the most common on the shelves at the grocery store. Despite the fact that they contain fluoride, at the Save Institute we believe they can be enjoyed in moderation. When drinking these teas, you can limit fluoride consumption by paying attention to the type of tea you’re consuming.
It has been found that the smaller the tea pieces, the more fluoride you get in your tea. So, it might not surprise you that loose leaf tea generally has a bit less fluoride than tea packaged in a tea bag. Additionally, it has been shown that decaffeinated green and black teas generally contain more fluoride. Instant iced tea mixes also contain fluoride.
Now You Can Read The Tea Leaves
When you know the benefits and drawbacks that drinking tea has on your health, you’re able to select a cup that gives you the right fuel your body needs to prevent osteoporosis and build healthy bones. Not all cups of tea are created equal, and the flavor of tea that’s right for you might depend on where you are in your continuing health journey. Cheers to your next cup of bone-building tea!
About Vivian Goldschmidt:
Vivian Goldschmidt, MA, founder of the Save Institute for Natural Health, has helped thousands of sufferers with osteoporosis and osteopenia to naturally and scientifically improve their bone health without drugs. Learn more at https://saveourbones.com.