This winter has brought record cold temperatures reaching all the way down to South Florida, so I’ve been drinking (and enjoying!) plenty of warming teas.
For today’s post, I’ve hand-picked my favorite teas that are both delicious and bone-healthy. They have many overall health benefits, too – some are excellent for cardiovascular health, for example.
And these teas can also be enjoyed cold, so they’re perfect to cool you down on a hot summer day.
Let’s get started!
Non-Herbal Teas: Fluoride Alert
The term “tea” can denote any plant matter steeped in water, although “infusion” is often used for herbal teas so as not to confuse them with drinks made from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
The familiar green, oolong, and black teas are made from leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. This shrub-like plant readily absorbs fluoride from the soil, which then ends up in the leaves. When the tea leaves are steeped, fluoride is released into the hot water. The smaller the pieces of leaf, the more fluoride ends up in your tea.
Loose leaf tea has slightly less fluoride than tea in teabags. Decaffeinated green and black teas actually show higher fluoride content in general than regular caffeinated tea. Instant iced tea mixes also contain fluoride, probably due to the low-quality tea used in such mixes (the lower the tea quality, the higher the fluoride content).
Savers already know that fluoride is deleterious to bones. And that high levels of fluoride can lead to skeletal fluorosis, a painful condition that causes bones to harden and become denser, but brittle and more prone to fracture. Joints, cartilage, and ligaments can also be impaired by fluoride ingestion.
Does that mean you should never drink these teas? Of course not. Green tea, for example, is one of the highest sources of bone-building polyphenols. Just make sure you drink them in moderation and preferably organic.
Bone-Building, Health-Enhancing Teas
Now let’s take a close look at the teas.
Made from the young buds of camellia senensis, white tea has the least fluoride of any type of tea from this plant. This is because the buds are very young, and the fluoride has not had time to get deposited in the leaves yet.
White tea contains significant levels of antioxidants, which are a powerful weapon in your fight against osteoporosis. Antioxidants prevent oxidative damage to bone, thus staving off the effects of aging and helping rejuvenate bone.
White tea is also associated with lower blood pressure and cancer prevention. Its cancer-fighting properties are antioxidant-related – white tea contains flavonoids called catechins, a class of antioxidants that inhibits the growth and development of cancer cells.
Additionally, white tea has anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects, once again due to its high antioxidant levels.
Ruby-red hibiscus is one of my favorite herbal teas. All parts of the plant can be used to make tea, but it’s the red flower infusion that most of us know best.
The flowers contain the bone-healthy benefits of this herb – antioxidants called flavonoids and anthocyanins abound in the flower petals, and these are crucial elements for building youthful bone. Flavonoids are very anti-inflammatory, and anthocyanins have been shown to facilitate communication between cells. Intercellular communication is vital for proper bone turnover.
Research has shown the powerful blood pressure-lowering effects of hibiscus. In a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, researchers conclude 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.” 1
Because of its ability to relax smooth muscle tissue, hibiscus also has a reputation as a digestive aid.
This “red tea” from South Africa is rich in antioxidants, but what makes this tea especially bone-healthy are the minerals it contains. In fact, rooibos tea has several Foundation Supplements:
It also contains iron, and because of its low tannin content, rooibos won’t inhibit iron absorption. Rooibos also has a particularly potent antioxidant called Chysoeriol. This antioxidant works against an enzyme that causes cardiovascular disease, and improves circulation.
Rooibos also helps keep skin looking young and clear, thanks to its phenylpyretic acid content.
Savers might recognize one of the flavonoids in rooibos: quercetin. This antioxidant reduces cortisol levels in the body, thus protecting your bones from the damaging effects of chronic stress. Quercetin also balances blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health, and its antihistamine properties improve respiratory health.
The daisy-like flowers of chamomile are a well-known sleep aid and promoter of relaxation and calm. There is a reason why chamomile has this reputation, and it ties in with why it’s good for your bones.
Chamomile contains apigenin, a flavonoid that effectively relieves stress and has a sedative effect. This same flavonoid keeps cortisol levels in check, too, protecting bones from the damaging effects of this stress hormone.
Chamomile also boasts another antioxidant flavonoid called luteolin, which has multiple healthful effects. Luteolin reduces fever and calms muscles spasms, and even reduces blood pressure.
Another benefit of chamomile is its immune-boosting properties, making it especially appropriate during cold and flu season.
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.
In moderation, green tea can be a part of a bone-healthy diet. If you want to avoid the fluoride altogether and just reap the healthful benefits, you can get a green tea extract that has had the fluoride removed.
It’s certainly worth adding green tea or its extract to your bone-building diet. A 2009 study found that 3 components in green tea – epigallocatechin (EGC), gallocatechin (GC), and gallocatechin gallate (GCG) – have an effect on osteoblasts. EGC in particular promoted bone growth by boosting a key enzyme, and by inhibiting osteoclasts (the cells that tear down bone).2
Green tea also promotes cardiovascular health, staves off dementia, and reduces the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.
I have often lamented dandelion’s reputation as a pesky weed. They are not only fragrant and beautiful flowers; they have much to offer with regards to bone health.
Herbalists suggest dandelion for detoxifying the liver, an important aspect of bone rejuvenation and maintenance. Tea made from the roots and leaves contains Foundation Supplements Vitamin C and D, magnesium, and zinc. Potassium is another important alkalizing mineral found in dandelion tea.
Dandelion tea reduces inflammation and offers bone-restoring antioxidants.
A word of caution: like chamomile, dandelion contains blood-thinning compounds called coumarins. If you are taking Warfarin or any anti-coagulant drugs, or if you have ragweed allergies, make sure you check with your doctor before drinking dandelion tea.
Milk thistle has a long history of use as a liver tonic. The powerful liver-cleansing effects of milk thistle are likely due to the presence of 3 flavonoids: silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. Together they are called sylmarin, which protects and repairs liver cells as well as reducing liver inflammation.
Sylmarin also keeps glutathione levels up (glutathione is the Master Antioxidant). All this is great news for your bones, which rely on a properly-functioning liver to remove bone-damaging toxins.
Recapture Optimal Liver Function
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 and balanced environment they need, is to do a periodic cleanse.
Don’t let the term “cleanse” worry you – I am not talking about anything drastic. When I created OsteoCleanse™: The 7 Day Bone Building Accelerator, my goal was to produce an easy-to-do yet highly effective cleanse that does more than detoxify your body.
The result is a cleanse rich in nutrients that are especially healing for the liver (and kidneys too) and create an alkaline and “clean” body environment to help you build your bones faster.
If you haven’t yet, I really hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn more about OsteoCleanse™, and enjoy a relaxing cup of tea!
Till next time,
1 Mozaffari-Khosravi, H, et al. “The effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on hypertension in patients with type II diabetes.” Journal of Human Hypertension. August 2008. 23, 48-54; doi:10.1038/jhh.2008.100. Web. http://www.nature.com/jhh/journal/v23/n1/abs/jhh2008100a.html
2 Ko, Chun Hay, et al. “Effects of Tea Catechins, Epigallocatechin, Gallocatechin, and Gallocatechin Gallate, on Bone Metabolism.” J. Agric. Food Chem. August 2009, 57 (16), pp 7293-7297. DOI: 10.1021/jf901545u Web. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/164340.php