Green and black teas (dried and often fermented leaves of Camellia sinensis) have been popular drinks throughout the world for many hundreds of years, but recently tea has been promoted in the health literature as being beneficial in preventing a wide range of diseases including cancer. Such literature usually focuses on the fact that teas contain families of chemical compounds called catechins and polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants. [5a]
While these antioxidants may indeed have the beneficial properties claimed for them, whole plant products generally consist of complex combinations of thousands of biochemical compounds. If one neglects to investigate the presence of other compounds with potentially significant physiological actions, the health benefits and risks of consuming the whole plant product may be very different from the picture presented by focusing on only a small subset of the plant product’s biochemistry.
It turns out that both green and black tea products contain high amounts of naturally occurring fluoride. Tea leaves accumulate more fluoride (from air and soil pollution) than most other edible plants. Fluoride content in tea has risen dramatically over the last 20 years (probably due to increasing levels of pollution) as has tea consumption. Various studies within the past few decades show levels of fluoride in tea leaves to range from 50 to 340 ppm; recently, average levels of fluoride in a typical cup of tea exceeded 1 mg, or approximately 4 times the recommended amount for fluoridated drinking water. One cup of such tea would exceed amounts formerly prescribed by physicians as a treatment for hyperthyroidism, due to the effect of fluoride as a thyroid gland poison. And, the fluoride in tea is absorbed by the body in similar manner to fluoride in drinking water. [5g]
Almost all information about tea promoted by the tea industry either ignores tea’s fluoride content entirely, or gives brief mention of the fluoride as a health benefit in preventing dental caries and ignores all of the serious side effects of fluoride consumption. [5a, 5b, 5c, 5e, 5f]
Most of the research literature on anticancer properties of green and black teas focuses on the effects of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound that belongs to a family of anti-oxidants known as polyphenols. The negative effects of the fluoride content of teas are so severe that any beneficial effect from the catechins and polyphenols may be negated; however, not much scientific evidence is available on the interaction between fluoride and polyphenols, although fluoride is known to adversely affect the action of many antioxidants. Research studies of green tea consumption reveal only weak anticancer effects at best, and some studies show ambiguous or actually negative results. [5g]
Fluoride is known to be correlated with increased incidence of the numerous diseases and conditions [5m – 5u]: Alzheimer’s disease (especially in combination with aluminum; fluoride combines with aluminum and increases the rate of aluminum absorption by the body and brain tissue); dental fluorosis; degenerative CNS diseases; hypothyroidism; Down’s syndrome; ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder); psychosis and manic depression; osteoporosis and arthritis; irregular menses and infertility; crippling skeletal fluorosis; calcification of joints and ligaments; lupus; fibromyalgia; nephrosis and nephritis; cancers of thyroid, bone, and other tissues; SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Many of these diseases are closely associated with the hypothyroid aspect, which is a primary effect of fluoride poisoning. CNS symptoms of fluoride ingestion from drinking water include impaired memory and concentration, lethargy, headache, depression and confusion. [5q] I have observed many clients over the years obtain almost immediate relief from arthritic pain, chronic urinary infections, weak digestion, fatigue and other symptoms after stopping all black and green tea consumption.
While black and green teas have been in traditional use for many centuries, their moderate caffeine content has been long known to be addictive. Addictive potential plus promises of health benefits are a potent marketing combination, and history is replete with examples: opium and cocaine-containing elixirs of good health from snake-oil salesmen in 1800’s America, and more recently, promises of quick weight loss from herbal products high in ephedrine, a constituent of the plant Ephedra sinensis. It appears that green and black teas, long a source of enjoyment for the mild buzz and quiet contentment they gave to generations of Chinese, Indians, and Englishmen, have become dangerous in the hands of Americans, who have added a health spin to their marketing of tea products, increasing sales by orders of magnitude at a time when the commercial product has become laden with dangerous concentrations of fluoride.
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