*IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER NOTICE*
The data presented in this article is intended for general informational and research purposes only. The Author in no manner condones or recommends experimentation with any substance, without the guidance and evaluation of your health care provider or personal physician. Only by working together can you and your health care provider make the best decisions regarding your own health. As always, consult with your health care provider BEFORE trying ANY new medicinal product, procedure, or advice.
In the Modern Age that we find ourselves living in, it has become rather widely accepted that herbal teas may offer several health benefits to tea connoisseurs. Two of the more commonly known varieties are Green Tea and Chamomile Tea. Green Tea has been shown to have numerous anti-oxidant properties (1), and Chamomile Tea has long been used for its calming properties. (2)
A lesser known tea is Labrador Tea. This tea comes from the leaves of the shrub Ledum groenlandicum. During the American Revolution, and the historically famous “Boston Tea Party”, Labrador tea was found to be an acceptable substitute for the overly taxed, imported British variety of tea. It was often served in the finest parlors in Boston by the city’s hostesses. Some more adventurous would even occasionally used it to brew beer.(3)
Traditionally, Native Americans have used this tea as a medicinal treatment for such things as Asthma, stomachaches, colds, ulcers, itching, and even as a treatment to get rid of Lice. Other treatment claims include: Arthritis, burns, dizziness, use as a blood purifier, and as a treatment for Tuberculosis. Due to the plant’s narcotic properties, some Native women even use it during childbirth to alleviate pain. (5)
In the interest of responsible journalism, it should be noted that questions have arisen, and been debated, about Labrador tea’s beneficial effects. In the publication “Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest” (Gray’s 1976), Lewis J. Clark was quoted as saying: “Ledol, a toxic compound that can induce cramps and paralysis, has been isolated from the leaves of all of the Ledum species. Possibly in the low concentrations of the pioneers brew, this substance may have produced restorative effects similar to those resulting from the caffeine in tea.” (3)
Extreme care should be exercised when preparing Labrador tea. If brewed in too high of a concentration, it may cause some nasty, and/or downright lethal side effects, such as: intoxication, slow pulse, low blood pressure, confusion, convulsions, and even paralysis or death. (4) (6)