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Pu-Erh Tea

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How does Pu-erh Tea work?

Pu-erh tea contains caffeine, although not as much caffeine as other teas. Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, and muscles. Pu-erh tea also contains antioxidants and other substances that might help protect the heart and blood vessels.

There is interest in using pu-erh tea for lowering cholesterol because, unlike other teas, it contains small amounts of a chemical called lovastatin. Lovastatin is a prescription medicine used for lowering cholesterol. Investigators think that bacteria that sometimes contaminate pu-erh tea may somehow make the lovastatin in the course of their normal life cycle. Animal research suggests that pu-erh tea might lower certain blood fats called triglycerides as well as total and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. It might also raise "good" high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Are there safety concerns?

Taking pu-erh tea in moderate amounts might be safe. However, too much pu-erh tea, more than five cups per day, can cause side effects because of the caffeine. These side effects can range from mild to serious and include headache, nervousness, sleep problems, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, irregular heartbeat, tremor, heartburn, dizziness, ringing in the ears, convulsions, and confusion.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, pu-erh tea in small amounts is probably not harmful. However, do not drink more than two cups of pu-erh tea in a day. Too much caffeine might cause miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight, and harm to the baby.

If you are breast-feeding, moderation in drinking pu-erh tea is also important. Caffeine passes into breast milk, so nursing mothers should closely monitor caffeine intake to make sure it is on the low side. Caffeine in large amounts might be UNSAFE during breast-feeding. Caffeine can cause sleep disturbances, irritability, and increased bowel activity in breast-fed infants.

Children: Pu-erh tea seems to be safe in children in amounts commonly found in foods and beverages.

Anxiety disorders: The caffeine in pu-erh tea might make these conditions worse.

Bleeding disorders: There is concern that pu-erh tea might make bleeding disorders worse because of its caffeine content. Use pu-erh tea with care if you have a bleeding disorder.

Heart conditions: The caffeine in pu-erh tea can cause irregular heartbeat in some people. Use pu-erh tea with caution if you have a heart condition.

Diabetes: Some research suggests that caffeine may affect the way the body uses sugar and might make diabetes worse. But the effect of caffeine-containing herbs and beverages such as pu-erh tea has not been studied. If you have diabetes, use pu-erh tea with caution.

Diarrhea: Pu-erh tea contains caffeine. The caffeine in pu-erh tea, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Pu-erh tea contains caffeine. The caffeine in pu-erh tea, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea and might worsen symptoms of IBS.

An eye disorder called glaucoma: The caffeine in pu-erh tea increases the pressure inside the eye. The increase occurs within 30 minutes and lasts for at least 90 minutes after drinking pu-erh tea.

High blood pressure: The caffeine in pu-erh tea might increase blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, this effect might be less in people who use caffeine regularly.

Weak bones (osteoporosis): The caffeine in pu-erh tea can increase the amount of calcium that is flushed out in the urine. If you have osteoporosis or low bone density, caffeine should be limited to less than 300 mg per day (approximately 2-3 cups of coffee). It's also a good idea to get extra calcium to make up for the amount that may be lost in the urine. Older women with an inherited disorder that affects the way vitamin D is used should use caffeine with caution. Vitamin D works with calcium to build bones.

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