Your mom wasn’t lying when she said too much of anything isn’t good. Tea can sometimes be good for your teeth in moderation, due to compounds known as polyphenols. Polyphenols help fight harmful bacteria in the mouth, if you don’t over do it. Too much tea can be no-good however, as one woman found out.
When a woman drank 100-150 bags of tea a day, it caused an undetectable ailment that caused her bones to become very dense, and her teeth to fall out. It was the high amount of fluoride in this woman’s highly concentrated brew, that led her to have a mystery illness doctors couldn’t pin-point. Her case was profiled in the in the March 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
After this woman’s teeth became brittle and fell out, and she complained of pain in her hips, and spine, doctors ran some tests. Doctors discovered that this woman had a fluoride concentration of 0.43 milligrams per liter of blood. Anything 0.10 mg per liter or over, is considered abnormal. After uncovering abnormal bone density in an x-ray, and high levels of fluoride, the woman was sent to Dr. Sudhaker Rao, so she could receive further testing. Rao’s the director of the bone and mineral research laboratory at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.
Luckily, Rao came from an area with a high fluoride concentration, so he was able to make the connection between her symptoms and a possible environmental cause. “Most of us can excrete fluoride extremely well, but if you drink too much, it can be a problem,” says Rao.
“There have been about three to four cases reported in the U.S. associated with ingesting tea, especially large amounts of it,” he explained.
According to Rao, tea has one of the highest concentrations of fluoride of any drink. As soon as he heard the woman drank tea in such an excessive amount, he put two and two together, and attempted to get a conclusive answer. Rao couldn’t take a bone biopsy, because her bones were so dense, that he couldn’t get an extraction. Due to her classic symptoms of overexposure to fluoride, the high levels of fluoride found in her blood, the incredible amount of tea the woman was drinking, plus the previous cases in the US, Rao concluded that tea was the culprit of this woman’s ailments.
Fortunately, this woman will likely recover successfully. Rao knows from his background in India, that individuals who remove themselves from a high fluoride environment can often see their symptoms improve. She has stopped consuming any tea, and is experience some relief of her symptoms. Only time will tell whether she will ever be back to normal, but if she lays off the tea, her prognosis will probably be good. So remember, consume wisely, and everything in moderation.
Emily Manke is a health and lifestyle blogger in Portland, OR. Her interests include biking, hiking, cooking, gardening. She is a bit of a health-nut, and loves learning about all things health-related. She sometimes contributes to the blog for this oregon city dentist.
Image by Patrick George from Cochin, India (liquid gold)