The most promising benefits of labrador tea include soothing respiratory infections, curing skin conditions, settling an upset stomach, eliminating inflammation, protecting the kidneys, easing headaches and preventing cancer, among others. The side effects of labrador tea can be intense and include vomiting, inflammation of the gut, diarrhea, and even death when consumed in large amounts. However, when consumed in moderation, and after checking with your doctor before adding it to your health regiment, labrador tea can be very beneficial for your overall wellness.
What is Labrador Tea?
Labrador tea is the name for a tea brewed from three different Rhododendron species – Northern Labrador Tea, Bog Labrador Tea, and Western Labrador Tea. Indigenous people of North America, such as the Inuit, and other residents of Northern California and Canada have been using this tea for generations, as the plants grow well in those areas. There are some powerful components found in these species of plant, including tannins, sesquiterpenes, valeric acid, numerous mineral salts and other antioxidants, which bring about many of the health benefits of this variety of tea. Also known as swamp tea and muskeg tea, this unique herbal brew isn’t the most common tea to find on a shelf, but it is worth seeking out!
Labrador Tea Benefits
Drinking labrador tea is an excellent choice for those suffering from kidney infections, inflammatory conditions, headaches, indigestion, constipation, bloating, cramping, eczema, psoriasis, cold, cough, flu and respiratory infection, as well as those who are at high risk for cancer.
An extremely popular use of Labrador tea is for the treatment of respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis, coughs, congestion, cold and flu. Sore throats are also a common symptom of these types of infections, and the anti-inflammatory properties of labrador tea can neutralize or eliminate that discomfort.
Traditionally, labrador tea has been used to treat kidney disorders and detoxify the body, as it has mild diuretic properties and can help to flush the system when it is overloaded with toxins. It can also help to slow down the growth of kidney stones and reduce inflammation in that organ.
Labrador tea is still frequently used to settle indigestion and upset stomachs. If consumed in excess, it can cause severe stomach upset. The active ingredients in this tea, such as tannins and sesquiterpenes, are to thank for this calming effect on cramping, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, as well as stomach ulcers!
When drinking this tea, a diluted or weak form is recommended, but if you brew a strong pot of this tea, it can be very good for skin health. With its astringent and antioxidant properties, topically applying this tea (once it cools) to areas suffering from eczema, psoriasis, leprosy, irritation or inflammation is highly effective.
With moderate levels of vitamin C, labrador tea is able to stimulate the immune system and ensure that the body has enough white blood cells to protect the body. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that seeks out free radicals causing oxidative stress, inflammation, and chronic disease.
Research is still ongoing in relation to labrador tea’s effect on cancerous cells. However, early results reveal that the unique antioxidant composition of this tea has certain anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic effects, making it an excellent preventative measure when consumed in responsible amounts.
How to Make Labrador Tea?
Labrador tea is quite easy to brew at home, provided you have access to labrador tea leaves. The plant grows in forests, typically springing out from within mossy patches near spruce trees. Since the growth rate of this plant is slow, pick only a few leaves from each plant rather than completely harvesting leaves from individual plants. If you aren’t near a forest or don’t plan to go foraging for Rhododendron species, you can also purchase dried leaves from herbalists and natural health stores. Once you have the leaves (dried or fresh), you’re ready to brew!
- 2 teaspoons of labrador tea leaves (15-20 leaves)
- 4 cups of water (filtered)
Step 1 – Add the tea leaves to a stainless steel pot of water
Step 2 – Bring the water to a boil and wait until the water changes to a light green.
Step 3 – Strain the water out, but do not discard the tea leaves.
Step 4 – Refill the pot with water and bring it back to a boil.
Step 5 – The color of the water should gradually become yellow.
Step 6 – Strain the mixture into a teapot or cup and enjoy!
NOTE: Due to the potency of this tea, it is recommended that you fill 1/2 of a cup with tea, and then add water to the rest in order to dilute the mixture. If you drink the undiluted tea, do not drink more than 2 cups per day.
Side Effects of Labrador Tea
Labrador tea should only be consumed in a weak or diluted form, as the active ingredients can have a number of unpleasant side effects if consumed in excess. As the recipe above states, diluting every cup of this tea by half is highly recommended. This tea has slightly narcotic properties, which is why excessive consumption can be dangerous, if not fatal.
- Pregnancy – Due to the narcotic elements in this tea, as well as the potent active ingredients, labrador tea is not recommended for pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding, as it can negatively affect the fetus or infant.
- Gastrointestinal Health – The most common side effects reported are diarrhea, inflammation of the gut and vomiting. This can also be accompanied by muscle spasms in the stomach and in extremely serious cases, even paralysis or death. Again, these side effects are almost exclusively experienced when an excessive amount of this tea is consumed.
- Headaches – Severe headaches may occur rapidly after drinking labrador tea; if you experience this side effect, discontinue the use immediately, rehydrate your body and flush your system.