How much Throat Coat can I safely drink?
February 21, 2017 1:26 PM   Subscribe

I have had a sore throat for a few days, and I'm drinking around 24 oz of strong Throat Coat tea every day. I'd like to drink even more, but I don't want to damage my health.

Tonight I plan to "binge" a little because I have a lot of work to do and a slight fever, and a fresh new box of Throat Coat at home. Woooooooo!! But should I not? Should I switch to something else? I really love Throat Coat and I drink a lot of it even when I'm not sick.

On the box, it says that I should ask a doctor if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding (I am neither). Is there something in it that might not be great in large quantities, especially if my immune system is run-down? Google so far is a lot of herbal/natural remedy sites and advice about toxins and ayurvedic medicine and healing and this and that. I just want someone to tell me in clear, non-woo language, if I can consume large quantities of licorice + slippery elm and not wreck my kidneys or anything.

For what it's worth, my other favorite tea is chamomile, which is apparently also contraindicated for pregnant people. Am I just poisoning myself all the time?!?
posted by witchen to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I'd ask your professional care provider these questions. And a few days of a sore throat would have me visiting one for a strep swab. Tea is great for feeling better. But it's not so good for making you get better.
posted by zizzle at 1:32 PM on February 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sorry, should have put an "I know you're not my doctor" disclaimer. This feels like a pretty standard low-level cold that I'm keeping at bay; it happens about once a year and nothing so far has set off red flags that it's strep or anything more serious. I'm not suffering--it's just mildly bothersome. If it gets worse, I will see a provider, but I'd bet it will run its course in a few days.
posted by witchen at 1:35 PM on February 21, 2017

Liquorice root isn't great in high doses, as it contains glycyrrhizin, which can mess with your levels of potassium and sodium, and can cause raised blood pressure and a few other things.

The other active ingredient, slippery elm, is traditionally believed to cause miscarriages. However, there's no reliable evidence for this. But it's probably why the warning is there.
posted by pipeski at 1:35 PM on February 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Those ingredients (licorice and slippery elm) were flagged by my hippie co-op pharmacy as rough on little babies' livers and potentially deleterious to my milk supply; hence the box warning on a similar tea I like. Chamomile is a potential allergen I guess but honestly everything is said to be dangerous to pregnant people by someone.
posted by teremala at 1:42 PM on February 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

The back of the box (which has a little section in dark color at the bottom labelled "TO ENJOY") has a section which reads like "ENJOY up to X cups daily". I'd follow those guidelines if you want to be totally safe.

I've had as many as six cups of Throat Coat and/or Nettle tea on a given day, which is above the recommended limit (I'd imagine), and suffered no ill effect. On the other hand, on both occasions I hadn't been drinking three cups on the days leading up to it, so you if you plan to maintain high, sustained levels of consumption, you should definitely see a professional herbalist or doctor.

I would be pretty surprised to experience any issues unless you combine it with something else hard on your liver, like medications or alcohol, however. (But I am not a doctor so don't trust my intuition.)
posted by ragtag at 1:51 PM on February 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Pregnant women in the Netherlands are advised to decrease/eliminate consumption of licorice during pregnancy because it can cause hypertension. Similarly, anyone with high blood pressure is cautioned to avoid excess licorice consumption. If you have high blood pressure, I would check with your medical provider (and/or the tea company) before drinking a whole bunch. (Source: I am a midwife/TINMA/etc..)
posted by stillmoving at 2:04 PM on February 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you're not pregnant, don't worry. But yeah, too much licorice isn't great for you.

You know they make slippery elm throat lozenges, right? You can get these at most drug stores.
posted by ananci at 5:08 PM on February 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Licorice in hefty amounts can cause pretty amazing diarrhea, which I learned the hard way.
posted by thebrokedown at 5:17 PM on February 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Dose makes the poison and all that, but tbh you'd have to drink this tea in large quantities everyday for a long time to cause any harm. Does your intuition lead you to this tea because it's helping? If it's more to prevent a sore throat from starting you might want try something a little more proactive like one of Traditional Medicinals echinacea tea blends.
posted by peterpete at 6:02 PM on February 21, 2017

If it makes you feel better then go to town on the stuff.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:45 PM on February 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

(Toxicologist chiming in)

The FDA doesn't get to regulate herbal supplements like it does pharmaceuticals, bacause of legislation from 1994. That legislation has led to a tremendous upswing in the amount of "nutraceuticals," or supplements that make borderline health claims, on the market in the last 20 years (so there's discussion now about whether that legislation should change). For reference, "health claims" are usually what make a substance eligible for review by FDA to ensure that those claims are accurate and don't come along with unexpected side effects. Supplement makers tend to skirt these laws by putting the familiar "these statements have not been approved by the FDA" on the box. But some manufacturers go a step further (bless them) by putting right on the box some of the things (beyond being pregnant) you shouldn't mix with certain supplements.

Not taking any of those contraindicated drugs? Don't have any of those contraindicated conditions? Feel free to enjoy the "4-6 cups" daily, as per the label. Want to play it a little safer? Use 1 teabag but more than the suggested 8 ounces of water, but keep the steeping time the same. Then you get more cups of tea per teabag. Diluting teas that contain strong ingredients like licorice and cinnamon can be handy, since you don't taste the extra dilution that much. And I say that as I'm sipping my second cup of Throat Coat today (cough cough).

It is important, though, to tell your doctor the next time you visit that you drink a lot of the stuff. Maybe even take the box along with you. That way she knows to alert you if she intends to prescribe you something that shouldn't be mixed with the tea, or if she has other concerns.

Be well!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:17 PM on February 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

a few days of a sore throat would have me visiting one for a strep swab. Tea is great for feeling better. But it's not so good for making you get better.

Just to be clear, strep throat also resolves spontaneously, without antibiotics, in the vast majority of cases.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:58 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Rural internet   |   First time home buyer, first time landlord? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.