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Some Teas, Similar Brews Prompt Health Warnings

Oct 7, 2003 | Rocky Mountain News

The Food and Drug Administration has issued alerts about various teas or tea-like brews over the years, often because of their stimulant properties.

For instance, ephedra-based teas are widely available and should be avoided by people with heart conditions, said Mel Drisko, an acupuncturist with the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

"Diet teas" also have prompted health alerts.

Last month, the FDA warned consumers not to buy "teas" brewed from star anise because of 40 illness reports, including 15 infants, related to the drink. Some parents believe star anise eases colic.

The illnesses, which occurred during the last two years, ranged from serious neurological effects, such as seizures, to vomiting, jitters and rapid eye movement.

The FDA is concerned that commonly available Chinese star anise (Illicium verum), a product considered safe, may contain Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), which has long been recognized as toxic in many countries and should be used for decorative purposes only.

Because it was unsure what product caused the illnesses, the FDA issued a warning against all types and is investigating.

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