Is it Safe to drink Boldo Tea? Is it healthy?

Updated on February 28th, 2021
benefits of boldo tea

Boldo tea is an herbal tea prepared from the leaves of the South American boldo tree. Boldo is a renowned herbal treatment for ailments, including constipation, digestive disorders, headaches, and other conditions. But you may experience adverse effects if you use this tonic, and they may outweigh any boldo tea advantages.

What Is Boldo Tea?

Boldo (Peumus boldus) is an evergreen, aromatic shrub native to Chile, especially the Andes Mountains. The tree is also usually found in other areas, including Ecuador, Mexico, Morocco, and Argentina.

Experts believe that this small tree’s leaves have been used as a health tonic for thousands of years [1]. Fossilized boldo tree leaves have been discovered that have human teeth marks, leading scientists to believe that boldo has been consumed for dietary and medicinal purposes for over 13,000 years.

While the boldo shrub’s bark might be taken, it is generally the leaves that are consumed for health purposes. The leaves should be steeped in hot water to prepare boldo tea, or the leaves are ground initially then mixed with water to make a drink.

Boldo tea is not generally taken daily. However, some sources indicate that consumers dilute boldo tea with yerba mate to be taken as a daily drink to prevent disease. Yerba mate—sometimes known as a mate—is an herb that is believed to aid in cancer prevention and weight loss.

However, Regular use of Yerba mate is associated with an increased risk of developing lung, prostate, esophageal, bladder, and head and neck cancers. 

[Also Read: Benefits of Chrysanthemum Tea]

Health Benefits of Boldo Tea

Historically, boldo tea has been used to assist in treating liver issues and treat digestive problems [2]. Yet, scientific proof supporting the use of the tea for these or any other therapeutic reasons is minimal.

One test-tube research on 13 herbal teas generally used in South America noticed that boldo tea had one of the most significant antioxidant activities. This was based on its ability to combat free radicals, which are harmful compounds that can lead to cellular damage.

This indicates that drinking boldo tea can confer some antioxidant benefits, but more studies, particularly in humans, are required.

The boldo plant and its tea also have a volatile compound known as ascaridole. In animal and test-tube studies, ascaridole shows promising potential in treating leishmaniasis, a disease caused by tropical parasites. Still, more studies are needed [3].

Lastly, the tea is also believed to aid weight loss, but there’s no evidence to back this claim.

There are several purported health benefits of boldo tea. The herbal drink is most commonly credited with eliminating gallstones, detoxing the liver,  and boosting gallbladder health. But it is also marketed as a health tonic for other conditions, including:

  • rheumatism/achy joints
  • upset stomach
  • liver disease
  • cystitis
  • gonorrhea
  • sleep problems
  • fluid retention
  • constipation
  • anxiety

Boldo has also been promoted as a weight-loss aid.

According to multiple health sources, there is insufficient evidence to back the use of boldo tea for this condition. Moreover, boldo may be unsafe for medicinal reasons.

Side Effects

Boldo is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the U. S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) when taken in amounts commonly found in food. However, boldo leaf has ascaridole, an essential oil (also called a volatile oil) harmful to the liver.

According to several health experts, if you use boldo for health reasons, only ascaridole-free preparations should be used. Also, boldo applied directly to the skin can lead to rashes.

It is also essential to be aware that consuming boldo may put you at risk for specific side effects, mainly on particular medications. These are just some of the concerns recognized by medical sources:

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  • Boldo can be harmful to people with blocked bile ducts.
  • Boldo may be unsafe during breastfeeding and pregnancy.
  • Boldo should not be taken for at least two weeks prior. 
  • Boldo should not be taken with alcohol to surgery.
  • Boldo may not be safe for individuals taking lithium.
  • Boldo should not be taken if you are taking any medication that can harm the liver, including Diflucan, Tylenol, Zocor, and several others.
  • Boldo shouldn’t be taken with medications that can slow blood clotting (Motrin, Advil, warfarin, and others)

Because boldo can interact with many medications and interfere with the management or treatment of medical conditions, you should speak to your physician before consuming boldo tea.

[Read: What are Herbal Detoxes?]

Recommended Dosage

Because boldo tea has ascaridole, a potentially unsafe aromatic compound, it’s not suggested that you drink it every day. To reduce its potential complications, drink just 240 ml (1 cup) of boldo tea when you feel you require it. Plus, remember that although it’s rumored to help with digestive problems, there’s no scientific proof to back this use.

You may also opt to drink just a limited amount of boldo tea mixed with yerba mate tea, which may be safer to take regularly. Yerba mate is usually safe, but no data supports any benefits from drinking boldo tea, whether you do so infrequently or daily.

If you choose to drink a yerba mate and boldo blend, it’s best to buy a premade tea, which should have a safe teas ratio.

Meanwhile, if taking a liquid extract supplement, don’t exceed the prescribed dosage on the label. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not control liquid extracts, so it’s best to look for evidence that an independent lab has verified the purity and ingredients.

Bottom Line

Boldo tea is generally used as a herbal medicine in South and Central America. Although it’s believed to help treat leishmaniasis and have some antioxidant benefits, there’s little evidence to back its use for liver detoxification, digestive problems, or weight loss.

What’s more, it may interact with blood-thinning medicines, and its ascaridole content may cause liver damage if consumed in large doses. Although encouraging research points to boldo tea’s potential benefits, drinking it to improve liver problems, digestive problems,  or weight loss is not prescribed due to a lack of scientific proof.

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