wonder what’s in that wonder tea

I stand by my Moxie Rx recipe from my last post. It is delicious, and I truly believe it helped me fight (and win) against my latest cold threat. If you missed it, check out my last post. For real. Read it!

Just today, 3 different patients, not reading my blog or knowing about this wonder tea, asked about the safety of using one, or a combination of many, of the ingredients in the tea. That’s not surprising – honey, lemon, and ginger have long been used as cold remedies.
I am not pregnant, so I drink this mixture without a second thought. You may be pregnant though, thinking about everything you put in your body.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Honey is considered a demulcent – a product that coats mucous membranes with a film to relieve mouth and throat irritation. Make sure your honey is pasteurized (if you’re buying honey at a farmer’s market, ask the seller). Like I’ve said before, unpasteurized anything (milk, cheese, honey) should be avoided during pregnancy to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Lemon in moderation is good in pregnancy. Vitamin C can increase the absorbency of iron supplements, which most women take during pregnancy to avoid / correct anemia. Lemon scent can also help decrease nausea. Citrus may exacerbate heart burn though, so avoid if you have severe gastric reflux.
  • Ginger is often used in the first trimester to decrease nausea and vomiting (ginger lollipops, anyone?).  No adverse outcomes have been reported.
  • Cayenne pepper:  In the small amount used for the drink, it is likely safe. Spicy foods, similar to citrus, can exacerbate heart burn. Women have long believed in the aid of super spicy foods to provoke labor. Although it hasn’t been proven to work, it is an interesting topic, and we can discuss this more later.
  • Echinacea is the wild card here. It is an herbal medication obtained from the roots, stems, and leaves of the plant Echinacea purpurea. It is used in attempts to stimulate the immune system, to prevent colds and respiratory infections, although studies have never shown great effect. One published study has looked at its safety in pregnancy, and no adverse effects were seen.  Like most herbal medications, it is not FDA regulated, so no safety or preparation standards are verified prior to distribution. This means: although echinacea is likely safe to use during pregnancy, because the product’s quality cannot be assured, and the potential benefits are limited, it isn’t recommended as first line cold remedy in pregnancy.

Now you don’t have to wonder any more!

And to end: a beautiful Margaret Bedell painting, with ginger and all!

Screen shot 2013-01-17 at 7.26.43 PM

Sources: MayoClinic, OTISpregnancy.org

caffeine buzzzzzzzz

I love the mornings without commitments. No work, no meetings, no brunches. Just my pajamas, the couch, and a big cup of coffee. It just feels so good. Then the little buzz kicks in and off I go.

Who would want to give this up during pregnancy?

I can’t just talk about coffee, because the iced tea from Joan’s on Third is up on my list too. Let’s instead address caffeine intake as a whole.

Caffeine does cross the placenta, but it has been shown to not affect the blood flow to the uterus or affect the amount of oxygen getting to the baby. Yay! This is good news.

But can increased caffeine levels still affect the pregnancy? Is there a limit to the amount of caffeine that is safe in pregnancy?

I’ll divide this into 3 main areas that have been studied – can caffeine increase your risk for a miscarriage, preterm labor, or affect how the fetus is growing?

Can caffeine intake cause a miscarriage?
Two large studies have attempted to find an answer to this old wives’ tale. One study showed no correlation. The other study showed an increased chance of miscarriage if you consume >200mg per day. So my bottom line (I always try to give it to you straight):
Consume less than 200mg daily of caffeine to be safe. We just don’t know if more than that much each day can increase your chance for a miscarriage.

Can caffeine intake cause preterm labor?
No. The average daily intake of caffeine was 182mg in the largest study. So, once again, keep that intake to less than 200mg.

Can caffeine cause my baby to be smaller than normal (growth restricted)?
No clear evidence that caffeine increased this risk in the main studies, regardless of the amount.
Here’s a breakdown of some favorite brands (not my favorites, necessarily) of coffee and drinks and their amounts of caffeine.

Starbucks (not a fav, but a staple): grande drip (16oz) = 330mg;  tall drip (12oz) = 260mg; tall latte = 75mg
McDonald’s Iced Coffe (don’t laugh, it’s actually pretty good) – (16 oz) = 200mg

generically speaking (finding specific brand caffeine contents was difficult)

black tea (8oz) = 14-61mg
green tea (8oz) = 24-40mg

Red bull (to give you wiiiiiiings) – ( 8.46oz) = 80mg
5 hour energy (Erica, I added this one for you!) – (2oz) = 138mg – 207mg (different sources told me different things)
Diet coke (12 oz can) = 45 mg
Diet Dr. Pepper (12 oz) = 41 mg
Kombucha Tea (8oz) = 24 mg
Haagen Dazs Coffee Ice cream (8oz) = 58mg

If you are in the market for a new favorite coffee – these are some of the best (in my humble opinion 🙂 )

ACOG committe opinion Number 462: Moderate Caffeine consumption during pregnancy. August 2010
Caffeine amount info: Energyfiend website