A Quick Clinical Tip of the day!
This time of year, many of our clients begin to complain of dry skin. Certainly lower indoor humidity can be a big driver for this. But don’t forget to consider the impact of tea, especially black tea (and to a less degree, strong coffee and green tea). And not because of the caffeine! Tea is loaded with tannins, polyphenols from plants that help protect the plant from insects and bacteria (that’s why many natural antimicrobial herbs/barks are high in tannins).
Tannins are astringent (dehydrating); they are what give tea and red wine their bitter flavor (red wine gets most tannins from the wood in the barrel). The old remedy of putting a used black teabag on your eyes to alleviate puffiness really works. But some people are very sensitive to the effects of ingested tannins…this includes all forms of tea (black, green, and white and has nothing to do w/whether it’s caffeinated or not). But especially black tea and some forms of green.
Sure, dry skin can also be an issue of imbalanced intake of essential fats (both O3 and essential O6 required). And both zinc and vitamin A are particularly key for skin health overall. Hydration (and sodium/potassium balance) matters greatly. Cellular hypothyroid function is often involved. Low estrogen may be a driver too. But don’t look for more esoteric or systemic drivers without considering the low-hanging fruit: consider exploring their tea intake. Especially as the days get colder or hotter (during transition seasons), many of our clients will start drinking more tea, iced to cool off from outdoors or hot as a cozy warmer indoors. For some of our clients, it just may not be the best choice for overall hydration and their skin health in particular. Another a great example of bio-individuality. Or at a minimum reinforces that tea and plain, hydrating water are not the same thing!
As an aside (I can’t help myself ♥) tannins by the way are also the substance in coffee and tea that binds minerals and impairs intestinal absorption, especially iron e.g. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/37/3/416.abstract . For many of our clients who don’t have issues with the drying effects of tannins, it’s still likely best to consume tea and coffee away from meals for those with sensitive/impaired digestion (which is not everyone!). Teas may also inhibit digestive enzyme secretion e.g. http://archive.northsearegion.eu/…/20131121174008_UK-Enclos…
I hope this quick clinical tip serves you and your patients and clients.
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