Does organic tea contain less fluoride than non-organic tea?
This question has come up on multiple occasions as I edit my e-book on fluoroderma. Everyone agrees that tea is a significant source of fluoride. What they don’t agree on is where the fluoride in tea comes from. Is it pesticides and pollution? Certain fertilizers? Or a normal component of the tea plant?
I did not realize this was a source of contention until I started passing my e-book around to researchers who specialize in fluoride studies. It is widely accepted that older, lower quality tea leaves will contain more fluoride than younger leaves. But this has nothing to do with whether or not the tea is labeled organic. I have not been successful at finding a single study comparing the fluoride content of organic versus non-organic tea.
In an article on the Weston A. Price Foundation website, entitled Kvass and Kombucha: Gifts from Russia, author Sally Fallon claims organic tea is low in fluoride. She sites a small study her team conducted by measuring the fluoride content of organic black tea before and after it was made into kombucha (a fermented form of black tea).
In the article, she states that the organic black tea contained “very little fluoride” yet the chart in the reference section reveals it measured at .94 ppm. This is higher than the “optimal level” of fluoride in drinking water recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (0.7 ppm). Some of this fluoride came from the filtered water used to make the tea (it measured at .62 ppm), but still, this small study did not give me confidence that organic black tea is low in fluoride.
How many samples were measured? Was it just one? What brand of organic black tea was tested? How were the plants grown? I would need answers to these important questions and more before I could conclude that organic tea is low in fluoride.
In addition, one of the fluoride experts had the following to say about the tests used to measure fluoride content in tea:
A recent study by one of the world’s leading scientists specializing in fluoride found that measurements in tea, in particular, could often grossly underestimate the true level of F. This is because tea not only absorbs F from the soil, but it also absorbs aluminum. High levels of Al interfere with the most common analytical methods for determining F in foods. This study found that the F level was 2 to 4 times higher in teas when using the accurate method compared to using the standard methods.
As opposed to grapes and other crops that are sprayed with cryolite, a fluoride-based pesticide, I have not come across a particular fluoride-based pesticides that is commonly used on the tea plant. Some sources suggest fluoride in tea is absorbed through the soil, which means it could come from rock phosphate fertilizers. Are these allowed for organic growers? I don’t know.
I gave up tea completely (even kombucha) when I determined that fluoride was the cause of my cystic acne so I have no personal experience to validate either claim. Perhaps one of these days I will chug a glass or two of black tea to see if my skin can help me figure it out. I will add that to the growing list of potentially fluoridated foods I want to investigate.
Until then, if you have any thoughts or further info on this subject, please let me know in the comments section below. Thank you!
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