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What is Brigham Tea?

By Jacob Queen
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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Brigham tea is officially known as ephedra viridis or ephedra nevadensis, and it’s also been called Mormon tea. It is a plant that is commonly found in the southwest part of the United States, and it is generally used to brew a kind of herbal tea. This tea is purported to have strong medicinal properties, but certain scientists dispute some of these effects. It has a long history of being used in herbal remedies going all the way back to the early Native Americans and continuing through the initial settlement of the West by Europeans. It has been used as a respiratory remedy, an antiseptic for wounds, and as a protection against venereal diseases like syphilis.

When people use Brigham tea as an herbal remedy, they generally boil some of the herb in water to extract the essence. According to many people, this has a slightly bitter taste, but it is possible to get accustomed to the flavor, and some people even drink it for enjoyment. There are generally different concentrations of the herb used to treat different things. In most cases, it is taken orally, but it is also used in poultices.

People who favor the medicinal use of Brigham tea generally claim that the plant contains ephedra, which is a pharmaceutical agent used in many medications. Ephedra is a stimulant that also has the ability to constrict blood vessels. It is often used as a treatment for chest congestion, along with uses specifically related to its stimulant effects.

There is no dispute that Brigham tea is a member of the ephedra family of plants, but there is some dispute about the active ingredients it contains. The actual ephedra chemical can’t be extracted from most North American plants in the ephedra family, and many scientific researchers claim that Brigham tea is no different in this regard. In fact, many experts will only acknowledge the plant's usefulness as a diuretic and generally dismiss the other reported benefits as an example of the placebo effect.

In the times of the old West, the Mormons where particularly associated with the use of Brigham tea, which is how the beverage got its name. It was also used by many other people from all walks of life throughout the area. For example, sometimes Brigham tea was kept in the lobby areas of brothels, where clients would consume it as a protective measure against various venereal diseases. The primary use of the tea was to soothe coughing and breathing problems.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Animandel — On Feb 13, 2015

An elderly lady who lives in our neighborhood recently began drinking Brigham tea. She said she believes the tea helps her not catch colds, and she takes the tea whenever she is feeling congested for whatever reason. I just assumed the tea was much like any other tea, so when she told me that she was getting stomach aches and constipation I didn't think about the tea maybe being the cause.

However, I spoke with the lady's daughter the other day and she said that her mother went to the doctor for a checkup, and the doctor told her to stop drinking the tea for a couple of weeks to see if the stomach problems went away. For some people, stomach issues can be caused by drinking Mormon tea according to the lady's doctor.

By mobilian33 — On Feb 12, 2015

The article talks about how the Brigham tea herb is considered to be not so effective as a medicine by the scientific world. Sometimes I wonder if some of the research studies funded by companies such as drug companies are not more likely to dismiss the benefits of natural herbs and other natural remedies as treatments for illnesses. After all, the making of drugs to use as medicines is a very big business. If we can just grow our own medicines then that is going to hurt the pockets of a lot of wealthy companies and individuals.

Anyway, my sister has been dealing with a chronic cough that usually gets worse at night time when she is going to bed. She starts coughing so badly that she can't sleep. A friend suggested to me that I look into getting her some Brigham tea, but I need to make sure she can drink it and that the ingredients in the tea won't interfere with the medicines she takes for her other medical conditions.

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