Health & Fit Marina Thompson Puts Some Potentially Fatal Herbs In Her Tea In 'Bridgerton'

17:10  27 december  2020
17:10  27 december  2020 Source:   womenshealthmag.com

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Netflix's latest binge-worthy hit Bridgerton is full of romance, Regency London grandeur, and scandal almost too juicy to print.

Polly Walker, Luke Newton posing for the camera: 'Bridgerton' cousin Marina Thompson finds herself in a delicate condition and sips an herbal tea as her remedy. But what's in the tea and what does it do? © NICK BRIGGS/NETFLIX 'Bridgerton' cousin Marina Thompson finds herself in a delicate condition and sips an herbal tea as her remedy. But what's in the tea and what does it do?

It's not all fun and games for the decked-out debutantes searching for proper husbands, though. They flit from one ball to the next twirling their fans and fluttering their lashes, but some hide dangerous secrets. One of the ladies, Marina Thompson, arrived on the scene pregnant. (Cue shock and fainting in true 19th century style.) Though she tried to hide it, her host Featherington fam eventually found out.

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Desperate to have the same prospects as the other ladies, Marina brews and sips some tea. Enjoying some tea seems totally normal for a Brit, but this is no ordinary tea. And you're probably wondering, what is actually in Marina's tea?

Here's everything to know about Marina Thompson's tea in Bridgerton and what doctors have to say about the very real dangers.

**SPOILER ALERT**: Soft spoilers ahead for Bridgerton. Do not continue reading if you don't want to know what happens before you watch the full series.

So, what does Marina put in her tea?

Pregnant and desperate, Marina heads to the kitchen to make tea in episode seven. (Unlike Daphne Bridgerton, she's much more capable around the stove.) Marina adds dandelion, juniper berries, and more mysterious dried substances from ceramic pots into her cup. She crushes them with a mortar and pestle, boils water, and downs the result.

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It's likely the unidentified ingredients were abortifacients or emmenagogic herbs. She drinks the tea to end her pregnancy, and she initially believes that it works. (Marina confidently tells her cousin, "I'm no longer with child.") Common emmenagogic herbs include tansy, thuja, safflower, scotch broom, rue, angelica, mugwort, wormwood, yarrow, and essential oil of pennyroyal, per Botanical Medicine for Women's Health.

Marina's herbal medication wasn't uncommon at the time when women in her position had no other options for ending an unwanted pregnancy. There are historical records of women using certain plants and herbs as a form of self-administered abortion. "For centuries, they have been colloquially defined as 'herbs for delayed menses,' sometimes a euphemism for eliminating an unwanted pregnancy," per Botanical Medicine for Women's Health.

These medicines were a sort of mid-pregnancy chemical birth control that induced uterine contractions and/or blood flow. "The term emmenagogue is used to describe substances that promote menstrual bleeding. A large number of plants are classified in this way, although their mechanisms of action are not well understood," the publication says, noting that they could mimic the hormones that induce labor.

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Accounts show these herbs and herbal meds were relatively easy for women, like Marina, to obtain. In fact, there were recipes devoted to them and passed down through generations.

a man and a woman standing in front of a curtain: Mrs. Featherington (left) with Marina Thompson (center) in Bridgerton. © LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX Mrs. Featherington (left) with Marina Thompson (center) in Bridgerton.

With no other options, women would turn to anyone and anything that might help them terminate a pregnancy, no matter the unknown risks to their health. "Plants and herbs have a lot of the same binding properties things that are made in a lab do, like estrogen blockers or potentially they have hormonal receptor binding properties," Julie Levitt, MD, clinical instructor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Medicine, told Women's Health. "Over the generations, these recipes, if you will, were handed down."

What are the effects of the herbs in real life?

As you saw in Bridgerton, Marina collapses after drinking the tea. Penelope Featherington finds her face down on the floor an unknown amount of time later. Marina is fine, and only later learns she's still pregnant and the tea did not have her desired effect.

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However, herbs and plants like these can have lethal effects on the fetus and the pregnant woman in real life. "The results of this report are not conclusive, but it appears that the ingestion of plants to induce abortion involves the risk of severe morbidity and mortality," according to a report in the Journal of Toxicology from 2003. "The species most frequently involved were ruda, cola de quirquincho, parsley, and an over-the-counter herbal product named Carachipita... which contains 'pennyroyal, yerba de la perdiz, oregano, and guaycuri.'"

The side effects for both pregnant woman and fetus could be severe and even deadly. In normal servings, plants like parsley root, ginger, and cohosh are generally harmless, but in large doses may have dangerous side effects, including multiple organ system failure and excessive bleeding.

What do modern MDs have to say about these herbs?

In the show, Marina survived and so did her pregnancy, but remember, this is all fiction. "I think the thing to remember is it may not work at all," says Levitt. "Number two, it may work somewhat and damage the pregnancy or damage the placenta. Number three, it could harm the pregnant patient in terms of liver toxicity and who knows what other poisoning."

With these risks comes a lot of uncertainty. "None of this stuff is tested; it's all word of mouth. So, you'd hate to think that you caused a problem, or you're endangering your vital organs," cautions Levitt. "There is no such thing as treating a hurt liver." She also notes possible damage to other vital organs.

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Polly Walker, Luke Newton posing for the camera: Colin Bridgerton with Marina Thompson in Bridgerton. © NICK BRIGGS/NETFLIX Colin Bridgerton with Marina Thompson in Bridgerton.

"The key there is how much and what damage can it cause. The liver is the filter for the bloodstream, so if you overdo anything then you're facing liver toxicity, and you can't live without your liver," Levitt continues. "You can damage it, and you can live with liver disease before it becomes end stage. But, if you were to take so much or so often, you could do such damage to the liver that it doesn't function, and you would die."

Luckily, women today have research-backed, FDA-approved abortion options available. "There's just no excuse to have to turn to that," says Levitt.

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