Healing Powers of Tea, Black & Green
Tea is the beverage of choice for two-thirds of people in the world. Kings and Queens drink it, Maharajas and Gurus drink it. Tea is refreshing and it can be healing for many different health issues. Green and black teas have been beverages of pleasure for thousands of years and now they are also becoming beverages of health and healing. There is research showing that green tea from the camellia sinensis plant has been used to treat obesity, stress, depression, and Parkinson’s disease because of its potential to enhance serotonin and/or dopamine metabolism. Green and black tea are considered by many populations that are tea drinking people to be anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. Research is now proving it.
Flavonoids are compounds that have been studied for their healing powers. There are several in tea. The most prevalent flavonoids are catechins, Gallocatechin, epicatechin, theaflavins, and thearubigins. This group, all found in the tea made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, are known to have a direct antioxidant activity and are effective free radical scavengers thereby preventing injury by the free radicals. Flavonoids are especially good at binding to metals in the system, especially iron and copper, and can help remove them from your body.
Tea and Heart Disease
A study¹ done in Rotterdam, Netherlands and published in 2002 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that “An increased intake of tea and other flavonoids may contribute to the primary prevention of ischemic heart disease.” Just 3 cups a day of tea reduced the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Green tea was studied in Madrid and the results of the study showed a positive effect of drinking 7 cups of green tea daily for decreasing cholesterol absorption, inhibiting LDL (low density lipoprotein, also known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol) oxidation, and decreasing systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
Green Tea EGCG
One of the major components green tea catechins is epigallocatechin gallate called EGCG for short. This flavonoid has been studied for its health-promoting effects.
Anti-metastatic and anti-cancer activities. In mouse trials green tea was able to prevent cancer cells from the penetration through basement membrane. EGCG inhibited lung metastasis in mouse B16 melanoma cell lines.
Apoptosis. This is the primary mechanism of action for many anti-tumor drugs. Apoptosis is programmed cell death which is essential to overcome tumors. EGCG induces apoptosis in cancer cells. Oral infusions of green tea catechins were shown to inhibit prostate cancer development accompanied by enhanced apoptosis.
Anti-diabetic. Green tea enhances insulin activity and insulin sensitivity in obesity-related insulin resistance syndrome in humans. A large-scale cohort study revealed that frequent consumption of green tea was associated with a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Tea and Cancer Therapies
A 2013 study in Geneva, Switzerland proposed that green tea, EGCG, when combined with conventional cancer therapies showed that EGCGs anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities have been related to amelioration of cancer therapy side effects. This result showed that the combination of conventional cancer therapies and drinking green tea can enhance the outcome of the therapy and reduce the side effects of the conventional cancer therapies.
Tea and Cataracts
Green and black teas (both from the same plant species of camellia sinensis, Theaceae) were shown in a 2005 study to significantly inhibit diabetic cataracts as well as diabetes. It is assumed that oxidative stress is partly the cause of adult cataracts because it results in an imbalance of antioxidants. Green and black teas exhibit antioxidant effects in the body thereby reducing the oxidative stress thought to be involved with cataract production. The study showed that tea reduced cataracts but the scientists were not exactly sure how it worked.
Tea and Bone Mineral Density
Bone mineral density (BMD) is an important factor in bone health and prevention of bone fractures. Black tea consumption had a positive effect on BMD particularly in older women in a study published in 2007 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Gardner, et al., 2007 61). A significant increase in BMD was shown with the consumption of 4 or more cups a day. There were different results for men found in the Mediterranean Osteoporosis Study that stated that drinking black tea was a protective factor for the risk of hip fractures in men. Men and women both benefitted by drinking black tea.
Tea and Hepatitis C Virus
More than 170 million people worldwide are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and are at risk for developing liver diseases such as cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. Research published in 2012 showed EGCG to be effective in preventing HCV entry into the cells. More research is needed before EGCG can be proclaimed as an early stage preventative for HCV.
Tea and Yeast Infections
Scientists have known for decades that tea is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. A new study published in 2013 showed that the EGCG catechin in tea, especially green tea, has antifungal activity against human-pathogenic yeasts like Candida albicans . As far back as 1989 scientists discovered that tea extracts, at concentrations similar to the brewed tea that most people drink, inhibited the growth of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). If you work in or visit hospitals, it is a good idea to make sure you drink green and/or black tea as a preventative.
Green and black teas are very good choices as healthful beverages. Although most of the trials used EGCG, concentrated EGCG, some actually had the subjects drink the tea just as anyone might, often for 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off and 6 weeks on again, to get positive results. None of the research used sweetened tea and only one mentioned adding milk to the tea. In all of the tests and trials there never was a report about the ingredient similar to caffeine causing health problems. However, there were many trials using tea to reduce the risks of all different kinds of heart problems. If you are not a tea drinker and want to start drinking tea for the health benefits, please see your doctor first to make sure it’s acceptable for you to begin drinking green or black tea.
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