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A Tea Time You Shouldn't Miss

By James Barber M.D.
Cosmetic Surgery Expert
Updated: September 10, 2008
For centuries, green tea has been used as a natural remedy and supplement in Asian cultures. Reportedly found by a Chinese emperor 4,000 years ago, green tea was used to relieve headaches, pains, and depression as well as to increase energy, the immune system, and the detoxification process. Today, green tea has moved to the forefront of the nutritional supplement industry for all these uses and more.

The active constituents of green tea include volatile oils, vitamins, minerals, and caffeine. The most interesting components, however, are polyphenols, particularly the catechin known as Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). These polyphenols are believed to be the driving force behind green tea's role in promoting good health.

Green Tea has been shown to mildly reduce total cholesterol levels, and more importantly, to improve cholesterol profile by decreasing the harmful LDL and increasing the good HDL. The herb also reduces platelet aggregation and consequently the stickiness of the blood. These factors, in concert with green tea's ability to increase fat metabolism and regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, make it a good bet for weight loss and cardiovascular health.
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Several studies have led scientists to believe that green tea may have anti-cancer properties as well. In a double blind trial, people with leukoplakia (a pre-cancerous oral condition) took three grams daily of a mixture including whey protein, green tea polyphenols, and green tea pigments. They also applied a similar green tea mixture to the wounds three times daily. The result was a significant and encouraging decrease in the pre-cancerous condition. Other studies have shown green tea to effectively inhibit the spread of melanoma in animals.

Evidence of green tea's potent anti-oxidant abilities is beginning to accumulate. The herb is not only a good free-radical scavenger, but it also helps us enhance the effectiveness of our body's natural anti-oxidant systems.

Most studies on green tea are based on the levels that are typically consumed in Asian countries, about 3 cups (750 ml) per day. Supplements containing standardized extracts of polyphenols, particularly EGCG's, are now readily available. Some of these provide up to 97% polyphenols, the equivalent of 4 cups (1000 ml) of the tea. While green tea is generally free from side effects, those who consume large quantities may experience insomnia, anxiety, and similar conditions caused by the caffeine found in the herb.

Forever Facts:

- A study of over 400 men at Johns Hopkins shows a relationship between calorie intake and prostate cancer. Men who consumed over 2600 calories daily were found to be at four times greater risk of developing prostate cancer. The source of the calories (carbs, protein, fat) was inconsequential. Researchers stated that more studies will be performed to confirm or deny a correlation.

- A change in diet may be just what the doctor ordered for arthritis sufferers. A Norwegian study that switched Westerners over to a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fish found that joint pain decreased nearly 50%. Benefits were probably caused by reducing the inflammation throughout the bodies of the participants.

Words of Wisdom:

"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity." -Albert Einstein

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