Green tea adds one more health benefit to its arsenal


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Green tea seems to be the type of beverage that you either love or hate. Bad luck if you're on Team Yuck, too, because even legit scientists tout its health benefits. And there are lots.

Green tea is loaded with catechins, more commonly known as antioxidants. They fight and may even help prevent cell damage, explains WebMD. Unlike other sites that may claim green tea is like drinking armor that not only protects you from getting cancer but also can cure it, WebMD is careful to add: "Of course, no one food will protect you from disease. Your health is wrapped up in your lifestyle and your genes, so even if you drink green tea all day long, you also need to take care of yourself in other ways, like not smoking, being active and eating a healthy diet." But that doesn't mean you shouldn't bother with a cup or two a day.

So far, research has shown that green tea can improve blood flow, lower cholesterol and, if you exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet, may help prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure. It also "seems to help keep blood sugar stable in people with diabetes," explains WebMD. Those are all pretty compelling reasons to add green tea consumption to your health and wellness routine. But now there's one more.

Researchers at Washington State University in Spokane have identified a potential new approach to combating the joint pain, inflammation and tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And take a wild guess what it is.


Is there anything green tea can't do?

The team evaluated a phytochemical called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is a molecule with anti-inflammatory properties found in green tea.

Their discovery is featured on the cover of Arthritis and Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.


What is RA?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disorder that mostly affects the small joints of the hands and feet. It causes painful swelling that progresses into cartilage damage, bone erosion and joint deformity.

"Existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis are expensive, immunosuppressive and sometimes unsuitable for long-term use," said Salah-uddin Ahmed, the lead WSU researcher on the project.

The study suggests that EGCG has high potential as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis because of how effectively the molecule blocks the effects of the disease without blocking other cellular functions.

"This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1 — an important signaling protein — through which proinflammatory cytokines transmit their signals to cause inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis," said Ahmed.

The researchers confirmed their findings in a preclinical animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis, where they observed that ankle swelling in animals given EGCG in a 10-day treatment plan was markedly reduced.

Now, how about a cup of green tea?