You are probably already familiar with green tea (Camellia sinensis) and its effects on weight loss and cancer prevention. Studies have, for the past two decades, been exploring the effects of green tea on a wide array of health issues. Green tea has been cultivated for a long time in human history, beginning in India and China. It is made from non-fermented leaves of the Camelia Sinensis plant. There are thousands of studies available on the cancer-preventive effects of green tea. Potent catechins found in green tea give this beverage its cancer preventing properties, most notably epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Green tea is also great in treating cardiovascular diseases by preventing the formation of atherosclerotic plaque, lowering the levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Recent studies are now exploring green tea’s role in helping people who suffer from arthritis and joint pain
Arthritis and joint pain
Arthritis is a term that referrers to a wide array of conditions that affects the joints. Inflammation in the joints can be caused by mechanical damage to the joints or as a result of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In rheumatoid arthritis, the body produces enzymes that attack the lining of joints which causes inflammation and pain. These kinds of diseases can be debilitating and can reduce the quality of life in sufferers. Current treatments for arthritis include anti-inflammatory drugs and clooxygenase (COX)-2 selective inhibitors, but these have many side effects. Patients who suffer from chronic joint pain are also prescribed pain relievers, but these only treat symptoms while the disease remains untreated. New ways of treating arthritis and joint pain are needed, which is why scientists are researching alternative forms such as green tea in treating joint diseases. Scientists at the University of Michigan Health System have found that catechins in green tea prevented the production of destructive enzymes in rheumatoid arthritis in a detailed study.
Green tea catechins
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is a catechin found abundantly in green tea (7380 mg per 100 g). It is believed to be 25 to 100 times more potent than vitamins C and E as far as antioxidant activity is concerned. The scientists at the University of Michigan Health System isolated cells from the joints of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and treated them with EGCG. Cells treated with EGCG produced less inflammatory enzymes than did the untreated cells. Furthermore, the cells treated with EGCG seemed to have blocked a chemical reaction that was linked to joint inflammation. The study found that the catechin found in green tea had a positive effect on cell health in RA patients.
However, they don’t know yet if drinking green tea has the same effect on RA as administering this compound directly to the cells.
Beyond current research
EGCG has demonstrated a wide range of anti-inflammatory effects in other studies. Since RA is a disease that manifests as inflammation, it is natural to assume that it will have an effect on reducing inflammation in the joints. Researchers found the catechin in green tea reduced the activity of a protein called TAK1 through which cytokines triggered inflammation in the joints of RA sufferers. Unlike current RA medications, green tea did not interfere with other functions in the body. If further testing proves the effectiveness of green tea in treating arthritis, sufferers will be able to treat their disease with less harmful side effects and will be able to improve the quality of their lives.
For now, the researchers at the University of Michigan Health System are focused on the inhibitory role of EGCG in gene expression, According to them, their findings show significant promises in future treatments of RA patients. They also point out to the connection between cardiovascular diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. Cardiovascular diseases are successfully prevented and even treated with green tea.
Drinking green tea might in this way also prevent the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Further studies need to be done to determine whether green tea can alleviate the symptoms of RA.
Green tea has been cultivated for thousands of years for its numerous health benefits. Rich in potent antioxidants, this beverage is unique in its range of positive health effects. Green tea is cancer-preventive, promotes cardiovascular health, boosts the metabolism and aids in weight loss. It has also shown to improve cognitive functioning. And now, new studies are linking green tea to treating joint pain and arthritis.
The anti-inflammatory properties of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) have shown to inhibit inflammatory responses in the cells of RA ridden joints. Can EGCG have any effects on the joints when drank? This is still not known, but you can see for yourself by drinking a cup of this healing beverage every day, you definitely have nothing to loose.