Several scientific studies have shown that green tea has strong anti-inflammatory effects, almost always associated with its most prevalent and powerful compound, EGCg, or “Epigallocatechin Gallate.” Although more research is still needed in this field, the initial studies on EGCg and inflammation are encouraging, and may have applications not only in anti-inflammatory medicine but in fighting skin aging and cancer as well. A few of the more prominent studies in this field are noted below.
One report published in 2004 shows that the primary compound found in green tea, EGCg, has anti-inflammatory effects. In the human body, inflammation is caused by a specific gene called “interleukin-8” or “IL-8.” The researchers were able to isolate this gene in a laboratory setting in order to see what effect EGCg would have on its expression. The researchers found that the greater the amount of EGCg that they applied to the gene, the less able it would be to produce the effects that normally lead to inflammation in the human body. Put as simply as possible, there is compelling evidence that green tea has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
And this report is by no means an isolated example. Another report published in 2002 came up with roughly the same results, noting that green tea has the power to inhibit the inflammatory characteristics of the “IL-8” gene.
But it is also important to note that the researchers in both studies specifically singled out EGCg as the active ingredient in this reaction. While EGCg is certainly present in brewed green tea, it is present in even greater concentrations in whole green tea leaves. In fact, a USDA report states that the compound is as much as 100 times more prevalent in whole leaves than in brewed green tea.
A more recent report published in 2007 confirms these findings once again, noting that EGCg is the primary anti-inflammatory compound in green tea. This report also goes on to state that this anti-inflammatory effect, when coupled with green tea’s ability to reduce oxidative stress, could help to prevent some types of heart disease.
Further research in the past couple of years has expanded upon these findings. A report published in 2008 found that EGCg’s anti-inflammatory effects could be extended to fighting against inflammation caused by ultraviolet light from the sun. The researchers conducted human trials in which EGCg was either applied directly to the skin or taken as a supplement. Although the researchers note that further study is required to completely understand the full potential of EGCg, they claim that its anti-inflammatory nature could help to prevent not only UV induced inflammation of the skin but also the “photo-aging” and skin cancer that are often caused by this inflammation.
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