Although green tea has been a favorite topic of researchers looking into its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, very few studies have been conducted on its role in acne treatment. This is perhaps because its potential in treating more serious diseases has eclipsed the need for this type of research. However, the few studies that have been conducted show positive evidence for the effectiveness of green tea in treating this widespread skin affliction.
A study conducted a few years back by a group of scientists in the Philippines led by Jennifer Gan-Wong suggests that green tea may be just as effective in treating acne as benzoyl peroxide, which is currently the most popular topical treatment for the skin ailment.
The researchers involved in the study found that a facial cream using three per cent green tea extract as the active ingredient was just as effective in treating acne as a similar facial cream using four per cent benzoyl peroxide.
The study consisted of 108 patients split into two groups of 54. The study was conducted as a double blind, so that none of the participants knew which type of treatment they were receiving. Each participant received an identical bottle of facial cream, without knowing which active ingredient was contained within. The researchers who were assigned to examine and photograph the patients were also unaware of which treatment the patients were receiving. This was done in order to ensure the objectivity of the study.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that both groups experienced comparable improvements in the state of their acne. However, the green tea group actually experienced fewer of the mild side effects associated with benzoyl peroxide use such as dry and itchy skin. The researchers suggested that the difference in side effects may be attributed to the fact that “natural” products tend to have fewer side effects than chemicals such as benzoyl peroxide, even while admitting that this assertion would be difficult to prove as a general condition.
A recent Iraqi study published in 2008 has confirmed these results by comparing green tea acne treatment with another popular acne remedy: zinc sulphate. The researchers gave forty patients unmarked facial creams containing either two per cent green tea or five per cent zinc sulphate. Each of the patients had mild to moderate acne before the trial and used the treatment for two months. At the end of the study, the group who was given the green tea lotion actually showed greater improvement than the group which was given zinc sulphate. The researchers concluded that green tea lotion is a superior acne treatment in comparison with zinc sulphate.
These two studies certainly indicate some effectiveness in the use of green tea to treat acne; however, no study has yet been conducted on the benefits of applying moist green tea leaves directly to the skin, a practice which anecdotal evidence seems to indicate may be effective. Therefore, while the evidence seems to point to the effectiveness of using moist green tea leaves as a facial mask treatment for acne, we can only recommend this practice with the reservation that its effectiveness still needs to be directly tested scientifically.
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