Numerous reports in recent years have attested to the anti-arthritic power of a group of nutrients called “catechins” found in great quantities in green tea. In particular, the three studies discussed below seem to indicate that green tea could have a major part to play in helping prevent as well as ameliorate the symptoms of at least two major types of arthritis.
The first report, published in 1998, shows that green tea can prevent the onset of arthritis and improve its symptoms after onset. In the study, two groups of lab mice with collagen-induced arthritis were monitored closely. The first group was given regular water to drink, while the second group was given a solution of water enriched with anti-oxidants from green tea. The researchers found that while the incidence of arthritis in the first group was between 84 and 100 percent, the incidence of arthritis in the green tea group was only 33 to 55 percent. Not only this, but the researchers also found that those mice in the green tea group who did developed arthritis experienced a less severe form of it.
Four years later, the same research team conducted another study further confirming these results. In this study they singled out the anti-oxidant EGCg, which is the most common compound in green tea. The researchers found that they could slow down the production of the chemicals that cause osteoarthritis in laboratory conditions by treating compounds from arthritic cartilage with EGCg. The researchers concluded that treatment with EGCg may be able to slow down the destruction of cartilage cells in human joints.
A third study was conducted in 2002 along similar lines, and once again with similar results, although by a different group of researchers. In this third study, researchers tested the effects of green tea catechins (such as EGCg and others) on arthritic cartilage taken from humans. The cartilage was osteoarthritic in some cases and rheumatoid in others. The researchers found that green tea catechins were effective in inhibiting the breakdown of cartilage that normally occurs along with arthritis. The researchers however, noted that it was not clear from these tests whether or not catechins ingested by tea drinkers would be in amounts great enough to have similar effects within the human body, stating that further studies would need to be conducted to this effect.
What is interesting about this last statement is that there is already a natural way for green tea consumers to drastically increase their intake of green tea without resorting to artificial supplements. While brewed green tea has relatively large amounts of catechins, these are dwarfed by the amounts found in unbrewed green tea leaves. In fact the amount of EGCg in green tea leaves is 100 times that found in brewed green tea. The difference in concentration is similar with the other catechins found in green tea as well. Hence green tea consumers who want to increase their consumption of green tea catechins can do so by eating whole green tea leaves, thereby increasing the chances that they are getting enough catechins to be effective.
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“Republished with permission from EatGreenTea.com, the original edible green tea.”