“Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. ~Hippocrates
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, knew a little about the powerful medicinal effect of food.
Unfortunately, Western medicine has historically downplayed the role of food and herbs as “therapy” and “medicine”.
Now, some 2,500 years past the age of Hippocrates, Western society is slowly coming back to natural medicine to support chronic disease states such as obesity and cancer.
Green tea has been used for 1000’s of years and is regarded as one of the most powerful natural herbs available.
Green tea is one of the most ancient natural remedies, with its roots in China. Green tea is actually the same plant as Black Tea, White Tea, and Oolong tea, but is the least processed. Because it is unfermented, green tea has a high concentration of healthy antioxidants known as polyphenols, as well as other medicinal compounds.
If you take supplements or spend any amount of time in health food stores, you have likely heard about the most studied green tea extract, epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. Just about every month I review abstracts from the nutrition literature, something positive is published regarding the properties of green tea.
Whether you are drinking the tea, or supplementing with a concentrated extract such as EGCG, green tea is one of the healthiest things you can add to your lifestyle. Here are some of the most well-known benefits of consuming green tea:
Antiviral/Antibacterial Properties of Green Tea:
Green tea is noted for it’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial capabilities (1). Studies have been conducted regarding Green Tea’s effect on multiple types of influenza by inhibiting flu replication, and potentially acting on the virus itself (2). Green tea may also be supportive against Herpes, HPV, Hepatitis B, and even HIV.
Green Tea and Cancer Prevention:
There is strong support showing green tea extract as supportive for cancer prevention (3). Studies have suggested lower incidence of certain cancers & increased 5-year survival rate for those supplementing with green tea extract. Ongoing trials at the Mayo Clinic show promise that EGCG also offers beneficial support for patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Additional studies suggest that Green Tea polyphenols like EGCG may prevent breast cancer (4, 5, 6)
It is thought to prevent cancer by preventing oxidative damage from free radicals & byproducts of daily metabolism (7). Green tea is also generally recognized as an immune stimulant, helping produce immune cells that recognize & scavenge for rogue cancer cells. It may also help convince cancer cells to self-destruct in a process known as apoptosis.
Green Tea and Chronic Cardiovascular Disease
Green tea is widely recognized as having anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce pain (10). Decreasing inflammation indirectly supports cardiovascular health, as well as nervous system health including vision, mood, & cognition.
Brain and Nervous System Health:
Despite containing caffeine and other stimulating constituents, green tea contains the calming amino acid called L-theanine which has been suggested to promote a healthy balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, as well as promote stress relief, sleep & relaxation (11) .
Green Tea and Weight Loss Benefits:
Green Tea is thermogenic, meaning it helps to slightly boost our metabolism which may help promote the loss of a few of a few extra pounds when combined with other weight loss approaches (12). This thermogenic effect may be slightly exaggerated by the media, but many high-quality supplements that aim to support healthy weight, contain EGCG from green tea.
Green tea extract has been shown to speed up the action of key enzymes involved in the process of ridding toxic chemicals and metals from our bodies (13). Removing chemicals and metals can also assist weight loss and promote adrenal and thyroid health.