Green Tea: Good Medicine in a Leaf
You’ve probably heard a lot of good things about green tea lately, including the fact that it has anti-cancer properties. But is it really true that drinking green tea can help prevent cancer?
So far, no one knows for sure. Although laboratory studies have indicated that green tea can prevent cancer, when it comes to research on humans, results have been varied (sometimes promising, sometimes not), and research is ongoing. But according to the American Cancer Society, the antioxidants in green tea called catechin polyphenols inhibit enzyme activities that lead to cancer, and they may also target and repair dNA aberrations caused by oxidants.
And whether or not green tea prevents cancer, the tea and the plant it is derived from offers plenty of health benefits. Herbalists use green tea and extracts of the plant Camellia senensis to treat a variety of health concerns including mild digestive ailments, tooth decay, certain infections, headaches, and the heart. In Chinese medicine, green tea is thought to improve immunity, clear the head and brighten the eyes. It also contains a mood-modulating amino acid called L-theanine. Asian people (who do, in fact, have lower incidences of cancer than we do in the United States) typically drink three cups a day or more.
Green tea is generally considered safe. Asian people have consumed it for thousands of years with few dangerous side effects. However, some people may develop allergic reactions and should stop drinking it. Because caffeine acts as a stimulant, people with irregular heartbeats or who have anxiety attacks should not drink more than two cups per day. And women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not drink green tea in large amounts.
To make an appointment with the Bastyr Nutrition Team, call the Bastyr Center for Natural Health at 206.834.4100.
Writer: Sydney Maupin, staff writer
Sources: National Cancer Institute; American Cancer Society; Allen Sayigh, LAc, Chinese Herbal Dispensary manager at Bastyr