by Diana Arundell
Asian countries including China, Japan, Korea and India have been using green tea for its therapeutic qualities for thousands of years.
The Chinese culture have acknowledged the importance of green tea in their daily life and the ancient Chinese proverb “better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one” shows the significance placed on this infamous herb.
Green tea is unfermented whereas black tea is fermented and oolong tea is semi fermented. The preparation of green tea involves the fresh leaves being lightly steamed then dried quickly which prevents fermentation, whereas black tea results when the leaves are steamed and dried slowly resulting in a fermented leaf.
Traditional Asian medicinal benefits of green tea include actions such as digestive stimulant, diuretic, blood sugar regulator, mental function stimulator, and improving eyesight amongst other things. More recently modern science is trialling the active constituents in green tea and proving that there may be many more benefits than first thought.
5 reasons to include regular cups of green tea in your day
- The polyphenols and in particular the catechins contained in green tea have shown to have therapeutic benefits such as antioxidant (more than vitamin C and E), anti inflammatory, anticancer (in particular gastrointestinal, lung and breast) and antimicrobial activities.
- Green tea has been shown to have anti bacterial action including both directly attacking the bacteria as well as inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
- Antiviral activity has been demonstrated against viruses such as Epstein-Barr, hepatitis B and C, herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 and a number of other common human viruses. Green tea ointment applied topically to warts has shown promising results.
- Green tea constituents have shown fungal growth inhibition on a number of common fungi such as candida species. It is also proving to work synergistically (enhance the effectiveness) with antifungal medications.
- Antioxidant and anti inflammatory actions of green tea have shown to have protective effects in various systems of the body including the cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems as well as improving liver function.
Does this mean drinking a cup of green tea everyday will guarantee a disease free long healthy life? There are certainly no guarantees however the regular drinking of 3-5 cups of good quality green tea daily over the years may certainly contribute to reducing the risk of developing certain chronic illnesses, support a healthy immune system and at the very least expose the body to a nutrient providing beverage that isn’t loaded with sugar and creating more inflammation in the body such as the case with soft drinks. For people that are sensitive to caffeine or are pregnant, it’s advised to drink less than 3 cups per day and drink the tea at evenly spaced intervals.
High doses of green tea appears to have interactions with some prescribed medications. Some interactions are positive such as increasing the effectiveness of certain antibiotics and improving long term outcomes when taken alongside Tamoxifen. There are however a few possible undesirable interactions to be aware of if high doses of the active constituents in green tea are consumed. For example people taking Warfarin need to be aware that high doses of green tea may reduce the effectiveness of the drug and for people taking iron supplements, due to the caffeine content of green tea, the absorption of iron may be impaired. For further information and to ensure that therapeutic doses of green tea are safe for you, please see a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Diana Arundell is a university-qualified Naturopath and consults from her Avoca Naturopath clinic. She has a special interest in fertility and pregnancy health, digestive health, immune function and family wellness programs. She was a nutrition lecturer at Macquarie University for 10 years, and is an accredited Journey Practitioner. For further informaiton or to make an appointment please contact Diana on 0410 465 900. www.avocanaturopath.com.au