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THE HERBAL CORNER
* Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)

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GREEN TEA consist of the leaves and delicate young leaf buds of an evergreen bush (Camellia sinensis) widely cultivated in Asia. Green Tea is the freshest and least processed form of tea, the most popular human-made beverage in the world. Traditionally used by monks as a mild mental stimulant, Green Tea also has a long history as a medicinal herb, useful for treating coughs, colds, and breathing ailments.

In recent years, scientists have begun to verify Green Tea's remarkable, health-promoting properties. Studies indicate that Green Tea may help protect against cancers of the lungs, skin, liver, pancreas, and stomach. Green Tea benefits the heart by lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the tendency of blood platelets to stick together. It appears to reduce the incidence of dental cavities and has shown promise as a weight-loss agent that can promote the burning of fat and help to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels.

Green Tea contains numerous polyphenol compounds and potent antioxidants called catechins, and tea extract is proven to increase antioxidant activity in the blood. It has more of these beneficial compounds than common fermented black tea. The evidence for green tea's potent antioxidant effects continues to accumulate. In a recent study, researchers found that compounds such as those found in tea not only directly scavenge free radicals but also enhance the effectiveness of the body's natural antioxidant systems.

Recently, Japanese researchers reported that increased consumption of Green Tea prior to clinical cancer onset is significantly associated with improved prognosis of stage I and II breast cancer. Green Tea appears to inhibit various human tumors in test tubes, including specific leukemic and skin cancers, plus carcinomas of the breast, gastrointestinal tract, colon, and lung. Topical application of the major polyphenol antioxidant found in Green Tea, EpiGalloCatechinGallate or EGCg, reduces the amount of free radicals and inflammatory prostaglandins produced by immune cells in skin in response to UVB sun rays. The results suggest that skin products containing sufficient Green Tea extract may help protect against UVB-induced skin aging and skin cancers. Drinking green tea was tested in cancerous mice receiving the chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin, with positive results suggesting that green tea may enhance cancer chemotherapy and patients' quality of life.

The most popular Green Tea products are the dried herb for making tea, available in various grades (from twiggy kukicha to choice sencha) and forms (loose, tea bags), and encapsulated extracts standardized for 25 percent or higher of the polyphenols. Green tea has also become a popular ingredient in sun blocks, cream rinses, and other body care products.

The most worrisome chemical in green tea is caffeine, which occurs in small amounts (20 to 30 mg per cup, if brewed for 2 to 3 minutes) compared to coffee. Unless caffeine is added, caffeine content of the capsules should be approximately 5 to 15 mg. The potential health benefits from consuming four to five cups of green tea per day apparently outweigh any negative effects of caffeine. An increased risk of cancer of the esophagus has been associated with some tea-drinking populations, but the effect is apparently from drinking large amounts of extremely hot, salty tea.

Please note: the information contained herein has been compiled from various sources. The above statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We make no claims, either expressed or implied, that any treatments mentioned in this newsletter will cure disease, replace prescription medication, or supersede sound medical advice.

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