Although tea drinking has been associated with health benefits since ancient times, only in recent years have its medicinal properties been investigated scientifically.
“Green tea appears to be a promising source for effective anti-allergenic agents,” says Hirofumi Tachibana, the study’s chief investigator and an associate professor of chemistry at KyushuUniversity in Fukuoka, Japan. “If you have allergies, you should consider drinking it.”
Do not confuse green tea with oolong tea or black tea. Oolong tea and black tea are made from the same plant leaves, but they are prepared differently and have different medicinal effects. The longer the tea leaf is fermented, the more caffeine and the less polyphenols in contains. Polyphenols, also referred to as flavanoids, are chemicals that act as antioxidants and help rid of the body of free radicals. Tea’s health benefits are largely due to its high content of flavonoids . Green tea is not fermented at all. Oolong tea is partially fermented, and black tea is fully fermented.
Green tea contains six primary polyphenols, known as catechins. Catechins according to the latest study are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties.
Researchers in Japan identified a polyphenol in green tea , methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which appears to be the most potent and biologically active antioxidants found in tea. The compound is found in higher concentrations in green tea, the least processed of teas, than in black and oolong variety. EGCG might be able to prevent inflammation and swelling, protect cartilage between the bones, and lessen joint degeneration.. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea. Drinking green tea may also fight fat.
It now appears that the compound works by blocking the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE), two compounds in the body that are involved in triggering and sustaining allergic reactions- Tachibana says.
Green tea contains 2% to 4% caffeine. Caffeine is thought to stimulate the nervous system, heart, and muscles by increasing the release of certain chemicals in the brain called “neurotransmitters.”
Although promising against allergies, no one knows how much green tea is needed to have a therapeutic effect or which green tea varieties work best. Researchers are currently looking for additional anti-allergenic compounds in the tea.
Green tea is the second-most consumed beverage in the world, behind water. It is very popular in Japan, and has a growing following in the United States.
The October issue of Archives of Internal Medicine provides a few tips to get the most out of tea-drinking: Drinking a cup of tea a few times a day to absorb antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds. In green-tea drinking cultures, the usual amount is three cups per day. Allow tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins. The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds. Tea can impede the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables. Adding lemon or milk or drinking tea between meals will counteract this problem.
Allergy sufferers schould take some precautions:
- See a doctor for the best treatment options.
- Avoid allergens that can cause the allergy: dust, pollen, certain foods and chemicals
- Eat a balanced diet
- Exercise regularly.
- Educate yourself about allergy
Green tea also contains alkaloids such as caffeine (although in lower amount than black tea), which give green tea its stimulating properties.
If you are hypersensitive to caffeine or tannin, you may want to consider avoid drinking green tea.
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