I first was introduced to green tea in 1998 when I heard a lecture by an epidemiologist about his research on Green Tea. This talk mentioned the benefit of green tea in reducing cancer rates. I did not start drinking green tea though until I was completing medical school and now in my residency, I drink green tea two to three times a day and have recently switched to white tea.
The goal of this article is to highlight the benefits of green and white tea in regards to the scientific data to demonstrate the benefits, to list the benefits of green tea and how much one would need to consume to acquire benefit.
Green Tea is made from the dried leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, originated in China between 4,000- 5,000 years ago. A Chinese and medical leader named Sheng Nong discovered green tea as a medicinal herb in 2737 B.C. While boiling water under a tea tree, some tea leaves fell into Sheng’s pot of boiling water. After drinking some tea, he discovered its healing powers and immediately placed tea on his list of medicinal herbs.
Benefits of Green Tea:
1. Researchers at the University of Arizona showed that cigarette smokers who drank four cups a day of decaffeinated green tea for four months cut the cellular damage caused by cigarettes. They tested 140 smokers to see if drinking green tea reduces the risks of cancer. They examined whether green tea helped repair damage to cells caused by smoking.
For four months, volunteers drank either green tea, black tea or water.
“They were asked to eat whatever they were eating and just add tea to
their diet,” said Dr Iman Hakim who was the principal investigator of
the study. Researchers tested the participants’ urine for levels of 8-OHdG, which is found in higher amounts in individuals with lung cancer. “What we found was a 25% decrease in the green tea group,” she said. However, no changes were seen in the people who drank black tea or water. “We think green tea, in our group of smokers, is associated with a reduction of oxidative stress (associated with lung cancer) in their urine,” Dr Hakim said. “What we found was significant,” Dr. Hakim said, referring to tests done on the urine of the 118 smokers in the study. However, it is still unclear whether green tea changes genes damaged from smoking.
2. Reduce Skin Cancer/Melanoma: At Case Medical School, a study on green and white tea showed a benefit in decreasing skin damage. More skin products now contain green tea and white tea extracts.
3. Reduce Cavities: Pace University researchers have shown that White Tea Extract (WTE) may have applications in retarding growth of bacteria that cause Staphylococcus infections, Streptococcus infections, pneumonia and dental cavities. “Past studies have shown that green tea stimulates the immune system to fight disease,” says Milton Schiffenbauer, Ph.D., a microbiologist and professor in the Department of Biology at Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts & Sciences and primary author of the research. “Our research shows White Tea Extract can actually destroy in vitro the organisms that cause disease. Study after study with tea extract proves that it has many healing properties. This is not an old wives tale, it’s a fact.” This research was presented at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
4. Weight Loss: Research from Geneva found that drinking green tea led to an additional 70 calories burned in one day, which for one week this equals about 500 calories. As a background, it takes about 3000 calories of exercise to lose one pound of weight.
Newer research has focused on white tea. In one study by Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University found that white tea reduced colon cancer in rats. In this study, they recommended 3 cups of white tea per day. Consumption of green tea reduced the number of tumors in the mice from an average of 30 to 17 and of white tea from an average of 30 to 13 tumors. Furthermore, mice given a combination of sulindac ( a type of nsaid: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and white tea saw a tumor reduction of about 80 percent, from 30 tumors to six. White tea, the least processed of all teas, has the highest levels of polyphenols and antioxidants. Green and white teas that have high levels of the protective polyphenols called catechins.
You should always consult a physician when starting any new herbal products and although I am not supporting other herbal teas and products, I am a fan of green and white tea and do believe that it health benefits.
However, to truly attain protective benefits from the green and white tea, research shows that one needs to drink 4 glasses a day, it should be hot tea and not on ice, but it can be tea that has been placed in the refrigerator to cool.