Green tea has always been hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties. But researchers at Washington State University (WSU) in Spokane have now identified a potential new approach to combating the joint pain, inflammation and tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis – though a component found in green tea!
Details of the study
This new study, recently published in ‘Arthritis and Rheumatology’, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology, has evaluated a phytochemical called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is a molecule with anti-inflammatory properties found in green tea. It suggests that EGCG has high potential as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis because of how effectively the molecule blocks the effects of the disease without blocking other cellular functions.
“Existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis are expensive, immunosuppressive and sometimes unsuitable for long-term use,” says Salah-uddin Ahmed, the lead WSU researcher on the project. “This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1 – an important signaling protein – through which proinflammatory cytokines transmit their signals to cause inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis,”.
The researchers confirmed their findings in a pre-clinical animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis, where they observed that ankle swelling in animals given EGCG in a 10-day treatment plan was markedly reduced.
A multitude of benefits
Recent studies on green tea have also shown that it has many other health benefits, such as in helping treat high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), liver disease, diabetes, and various cancers, as well as helping to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Researchers believe many of the health benefits of green tea come from its high level of polyphenols, a group of chemicals with powerful antioxidant properties. EGCG is the most studied of these polyphenols, and the most active.
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