By Yvonne Blackwood
“War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing,” are words from a hit song produced by Motown in 1969. The multi-million dollar question today is: “Tea, what is it good for? Absolutely many ailments, many pleasures.”
When the Chinese first discovered tea a few thousand years ago, they not only drank it as a beverage, they used it for medicinal purposes. According to ShenNong (supposedly mythical) some of tea’s medicinal benefits included the aid of bladder and lung infections. We do know for sure however, that during the Sui Dynasty (581-618), tea was certainly used for its medicinal qualities. Later tea became a beverage of entertainment and fellowship.
In recent times we have seen tea become the second most popular drink in the world, after water. But more importantly, we’ve heard about many researches, studies, and experiments which have shown that tea does indeed have medicinal value—more of it than one could have ever imagined. My dearly departed grandmother used to say, “There’s nothing new under the sun;” so it is with tea. The western world is now viewing tea as the Chinese had done thousands of years ago, but this time, in many instances, the health-benefit claims are backed up by research.
In one of my previous articles, “The Three Amigos Plus One Teas,” I elaborated on the four types of teas that are produced from the Camellia sinensis tea bush. In this article, I will highlight some of the health benefits of drinking tea, however, the subject has such a wide scope that I would not do it justice by lumping together the four types of teas and their benefits in one article. I will therefore focus here on some of the health benefits that green tea provides, and in part two I will discuss black, oolong, and white teas. Some studies indicate that all four teas provide some of the same benefits.
Over the past two decades or so, it seems as if a new study showing the benefits of tea is produced monthly! What are we to believe?
According to Chris Kilham, educator, medicine hunter, author, and founder of Medicine Hunter Inc., he conducted medicinal research in over 30 countries and has found that drinking green tea can help reduce stress. Green tea, and particularly matcha green tea, contains an amino acid called L-theanine that produces a calming effect. In addition, the mere act of drinking tea can be a relaxing ritual.
Halts or slows down Diabetes
An article published by Everyday Health, mentions that tea contains substances called polyphenols, which are antioxidants found in every plant. “Green tea, in particular, helps sensitize cells so they are better able to metabolize sugar. People who drank at least 6 cups of tea a week were less likely to develop diabetes, according to research.”
There seem to be a general consensus among researchers that green tea truly halts diabetes, because in another article, Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, cardiologist and director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, states that since people with diabetes have problems metabolizing sugar, they use insulin to decrease sugar levels, however with type 2 diabetes, the body is not so sensitive to insulin, therefore blood sugar levels do go up. She further states: “Through a complex biochemical reaction, tea — especially green tea — helps sensitize cells so they are better able to metabolize sugar. Green tea is good for people with diabetes because it helps the metabolic system function better.” It should be noted that this benefit comes from all teas, but more so with green tea because it has a higher level of polyphenols.
Lowers the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease
Japanese researchers published a study in the 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association in which they found that individuals who consumed five or more cups of green tea per day had a 26 percent lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than participants who consumed less than one cup of tea per day. In that study, researchers followed over 40,000 Japanese adults between the ages of 40 to 79 years who had no previous history of major disease for up to eleven years for death from all causes, and for up to seven years for death from a specific cause. Because cardiovascular disease is very complex, scientists are still exploring possible explanations for how regular consumption of tea reduces the risk of the disease. The conclusion is that green tea consumption is associated with reduced mortality due to all causes and due to cardiovascular disease but not with reduced mortality due to cancer. Research has indicated that tea flavonoids may help promote heart health by improving blood vessel and endothelial function, and by improving cholesterol levels.
Many studies and research have indicated that there are a myriad of other diseases which green tea seem to either halt, slow down, or eliminate. In a WebMD article, Beth Reardon, RD, Boston nutritionist, states, “It’s all about the catechin content.” Catechins, are a type of antioxidants that not only fight, but may also prevent cell damage. Because green tea is processed minimally, it is rich in catechins.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended only to provide information, education, and entertainment. We do our very best to ensure the information we provide is accurate. Be reminded that nothing you find on our site or in our blogs is in any way intended to be a substitute for the medical care and advice your professional healthcare provider gives you, so be sure to visit him/her with any health issues.