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Green Tea as a medicinal beverage

Green tea has antioxidant activity and can help with cardiovascular diseases and cancer prevention as well as as an aid to fat loss.

Green Tea has been drunk for centuries

Tea drinking originated in China several centuries ago and throughout its long history runs the thread that "tea is good for one's health". Legend has it that it was the Chinese emperor Chen Nung, who brewed the first cup of green tea as far back as 2737 B.C. The emperor appears to have been a biologist and is said to have found that tea was able to neutralise the effect of no less than 72 different kinds of poison. There is no doubt that the original use of tea was based on its medicinal properties.

The first documented evidence of the use of tea as a medicine dates back to 130 B.C and an essay published in 59BC records the manner of sale and marketing of tea in China, as well as the establishment of schools to instruct people on how to grow tea. Tea became a product of great value and its popularity as a non-intoxicating drink was enhanced by the spread of Buddhism in China, as well as by the edict of the Imperial Court that tea should replace wine as an official beverage. This was about 1200 years ago.

Shortly after, tea was equated to grain or money for payment of tribute to the emperor. Tea also became an important item of the barter trade. In the year 1398 A.D, it was reported that 2.5 tonnes of green tea was bartered for 13,584 horses. In fact, tea became a necessity of life, equal in importance to fuel, oil, rice and salt and it is said that people would go without rice for 3 days, rather than be without tea for a single day.

What health problems can green tea help with?

Japanese scientists believe that green tea can inhibit the growth of cancer tumors in humans, but especially cancers of the oesophagus, stomach and intestines. As well as this, it has been found to reduce the incidence of heart disease.

The effect of green tea drinking was analysed on 1871 men who lived in Yoshimi, Japan, where the most common beverage is green tea. The study found that the tea reduced the incidence of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular diseases in general. It was also shown to improve liver function, therefore providing some protection against liver, colon and lung cancer.

This inhibitory activity is believed to be mainly due to the antioxidative and possible antiproliferative effects of polyphenols (composed of flavonols or catechins) compounds found in the tea. These polyphenolics may also inhibit carcinogenesis by blocking the endogenous formation of N-nitroso compounds, suppressing the activation of carcinogens and trapping of toxic agents. The anti-tumour properties of green tea are believed to partly be due to the ability of its polyphenolic constituents to increase the action of liver enzymes in the process of detoxification.

Another noted benefit of drinking green tea appears to as an aid for fat loss. This is due to green tea's ability to produce thermogenesis. The body carries 2 types of fat - brown fat, which sits against the skeleton and yellow fat, which collects around our fatty areas and increases as we put weight on. Our brown fat cells act to burn off excess yellow fat when we start to loose weight, an activity that creates heat and is known as thermogenesis. Green tea contains a group of components, which, it is thought, increase the metabolic activity of brown fat, and helps it to burn off yellow fat more effectively.

Health practitioners recommend drinking green tea after meals to protect teeth and gums because it contains high levels of natural fluoride. The polyphenols present in green tea prevent an increase in blood glucose concentration because they inhibit the activity of enzymes, which convert starch and other sugars to glucose.

Green tea as been studied extensively and has been found to provide:

Antioxidative action
Anti-tumor action that suppresses the growth of tumors
Breaks down cholesterol
Regulates blood sugar levels
Normalises blood pressure
Helps heal ulcers
Is antibacterial & antiviral
Blood cleansing

At Ideal Health we stock Green Tea extract in a capsule, as well as the organically grown Madura Green Tea, in a tea bag or in loose leaf.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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