(RxWiki News) Scientists have long believed that green tea is more than just a tasty beverage. Green tea has been suspected of offering a number of health benefits ranging from help lowering cholesterol to fighting cancer and even assisting with heart problems.
New research from Oregon State University may have finally shown why green tea has added health benefits. Researchers recently conducted experiments with a compound in green tea, a polyphenol called EGCG, that has both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer characteristics.
"Fighting allergies? Try a simple cup of green tea."
Researchers discovered the compound could cause a higher production of regulatory T cells, which along with other cells help control attacks from autoimmune diseases including allergies, juvenile diabetes and Lou Gehrig's disease without damaging normal cells.
The effects were not as strong as prescription medication, but there are no concerns about toxicity or long-term use with the tea. Green tea may provide a natural long-term sustainable way to accomplish the same goals with the toxicity, researchers said.
Lab studies conducted with mice showed that treatment with EGCG significantly increased the numbers and frequencies of regulatory T cells found in spleen and lymph nodes, and also helped to control the immune response.
This ability to increase T cells may be the underlying mechanism for the health benefits achieved by drinking green tea such as reduced inflammation, improved immune function and cancer prevention.
The research was done by scientists from OSU, the University of Connecticut, and Changwon National University in South Korea. The work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station.