Green Tea: Anti-inflammatory and blood thinner
Majid Ali, M.D.
Green tea is an excellent anti-inflammatory and blood thinner with well established cancer-fighting properties. Next to water, tea (black and green) is the most popularly consumed beverage in the world.
Green tea has drawn special notice in the concept of prevention of cancer using foods, natural beverages, and spices. The epidemiological studies have long suggested that the consumption of tea is associated with a lowered risk of cancer. Most of the clinical benefits of green tea are attributed to its polyphenolic antioxidants. The evidence for this is drawn from experiments conducted with many animal-tumor bioassay systems.
In uncommon occasions, I have seen the blood-thinning effects of green tea taken in large quantities to exceed the physiological limits and cause bleeding. Specifically, three patients reported bleeding from hemorrhoids, urinary bladder, and the uterus that cleared when green tea was discontinued. The bleeding reappeared when patients drank more than three cups daily and cleared again when the tea was discontinued. So, the relationship between tea and bleeding seemed established in these cases.
I report these cases to underscore the possibility of bleeding caused by blood thinning effects of drinking green tea daily in large amounts. I should point out that I observed this relationship in my practice of more than 8,000. So, this must be seen as a rare occurrence. A simple solution to the problem is to rotate green tea with other teas. Indeed, all three patients were able to consume green tea two or three times a day without recurrence of bleeding. Green tea is especially beneficial for individuals with breast and prostate cancer. For such patients, rosemary tea is an excellent addition for rotation with green tea.
For patients requiring surgical procedures, I carefully discontinue green tea and other natural remedies that can cause excessive blood thinning, most notably omega-3 oils and ginko biloba. The same holds for aspirin used for the prevention of cardiovascular disorders. It is important that people considering surgery bring this to the attention of their surgeons.
The Principles of Spice Medicine
The following are important aspects of spice remedies that may be designated as the principles of spice medicine:
1. Mono-spice therapy in large doses but for short periods of time can be very effective for acute conditions. To cite one example, large doses of ginger are sometimes helpful in controlling nausea caused by chemotherapy. However, continuous mono-spice therapy for extended periods of time should be avoided.
2. Poly-spice therapy (the concurrent use of spices with empirically—recognized complementary roles) is generally more beneficial for controlling acute infectious and inflammatory processes. For instance, Turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cayenne (when tolerated well) can be combined for better results.
3. For chronic inflammatory and infectious disorders, mono-spice therapy should be avoided. Poly-spice therapy for such disorders yields superior results when combined with direct oxystatic therapies, such as hydrogen peroxide foot soaks (done with one part 3% peroxide and 30 parts of water with a pinch of salt added).
Healthful Factors of Green Tea
The clinical benefits of green tea have been documented in many studies.2-6
Tea plants (Camellia sinensis) have been used in China for nearly 3000 years. Common black tea comprises withered leaves of the plant which are harvested, fermented, and dried for brewing. The ancient Chinese recognized the differences in the medical benefits of withered and fermented leaves of the tea plant and leaves harvested before withering. That form of tea is called green tea. The Chinese tradition regards green tea as a healthful beverage with antitoxic, diuretic, digestive, expectorant, and stimulant properties.
I liberally prescribe herbal teas for my patients with cancer. On top of my list for teas is decaffeinated green tea. There is strong epidemiological, clinical, and experimental evidence of good effects of green tea in both the prevention and treatment of cancer. Such evidence is strongest for prostate and breast cancer.
A family of substances found in green tea called catechins have well-documented anti-cancer effects. In animal models, the catechin-related growth suppression and/or cancer cell death (apoptosis) varies considerably with the type and stage of malignancy, as well as with the type of catechin. A list of the members of the catechin family includes the following:
EC ( epicatechin)
ECG (EC 3-gallate)
EGCG (EGC 3-gallate)
At this time, EGCG among the various catchins appears to hold the greatest promise. Notable contributions in this field have been made by Hassan Mukhtar, Helfaer Professor and Director of Research at the University of Wisconsin. He presented compelling experimental evidence of the efficacy of green tea for treating certain cancers, notably of the prostate gland. For detailed information concerning the molecular mechanisms by which green tea polyphenolic antioxidants elicit anti-cancer biological responses, I refer the readers to his publications 7-10.
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1. Ali M. The Crab, Oxygen and Cancer. Volume II: The Oxygen Protocol for Cancer. 2007. New York, Canary 21 Press.
2. Cabrera C, Artacho R, Giménez R Beneficial effects of green tea–a review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006;25: 79–99.
3. Maron DJ, Lu GP, Cai NS, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effect of a theaflavin-enriched green tea extract: a randomized controlled trial. Arch. Intern. Med. 2003;163: 1448–53.
4 Kuriyama et al. The Ohsaki Study. Green Tea Consumption and Mortality Due to Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, and All Causes in Japan. JAMA.2006;296: 1255.
5 Nagao T, Komine Y, Soga S, et al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005;81:122-129.
6. BBC news – 17 March 2009 – green tea may have the power to ward off breast cancer
7. Katiyar SK, Mukhtar H. Tea in chemoprevention of cancer: epidemiologic and experimental studies. Int J Oncol 1996;8:221–38.
8. Agarwal R, Katiyar SK, Khan SG, Mukhtar H. Protection against ultraviolet B radiation-induced effects in the skin of SKH-1 hairless mice by a polyphenolic fraction isolated from green tea. Photochem Photobiol 1993;58:695–700.
9. Katiyar SK, Elmets CA, Agarwal R, Mukhtar H. Protection against ultraviolet-B radiation-induced local and systemic suppression of contact hypersensitivity and edema responses in C3H/HeN mice by green tea polyphenols. Photochem Photobiol 1995;62:855–61.
10. Katiyar SK, Rupp CO, Korman NJ, Agarwal R, Mukhtar H. Inhibition of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and other skin tumor-promoter-caused induction of epidermal interleukin-1 alpha mRNA and protein expression in SENCAR mice by green tea polyphenols. J Invest Dermatol 1995;105:394–8.
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Majid Ali, MD is a humanist, physician, scientist, poet, story-teller, and the solo author of The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine (in 12 Volumes) and 36 other books.
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