The Herbs Section
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Green tea (Camellia sinensis [Latin]) comes from the same perennial evergreen shrub as black tea—the difference between the two teas lies in the methods used to process the leaves. Green tea is made by lightly steaming fresh tea leaves, while black tea is made from leaves that are dried and roasted and that therefore lose a lot of their medicinal power.
Green has been a popular beverage in China for thousands of years, but only recently has the Western world discovered its remarkable health benefits. The lighter processing method used to make green tea leaves the polyphenols (including powerful antioxidants proanthocyanidin and catechin) intact. In laboratory studies polyphenols provided more antioxidant protection than vitamin E or vitamin C.
Polyphenols also enhance the performance of the body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes, including glutathione, which makes green tea a possible treatment for arthritis sufferers. Glutathione has been proven effective for reducing the inflammation and cartilage breakdown that characterizes this condition.
If you drink green tea, you are providing your body with protection against a host diseases brought about by free-radical damage. Several large studies have shown that the antioxidant effects of green tea can help lower the risk of developing cancer of the digestive system, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and breast cancer in women.
Studies have also shown that green tea also protects against heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and preventing the blood clots that can lead to atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).
Women experiencing hot flashes associated with menopause may find that drinking green tea morning and night may help reduce their frequency. Limited studies report that green tea helps balance estrogen levels, and which can help prevent not only hot flashes but discourage certain types of breast cancer as well.
Green tea has also been used to prevent tooth decay, increase air low to the lungs in asthma patients, and increase mental alertness (the last two effects are probably due in some part to the caffeine that is naturally found in all teas). Also, several small have shown that green tea extract (GTE) is an appetite suppressant and promotes weight loss in humans. It is now widely available in pharmacies and even some grocery stores in dietary supplements designed to help you lose weight.
Green tea is available in tea bags, of course! It’s also found in pure GTE supplements or combination supplements; the usual dosage is 100 to 200 milligrams of GTE daily, or three cups of tea.
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