Inflammatory disorders, Could Green Tea be a Natural Green Miracle?

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We have all experienced, and hated the burning and stinging feeling associated with inflammation. Yet, inflammation is actually a vital part of our immune system. Without it wounds would continue to worsen without improvement.

Although you may be alarmed by constant fluctuations in inflammation this is actually the sign of a very healthy immune system. Inflammation is an innate part of our immunity. Innate simply means we are born with it. Typically, when something is innate it is biologically created to protect our body from pathogens, disease and ultimately death.

The process of inflammation is a slow and progressive processes beginning with a release of inflammatory compounds and enzymes from white blood cells. This will occur at the site of an injury or where pathogens have invaded. The primary responsive compound released is the complement protein. This begins a process called the complement cascade. This is an incredibly complex number of pathways which combine to generate ‘complement 3’. Once produced it instantly splits into complement C3b and C3a. C3a is the main protein which triggers the inflammatory response [1].

Clinical Characteristics of Inflammation

There are typical symptoms of inflammation these include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Loss of function/immobility
  • Heat [2].

Typically the inflammatory response begins with reddening of the skin, known as the acute vascular response. Acute simply means that it is only temporary. The presence of a pathogen or wound damage will cause blood vessels close to the skin to vasodilate. Typically this area of redness is surrounded by swelling and then an area that is less reddened.

This is then followed by the acute cellular phase, this begins with specialised white blood cells, called neutrophils, this allows for ‘margination’. This is a process in which white blood cells attach the wall of the vessel making them ‘leaky. As white blood cells push between the cells of the vessel lining they pass into the tissue, know as diapedesis. This begins the chronic cellular response which is where other specialised white blood cells called macrophages and lymphocytes pass to the site of the wound or pathogen invasion. These cells are responsible for a vital part of the healing process. This then repeats itself until the wound is healed or the threat of the pathogen ceases, known as resolution [1].

Inflammation can be acute or chronic. Acute inflammation only lasts a few days, the inflammation is almost instantaneous and can be brought on by injury or presence of bacteria. An example is a cut or burn. Alternatively, chronic inflammation is causes by an overactive immune system or virus, this is something develops over a very long period of time, and may last years. A good example of this is inflammatory bowel disease, (IBD) [2].

What disorders generate inflammation?

  • Allergens
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s
  • High Blood pressure
  • Cancer [3]

How can inflammation be managed or reduced?

Some of Inflammation can be managed through a carefully controlled diet. It is important to consider avoiding pro-inflammatory foods and eating and an abundance of anti-inflammatory foods. Those foods considered pro-inflammatory include:

  • Soy beans and soy products
  • Dairy Products
  • High fat foods, particular trans fats I.e pastries and processed snacks
  • High fat meat
  • Refined simple sugars found in cakes, biscuits and chocolates.

On the other hand, there are many anti-inflammatory foods that are easy and versatile in the diet, including:

  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach.
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Ginger/garlic
  • Capsicum in chilli peppers
  • Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Seeds, such as flax, linseed and chia.
  • Green Tea [3].

How can Green Tea help Reduce Inflammation?

According to scientists from Hong Kong Green Tea is one of the most popular gifts in the world. Green tea is actually an extract of the Camellia Sinensis plant. In the past, the whole plant has been used for its health properties, but now we take extracts from the leafs to promote health. Studies have shown that Green Tea is particularly at potent reducing inflammation within the body. Thus, it has been prescribed as a natural remedy for a multitude of diseases and disorders.

According to science the actives such as EGCG are capable of boosting T-cells (a derivative of specialised white blood cells). In addition, to this, they have been proven to block inflammatory marker Interleukin- 1 (IL-1) from taking effect and generating more symptoms of inflammation [4]. One 2011 study found a decrease in the number of pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines and chemokines [5]. A recent study from 2016 concluded the following,

‘...Green tea and EGCG have multiple targets and act in a pleiotropic (multiple gene locations) manner, we may consider their usage to improve the quality of life in patients with inflammatory disease. Green tea and EGCG have beneficial health effects’ [6].

  1. Pocock.G, Richards.C, Richards.D. (2013). 19: Defence against infection: The Immune System. In: Pocock.G, Richards.C, Richards.D Human Physiology . 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pg. 346-348.
  2. Nordqvist.C. (2016). Inflammation: Chronic and Acute. Available: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php.
  3. Axe.J. (2016). Inflammation at the Root of Most Disease. Available: https://draxe.com/inflammation-at-the-root-of-most-diseases/.
  4. Arthritis Foundation. (2016). Fight Inflammation With a Cup of Tea.Available: http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/health-benefits-of-tea/.
  5. Cavet.M, et-al. (2011). Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate in human corneal epithelial cells.. Molecular Vision. 18 (17), Pg. 533-542.
  6. Ohishi.T, et-al. (2016). Anti-inflammatory Action of Green Tea.. Anti-Inflammatory & Anti-Allergy Agents in Medicinal Chemistry. 15 (2), eCollection.

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