Yes, here we go on about green tea again. But we can’t help it if this beverage is always making the news, can we? And there’s another recently discovered benefit that you’ll want to know about — the potential of green tea to shield your bladder from inflammation.
First, let’s look at exactly what green tea is. It’s actually made from the same plant as black, white and oolong tea are. This prolific plant is the “Camellia sinesis,” or tea plant, which is originally from Asia. To make the various types of tea, the plant is processed differently.
Green tea is the form with the least oxidation and is thus considered by many to be the healthiest. It’s the antioxidants contained in the beverage that are credited with many health benefits, such as helping prevent or slow cancer, protect against heart disease and fight off diabetes.
A study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has found one more potential medical use for green tea. In the lab, the researchers tested the protective effects of a specific tea ingredient: “catechins.” Catechins are “flavonoids,” a plant compound that acts as an antioxidant in humans. In this case, the university scientists wanted to see if catechins could do anything to help prevent bladder conditions.
First they exposed normal and cancerous bladder cells to “epigallocatechin gallate” (EGCG) and “epicatechin gallate” (ECG), two catechins. Then the researchers added hydrogen peroxide to the mix to stimulate inflammation. Hydrogen peroxide is a type of acid that damages or destroys cells in the body. This time, both kinds of bladder cells were shielded from damage by EGCG and ECG. This means that these catechins have significant potential in preventing bladder inflammation caused by infection or injury.
Bladder inflammation is most often due to bacterial infection. An infection in the bladder can occur when bacteria enter the “urethra” (the tube that leads from the bladder to outside of the body) and travel up to the bladder. These bacteria usually come from the colon. Sometimes other tiny organisms that are sexually transmitted can also cause these kinds of infections. Common symptoms of bladder infection are the persistent need to urinate and a burning pain when you do go. You might have pain in your lower back as well as above your pubic bone. In some cases, the infection will lead to an ability to hold urine in.
Some people will have to get up many times during the night to go to the bathroom. You might notice that your urine looks cloudy or contains blood. Some people might not have any symptoms. See your doctor if you think you might have a bladder infection or inflammation due to another cause.
Obviously more research has to be done on green tea’s ability to fend off bladder inflammation. They definitely need to do a study with human subjects. In the meantime, if you’re prone to bladder problems, consider adding green tea to your daily regimen. Don’t forget my recent warning on what too much green tea can do to you. It’s best to avoid the supplements and just stick with the beverage. Remember, three cups a day is a safe limit.