A hallmark of ancient Chinese medicine, green tea is a staple of natural health across Asia. It is a certifiable member of the healing foods group and, in pill form, is one of the most popular natural supplements around. A new study has uncovered a novel reason why we are making a sound decision in ingesting this food cure. And it has everything to do with disease prevention.
Researchers found a compound in green tea that has a powerful ability to boost your “regulatory T cells,” which play a key role in the immune system and in suppressing autoimmune disease. Drugs have been developed that act in similar ways, but they carry side effects.
They believe it may be a major underlying reason behind the health benefits of green tea. People around the world take it to control inflammation, improve immune function, and prevent cancer.
This could be a natural, plant-derived compound that can actually boost the number of T cells roaming your body looking to battle intruders. While this new study is early, it points to a very interesting possibility: an easy and safe way to help control autoimmune problems and address various diseases. And a wholly natural one at that.
Many types of cells have different roles in the immune system. Together, they are involved in a balancing act of attacking unwanted invaders without damaging normal cells. In autoimmune diseases, which can range from simple allergies to rheumatoid arthritis or even terminal conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, this process goes awry and the body mistakenly attacks itself.
Some cells exist primarily to help control that problem and dampen or “turn off” the immune system, including regulatory T cells. In the new study, researchers experimented with a compound in green tea, a polyphenol called “EGCG,” which is believed to be responsible for much of its health benefits and has both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer characteristics. They found that it could cause a higher production of regulatory T cells. Its effects were not as potent as some of those produced by prescription drugs, but it also had few concerns about long-term use or toxicity.
Could we do this via a natural foods approach? That is the amazing idea behind this. Studies in mice, for one, have shown that EGCG significantly increased the numbers and frequencies of regulatory T cells and helped control the immune response.
One thing is for sure, green tea is here to stay in medical circles.