By July 18, 2022
You guys, I’ve finally found it. I’ve found the herb that both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine agree is amazing. Granted, the mechanisms of healing may look different from TCM vs. Western medicine, but they both agree that it’s effective. If you’ve been keeping up on my blogs, I’ve alluded to this magical super plant before; that’s right, it’s green tea!
I’ve heard of it
No doubt. Green tea is one of those that’s made the health and diet trend circuits a few times (for good reason). But here’s a review of what green tea is, and what makes it amazing.
Green tea (and all non-herbal teas) come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Tea from this plant is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water. About 2.5 million tons of tea leaves are produced yearly, and about 20% of that is produced as green tea.
The difference between green, black, and Oolong tea comes in how the tea leaves are processed after harvest. Green tea is the least processed form. The freshly harvested leaves are immediately steamed to prevent fermentation. Then they’re rolled and dried, preserving the highest levels of antioxidants and polyphenols of any tea.
Neat. So how does that help me?
Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine both agree that the primary health benefits come from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Oxidation in the body can cause cellular damage, and chronic inflammation has been linked to chronic conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, green tea is bitter, sweet, and cooling. It works on the body by helping to clear Liver Heat and relax the body. Some symptoms of Liver Heat include:
- Ringing in the ears
Liver heat is thought to be the result of toxin buildup due to poor diet and chronic stressors. Green tea can help clear this heat, resulting in a clear mind, increased alertness, improved mood, and reduced stress.
It also helps to clear heat and toxins from the digestive system. If you’ve overindulged in alcohol, fatty or artificial foods, or have just been in a high pollution situation, green tea can help to clear all of those toxins out of your body.
What about those diseases you mentioned earlier?
Here’s where Western medicine and TCM really come together. They both agree that green tea has two huge health boosters: antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Cellular oxidation is the process of cellular damage caused by free radicals – unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to stress. Antioxidants are substances that help to prevent or reduce the damage that free-radicals can do in our bodies. Green tea is incredibly high in these antioxidants.
Inflammation is part of the natural response your immune system takes to illness or injury. Inflammation increases the blood flow to the sick or damaged part of the body, which (in theory) increases the immune cells present as well as allowing your body to more quickly clear out damaged cells and debris so it can heal. Chronic inflammation occurs when this immune response sticks around long after the illness or injury is resolved. Often this is a reaction to toxin build ups or emotional stress.
Green tea is about 30% antioxidants by weight – including polyphenols, flavanols, flavandinols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids.
Cool, cool. But what about those diseases?
I’m getting there! Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories have been linked to a decreased risk of the following disease:
- Degenerative neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s)
- Cancer – including lung, colon, esophageal, mouth, stomach, small intestine, kidney, pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers
- Cardiovascular disease – green tea has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels
- Type II Diabetes – green tea may improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels
Additionally, green tea can help with issues like bad breath and mouth ulcers, as well as digestive issues and constipation.
Green tea also contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that has strong anti-anxiety effects and can help manage stress and chronic fatigue.
Oh, and did I mention that those anti-inflammatories combined with the lower-than-coffee levels of caffeine can help to boost your metabolism and increase fat-burn? Yup, green tea pretty much does it all.
So how should I drink it?
The best temperature to brew green tea at is 185 degrees F. Basically if you let boiling water cool for about 2 minutes, it should be about the right temperature. Then you add a sachet (or about 1 tsp per cup of water) of green tea and let it steep for three minutes. Remove the sachet and enjoy!
There are a couple of tips for enjoying your green tea that I’d like to leave you with:
- Get high quality green tea to avoid excessive fluoride and get the best flavor
- Avoid adding milk to your tea, as this can reduce the effectiveness of the antioxidants
- If you like your tea a little sweet, be sure to use natural sweeteners, like honey
- Flavor your tea with ginger, fresh mint, or cinnamon sticks
- Or mix with fruit teas!
Green tea is considered safe when you have 8 or fewer cups per day, and typically it’s recommended that you have 2-5 cups to maximize the health benefits (although even one cup a day is great!). If you’re pregnant, stick to fewer than 6 cups per day.
There are very few health risks associated with green tea, but it can cause some liver issues if you already have a liver condition or are consuming green tea at really high levels. A lot of weight loss supplements contain very high concentrated levels of green tea, and should be avoided.