Recent studies made by a team of U.S. researchers have discovered that green tea may have a compound that could help treat joint pain, inflammation and tissue damage in sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease which means that it is caused by a faulty immune system. Autoimmune diseases appear when our immune system starts attacking the good cells and tissue thinking they are bad ones. RA affects the joints in the hands and feet causing them to swell. The disease can cause damage to the cartilage, erode bones and even deform the joints over time.
The drugs that are available for treating rheumatoid arthritis aren’t expensive and are fairly accessible, but they could suppress the immune system and long-term uses can be dangerous for the body and cause adverse reactions.
In order to find new alternatives for treating RA the research team from Washington State University in Spokane analyzed a molecule called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which can be found in green tea.
The research team tested the molecule on rats that had rheumatoid arthritis with ankle swelling. They gave the rats EGCG for a period of 10 day and noticed that the symptoms of the disease were significantly reduced.
The results of the study showed that EGCG could be very useful as a new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the fact that it has the ability to block the signals of the protein TAK1, which is the main cause for inflammation and tissue damage.
According to Salad-uddin Ahmed, the U.S. team lead researcher who has been studying rheumatoid arthritis for 15 years, using EGCG for targeting TAK1 has opened up new possibilities for research involving the treatment of RA. All the findings made by the research team so far have been published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology.
Other recent studies involving green tea have shown that it has many health benefits. Some of these benefits include treating cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), liver disease, diabetes and various types of cancers. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center green tea can also help reduce the risk of developing a heart disease.
Researchers consider that the long list of health benefits that green tea has is due to its high levels of polyphenols which is a group of chemicals that has powerful antioxidant properties. One of these polyphenols is EGCG which is the most studied at the moment and the most active of them all.
The effects of green tea on rheumatoid arthritis are still being researched, but the information gathered so far seems promising and it may lead to other possible treatments for the disease.