- 1 Health benefits of green tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze)
- 2 MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF GREEN TEA
- 3 Green tea as a beverage
- 4 How safe is green tea?
Health benefits of green tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze)
Characteristics of green tea
A detail of the plant
Common noun: Tea
Scientific noun: Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze,
– Synonyms: Camellia theifera Griff.= Thea sinensis L.
Family. Tea family. Theaceae.
Habitat: Native from the South of China, it appears cultivated as a bush of about 2,5 m, in the high areas of Asia and China with a warm and humid climate.
Botanical description of tea plant
Perennial tree of the tea family – Theaceae – up to 9 m.. Lanceolate or elliptic leaves, short petiolated, 5 -6 cm long; the younger ones downy; the older ones glabrous. Lonely white or cream flowers, sometimes paired in the axils of the leaves that hang from short stems. Fruit in capsule with a single seed.
The variety Camellia sinensis assamica, from India, presents longer leaves and a superior height to the Chinese variety Camellia sinensis sinensis.
Photo of tea plant (Camellia sinensis)
Active components of green tea
The main components are:
– Pectins (leaves)
– Polyphenols: catechins: epicatechin, epicatechin- gallate, epigallocatechin- gallate. (leaves) Green tea is the only source of epigallocatechin gallate, the major catechin type of antioxidant. Some dietitians recommend the ingestion of green tea extract (especially epigallocatechin gallate) for the body to get the catechins that are necessary. Daily doses of catechins are between 125 and 250 mg daily. It is supplied as a powder, sachets, capsules, etc.
– Carvacrol, geraniol (leaves)
– Fibers (Leaves)
Varieties of tea
All the varieties of tea derive from two: the one that comes from the Chinese species Camellia sinensis sinensis and the variety that comes from the Hindu state of Assam, Camellia sinensis assamica. From these it is produced what is known as black tea and green tea.
The first one results from the fermentation of the leaf, while in the second type of tea the process of fermentation is stopped by means of the heat that destroys the oxidizing enzyme, so the resulting product possesses some unequal characteristics in its composition, flavor, scent and aspect.
By not permitting the enzymes to act, the dry plant continues maintaining a green aspect, producing the green tea. In the black tea, oxidase enzyme acts on the polyphenols producing its oxidation and transforming them in compounds that present a brownish coloration.
Both types of tea maintain the same stimulating, digestive and circulatory properties., but the anticancerous properties related with the green tea, and attributed fundamentally to the polyphenols, are eliminated in the process of fermentation to what the black tea is subjected. This makes that, from a phytoterapeutic point of view, it becomes more advisable to use green tea.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF GREEN TEA
Preparations of green tea for internal use
GREEN TEA, A POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT
It has long valued the importance of green tea as anticancerous. Factor that differentiates it from black tea and makes it more advisable to take regularly. In this regard it is considered that green tea possesses many antioxidant properties that make it a real drug that prevents the formation of cancers.
Among the components having such properties, we have to mention firstly catechins and specially epigallocatechin gallate. But besides these flavonoids, it is worth mentioning other components considered as tumor inhibitors, for example, caffeine, amino acids, quercetin, and vitamin C. These same properties could be useful for the treatment of AIDS. (More information on: Breast cancer)
– Stimulant: It has a stimulating effect, being very advisable in cheerless spirits, or in those situation when a physical or mental effort is required. One should not overuse it with too much concentrated or repetitive preparations, which might produce irritation in the digestive tract or palpitations.
– Antimigraine: By constraining the pericraneal blood vessels, caffeine, besides being a stimulant, relieves headache, resulting specially interesting with migraine. Caffeine is a component which appears in this plant with the highest proportion and can also be found in other plants as cocoa (Theobroma cacao L), cola (Cola acuminata), and coffee (Coffea arabica L.) and in the flowers of some citrics, such as the orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) OSBECK) or the lemon. (Citrus limon (L.) BURMAN F.)
GREEN TEA TO LOOSE WEIGHT
Green tea has been considered very useful for weight loss diets for the role of caffeine (= theine) as a stimulant. Recent studies seem to conclude that the catechins have a thermogenic effect, that is to say, they increase body temperature, which, by activating the metabolism, help you lose weight.
The effects of catechins in green tea increase energy expenditure and burn body fat.
It seems that catechins have a more important role as regulators of weight than caffeine . For this reason, people who want to lose weight can help this purpose by drinking 1 liter of green tea (infusion of dry leaves. Drink it all al throughout the day, cold or hot).
Being a stimulant, it is used as a diuretic in obesity treatments, since it increases micturition, discharging urine from the body. Very useful to prevent kidney stones and liquid retention. Its diuretic properties gives it power to get rid of body toxins, something that is very useful to treat some anomalies as urticaria.
– Circulatory system diseases: It diminishes cholesterol, makes blood more fluid, energizes the heart and protects it from angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis or heart attack. Histidine constitutes a good antiarteriosclerotic. Theanine, an amino-acid that can only be found in this plant, realizes the same function, beside avoiding the formation of thrombus or blood clots, a property also accomplished by eugenol. Theobromine is a vasodilator and cardiotonic. It can be found in other plants in greater proportion, such as in cocoa (Theobroma cacao L) and cola (Cola acuminata), also in coffee (Coffea arabica L.), but in less proportion than in tea.
– Liver diseases: Green tea protects the liver and has an antiviral action on this organ, making it suitable for the treatment of hepatitis. Their antioxidant properties may protect the degeneration of the liver and help prevent liver cancer or cirrhosis (Infusion of a spoonful of dried plant per cup of water. Take 3 cups a day)
Its antioxidant properties may protect the degeneration of the liver and help prevent liver cancer or cirrhosis due to degeneration of this organ caused by chemical poisoning. (Infusion of a spoonful of dried plant per cup of water. Take 3 cups a day)
– Hair loss: For its silica content, green tea is adequate to keep hair in good condition, treating seborrhea or dandruff , preventing baldness or dry hair (Infusion of a spoonful of dried plant per cup of water. Take one cup a day)
– Alcoholism: It protects the liver and exerts an antiviral action on the liver. Its antioxidant properties may protect the degeneration of the liver and help prevent liver cancer or cirrhosis. (Infusion of a spoonful of dried plant per cup of water. Take 3 glasses per day)
– Fertility: For its wealth of arginine appears to have an influence in increasing sperm (Infusions of the dried plant)
Preparations of green tea for external use
– Halitosis, gingivitis and caries: Because of its antibacterial properties it is suitable to eliminate bad breath, and to protect the mouth against infections produced by the inflammation of gingiva. Its germicide power is used by the industry as a component of many tooth pastes.
– Mouth sores: Because of its bacterial properties, it is adequate to eliminate bad breath and protect the mouth against infections that cause inflammation of the gums or mouth ulcers. (Perform rinses with a well loaded infusion of the dried plant. Perform mouthwash mixed with the infusion of tea and sage or strawberry leaves. You can also place a wet tea bag on the sore right)
– Conjunctivitis: It diminishes inflammation and rest your eyes. (Wet compresses with the infusion of a spoonful of dried plant per cup of water). (A good trick to relax your eyes and prevent the redness caused by conjunctivitis is to apply on your closed eyes for 10 minutes a soaked warm bag of a tea after having prepared the infusion)
– Sjogren’s syndrome: Due to its bacterial properties, it is adequate to eliminate bad breath and protect the mouth against infections that cause inflammation of the gums. At the same time, it produces an increase in saliva. (Make mouthwashes with the infusion of the dried plant. Perform mouthwashes with the mixed infusion of tea and sage leaves or strawberry) (Drink the liquid)
– Vaginitis: the tannin-wealth of green tea can be used to deflate the irritated area. (Make an infusion of a couple of tablespoons of dried plant per half liter of water. Allow it to cool and clean the part where there is itching, redness or stinging.)
– Sunburn: To cure sunburn when these affect the eyelids, tea bags can be used Dip the bag in cold water and apply to the sunburned eyelids.
– To disguise the gray hair: tea infusions darken the hair so it can be used as natural hair dyes.
Picture of tea with tea leaves (Camellia sinensis)
Green tea as a beverage
Green tea is the most consumed infusion worldwide over coffee. It is known not only for its medicinal value, but as social or family drink served at parties, meetings, etc.
The British have made a tradition use and ” Tea time ” is one of the moments of gathering around the table daily. Also for the Japanese is part of their rites. In India, it is an infusion of everyday use. It combines well with cookies and milk, which does not take away any of its medicinal properties and adds a unique flavor.
Lately it has been introduced in the world of youth, mixed with alcoholic beverages, something not advisable because this converts these products into too stimulating mixtures.
Green tea is one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Chinese Medicine.
Photo of different varieties of tea in a market
How safe is green tea?
Green tea, in regular use, has no toxicity, but it has a number of contraindications and side effects, that should be taken into account. (More information in the listing below)
How is green tea used?
Green tea has to be prepared in infusions of 2 to 3 % of dry leaves. If the aim is to enhance stimulant caffeine, it is convenient to carry out an infusion over a short period of time between 1.5 and 3 minutes.. If we want to extract the astringent values, infusions should be prolonged for longer, for about 10 or 12 minutes. In the second case, the stimulant power of caffeine is almost destroyed.
*Related information on green tea:
More information about tea.