Saturday, 10 November 2012

Can a Cup of Tea Help Arthritis?

Can a cup of tea possible help arthritis? Today 'Arthur Investigates' green tea.

Green tea is rich in two interesting compounds, EGCG (epigallocatchin gallate) and ECG (epicatechin gallate) that scientists have claimed can help prevent cancer, heart disease and even reduce body fat. More usefully for those of us with arthritis, these two chemicals may also have a beneficial effect on both osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis.

In osteoarthritis, several studies have shown that these chemicals inhibit the breakdown of cartilage helping prevent or slow the progress of the disease.Unfortunately these studies have all been cell or animal studies so it's unclear on whether the same effects would occur in humans.

Similarly, there have been some fairly early studies looking at how EGCG can help reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines and improve the symptoms of auto-immune inflammatory arthritis in mice. However, results in clinical trials have shown mixed effects of green tea on inflammation and there haven't been any robust trials testing green tea's benefits on inflammatory arthritis patients.

Ultimately the 'real world' benefits of green tea on arthritis have yet to be proven. We don't know how well the body metabolises the beneficial EGCG so it's also hard to know how much people would need to consume to feel if there are any effects. It's one thing to swap one cup of green tea for your usual English Breakfast but it may be impractical to have to drink 20 cups of the stuff a day.

Given that green tea is a good source of healthy antioxidants it might be worth trying - after all there really is nothing quite as soothing as a sit down with a nice cup of tea.


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