Green Tea – Is it just another food fad?

Green tea has almost become a social statement and people speak highly of their habit of green tea and vouch by the benefits they are getting from this habit.On the other hand there is medical fraternity who is constantly discovering role of green tea in different health ailments.

Is it really a health drink of the modern society or just a passing fashion?

Well, to answer this, one has to understand the constituents of green tea which prove to be beneficial.

The main constituent is ECGC (Epigalactocatechin Gallate). ECGC has wide range of therapeutic action ranging from HIV to Cancer. Though the therapeutic effects are seen with large doses of ECGC which one may not get by drinking Green tea but topical applications show some skin benefits.

There have been a number of encouraging studies of skin benefits of green tea. Animal studies showed protection from skin cancer. Both animal and human studies have credibly demonstrated that topical green tea formulations reduce sun damage. Green tea appears to exert sun damage protection by quenching free radicals and reducing inflammation rather than by blocking UV rays. Therefore, green tea may synergistically enhance sun protection when used in addition to a sunscreen.

A small study showed benefits of 2% polyphenone (via a particular type of green tea extract) in papulopustular rosacea. In particular, a significant reduction in inflammatory lesion was reported compared to placebo.

What about wrinkles, skin sag and other signs of aging? Can green tea help? Considering their well-documented antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, topical green tea polyphenols are likely to slow down the development of some signs of aging.

In a 2005 study, forty women with moderate photo aging were randomized to either a combination regimen of 10% green tea cream and 300 mg twice-daily green tea oral supplementation or a placebo regimen for 8 weeks. No significant differences in clinical grading were found between the green tea-treated and placebo groups. On the other hand, histologic grading of skin biopsies did show significant improvement in the elastic tissue content of treated specimens.

There is preliminary evidence that green tea may inhibit matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), the enzymes whose excessive activity contributes to age-related degradation of the skin matrix. In a 2009 in vitro (test tube) study, green tea extract was shown to inhibit two key subtypes of MMP, collagenase and elastase. Notably, in the same study, white tea was even more effective than green tea as an MMP inhibitor.