Last updated 20 Mar 2015

Green Tea and Immunity

For most people, the immune system quietly hums away, keeping potential invaders at bay as well as acting as an internal cleaner of sorts and providing a kind of interior information superhighway alongside the nervous system. However, sometimes the immune system can go out of control and begin to attack the body itself. This can happen because the immune system has somehow identified a part of the body as foreign and requires expulsion. Problems like this are known as autoimmune diseases, which include rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, and most allergies.

A new study has shown that green tea may help relieve these autoimmune conditions. Your immune system is made of many cells, each playing a different but largely interrelated role. The core function of the immune system is to attack invading organisms without attacking your body’s own cells, and certain cells in your immune system exist to switch off the immune system, and some of those cells are known as “regulatory T cells”. The number and functions of these regulatory T cells are controlled by other biochemicals.

In the study, researchers examined the action of a compound from green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is considered to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. The researchers found that EGCG caused an increased production of regulatory T cells, which they believe is achieved not by altering DNA, but by changing which gene codes are expressed and therefore which cells in the immune system are “turned on”.

Lab mouses that are given EGCG will show significantly increased numbers of regulatory T cells in the spleen and lymph nodes.

In the conventional treatment of autoimmune conditions, drugs that will suppress the immune system are often used, but they can cause significant side effects. While the effects of EGCG are not as potent as those drugs, there are few concerns about the long term use of EGCG or any toxicity. The researchers believe that the effects of EGCG mean that the consumption of green tea can provide probable benefits for autoimmune disorders.

Source: Immunology Letters

We carry several varieties of organic macrobiotic green tea in our grocery offering for your enjoyment:

  • Sencha green tea
  • Toasted hojicha green tea
  • Bancha twig tea
  • Kukicha (twig stem tea)
  • Baby bancha tea