Liver And Bladder Health

green tea cleanse

green tea cleanse

Green Tea For Liver And Bladder Health

More than 500 studies have been conducted in recent years to research the potential health benefits of green tea. While in Asia, this smooth, delicate tasting brew has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

Scientific findings have linked green tea consumption to the slowing or prevention of cancer (specifically cancer of the bladder, colon, esophageal, stomach, and pancreas), heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, impaired immune disease, and liver disease.
Scientific findings have linked green tea consumption to the slowing or prevention of cancer (specifically cancer of the bladder, colon, esophageal, stomach, and pancreas), heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, impaired immune disease, and liver disease.

The tea’s medicinal properties — whether consumed hot or over ice – are attributed to compounds called polyphenols, which are natural chemical agents with powerful antioxidant properties that ward off disease and improve health.  The slightly bitter taste of the brew is in part caused by these natural polyphenols.  Catechins, which are a subgroup of the Polyphenol family, are found in tea and fall into these six categories: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also referred to as EGCG). EGCG is the most powerful, most active and most researched of all the green tea polyphenols.

Compared to other blends, green tea leaves have the highest percentage of polyphenol, making up 30% to 40% of the total composition of the leaf. This is quite a contrast to black teas that only contain 3% to 10% polyphenols.

The limited oxidation or fermentation of tea leaves during processing protects these antioxidant properties from breaking down, making the health benefits of green tea more significant that black or oolong varieties.  Research has shown the antioxidant effects of green tea polyphenols to be greater than vitamin C and linked to possible slowing or prevention of cancer, arthritis, heart disease, aging, and tooth decay.

The difference in the levels is attributed to differences in processing once the tea leaves and buds are harvested. Green teas are minimally oxidized, whereas black teas are fully oxidized.

Other ingredients present in green tea are alkaloids – caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline – that contribute to the beverage’s mild stimulating effect.

Fluoride, which also occurs naturally in green tea, has been known for decades to help prevent tooth decay. Yet, it has recently received attention in the media as a health risk when consumed in large doses. The consensus is that that the levels of fluoride are far too low in green tea to pose any serious health risk.

For centuries many people have been enjoying the brew, whether they drink it strictly for health reasons or because they enjoy its many unique tastes and aromas.

Liver Disease

Green tea helps protect the liver from alcohol and other harmful chemicals.  Alcohol metabolism results in the production of damaging free radicals that can overwhelm the liver’s supply of antioxidants, resulting in liver injury. In a study published in the January 2004 issue of Alcohol in which rats were chronically intoxicated with alcohol for 4 weeks, green tea prevented damage to their livers. Other animal research shows that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) protects the liver against the free radicals generated when mice are exposed to carbon tetrachloride, a toxic chemical solvent. Without the protection afforded by EGCG, carbon tetrachloride exposure resulted in the production of numerous free radicals that destroyed a significant amount of the animals’ liver cells. With EGCG, free radical production and liver injury was so greatly reduced that researchers suggested green tea should be used in the treatment of liver disease.

Unlike some herbs, green tea’s protective effects do not appear to affect two of the liver enzymes most often responsible for detoxifying and eliminating drugs, cytochrome P-450 2D6 and 3A4. This suggests that green tea might be safely consumed when taking medications primarily dependent upon the CYP2D6 or CYP3A4 pathways of metabolism. Hopefully, future research studies will bear out this potential benefit.

On the other hand, one study found that Japanese green tea did increase the activity of the CYP1A1 enzyme. Researchers hypothesized that the increase in activity of this liver enzyme may be one of the ways in which green tea helps protect against cancers caused by various dietary carcinogens.

Green Tea Helps Prevent Bladder Cancer

Research by a multi-departmental team from UCLA has produced valuable insights into how green tea extract might be capable of acting against the invasive growth of bladder cancer tumors. Green tea extract has been shown, via a mechanism that affects cell movement, to target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

For cancer to grow and spread, the malignant cells must be able to move, and their movement depends on a process called actin remodeling, which itself is carefully regulated by complex signaling pathways, including the Rho pathway.

By inducing Rho signaling, green tea causes cancer cells to mature more rapidly and to bind together more closely, a process called cell adhesion. Both their increased maturity and cell adhesion inhibit cancer cells’ mobility, according to Rao, senior author of the study, published in the February 2005 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, in which green tea’s effects on Rho signaling were noted.

“Cancer cells are invasive and green tea extract interrupts the invasive process of the cancer…In effect, the green tea extract may keep the cancer cells confined and localized, where they are easier to treat and the prognosis is better,” explained Rao.

About 56,000 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed each year, making it the fifth most common cancer in the United States. About half of all bladder cancers are believed to be related to cigarette smoking. Bladder cancer can be difficult to detect in the early, most treatable stages, yet, when not found early, the tumors can be aggressive, and more than half of patients with advanced cancers experience recurrences. In the next phase of his research, Rao and his team will analyze urine from bladder patients, looking particularly for biomarkers associated with action remodeling and the activation of the Rho pathway, to determine which subset of patients might benefit most from green tea.