Green teas, black teas and oolong are derived from the same plant, native to China. Green tea is produced by lightly steaming the fresh cut leaf, while to produce black tea the leaves are allowed to oxidise and ferment. Oolong tea is partially oxidised. Oxidation destroys the active compounds in the leaf, therefore Green tea has the most pharmocological action.
According to Chinese legend, tea was discovered accidentally by an emperor 4,000 years ago. Since then, Traditional Chinese Medicine has recommended green tea for headaches, body aches and pains, digestion, depression, immune enhancement, detoxification, as an energizer, and to prolong life.
What it does
Green tea contains many different compounds including polythenols, tannins, caffeine, vitamins, minerals, protein and volatile oils. The polythenol, catechin is responsible for most of Green tea’s medicinal activity. It is a potent anti-oxidant and also encourages production of antioxidant enzymes in the body.
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Evidence suggests that green tea possesses a potent activity against harmful bacteria and viruses, most likely due to the direct effects of catechins and the indirect effect of the raised levels of glutathione peroxidase.
Various flavonoids found in green tea have been shown to inhibit the release of histamine, a major chemical mediator in allergic reactions.
Green tea contains compounds such as theophylline and caffeine, both which have been shown to enhance the rate of fat metabolism. Since the greater the rate of fat metabolism the more free radicals produced, green tea’s antioxidant properties are especially useful.
Those with an extreme sensitivity to caffeine may want to avoid green tea unless it has been de-caffeinated. Decaffeinated green tea would also possess the above mentioned attributes, with the exception of the enhancement of fat metabolism.
The caffeine content of this herb when combined with MAOI antidepressants may lead to increased blood pressure – check with your doctor before you take green tea.
The Vitamin K content of green tea may interfere with and reduce the effects of anti-coagulant medications.