“Tea is like the sweetest dew from heaven.” – Lu Yu, from “Cha Ching, the Classic of Tea, Origins and Rituals” (c. 780 a.d.)
Green tea, by far, is the most popular and most consumed drink on earth. There is nothing like a delicious cup of hot green tea to relax and revitalize you! Since its discovery in medieval China by Emperor Jing during the Han Dynasty in the 2nd Century BCE, green tea has shown itself to have many potential health benefits.
Over the centuries, tea masters, traditional herbalists, and modern scientists have found that green tea is loaded with antiviral, antifungal, and antioxidant properties which can offer potential natural protections against a number of diseases including liver cancer.
Green Tea and Liver Health
Our bodies are wonderfully effective at warding off the toxins that we encounter every day. We are being constantly bombarded by toxins of all kinds and our skin, our body’s immune, respiratory and glandular systems all work help keep us healthy.
The liver is not only one of the hardest working organ in the human body; it’s also one of the most amazing, too. Modern medical studies have shown that up to 75% of the liver can be removed without harm. Within a period of just 2 – 3 months, it will regrow to its former shape and size. Even the ancients knew that the liver has the ability to completely regenerate itself.
The liver is considered the largest gland in our body and the one that does the majority of the work at eliminating toxins in the body. It works with the kidneys to eliminate them through the urine. These toxins may come from pollutants, consuming foods that are more taxing on the liver, medications that we take to maintain our health or other stresses on the body.
How Green Tea Can Assist the Liver
It’s important to note that green tea doesn’t detoxify the body on its own. The phytochemical constituents within the leaves of green tea assist the body’s natural actions in eliminating toxins. Green tea is an excellent supporter of liver function because it contains lots of natural polyphenols. Polyphenols have been shown to support the body’s normal detoxification processes. The polyphenols especially work with the elimination processes which are mostly handled by the liver and the kidneys. These polyphenols along with a number of antioxidants found within green tea help the body to fight off unstable cells known as free radicals before they can harm healthy cells within the body.
Antioxidants known as catechins are also found in green tea. These work to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure and have a liver-protecting or hepatoprotective effect. A number of studies over the past 20 years have shown that the antioxidants within green tea are antihepatotoxic, which helps to maintain healthy liver function. Green tea also works to enhance the immune system by providing antiviral, antifungal and can provide additional protection by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
Specific Antioxidants in Green Tea
All true teas which include green, black and white teas are derived from the plant, Camellia sinensis. However, according to the American Herbalist Guild (AHG) recognized professional herbalist, Stephen Harrod Buhner, these antioxidants found in green tea are up to four times higher than those which are found in black tea.
In 2007, the USDA determined that 1 gram of green tea leaves contains 200 milligrams of catechins. A cup of tea generally uses approximately 3 grams of tea leaves. The following antioxidant properties are at their highest concentration within green tea:
- Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, which makes up about half of all catechins. This antioxidant has been found to be twice as powerful as resveratrol, the antioxidant which is most commonly found in red wine. EGCG is also more powerful than the antioxidants BHT or, butylated hydroxytoluene and BHA, butylated hydroxyanisole.
- Gallic acid is another powerful antioxidant which is commonly found in the leaves of plants, including green tea.
The antioxidant compounds and phytochemical action within green tea also block the influenza virus from adhering to normal cells, which can also cause stress to liver function. Green tea also contains supporting phytochemical compounds which also assist the antioxidants. These include chromium, manganese, selenium, glutathione, L-theanine, zinc and Vitamin C.
In addition to offering a pick-me-up when you’re feeling fatigued, the caffeine in green tea has also been shown to have anticancer and antitumor properties. Studies over the past decade have also shown that the low levels of caffeine that are found within green tea actually boost the immune system. This will also act to increase the cytotoxicity (ability to fight cancer) of chemotherapeutic drugs that are often used to treat liver cancer. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic and can stimulate the liver to eliminate toxins from the body through the kidneys and bladder.
It is important to note that when drinking green tea it is not advised to add milk to the tea. This is because milk will bind itself to the antioxidants and other beneficial constituents within the tea and lessen its detoxifying properties. (Buhner, p. 87- 88)
Research has also shown that green tea works to significantly reduce serum cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol while at the same time increasing HDL or good cholesterol levels.
How Much Green Tea
As you can see, drinking green tea every day can definitely help the liver to do its job and to can keep the body healthy. But how much green tea should you drink? While it is true that too much of a good thing probably isn’t a good thing, drinking green tea is generally considered safe– so you can drink what you like. Herbalists and health experts, however, generally believe that for health purposes drinking four to five cups is ideal.
When you drink green tea regularly like this, you’re doing your body a tremendous favor. You can help it heal itself. So stop drinking all those bubbly beverages and go back to the flavored drink that actually aids your health, not harms it! Pick up some Sir Jason Winters tea for the holidays.
“Herbs for Hepatitis C and the Liver” by Stephen Harrod Buhner, 2000, Storey Books, North Adams, MA
“Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine” by David Hoffman, FNIMH, AHG, 2003, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT
“The Way of Tea” by Master Lam Kam Chuyen, Lam Kai Sin and Lam Tin Yu, 2002, Barron’s Educational Series, NY
“The Book of Green Tea” by Diana Rosen, 1994, Storey Books, Pownal, VT
“Green Tea and the Question of Reduced Liver Cancer Risk: The Dawn of Potential Clinical Relevance” by Rolf Teschke and Johannes Schulze, Department of Internal Medicine II, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Klinikum Hanau, Hanau, Academic Teaching Hospital of the Medical Faculty, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany