But hardly any of the promises of salvation is yet sufficiently proven by scientific data from clinical trials. After all: Green tea is a popular research subject among medical professionals.
A recent mouse experiment about makes people take notice, because the result of U.S. researchers suggests : Less than two cups of green tea - drunk to eat - could be enough to increase blood sugar levels after a starchy meal (ie rich in pasta, potatoes or cereals) to be halved. Responsible for this effect is a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, EGCG in short, which inhibits the cleavage strength. In this way, the blood sugar after meals increases slowly. Particularly for vascular health, the effect would be of advantage.
For many researchers EGCG is almost a magic substance, based on the many positive effects of this kind. Even Werner Hunstein, once staunch orthodox medical practitioners and opponents of alternative medicine and a specialist in blood diseases, was convinced of the effect of EGCG: Since 2001, the then 72-year-old suffering from a rare leukemia-like blood disease, a special form of the so-called amyloidosis. In this disease, the cells formed between the insoluble protein aggregates in the form of small fibers called fibrils. These are deposited in vital organs, so that their function is increasingly impaired.
Two liters of green tea every day
Hunstein at heart and kidneys were particularly affected. In 2005, he was facing death. The usual chemotherapy in this disease was for him to hell, and the hoped-for therapeutic breakthrough came. Coincidentally, he heard a lecture by molecular biologists Erich Wanker of the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin. The topic: The effect of EGCG from green tea on amyloid fibrils. A former employee Hunsteins had heard the lecture and then ordered him to drink lots of green tea.
Wankers scientific data sparked a glimmer of hope at Hunstein, so he got involved in a self-experiment. From then on he drank every day for up to two liters of green tea. By the time his condition improved such that he finally published an article in 2007 on his self-experiment in the prestigious medical journal "Blood." In it, he called for more scientific studies on EGCG to confirm these individual success can also scientifically.
Hunstein died earlier this year at the age of 83 years and was until recently convinced that the active ingredient in green tea could help in a variety of disorders. Positive opinions of many other people had also encouraged him.
Results of basic research are promising
While the research on EGCG in many areas is still in its infancy, there are according to a study in Heidelberg already first results. Were studied 19 critically ill patients suffering from amyloidosis of the heart. A too large effect, the researchers could not watch but so far - the thickening of the septum of patients increased by ten percent. "We had hoped for more success, perhaps the EGCG concentration is too low," says cardiologist Heidelberg Arnt Kristen. The participants had consumed about 500 milligrams daily green tea extract, that took a little less than a day to be Hunstein. "But at least no deterioration occurred on the amyloidosis. This is already a success."
Other factors may also play a role, which have not been taken into account. Numerous studies in basic research, ie mainly in experiments with cell cultures have given encouraging results for green tea extract in recent years. Researchers have discovered some evidence to suggest a couple of years ago that EGCG has anti-inflammatory and could reduce a misguided immune system. It also protects nerve cells from harmful influences the immune system and in highly aggressive oxygen compounds. Also with respect to cancer green tea extract could be positive: EGCG seems to prevent damage to the genetic material and to inhibit the formation of blood vessels. This process known as angiogenesis, is essential for tumor growth.
"Currently, however, is not yet clear whether the EGCG is effective alone, or may interact with many other ingredients of green tea available," says neurologist Friedemann Paul of the Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure University Medicine Berlin. As a panacea should therefore not see the active ingredient of green tea and EGCG readily. For example, clinical studies have yet to show the extent to green tea extract in an amount sufficient to pass across the blood-brain barrier, to act for example in Alzheimer's disease and the human brain.
Alzheimer's drug in the teapot?Based on results Wankers Researchers at the Charité Berlin currently about whether EGCG is also in the human organism is able to stop the formation of pathogenic amyloid fibrils in Alzheimer's and Huntington's protein at a very early stage. Two further clinical studies on the effect of EGCG in multiple sclerosis (MS) running in the Clinical Research Center of Excellence NeuroCure. "Results of the two studies will be available in a few months," says study leader Paul.
Thomas also Seufferlein from the University Hospital of Ulm devoted his attention to the effect of EGCG on the formation of colon polyps, which can degenerate and become colon cancer. About 4,000 volunteers have over six years of their intestinal polyps inspect after previously polyps were removed at them. What comes once, likes to grow again. Can two daily capsules of EGCG - which is about six cups of green tea - to prevent this? A special mouse model had provided appropriate instructions.
If confirmed that green tea extract inhibits the growth of polyps, then you might patients who have already had an intestinal polyp, future preventive swallow EGCG. But first we have to wait and drink tea - green tea best.