Green tea contains powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows it may help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

The progressive autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes severe inflammation. It mainly affects your joints, but it can also affect other parts of your body, such as your heart.

Some people with RA experience periods of intense inflammation, called flares.

There’s no current cure for RA, but treatments can help manage the condition. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and slow the progression of the disease. A doctor will likely prescribe medications to help manage your condition.

In some cases, you might also benefit from adding natural remedies, such as green tea, to your treatment plan. This article explains how drinking green tea may help a person living with RA.

Green tea has been used medicinally for centuries. Made from unfermented tea leaves, green tea is a rich source of polyphenols. These plant compounds are powerful antioxidants. They fight free radicals, which are compounds that can damage your cells.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, polyphenols have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Green tea is a particularly good source of epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG). This is a type of polyphenol with particularly potent antioxidant effects.

Green tea has been the subject of intense interest among medical researchers.

For example, studies have found evidence that the EGCG in green tea may protect bones and cartilage by decreasing the production of certain molecules in your immune system that can trigger inflammation and joint pain.

A 2021 Swedish study involving 2,237 people with RA and more than 4,000 control participants suggests that drinking two or more cups of tea daily may have a small protective effect.

However, after adjusting for variables like body mass index (BMI), cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption, the protective effect only remained statistically significant among smokers.

A 2016 study with 120 older adults with RA found that those who drank green tea over a 6-month period showed significant symptom improvement and less disease activity, possibly because of the antioxidant properties of green tea.

While more research is needed, these findings are promising.

Green tea may have health benefits not related to RA as well.

According to a 2019 study, when green tea is combined with caffeine, the amino acid L-theanine that green tea contains can have a significant effect on improving thinking ability and stress levels.

Studies also show that drinking green tea might help lower your chances of developing heart disease. It may also help improve the outlook of people who have had a stroke or heart attack.

There is limited evidence that consuming green tea might also reduce your risk of developing some types of cancer.

If you want to enjoy green tea in its natural state, brew it fresh. There may be fewer healthy compounds in instant, bottled, and decaffeinated teas.

It’s best to let your tea steep in hot water for at least 3 to 5 minutes. Some studies recommend steeping tea for as long as 10 minutes.

Consider limiting added sugar in your tea, too. High sugar diets have been linked to inflammation. A slice of lemon is a tasty alternative.

Green tea supplements are available at many health food stores and pharmacies. They can be found in liquid extract or capsule form.

If you’re considering taking green tea supplements, talk with a doctor first.

If you have certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney or liver problems, or stomach ulcers, a doctor may advise you to avoid green tea supplements.

A doctor may also encourage you to avoid green tea if you’re taking certain medications.

Green tea may interfere with the effectiveness of some drugs, including:

Green tea may also cause a dramatic rise in blood pressure when taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

In addition, green tea contains caffeine. Consuming too much caffeine may lead to nervousness and insomnia, as well as gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, or heartburn.

Here are answers to some common questions about green tea and RA.

How much green tea is safe to drink?

Generally, drinking up to 8 cups of tea a day is considered safe, but do be mindful of the amount of caffeine you’re consuming. You may want to choose decaffeinated options when possible.

People who are pregnant or breastfeeding may want to limit their green tea to about 6 cups a day. This equals about the recommended limit of 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine for these groups.

Could green tea make arthritis worse?

There’s no scientific evidence that drinking green tea can worsen the symptoms of RA.

As for other types of tea, a 2019 study found that drinking caffeinated, nonherbal tea may slightly increase the risk of RA for postmenopausal women.

Most studies indicate that green tea may be beneficial rather than harmful for RA.

What other teas may help RA?

The following types of tea also contain antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation, although they may not be as effective as green tea:

Are there other natural remedies for RA?

Some natural remedies that may help you manage RA symptoms include:

Can green tea help with other inflammation types?

Research shows that the polyphenols in green tea may be beneficial for other chronic inflammatory diseases, including:

While more research is needed, some studies suggest that green tea may benefit people with RA.

Researchers have linked green tea to many general health benefits. For most people, it’s a smart beverage choice, especially when you drink it unsweetened.

If you have RA, ask a doctor if green tea might be a good choice for you. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of adding it to your routine.