Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a progressive autoimmune disease that causes severe inflammation. RA 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. Currently, there’s no cure for RA. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and slow the progression of the disease. Your 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.
Green tea has been used medicinally for centuries. Made from unfermented tea leaves, it’s 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, scientists from the University of Michigan found evidence that ECGC may have benefits for people with RA. It limits the production of certain molecules in your immune system that can trigger inflammation and joint pain.
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Green tea may have health benefits not related to arthritis, too. According to the executive editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, drinking tea might help boost your concentration and mood. It might help lower your chances of developing heart disease and stroke. Consuming polyphenols from green tea might also reduce your risk of developing some types of cancer, including lung, breast, skin, colon, and prostate.
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 three to five minutes.
To limit empty calories in your diet, consider drinking tea unsweetened. A slice of lemon is a tasty, healthy addition.
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 to your doctor first. Consuming too much green tea may be dangerous, especially when it contains caffeine. If you have certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney or liver problems, or stomach ulcers, your doctor may advise you to avoid green tea supplements.
Your 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 certain blood thinners, antibiotics, and beta blockers. It may also cause a dramatic rise in blood pressure when taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
While more research is needed, some studies suggest that green tea may benefit people with RA. Researchers have linked green tea to a host of general health benefits. For most people, it’s a smart beverage choice, especially when you drink it unsweetened.
If you have RA, ask your 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.