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Green tea has been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels according to several preliminary and controlled trials.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 However, not all trials have found that green tea intake lowers lipid levels.7 Much of the research documenting the health benefits of green tea is based on the amount of green tea typically drunk in Asian countries—about three cups per day, providing 240 to 320 mg of polyphenols.
1. Kono S, Shinchi K, Ikeda N, et al. Green tea consumption and serum lipid profiles: A cross-sectional study in Northern Kyushu, Japan. Prev Med 1992;21:526-31.
2. Yamaguchi Y, Hayashi M, Yamazoe H, et al. Preventive effects of green tea extract on lipid abnormalities in serum, liver and aorta of mice fed an atherogenic diet. Nip Yak Zas 1991;97:329-37.
3. Sagesaka-Mitane Y, Milwa M, Okada S. Platelet aggregation inhibitors in hot water extract of green tea. Chem Pharm Bull 1990;38:790-3.
4. Stensvold I, Tverdal A, Solvoll K, et al. Tea consumption. Relationship to cholesterol, blood pressure, and coronary and total mortality. Prev Med 1992;21:546-53.
5. Wu AH, Spicer D, Stanczyk FZ, et al. Effect of 2-month controlled green tea intervention on lipoprotein cholesterol, glucose, and hormone levels in healthy postmenopausal women. Cancer Prev Res 2012;5:393-402.
6. Zheng XX, Xu YL, Li SH, et al. Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:601-10.
7. Tsubono Y, Tsugane S. Green tea intake in relation to serum lipid levels in middle-aged Japanese men and women. Ann Epidemiol 1997;7:280-4.
Intake of three cups or less of green tea daily has been shown not to affect blood triglyceride levels.1 Intake of four or more cups per day has been correlated with lower triglyceride levels.2 Overall, the evidence is unclear on how much of an effect high levels of intake of green tea has on triglyceride levels.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) contains polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and animal and preliminary human studies have suggested that these polyphenols, when given orally or used topically, can protect skin against ultraviolet rays.1, 2, 3, 4 In a small, controlled human study, topical application of green tea extracts containing from 2.5 to 10% polyphenols significantly reduced the amount of burning from exposure to ultraviolet rays, with the 10% solution exerting greater protective effect.5
1. Graham HN. Green tea composition, consumption, and polyphenol chemistry. Prev Med 1992;21:334-50.
2. Kim J, Hwang JS, Cho YK, et al. Protective effects of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate on UVA- and UVB-induced skin damage. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2001;14:11-9.
3. Katiyar SK. Skin photoprotection by green tea: antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects. Curr Drug Targets Immune Endocr Metabol Disord 2003;3:234-42 [review].
4. Katiyar SK, Perez A, Mukhtar H. Green tea polyphenol treatment to human skin prevents formation of ultraviolet light B-induced pyrimidine dimers in DNA. Clin Cancer Res 2000;6:3864-9.
5. Elmets CA, Singh D, Tubesing K, et al. Cutaneous photoprotection from ultraviolet injury by green tea polyphenols. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;44:425-32.
In a preliminary study of elderly nursing home residents in Japan, only 1.3% of those who gargled with a green tea extract three times a day during the winter developed influenza, whereas 10.4% of those who gargled without the green tea extract developed the disease (a statistically significant difference). The presumed active ingredients in the extract were a group of flavonoids called catechins, which were present in the extract at half the concentration as that in green tea.1 It is possible, therefore, that gargling with green tea itself might also be effective for preventing the flu.
In a double-blind study of healthcare workers, the combination of 378 mg per day green tea catechins and 210 mg per day of theanine (another component of green tea) taken for 5 months reduced the incidence of influenza infection by 69%, when compared with a placebo.2
1. Yamada H, Takuma N, Daimon T, Hara Y. Gargling with tea catechin extracts for the prevention of influenza infection in elderly nursing home residents: a prospective clinical study. J Altern Complement Med 2006;12:669-72.
2. Matsumoto K, Yamada H, Takuma N, et al. Effects of green tea catechins and theanine on preventing influenza infection among healthcare workers: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 2011;11:15.
1. Stoner GD, Mukhtar H. Polyphenols as cancer chemopreventive agents. J Cell Bioch 1995;22:169-80.
2. You SQ. Study on feasibility of Chinese green tea polyphenols (CTP) for preventing dental caries. Chin J Stom 1993;28(4):197-9.
3. Hamilton-Miller JM. Antimicrobial properties of tea (Camellia sinensis L.). Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1995;39:2375-7.
Herbs that directly attack microbes include the following: chaparral, eucalyptus, garlic, green tea, lemon balm (antiviral), lomatium, myrrh, olive leaf, onion, oregano, pau d’arco (antifungal), rosemary, sage, sandalwood, St. John’s wort, tea tree oil, thyme, and usnea.
Green tea extract rich in polyphenols (epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG) may support a weight-loss program by increasing energy expenditure or by inhibiting the digestion of fat in the intestine.1 Healthy young men who took two green tea capsules (containing a total of 50 mg of caffeine and 90 mg of EGCG) three times a day burned significantly more calories and oxidized significantly more fat than those who took caffeine alone or a placebo. In a preliminary study of moderately obese individuals, administration of a specific green tea extract (AR25) resulted in a 4.6% reduction in average body weight after 12 weeks. The amount of green tea extract used in this study supplied daily 270 mg of EGCG and 150 mg of caffeine.
While caffeine is known to stimulate metabolism, it appears that other substances besides caffeine were responsible for at least part of the weight loss. Although the extract produced few side effects, one individual developed abnormal liver function tests during the study. In another study, consuming approximately 12 ounces of oolong tea (a semifermented version of green tea) daily for 12 weeks reduced waist circumference and the amount of body fat in a group of normal-weight to overweight men. However, in another study, 300 mg per day of EGCG was no more effective than a placebo for promoting weight loss in overweight postmenopausal women.2 Additional studies are needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of green tea extracts for promoting weight loss.
Two components of green tea, the polyphenols epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechin gallate (ECG),1 are reported to have an antihistamine effect. Some doctors recommend approximately 3 cups of green tea per day or about 3 grams of soluble components providing roughly 240 to 320 mg of polyphenols, although no human trials have studied the effects of green tea in people with hives.
Tannin-containing herbs may be helpful to decrease diarrhea during acute flare-ups and have been used for this purpose in traditional medicine. A preliminary trial using isolated tannins in the course of usual drug therapy for Crohn’s disease found them to be more effective for reducing diarrhea than was no additional treatment.1 Tannin-containing herbs of potential benefit include agrimony (Agrimonia spp.), green tea, oak, witch hazel, and cranesbill. Use of such herbs should be discontinued before the diarrhea is completely resolved; otherwise the disease may be aggravated.
In a double-blind trial, people with leukoplakia took 3 grams per day of a mixture of whole green tea, green tea polyphenols, and green tea pigments orally and also painted the mixture of the tea on their lesions three times per day for six months.1 Those in the green tea group had significant improvement in the healing of their lesions.
In a preliminary study, women with cervical dysplasia were randomly assigned to receive either 200 mg per day of EGCG—a green tea extract known as (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate—200 mg per day of poly E (another green tea extract), or no treatment (control group) for 8 to 12 weeks. More than 50% of the women receiving EGCG or poly E had an improvement in their Pap smear, compared with only 10% of the women in the control group.1
All teas (green, black, and oolong) are derived from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference is in how the plucked leaves are prepared. Green tea, unlike black and oolong tea, is not fermented, so the active constituents remain unaltered in the herb. The leaves of the tea plant are used both as a social and a medicinal beverage.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2017.