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Green Tea - Nature's Medicine?

Boosting the Immune System.

A steaming cup of tea warms you on a cold winter night, soothes a sore throat, and relaxes you. But what about drinking tea to promote weight loss, prevent and treat cancer, lower blood sugar, and protect your heart? Is it time to get a prescription for that teacup?

Green tea is a nutritional powerhouse with naturally existing plant chemicals called Catechins. Heat treatment at harvest preserves those Catechins so that we may reap its benefits.

Green tea may lower Total Cholesterol, LDL’s (bad cholesterol), Triglycerides and blood pressure. It may raise HDL’s (good cholesterol). It may lessen the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Once diagnosed, evidence is lacking that blood sugar decreases with green tea. Risk of Ovarian Cancer is lower with regularly pouring yourself a cup of green tea but has no effect on reoccurrence. The evidence is inconclusive as to whether it cuts risk of other cancers. Green tea alone is ineffective in weight loss. But add caffeine, and the scale tips downward.

There have been no adverse effects reported from green tea at low caffeine dosages; keep green tea to 3 cups daily. A green tea pill may be an issue; you are safe with up to 2500 mg. green tea extract but be wary of the caffeine. Excessive caffeine (250+ mg.) can lead to higher blood pressure and blood sugar, anemia, liver damage, etc. Women who are pregnant or lactating need to limit Green tea.

If you are regularly devouring green tea, ask your health care provider whether it is safe to continue having your steaming cup with your medications. Green tea can interfere with common medications such as birth control pills, diabetes medications, Estrogen, MAO’s and Warfarin, etc. This holds true for those vitamins and herbals we all consider healthy -Calcium, Folic acid, Garlic, Ginkgo, and Iron to name a few.

You may need to stop green tea temporarily the next time you get health tested. It can interfere with common checks for bleeding time, anemia, blood sugar, liver function, and stress tests, for example.

Green Tea, and the powerful Catechins contained within, needs much more research before it can be called a prescription for good health. However, in moderate doses, with an eye on caffeine, it certainly offers promise and may soothe your soul.

Jennifer Giffune, R.D.N. is a freelance author, professional speaker and nutrition counselor.   Are you ready to make a change? Jennifer sees clients for nutrition counseling in Westfield.  To make an appointment with Jennifer call (413) 579 – 5450 or email her at