Tea and Arthritis

by William I. Lengeman III

Arthritis, in a variety of forms, is a condition that is quite widespread, much to the dismay of those who suffer its ill effects. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that rheumatoid arthritis plagues 1.3 million people in the United States. Another 27 million Americans live with a more common condition called osteoarthritis.

There is no cure for either of the conditions mentioned above, but there are a number of ways to treat the considerable discomfort arthritis visits upon sufferers. According to several research studies, it seems that tea and the assorted and sundry compounds derived from it may be of some help in treating arthritis symptoms.

A recent study, the results of which first appeared in 2008, examined the impact of Indian black tea on acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. The researchers, who were based in Kolkata, India, found that the loose-leaf varieties of tea that were tested on rats produced “significant antiarthritic activity.”

Prior to that, researchers at the University of Michigan Health System made the encouraging discovery that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), one of several beneficial compounds in green tea, might be useful in bringing some relief to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Another study, conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, looked at coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption in relation to the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Decaffeinated coffee was found to increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis while tea had the opposite effect.

Additional research efforts have arrived at similar conclusions. Among them, a 2002 study at the University of Sheffield Medical School. Researchers there found that “polyphenolic compounds from green tea have been shown to reduce inflammation in a murine model of inflammatory arthritis.” Researchers at Ohio’s Case Western University also found that polyphenols in tea might be of some help in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in mice.

On a related note – though not having to do with tea in the strictest sense of the word – is a recent report that a tea-like herb known as Brazilian mint might be of some aid if treating pain.

Head over to William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks, for more in-depth information on tea!

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