A team of US researchers have discovered
that a compound in green tea could have the potential to treat joint pain,
inflammation and tissue damage in sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
The debilitating illness is an autoimmune
disorder which largely affects the joints in the hands and feet, causing
painful swelling for sufferers which can go on to damage cartilage, erode
bones, and leave the joints deformed.
Existing drugs however are not only expensive,
but can also suppress the immune system and are not always suitable for
To look at a possible alternative the team
of researchers from Washington State University in Spokane looked at a molecule
found in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
The molecule was given to rat models of
human rheumatoid arthritis with ankle sweling. After being given EGCG for a
10-day period, the team observed that the swelling was significantly reduced.
Researchers believe many of the health
benefits of green tea come from its high level of polyphenols, a group of
chemicals with powerful antioxidant properties. EGCG is the most studied of
these polyphenols, and the most active.