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Green Tea and EGCG for your MS

By Daryl H. Bryant (514 words)
Posted in Living with MS on March 20, 2013

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Green Tea and EGCG for your MS

Humans have been drinking green tea for at least 4,000 years. Green tea fans often tout its health benefits, but it is only recently that scientists have begun to agree. As it turns out, enjoying a refreshing cup of green tea could help you manage your MS.

Locked within the thin, needle-like leaves of green tea is a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a polyphenol antioxidant, which is a compound that helps the body combat the damaging cellular oxidation. Oxidation occurs both as part of natural body processes and from exposure to harmful elements such as the sun and pollution. "Antioxidants" is a buzz word in the realms of cancer prevention and age-fighting cosmetics, but EGCG has a lot more in its bag of tricks.

EGCG is an anti-inflammatory compound. It specifically reduces the amount of inflammatory prostaglandin E2 in the body. Through this action, EGCG can help reduce the painful and debilitating MS flare-ups. Further studies are also suggesting that EGCG may protect nerves from cell death and encourage nerve regeneration with few to no side effects. While further research is certainly necessary, the initial results are promising.

EGCG is only the beginning of green tea's health benefits. Green tea also contains an essential amino acid called l-theanine. The body cannot synthesize its own l-theanine; you must intake it through your diet or supplementation. Studies have found that l-theanine can have a profound effect on mental acuity, improving memory and cognitive function in Parkinson’s patients. It also has a mild anti-anxiety affect, an excellent bonus for those dealing with the stress of chronic illness.

The light dose of caffeine in green tea can also help with fatigue. In fact, the combination of the amino acid l-theanine and caffeine present green tea can put you in an alert but mental state without the "caffeine jitters" or crashes other energy supplements can cause. At the same time, the relaxing properties of l-theanine can help you get more quality sleep, further improving your MS symptoms.

In combination with other diet changes, green tea can be a tool in combating the symptoms of MS. It takes about three cups of green tea a day to fully enjoy the benefits, but there are also green tea extract supplements you could take instead.

Try one of these tricks to get your daily dose:

  • Drink a cup with every meal
  • Have green tea between each meal as a pick-me-up
  • Try filling your water bottle with iced green tea instead of water
  • Talk to your doctor about adding green tea extract to your supplement regimen

Green tea is naturally sweet as long as you don't over-steep it. To brew a perfect cup, heat the water just shy of a rolling boil and steep the leaves for about three minutes. Sit back, relax and enjoy.

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