Chronic inflammation (i.e. systemic inflammation) is well-established as a root-cause behind disease; commonly cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, cognitive, autoimmune (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) and metabolic diseases like diabetes.
In some cases, a state of chronic inflammation can also be a long-term outcome from an acute health problem, such as injury or infection – a detail particularly relevant today.
Really, it’s these hard facts that are the driving force behind the popular concept of ‘anti-inflammatories;’ examples like the anti-inflammatory diet, anti-inflammatory adaptogens like green tea, and related lifestyle habits (e.g. exercise).
Here we review the mechanisms behind chronic inflammation through the therapeutic lens of Japanese green teas. As in, what ways do the constituents in green tea mediate inflammation, and how exactly do they do it?
Japanese Green Tea for Anti-inflammatory Benefits
As a daily habit, the use-cases for Japanese green tea as an anti-inflammatory appear near-limitless. It’s revealed that reliably sourced green teas may have profound potential against chronic inflammation of many kinds.
These possibilities include conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and even certain cancers where Japanese matcha and loose-leaf teas may be able to act at the root of inflammation.
What is inflammation and why Green Tea?
Here it suffices to say that our bodies are in a constant balancing act of pro-inflammation, and anti-inflammation. At this basic level, our cells react to signals, ideally so that ‘just’ the right amount of healing happens.
Yet, this scale often gets tipped the wrong direction, typically when we aren’t doing/getting enough ‘anti-inflammatories;’ a cycle difficult to break.
- At a fundamental level there are two ways to counteract chronic inflammation: lifestyle (e.g. more exercise) and diet (including adaptogens like Japanese green teas).
- Unlike conventional anti-inflammatories, such as NSAIDs, daily green tea does not have any safety concerns for the average adult .
- Once inflammation has become chronic, keep reading why it can be useful to have the help of Japanese green tea to get back on track.
Inflammation pathways and how Japanese Teas are Anti-inflammatory
A few cups of Japanese green tea each day (even just 1) offers a potent barrage of physiologically-active molecules which actually work inside the body. These compounds target and may interrupt inflammatory signalling of many kinds.
In fact, the antioxidants in Japanese green teas (e.g. EGCG, EC, and flavonols like kaempferol), as well as the high levels of L-theanine, together represent broad modulating actions against some of the most clinically significant inflammation biomarkers [2-12].
Inflammatory Biomarkers which Green Tea may Help
To be specific, the following cells/cellular-products are examples which are carefully monitored in those with chronic inflammation and in which green tea may act beneficially towards [2-12]:
- Lowering levels of C-reactive protein
- Lowering Interleukin-6 and other pro-inflammatory cytokines
- Lowering INDO (Indoleamine-pyrrole 2,3-dioxygenase)
- Balancing T-helper cells (such as Th1, Th2)
- Modulating levels of Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)
- Lowering of NF-κB and related Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNFα)
If you have a chronic inflammatory condition, some of the above bullet points may be familiar. Let’s review a few specific cases of what the research can help us surmise about a daily routine of drinking Japanese green tea:
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Japanese Green Tea
Many of the underlying inflammatory mechanisms/cell signals are shared between diseases of chronic inflammation. For the case of arthritis, it’s known that inflammatory cascades in conjunction with impaired structural cell-growth can lead to cartilage decay while also continuing in cycle.
The anti-inflammatory properties of naturally occurring green tea compounds possess at least two suggested methods of therapy in arthritis. Firstly, by modulating numerous inflammatory signals and by quenching free radicals directly, objective levels of inflammation may be reduced [5, 8-9].
Cartilage and anti-arthritic natural therapies
Secondly, due to the simultaneously-slowed process of structural cell growth in those with arthritis, Japanese green tea is of interest for upregulating the growth of new cartilage cell-structures in human subjects .
Essentially, research supports the idea that green tea may possess an ideal, two-pronged benefit for those with arthritis; slowing the inflammatory cascade by acting on multiple cellular levels (e.g. C-reactive protein, NF-κB) as an anti-arthritic, and by encouraging new cell growth to replace damaged cartilage [5, 8-9].
Cognitive Degeneration and Japanese Green Tea
Research from this year specifically indicates Japanese Matcha in testing, for its role in alleviating cycles of inflammation involved in cognitive degeneration and interconnected metabolism syndromes .
Authors reviewed more than 50 clinical studies on green tea and inflammation to design an experiment measuring the ability of antioxidants in Japanese matcha powder to modulate biomarkers of metabolic inflammation.
Metabolic-inflammation, The Brain, and Japanese Matcha
What’s more, is that the researchers made the positive finding of reduced production of inflammatory cytokines like TNF-α and IL-6 in each: the liver, fat tissue, and the brain , leading to at least two possibilities:
- Matcha as anti-degenerative for brain health
- Matcha as a therapy against metabolic disorders like diabetes
In essence, these anti-inflammatory outcomes from matcha mean that this Japanese tea may stop or reverse the progression of certain cellular processes behind metabolic syndromes like diabetes, an inflammatory syndrome .
And by putting a halt in this cell-cycle of inflammation, cognitive health may also be spared, rather than be negatively impacted due to excess inflammatory signals .
- Related: Matcha and Metabolism, Weight-loss
Green Tea, Atherosclerosis and other Cardiovascular Diseases
High quality green teas appear to offer anti-inflammatory protections for heart health, reportedly extending to those with atherosclerosis or who have suffered myocardial ischemia .
Antioxidants found such as in Japanese green tea have been clearly demonstrated to minimize the release of pro-inflammatory cell-signals following myocardial ischemia – thought to allow for healthier healing response to occur .
Arterial-scarring, blood flow, anti-inflammatory green tea
Furthermore, natural tea molecules both inhibit inflammation and improve blood flow/arterial-dilation which may broadly benefit total cardiovascular fitness – especially to slow any continued progression of arterial scarring, a common result of chronic inflammation [4, 8-9, 13].
Even more, the polyphenols in Japanese green tea also double-down on cardiovascular health, reportedly able to control against bad cholesterol, including VLDL.
The list could, and does go on... but for now, it’s enough to say that the research continues to illuminate the sheer potential of high-quality green teas from Japan.
Conclusion: Japanese Green Tea as Broadscale Anti-inflammatory
As science uncovers more, it’s truly remarkable how the compounds found naturally, and uniquely in green tea confer profound multifaceted activity in the body, including the numerous pathways apparent to better control against inflammatory processes in the body.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of researchers and clinical studies dedicated to vetting-out these valuable benefits, the evidence is impressive, and especially relevant today, a time when countless people have conditions of systemic inflammation.
Let’s keep an open mind and stay-tuned as further research unfolds about green tea. Meanwhile, we hope you continue to join us with Japanese green tea as a valuable jumpstart to your day, and your overall health.
 Kim, J. M., Lee, U., Kang, J. Y., Park, S. K., Kim, J. C., & Heo, H. J. (2020). Matcha Improves Metabolic Imbalance-Induced Cognitive Dysfunction. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2020.
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