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Green Tea May Help Ward Off Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP

Green tea is a rich source of a special class of antioxidants known as catechins. These polyphenolic compounds have been shown to reduce inflammation in a murine model of inflammatory arthritis. Recently, in the Journal of Nutrition, C. Adocks et al, investigated the effects of green tea catechins on cartilage extracellular matrix components using an in vitro model system. Bovine nasal and metacarpophalangeal cartilage as well as human nondiseased, osteoarthritic and rheumatoid cartilage were cultured with and without reagents known to accelerate cartilage matrix breakdown. Individual catechins derived from green tea were added to the cultures and the amount of released proteoglycan and type II collagen was measured by metachromatic assay and inhibition ELISA, respectively. The results showed that certain catechins, particularly gallate ester, were effective at micromolar concentrations at inhibiting proteoglycan and type II collagen breakdown. No toxic effects of the catechins were evident.

The researchers conclude that some green tea catechins are chondoprotective and that consumption of green tea or green tea extract may be prophylactic for arthritis and may benefit the arthritis patient by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown. This data agrees with other published reports showing that supplementation with 400 IU of vitamin E or 100-200 mcg of selenium can help to improve arthritic symptoms in human trials. Like green tea catechins, vitamin E and selenium, at these supraphysiological levels, provide enhanced antioxidant protection and appear to promote the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins by modulating the activities of the cyclooxygenase enzyme system. Further studies using green tea catechins are required before definitive statements can be made about its use as a preventive or therapeutic aid for arthritis. However, higher levels of green tea intake is associated with a lower risk of stomach and esophageal cancer and possibly acts to help reduce risk at other tissue sites as well. Thus, it appears that green tea intake may be a healthier alternative to coffee and other hot beverages for a variety of reasons, which may now include helping to prevent or reduce the breakdown of joint cartilage and controlling inflammation.

Reference:
Adcocks C et al, Catechins from Green Tea Inhibit Bovine and Human Cartilage Proteoglycan and Type II Collagen Degradation In Vitro. 2002. J. Nutr.; 132: 341-346

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