A compound in green tea might be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, says a team of researchers from Washington State University (WSU) who published their paper in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology. The current treatment for the chronic progressive disease is thought to be insufficient: it focuses mainly on reducing the pain and inflammation with a combination of medications that are used to slow the disease, but that comes hand-in-hand with side-effects. Therefore, any alternative that is proved to be effective is more than welcome.
Green tea has been exploited by humans since ages now, specially in ancient Chinese medicine,
and more recently, it has been gaining further recognition in the world of science. Mostly, it is praised for the cholesterol-lowering results that its consumption brings. Its benefits, both potential and confirmed ones, are also often associated with the heart and liver, and extend to cancer, obesity and type II diabetes patients. More of its health-promoting effects include anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-fibrotic, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. A new study now mentions its salubrious impact on rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder whereby joints of the hands and feet are affected. The painful swelling that arises from this can also lead to damage of cartilage and bone, and ultimately to joint deformity. The current treatment methods are deemed inadequate on a long-term basis; lead author Salahuddin Ahmed from the WSU explains that the existing drugs are costly and immunosuppressive.
Ahmed and his team whose research has greatly focused on the inflammatory disorder suggest that a green-tea phytochemical named epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) with anti-inflammatory properties might prove to be effective at treating the disease: EGCG is shown to suppress the effects of rheumatoid arthritis without negatively affecting other functions of the cell.
EGCG could be made to target an important signalling protein known as TAK1 which mediates signals generated by proinflammatory cytokines characterising the disorder that cause inflammation and tissue destruction. This was found when the researchers used an animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis: they observed a great reduction in ankle swelling in animals administered with EGCG in a 10-day plan.
The new findings are thus thought to constitute a potential approach to combat the disorder.