Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's Green Tea Time!

For a long time, I’ve been a strong advocate of green tea. Recently, I was asked
about its usage by those dealing with cancer and cancer treatment. This led me
down a fascinating path of investigation.

Much has been researched and written about this drink. For example, The Green Tea Book—China’s Fountain of Youth, by Mitscher and Dolby, is so full of positive
recommendations for the brew, it would be laughable as only a well-written sales
pitch except for all the impressive research referenced within it.

Here is the short-version summary of my explorations.

Green tea can be very helpful for those concerned about: 
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Menopause’s hormone-related heat symptoms, for example, hot flashes or night sweats (Note: coffee increases these symptoms.)
  • Healthy Skin
  • Maintenance of strong bones and protection from osteoporosis
  • Longevity—including cognitive functions
  • Digestion
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Immunity, including anti-bacterial and anti-viral boosts 
  • Blood Sugar normalization and insulin regulation
And for those who wonder if black tea has the same effects, it generally does not.

With regard to cancer, green tea:
  • Plays a role in prevention, including the risk of breast cancer.
  • Helps protect against the toxic side effects of chemotherapy.
  • As a carrier for Herceptin, has anticancer effects, better tumor selectivity and growth reduction, and causes this chemotherapy agent to last longer in the blood.
  • In a recent study, more effectively delivered drugs to cancer cells and also reduced tumor growth more than the drug alone.*
Dr. Keith Block, a well-respected integrative oncologist ( ), presents knowledgeable information about the benefits of green tea usage by patients with cancer. See his blog entries at, including:
  • 04/30/2014 (Matcha Tea)
  • 03/07/2013 (Core Nutritional Needs and How to Meet Them) and
  • 05/10/2011 (How Supplements Can Help Protect Against the Toxic Side Effects of Chemotherapy—Theanine
Avoid or modify green tea consumption if you:
  • Are prone to or suffer from iron-deficient anemia and you only occasionally drink tea.

    If so, wait at least an hour before or after a meal to drink your tea.
    This allows your body time to absorb as much iron as possible before the chemicals in tea can take it from you.

    To put this into perspective, many other foods and beverages besides green tea also reduce the amount of non-heme iron (found in flours, cereals, and fortified grain products, as opposed to heme-iron found in meat, fish and poultry), we absorb. These include coffee, dairy, fiber, eggs and some chocolate. Therefore if you need more iron, you should avoid these foods. 
  • Are going through a period of blood loss.
  • Take one of a few very specific chemotherapy drugs: Velcade, used in treating myeloma and lymphoma, or Sutent, used in treating renal cancer.
  • Suffer from insomnia. Although a cup of green tea typically has much less caffeine than coffee, you will need to determine how late in the day you can drink it. Perhaps you can only drink green tea in early morning or will need decaffeinated green tea.
The best way to drink green tea is:
  • Warm to hot and freshly-brewed. In general, digestive Qi benefits from beverages that are room temperature or warmer. 
In summary, green tea has long been known for its health benefits. Choose it for a delicious, helpful go-to beverage.

*Chung, J.E., S. Tan, S. J. Gao, et al., “Self-Assembled Micellar Nanocomplexes Comprising Green Tea Catechin Derivatives and Protein Drugs for Cancer Therapy,” Nature Nanotechnology, 9, (2014): 907- 912. DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2014.208. Read more at:

Janet Lee Cook
 Licensed Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Prescriptions