Green tea, made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, is known worldwide for its healing properties. Research has demonstrated that green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells, lowers cholesterol, protects against cardiovascular disease, increases fat metabolism, reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, prevents abnormal blood clot formation, has antibacterial properties, and supports immune function.
Most health benefits from green tea can be attributed to the polyphenols or flavonoids found in the plant leaves, the majority of which are catechins. Of these powerful antioxidants, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has been identified as the most prevalent and most therapeutic component of green tea, as well as the most studied. It is important to note, however, that evidence has demonstrated a positive synergistic effect when multiple catechins act together.1
Current research has investigated the use of green tea extracts for the treatment of external genital warts caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The first botanical drug approved by the United States FDA, Sinecatechins 10 percent ointment (Veregen), contains more than 85 percent catechins, the majority of which are EGCG. Although the exact mechanisms of action of the treatment are unclear, the extract effectively clears the presence of warts, stops the spread of the virus, and reduces the likelihood of recurrence for many patients. This botanically based, patient-applied alternative appears to be a safe, effective and minimally invasive option for those wishing to treat the condition in the privacy and comfort of their own home.2
HPV is most commonly spread through sexual activity, but it can also be spread through non-sexual skin-to-skin contact with an infected area of the body.3 Low-risk strains of the virus can cause highly contagious genital warts, contributing to the spread of the disease, and high-risk strains can cause abnormal cell growth on the cervix. In the majority of cases HPV goes away without treatment and cells return to normal, but if the virus lingers, it can lead to cervical cancer.2 Cervical cancer currently ranks third in frequency for both diagnosis and cause of death among gynecologic cancers in the United States and fourteenth for all cancers affecting women in the United States.3 Studies are currently examining the effectiveness of both EGCG and another green tea polyphenol, polyphenol E, on their ability to inhibit cervical cancer cell growth and/or kill cancer cells; however, more research is necessary for definitive conclusions.
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Written By Michelle Harreld, NCNM Master of Science in Nutrition Program, Edited by Dr. Elise Schroeder
- Rosen T. Green tea catechins: Biologic properties, proposed mechanisms of action, and clinical implications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2012;11(11)e55-e60.
- Gupta AK, Daigle D. Sinecatechins 10% ointment: a green tea extract for the treatment of external genital warts. Skin Therapy Letter Web site. http://www.skintherapyletter.com/2015/20.1/2.html. Modified March 15, 2015. Accessed April 17, 2015.
- Cervical cancer facts and stats. Every Woman Counts: Resources for Health Professionals Website. https://qap.sdsu.edu/screening/cervicalcancer/facts.html. Updated July 15, 2014. Accessed April 17, 2015.