Thursday, May 17, 2007

Green tea may prevent autoimmune disease

Sjogren's syndrome (SS) is a common autoimmune disorder that affects up to 4 million people in the U.S. alone. It's associated with arthritis, and the most common symptoms include dry mouth and dry eyes, a result of lymphocytes (a kind of white blood cell) clustering in salivary and other glands.

Current treatment for SS is theraputic—it targets the symptoms but cannot cure the disease.

However, a team of researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have found that green tea could help treat this disease. Subjects given green tea extract exhibited significantly less salivary gland damage as well as significantly fewer lymphocytes and lower levels of autoantibodies—a sign of suppressed imflammation.

Researchers already know that one component of green tea – EGCG – helps suppress inflammation, according to Dr. Hsu. "So, we suspected that green tea would suppress the inflammatory response of this disease. Those treated with the green tea extract beginning at three weeks, showed significantly less damage to those glands over time.”

An abstract of the study, which was published in the journal Autoimmunity, is available online here.

The good doctor hard at work, studying how green tea fights autoimmune diseases.

—Mellow Monk

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