Herbal tea is produced by steaming or frying the leaves of the shrub known as Camellia sinensis. The leaves, which are not fermented, are then dried. For 5,000 years, families in China and Japan have hailed green tea as a valuable stimulant and an effective remedy for stomach ailments. You can even purchase th aux herbes in capsule form now, although the actual medicinal benefits from such capsules have yet to be established.
Dried tea leaves are far more complex than you might think. Specifically, they are made up of phytochemicals, plant alkaloids, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, phenolic acids, and minerals.
Of course, the exact composition of the leaves varies, depending on when the leaves are harvested and how they are processed. You should also be aware of the fact that the composition of green tea varies from that of black tea since black tea has fewer polyphenols because of the fermentation process.
Numerous scientific studies have explored the use of green tea as a cancer preventative. According to Kaegi, digestive cancers appear to be particularly responsive to green tea. In fact, such tea appears to somewhat decrease the risk of experiencing cancer of the digestive tract. Given the fact that such conclusions are the result of a number of epidemiological studies, it appears that the idea that green tea can prevent cancer has some merit.
News from the Lab
But what about treating cancer? Can green tea be as effective in treatment as it is in prevention? There has been some limited lab work investigating the possibility that green tea can be used as an alternative form of cancer treatment. However, at this point, there have only been a few animal studies and no human studies. The results of these studies are, at this point, inconclusive.
Yet, it should be noted that one study showed that, if extracts of green tea are applied to mouse skin, it appears to stop the development of skin cancer when known carcinogens have been applied to the skin. Other research indicates that green tea can stop the growth of tumors or decrease the number of tumors in animals that have been exposed to cancer-causing agents.