Green tea might be useful as an herbal remedy to treat or prevent inflammatory bladder disease, according to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in Anaheim, California, two of the chemicals that naturally occur in green tea protected cultures of bladder cells from oxidative damage.
Researchers exposed cultures of both normal and cancerous bladder cells to epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), two varieties of a flavonoid group called catechins, for 23 hours. They then exposed the cell cultures to hydrogen peroxide, which is highly damaging to cells and may even kill them.
"We discovered that catechins found in green tea protected both normal and cancerous bladder cells from inflammation when we exposed the cells to hydrogen peroxide," said researcher Michael B. Chancellor, a professor of urology and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
"Although further studies are needed, these results indicate [that] herbal supplements from green tea could be a treatment option for various bladder conditions that are caused by injury or inflammation."
Catechins occur naturally in the leaves of the tea plant, and thus are present in green, black, white and Oolong tea. These chemicals compose, on average, approximately one-quarter of the dry weight of a fresh tea leaf -- although the exact content varies by individual plant, growing season and location.
Catechins are also found in chocolate, wine and certain fruits and vegetables. Previous studies have linked consumption of these chemicals to reductions in the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
According to the researchers, the doses of EGCG and ECG used in the Pittsburgh study are low enough to be achieved through dietary intake.
Approximately ten million people in the United States suffer from some form of bladder disease.