Tea is an ancient herbal drink known for its stimulant qualities largely attributed to caffeine. In modern times, it also became touted as a health food allegedly helpful in preventing or ameliorating a variety of conditions, from heart disease and cancer, to gum disease, skin aging and weight loss. The major types of tea include black, green and white, differing by the method of harvesting and processing. The medicinal properties of tea are attributed to polyphenols called catechins. Green tea has more catechins than black tea (about 25% vs 4%), and these polyphenols are anti-inflammatory and have DNA repair capabilities which can correct cellular mutations caused by free radicals.
There have been a number of encouraging studies of skin benefits of green tea. Animal studies showed protection from skin cancer. Both animal and human studies have credibly demonstrated that topical green tea formulations reduce sun damage. Green tea appears to exert sun damage protection by reducing inflammation rather than by blocking UV rays. It may therefore enhance sun protection when used in addition to a sunscreen. A small study showed benefits of 2% polyphenone (via a particular type of green tea extract) in rosacea – a significant reduction in inflammatory lesion was reported compared to placebo.
What about wrinkles, skin sag and other signs of aging? Can green tea help? Considering their well-documented antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, topical green tea polyphenols are likely to slow down the development of some signs of aging – whether green tea can actually diminish wrinkles and skin sag is more uncertain, but there is evidence that green tea may inhibit enzymes whose excessive activity contributes to age-related degradation of the skin!
These skin healing benefits definitely contribute to green tea’s title as one of the healthiest drinks out there!