Tea is one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world. Because of its numerous health benefits, green tea supplements may be used to promote longevity and prevent the development of certain physical ailments, including stomach disorders. Green tea may help prevent or treat stomach ulcers as a result of its inhibiting effect on Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium most commonly responsible for the development of stomach ulcers. However, the use of green tea supplements on stomach ulcers has not been well-studied in humans. Consult your doctor before using green tea supplements.
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Facts About Stomach Ulcers
Around 20 million Americans will suffer from a stomach ulcer at one point in their lives, notes the American College of Gastroenterology. Stomach ulcers occur for different reasons, including excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other pain relievers. However, an infection caused by the bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori is the most common cause of stomach ulcers. A Helicobacter pylori infection can damage the thick mucous coat that lines your stomach. When this protective lining wears away, stomach acid can reach the sensitive, underlying layers of your stomach, resulting in chronic inflammation that can cause an ulcer.
Green Tea and Helicobacter Pylori
Foods, beverages and supplements containing catechins may have an inhibitory effect on the growth of Helicobacter pylori. Catechins are antioxidant substances that have a strong antibacterial effect, reduce inflammation and may help to prevent damage caused by free radicals, substances found in cigarette smoke and other toxins. Green tea, along with other types of tea, contains high levels of a specific type of catechin known as ECGC, or epigallocatechin gallate. ECGC has a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect that may help reduce symptoms of stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori.
The use of green tea supplements on stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori has not been well-studied in humans. However, studies on laboratory animals have shown a number of green tea's potential benefits on infections caused by this bacterium. A clinical study published in the July 1999 issue of the journal "Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy" showed that administration of tea catechins on gerbils infected with Helicobacter pylori had a significant inhibitory effect on bacterial growth and helped to decrease mucosal hemorrhage and erosion of the stomach lining. Another study, published in the January 2007 issue of the "World Journal of Gastroenterology," examined the effect of green tea extracts on Helicobacter pylori-infected mice. The study showed that administration of green tea catechins helped prevent gastric epithelium damage and reduced infection caused by the bacteria.
Green tea has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety, purity or effectiveness. As with any dietary supplement, you should consult your doctor before using green tea. There is not yet enough clinical evidence to fully support the uses of green tea supplements for stomach ulcers. You should not use green tea if you have a history of heart problems, high blood pressure, kidney disease, an overactive thyroid, anxiety or other nervous disorders, or bleeding or blood clotting disorders. Additionally, you should avoid green tea if you are pregnant or nursing or have a high sensitivity to caffeine. Green tea may cause undesirable side effects, including nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness or heartbeat irregularities. If you experience any of these effects, discontinue the use of green tea and consult your health care provider.