Green Tea Update
August 25, 2004
The other evening I searched the National Library of Medicine's website using PubMed, and found 1561 articles on “Green Tea.” When I limited the search to “Green Tea and Cancer” I still foun 630 articles. My early hope to do a quick review of the research for a short newsletter was dashed to pieces.
In contrast, a review of published papers on the herbal tonic Essiac,also known as Flor-essence, produced only 11 listings. Of those 11, only one is actually research on Essiac; the rest are articles about it, or which just mention it. The lone study is an in vitro study, which reported that high concentrations of Essiac inhibited breast cancer cell growth in a tissue culture. There are no animal studies confirming this action.
Given a choice of which to recommend to patients with cancer, green tea extracts or Essiac, one would think this was a no brainer. Yet I frequently see new patients who come in to the office taking the later and not the former.
There is a certain attraction to Essiac. The story of Native peoples imparting this secret wisdom.....the magical combination of healing herbs.....the vary lack of medical establishment approval.....it's hard to say.
Yet when it comes to our patients and when it comes to making choices, our preference is and will generally remain to lean toward using common sense. Green Tea extracts have a well documented effect at preventing, slowing, and killing the growth of cancer cells in test tube cultures, animal models, and in humans in both epidemiological and clinical studies. So that is what we suggest.
My computer crashed before I was able to send out this newsletter, giving me the opportunity to include this addendum. The morning after I had done this literature search and wrote the comments you have just read, I saw a patient who reported great success using Essiac. He had been diagnosed by biopsy with prostate cancer several years prior. He and his doctors agreed to a “wait and watch” but this gentleman's son persuaded him to use Essiac. Follow up lab work showed progressively lower PSA levels which returned almost to the normal range and stayed there.
Which goes to show; the complete book on alternative cancer care hasn't been written yet. Just because something hasn't been well proven by science at this point in time doesn't mean that it doesn't work. The study may simply not have been done yet. Even those things which have been looked at from a scientific perspective and which show no benefit on average, may still work in some individual cases. It is never as simple nor as straight forward as we would like.
For more information about Essiac, you can read one of the numerous websites which promote it. Here is the site of the “Original”: http://www.essiac-resperin.com/
If you are interested in replicating my National Library of Medicine searches you can go to PubMed and type in the terms I used by going to this site:
I've pasted what I thought were the top 40 abstracts of recent studies on green tea on our website at: