Can You Really Use Green Tea To Treat Arthritis?

Green tea has long been celebrated for its taste, with many across the globe drinking it every day. Some see it as an alternative to coffee, touting its lower caffeine levels and its potential health benefits. 

Green tea has been used as medicine for centuries and has been studied for its potential prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, as well as its neuroprotective properties. It's even used as a simple way to help boost metabolism.

Both delicious and healthy, there might be another reason to start upping your green tea intake. Green tea could also aid in the prevention and treatment of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune condition that can be debilitating, per Verywell Health. While green tea alone will probably not solve all of our problems –- though it would be nice if it did -– let us break down what green tea might be able to do for our joints.

Can potentially prevent joint pain

Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins (pronounced cat-a-kins) that do what many antioxidants do: fight free radicals in the body, per the Mayo Clinic. There are two specific kinds of catechins in green tea that are responsible for this biochemical effect, called epigallocatechin (EGCG) and epicatechin (ECG). EGCG is, for our purposes, the star of the show: of all the catechins found in green tea, EGCG accounts for more than half of them. When EGCG is active, inflammation lessens, per Verywell Health.

Now, to be clear, inflammation is a protective response that our bodies create; it is meant to prevent and minimize the amount of damage done when our bodies detect something potentially harmful, per Healio. But arthritis, and especially rheumatoid arthritis, causes the inflammatory response to go into overdrive. Based on information from a 2018 study, Verywell Health notes that "green tea catechins can slow these inflammatory processes," making green tea a potential boon for those struggling with joint pain.

So how much green tea does one need to drink to achieve the benefits of its health attributes? The magic number is at least two cups per day, according to a 2021 study published in "Arthritis Research & Therapy" and cited in Everyday Health. Not only can green tea potentially prevent and assist in treating joint pain, but it can also provide other benefits such as clearer skin, heightened energy, lower anxiety, and more. 

There are a lot of ways to consume green tea

Thanks to the popularity of green tea around the world and the interest in its benefits, green tea can be consumed in a variety of ways. Green tea extract, for example, comes in capsule or tincture form and can provide all of the same potential benefits as drinking green tea, per Healthline. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is also funding further research on new forms of green tea to address specific ailments.

Keep in mind that the bioavailability of green tea once ingested is overall low as the digestion process takes hold, per PiqueLife. To ensure that you're receiving as much of the benefits of green tea as you can, maintaining and improving gut health is an essential component.

Of course, when embarking on treatment for any kind of ailment, or introducing a new supplement to your diet, it is best to check with your doctor about what might be right for you. Cheers to green tea!