The medications currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis are expensive, but a new study may present a cheap, alternative option.
According to a press release issued by Washington State University (WSU), researchers in Spokane have discovered that green tea may provide relief for those who suffer with rheumatoid arthritis, due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful autoimmune disease that affects about 1.5 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rheumatoid arthritis causes fatigue, redness and systemic inflammation in joints, according to the CDC. This inflammation can lead to erosions of cartilage and bone and can sometimes cause joint deformity and organ damage. It can cause premature death, disability and lowers overall quality of life.
According to the press release, researchers evaluated the phytochemical called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which contains the anti-inflammatory properties found in green tea. During their evaluation, the team found EGCG successfully blocked the inflammatory effects of rheumatoid arthritis without blocking other cellular functions.
"This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1--an important signaling protein--through which proinflammatory cytokines transmit their signals to cause inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis," said lead researcher Salah-uddin Ahmed, Ph.D., in the press release.
Ahmed is an associate professor of pharmaceutical studies at WSU.
According to the CDC, medical costs attributed to RA were 22.3 billion dollars in 2005. Green tea is cheap and accessible and may benefit the sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, both physically and fiscally.
The full study was published Feb.16 in Arthritis and Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.
It was funded by the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), part of the National Institutes of Health, and by the Arthritis Foundation and WSU.
The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.