An estimated 350 million people worldwide are affected by arthritis and joint diseases - many of which are caused by excess chronic inflammation.
In an effort to combat inflammation, people are seeking natural, alternative remedies to alleviate their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
So - can matcha help reduce inflammation? Read on!
The Medicinal Properties Of Matcha
As with green tea, matcha contains a very specific class of antioxidants called catechins.
One catechin in particular called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG for short) can be found in abundance in matcha.
EGCG may be the most active compound in matcha, and it’s believed to potentially help fight cancer, reduce inflammation, promote cell repair, and even help maintain healthy arteries.
Although human research into the effects of EGCG is lacking, animal studies are extensive. There are some interesting results shown by in vitro lab testing on human T-cells that support what has been seen in animal testing, however, much more research is needed.
As well as containing EGCG, the average 3oz serving of matcha green tea also contains:
- Phenolic acids
L-Theanine is an amino acid that’s usually found in mushrooms as well as black and green teas.
Although L-theanine isn’t an essential compound for humans, evidence suggests that it may boost alpha waves in the brain, which have been linked to increased levels of relaxation.
L-theanine may also combat stress signals produced by the brain.
How To Consume Matcha
Most people prepare matcha using the traditional Japanese method.
To do this, simply measure out your matcha serving with a spoon, pour it into a heated bowl, and add hot water. Whisk your tea with a bamboo whisk until your tea starts to froth.
You can drink your matcha at any consistency: standard, usucha (thin), or koicha (thick). Some people also prefer to add milk to their matcha or to sweeten it with sugar, sweetener, milk, or spices to help combat its grassy, unique taste.
Matcha can also be added to food. Popular matcha recipes include cakes, pancakes, breakfast bowls, fudge, and more.
The Benefits Of Drinking Matcha
Although matcha has been popular in Japan & China for centuries, it has started making waves in the west in recent years.
With so much hype surrounding this drink, you may be wondering - what exactly are the benefits of drinking matcha, and is it worth your time?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the more evidence-backed health benefits of drinking matcha below.
Plenty Of Antioxidants
Matcha is celebrated for its high antioxidant profile, which may help protect the body's cells and tissues against damage. Included in its list of antioxidants are catechins, including EGCG.
Although there’s limited human research into the benefits of EGCG, animal studies have shown that it can help reduce inflammation and maintain our overall health.
EGCG may also promote cell repair in the body. Cell death can result in tissue damage and even organ failure.
However, if they accumulate excessively and destruct with apoptosis, it can also lead to diseases such as diabetes and lupus.
Could Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Matcha may also reduce cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.
Could Promote Relaxation
If you’re looking for some extra zen, you’ll be pleased to know that drinking matcha may improve your ability to relax.
Matcha contains higher levels of L-theanine than other green teas, which studies have found may improve brain function and cognition.
Research has also found that these alpha waves can reduce the number of stress signals in the brain, promoting a more relaxed state.
Can Matcha Fight Inflammation?
There are plenty of benefits associated with drinking matcha, but if you suffer from inflammation, the current science is indicating that this is where you may benefit the most!
Matcha is a part of the Camellia sinensis family, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which we touched on earlier, is one of matcha's most prominent anti-inflammatory compounds. But what exactly is it, and how can it reduce inflammation in the body?
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is a unique plant compound that’s found most commonly and abundantly in tea and mushrooms.
Although this compound isn’t essential for the human body, it has been found to reduce inflammation.
Research into the anti-inflammatory effects of EGCG is not definitive - but highly promising. For example, one animal study on rats assessed the efficacy of EGCG in treating inflammation from a spinal cord injury (SCI).
The study discovered that EGCG might be effective at protecting the spinal cord from secondary damage caused by inflammatory reactions.
Another study, which examined the specific types of EGCG found in green tea polyphenol, found that EGCC may be an effective prevention and treatment for the vascular inflammation that stems from rheumatoid arthritis.
EGCG may help with pain relief, skin issues, reduce swelling and inflammation, and make the general symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis more bearable.
Other Ways To Reduce Inflammation
If you want to reduce the discomfort associated with inflammation, matcha can be a great addition to your diet.
There are also other ways to reduce inflammation in the body, including:
- Regular Exercise: Although this may seem counterproductive, regular exercise can help combat inflammation-related pain. Exercise strengthens the muscles, improves blood circulation, and can even help support the immune system. It’s important not to overdo it, though. If you want to start a new exercise routine, it’s always wise to consult a doctor first and start out gently.
- Healthy Fats: Healthy fats may also help fight inflammation in the body. Healthy fats, including omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, may help ease inflammation and help prevent a build-up of plaque in the arteries.
The Bottom Line
If you’re suffering from inflammation, preliminary research suggests that adding matcha to your diet could help reduce your discomfort.
Matcha may help with relieving some of your discomfort, however, you should always check with your GP if you’re suffering chronic inflammation as addressing the cause is paramount.