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Tea as an Antioxidant Research Paper

Tea as an Antioxidant


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Tea is an aromatic drink that is usually prepared by soaking or pouring water over plant products, typically the tea plant, but also may be infused with other dried herbs, roots, or extracts. After plain water, tea is consumed more than any other drink globally, including soft drinks. It has a slightly bitter, astringent flavor, sometimes floral, sometimes metallic, that people find enjoyable and often relaxing or, in some cases, medicinal (Martin, 2007). The consumption of tea is said to have a number of beneficial health effects based on the properties it has including antioxidants, flavinols, flavonoids, polyphenols, and catechins. The catechins, particularly, are known for anti-inflammatory and cellular detoxicity. In addition, these catechins have proven neuroprotective activities that can bond with cannabinoid receptors and suppress pain and nausea and provide a relaxing effect (Korte, G.,, 2010). Medical studies have also shown that green tea can enhance weight-loss in some patients by reducing hunger and detoxifying the liver (Wing, R.,, 2006). Other studies have shown that tea can lower the risk of cognitive impairment, even benefit alzheimers. The key to this seems to be the tea properties of L-theanine, which has a calm but focusing effect on the brain that produces alpha wave dominant patterns (Nobre, A.,, 2008).


For centuries, health practitioners in the East have used teas and other traditional medicines. This paradigm combines combined the causation of disease with the idea of balance and a look at the holistic individual. Indeed, the very term “health,” has come to mean more than just an absence of disease, but a more holistic and complete state of being. The Western model, of course, tends to look at disease and illness as being linked to specific bacteria, viruses, or pathogens. The use of tea, or other hrebals, then becomes controversial in Western medicine, and yet a new model, health as harmony, called the Health Psychology Model, tends to combine Eastern holism with Western organism for a more holistic view of the overall person (Micozzi, 2011).


The American National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) gives examples using herbalism, naturopathy and traditional Chinese medicine, which includes the use of tea and specially brewed teas as a way to impact bodily systems. The theory is that many of the chemical properties of teas and herbs are, for the most part, phyto-chemicals that have natural healing properties that are often used in many pharmaceuticals, albeit at higher doses or concentrations. In addition, many CAM systems logically prefer preventive medicine and the application of nutritional support to compliment any other OTC or prescriptive therapies. Recent scientific investigation of CAM is beginning to address the gap between mainstream and CAM from a clinical perspective. Thus, boundaries between CAM and mainstream medicine, as well as among different CAM systems, are often blurred and are constantly changing (Fontaine, 2010).


The basic properties of tea, whether Black, Green or Oolong, come from the Camellia Sinesis plant. Like wine production, it is the processing and blending of teas that give it specific flavors, grades, and properties. The tea leaf, however, is composed of several different interconnected elements. Inorganically, mainly from cell sap, tea contains potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper and other trace mineals. About 75% of the nitrocen in the tea leaf is the amino acid theanine, the rest from the caffeine alkaloid. Tea also contains carboydrades that are mostly pectins, some small amounts of sugars and starches, pigments from chlorophyll and flavons, and vitamin sB and C. The most important part of the chemical reactions in tea are the work of enzymes and polyphenols. Polypheol oxidase (PPO) and Perodidase (PO) increase levels of oxidation, and therefore contribute to cell health (Biotech Week, 2011),


The main polyphenol of tea is catechin, which is a scavenger of free radicals. Any biological organism produces these free radicals, when oxygen accepts electrons to become active oxygen and hydroxly free radicals. These free radicals try to oxidize lipids, which causes cell damage and aging. Catechins protect the system against this oxidation, supress cancer growth by combining protions with free radicals and decreasing their reactions. Catechins are more viable when heated (hence, hot tea), and in specific teas, theaflavins are more active to combine as more potent cell protectors and antioxidants than even vitamin sC and E (Feruzzi, 2010). The amino acids and catechins in tea amount to about 25-60 mg in a 200 ml serving. They cross the blood-brain barrier within 30 minutes and bind to appropriate brain receptors. Using EEG measurements, participants in a study were found to have higer levels of alpha-band waves that are critical to the ability to suppress distracinting visual information, to concentrate, and to calm individuals who tend to be anxious (Nobre).


The catechins in tea also seem to possess anticancer prperties in various organs, particularly the liver, as well as some anti-diabetic effects. One study found that “branched-chain amino acids in green tea may prevent progressive hepatic failure in patients with chronic liver diseases, and might be effective for the suppression of obesity-related liver carcinogenesis” (Shimizu, M.,, 2012). The polyphonols in tea tend to bind to carcinogens and induce enzumes that inhibit cancer cell growth. Molecularly, these tea properties inhibit transcription factors and also reduce cancer cell’s ability to metabolize. Ironically, the protective effects from tea consumption are in populations who drink more black than green tea. Green tea specicially has significant protective factors against, oral, esophageal, protate, digestive, urinary, bladder, skin, luncg, breast and liver cancers; as well as a lower risk for the cancer to metastasize and recur. Green tea actually seems to reduce the risk of ovarian and prostate cancer by as much as 50% (Kurahaski, N.,, 2007).


In addition, cholesterol and blood sugar levels are significantly lowered by drinking green tea, likely due to the way the chemicals in tea moderate oxidative stress on fats, reducing insulin resistance and maintaining a more even blood chemistry. Specific studies on mental and functional disability, like stroke, osteoporosis, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimers show that drinking tea regularly reduces the risk factor of these diseases. In 2010, in fact, researchers found that people who consumed tea had a significant reduction in cognitive decline than non-tea drinkers. The data set was robust, almost 5,000 men and women over 65, with longitudinal follow ups for 14 years found a huge decline in cognitive disease and even cognitive aging. This has an extremely important potential for easing again related issues and keeping the mental productivity of an aging demographic population. When combined with other antioxidant substances, such as those found in walnuts or cranberries, the properties of tea tended to increase (AAICAD, 2010). These studies are cooborated in the literature in which a study focused on a 60 day intervention using Green Tea with patients undergoing menopause. The study found that bad cholesteraol decreased, glucose levels rounded out, and hormone levels tended to moderate in those that had at least 16 ounces of green tea daily for 60 days (Wu, A.,, 2012).


Tea, like other herbal alternatives, remain controversial in the medical community. However, in the last decade, tea has been researched more and more, finding that when used regularly, the combination of the anti-oxidant and cellular respiration properties in tea do have proven health benefits in humans.




AAICAD. (2010, July 12). Large-Scale, Long-Term Studies Support Roles of Physical Activity and Diet in Dementia and Cognitive Decline. Retrieved from Medical News Today:


Biotech Week. (2011, January 19). Protective Properties of Green Tea Uncovered. Retrieved from High Beam Research:


Feruzzi, M. (2010). The influence of beverage composition on delivery of phenolic compounds from coffee and tea. Physiological Behavior, 100(1), 33-41.


Fontaine, K. (2010). Complementary & Alternative Therapies for Nursing Practice. New York: Prentice Hall.


Korte, G., (2010). Tea catechins’ affinity for human cannabinoid receptors. Phtomedicine, 17(1), 19-22. Retrieved November 2012, from


Kurahaski, N., (2007). Green Tea Consumption and Prastate Cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology, 167(1), 71-77.


Martin, L. (2007). Tea: The Drink that Changed the World. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing.


Micozzi, M. (2011). Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (4th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Saunders-Elsevier.


Nobre, A., (2008). L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental states. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 17(S1), 167-68. Retrieved November 2012, from


Shimizu, M., (2012). Nutraceutical Approach for Preventing Obesity-Related Colorectal and Liver Carcinogenesis. International Journal of Molecular Science, 13(1), 579-95. doi:


Wing, R., (2006). A Self-Regulation Program for Maintenance of Weight Loss. The New England Journal of Medicine, 355(2), 1563-71.


Wu, A., (2012). Effect of 2-Month Controlled Green Tea Intervention. Cancer Prevention Research, 5(2), 393-8. doi:

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