The antioxidant properties of green tea could help fight muscle degeneration diseases such as muscular dystrophy, at least according to initial evidence from research carried out on mice.
A team of scientists from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland discovered that giving a daily dose of green tea to mice with symptoms genetically altered to display symptoms similar to those of muscular dystrophy appeared to slow the deterioration of some muscle tissue.
Dr Urs Ruegg, lead author of the study, wrote in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that the catechins in the tea were thought to have combated the oxidative stress in the mice's muscles. The antioxidant powers of green tea have been linked to preventing heart disease and cancer.
Ruegg and his colleagues suggest that the same oxidative stress which can cause these other problems could be at the root of the muscle wasting seen in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most common form of childhood muscular dystrophy. It is caused by mutation in a gene on the X chromosome, and it is limited almost entirely to boys, most of whom die before they reach 30.
The Swiss researchers gave the mice green tea extract over a four-week period, and found that, compared to a placebo group, they showed significantly less wasting in certain muscle tissue.
They claim that for the same effects to be seen in human, the minimum daily dosage would have to be around seven cups of green tea a day, and called for more research to back up their initial findings.
The study was funded by the Nestle Research Centre in Lausanne, and the green tea extracts were donated by the Taiyo Kagaku company in Yokkaichi, Japan.