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Green Tea & Interstitial Cystitis

By Bonnie Singleton

Over one million Americans have interstitial cystitis, most of them women, according to the National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. There is no cure for the painful disease, and the effectiveness of treatments can vary from one person to another. Dietary changes, such as consuming green tea, can boost overall health, although green tea's effects won't always help interstitial cystitis and it could actually make it worse.

Interstitial Cystitis

If you have interstitial cystitis, or IC, the wall inside your bladder can become irritated, inflamed and scarred. The cause is unknown, although scientists believe the condition may be part of a systemic disease process that causes inflammation throughout the body. Symptoms vary and may include pain and pressure in the bladder and pelvic area, an urgent need to urinate, and bleeding.

Green Tea Compounds

Green tea is from the Camellia sinensis plant, which also produces black and oolong tea. The difference is in the processing as green tea is made from unfermented leaves. Due to green tea's more natural state, it contains the highest levels of antioxidants called polyphenols, compounds that fight free radical damage to your body's cells. Polyphenols may even have more potent antioxidant properties than vitamin C. Green tea also contains caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, which are alkaloids with stimulant properties, and L-theanine, an amino acid that has a relaxing effect.

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Scientific Evidence

A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in 2007 reported that green tea compounds might protect the bladder from damage. The catechins in green tea protected normal and cancerous bladder cells from inflammation when exposed to hydrogen peroxide in the lab. Researchers said that their findings suggest a treatment option that protects against inflammatory processes involved with interstitial cystitis, although they called for additional research. The team published their results a year later in the July 4, 2008 issue of "Life Sciences."

Cautions

The Interstitial Cystitis Network notes that the types of trigger foods causing a flare-up of IC can vary widely among individual patients. However, the Network includes green tea on their list of foods most likely to be problematic.Teas can irritate the bladder because of their high acidic content and can cause severe pain in sensitive people. Loose green tea, green tea bags, and concentrated green tea supplements may contain caffeine. Too much caffeine can cause insomnia, irritability, heart palpitations and acid reflux.

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