Green tea, an ancient beverage with renewed interests:

Green tea has been consumed in China for more than 2000 years. It is believed to be one of, if not the original form of teas. Over the centuries, it has have been purported to have long term health benefits. These benefits have been studied intensively in recent years at various health/medical departments. (For original research articles and results, please visit PudMed at: The study of health benefits of tea drinking has also been extended to other types of teas such as WHITE TEAYELLOW TEAOOLONG/WULONG TEA and PU-ERH TEA.

Shennong's Herbal is the first recorded Chinese herb dictionary. It recorded 365 herbs more than 2000 years ago. The herbs were individual tasted and tested by Shennong – one of the earliest Chinese herbal pharmacists. The book states: “Shennong tasted hundreds of herbs. He was in contact with poisons daily. Regular tea drinking kept him free of sickness and stayed healthy.” The statement summarizes an ancient Chinese acknowledgement for teas: a beverage for enjoyment and a herb for health.

So what are the conditions currently studied that tea drinking may beniift from?

  1. cardiovascular diseases, including stroke
  2. cancer
  3. obesity
  4. inflammation & infection
  5. enhancing human immune system
  6. diabetes
  7. osteoporosis
  8. kidney stones
  9. Alzheimer's disease
  10. Liver disease
  11. certain eye conditions
  12. mental illness
  13. Skin care - rejuvenating skin cells

"Drinking tea slakes thirst, aids digestion, keeps off disease, shortens the time for sleeping, relieves water retention, improves eyesight, brings clear thinking and removes disturbances; Humans should not miss tea drinking for even a single day.” Zhang Qiande in a Treatise on Tea.

green tea : benefits for the skin?

I have been asked for my opinion on  reports  that green is beneficial when applied to  the skin and benefits of bathing in  green tea or use as a base cream for moisturising.

I have to confess that the concept of a green tea bath was new to me till I read about it after moving to  the west. However the concept of a herb bath is not new to Chinese.  In fact there is a tradition in parts of the country that a woman should not have a cool bath for 30 days after giving birth. Instead, they make up a herbal bath they believe will help her recovery.

As someone with a medical degree but not necessarily expert in cosmetics, my views follow:

  • I believe green tea is very good for damaged body cells.
  • I am dubious as to the ability of our skin cells to absorb active ingredients in green tea.
  • We understand that the anti-oxidants in green tea reach body cells through the blood system. Our skin cells (especially the top layer skin cells) however are not designed to absorb whatever is applied to them into the blood stream. ( we would be easily contaminated by all we touched if this were the case).
  • Therefore , whilst I know the goodness of green tea will get to body cells through drinking them, I can't  guarantee that  skin will absorb these benefits  via  direct contact.