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Why Do Clinicians Recommend Green Tea Products (EGCg) to Their Patients?

EGCg, or -(-)epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is a naturally occurring polyphenol which exhibits an incredibly wide range of therapeutic applications. It is a frequently used compound both by physicians on the cutting edge of prevention and treatment, as well as by research groups who are delving into the many applications of EGCg in human health.

EGCg is the principal tea catechin, comprising approximately half of the catechin content in green tea. Green tea is therefore of particular interest to researchers and clinicians alike. In addition, green tea contains 10 types of catechins. Out of these, epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) are the most important in terms of health benefits. Tea from Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze of the Theaceae family is one of the most ancient and widely consumed beverages in the world. Tea can be classified into three types: green, oolong, and black.  Note that green tea, in particular, contains the highest percentage of EGCg of any type. However, there are inferior green tea products on the market that contain much less EGCg. We have seen levels as low as 13%. This level is too low to provide any therapeutic benefit as most data suggest that a level of 50% or higher is required. Green tea, which is produced from non-fermented leaves and derived directly from drying fresh tea leaves, is a popular drink consumed every day by hundreds of millions of people.  Eastern cultures have long touted green tea as having medicinal efficacy for the prevention and treatment of many diseases.

As recently as 15 years ago, there were perhaps a mere handful of papers discussing this topic. Now there are thousands of published studies documenting the cancer preventative, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, cardio protective, endothelial restorative, neuroprotective, weight loss, glycemic control benefits, and general health benefits of green tea (1 - 208). Much attention has been focused specifically on its antioxidant potential, including antioxidant benefits affecting cardiovascular protection, endothelial repair and antimutagenic potential, antiviral and anticancer efficacy, and overall antiaging effects. In fact, an expanding body of preclinical as well as clinical evidence suggests that EGCg, the major catechin found in green tea, has the potential to impact a wide variety of human diseases.

IndigoBridge Laboratory utilizes an extensively validated laboratory developed test to accurately measure the amount of EGCg present in human plasma using Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC) and Mass Spectrometry (MS). UPLC/MS is an analytical chemistry technique that combines the physical separation capabilities of liquid chromatography with the mass analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry (MS). Liquid chromatography separates mixtures with multiple components, and mass spectrometry provides the structural identity of the individual components. With HPLC alone, we find that caffeine, a commonly consumed compound, co-elutes with the catechin EGCg so that the measured levels of EGCg are reported inaccurately! The coupling of these techniques provides a high degree of molecular specificity and detection sensitivity, allowing precise quantitation of EGCg.

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