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Protective Effects of Tea on Human Health

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Bringing together the latest research from leading experts, this book provides an indispensable reference on the health benefits of drinking tea. It examines the general health giving properties of tea before moving on to a detailed review of the evidence for the beneficial effects of tea on specific ailments including cancer, the common cold, renal disease, cardiovascular disease, antiviral influenza, arthritis, lung and pulmonary ailments, aging, oral health, and dementia. The book concludes by challenging misconceptions of the effects of tea.

The ancients have used tea for its health benefits for 5000 years. In China tea was known for its healing powers in 2737 BC. Tea has been likened to a group of medicaments in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, known by the name ‘rasayanas’ that confer attainment of positive health, resistance to diseases and assured full lifespan of quality living, unlike drugs that cure after disease has struck. Recent clinical data have confirmed that tea has beneficial effects on the senescent brain and prolongs the human lifespan by preventing physiological ageing processes caused by oxidative stress. However, since its introduction in the Western world, tea has become known more as a beverage that relaxes the tired body and mind, brings cheer and is the centrepiece of social gatherings. With the advent of diseases related to modern living, the interest in the health benefits of tea amongst consumers and scientists alike is again increasing.

In earlier times, tea was given to provide relief from allergies, common colds, oedema and gastroenteritis, and was known to improve oral hygiene and intestinal microflora. Detailed research work on health-related aspects of tea is of recent origin and is engaging the attention of scientists in developed countries such as Japan and the USA and in the European Union. To study the health benefits of tea on humans a number of approaches have been adopted. Using epidemiological techniques and comparing tea drinkers with non-drinkers in cohort studies over a long period of time, it was found that tea reduces the risk of several major premature killing diseases, many of which are related to luxurious lifestyles and polluted environments. These include cancer, arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases, neural and obesity problems, diabetes, diseases of the kidneys and liver, pulmonary ailments, flu, SARS and even AIDS. In addition, clinical and laboratory studies have been conducted using animal models, human volunteers and cell studies, as well as other in vitro approaches, providing an understanding of the mechanism of action of tea and its constituents against these diseases and their metabolism in human tissues and plasma.

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