Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis struggle with painful swelling of the small joints in their hands and wrists. The autoimmune disease impacts the lining of the joints, which can wear away bone, cause damage to cartilage and destroy joints. Researchers from Washington State University think a key compound in green tea, EGCG, could offer help.
The much-discussed green tea catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has previously been looked at for help with a myriad of health-related issues. It has been studied more recently for its role in weight maintenance, protection against prostate cancer, slowing Alzheimers Disease and reducing airway inflammation caused by Cystic Fibrosis.
In the study led by Anil K. Singh, Sadiq Umar, Sharayah Riegsecker, Mukesh Chourasia and Salahuddin Ahmed, rats were used as the models for someone with ankle swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. For ten days they consumed EGCG and significant reduction in swelling was noted. EGCG’s role in reducing inflammation is connected to the way it affects the protein TAK1 (Transforming growth factor β–Activated Kinase 1) in the body. TAK1 communicates to the body messages that result in inflammation. The study was conducted by a team from Washington State University along with researchers from the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Hajipur, India.
“Existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis are expensive, immunosuppressive and sometimes unsuitable for long-term use,” Salah-uddin Ahmed, noted in a Washington State press release. “This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1 — an important signaling protein.” Ahmed has been studying rheumatoid arthritis for 15 years.
The study was published in the February 2016 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatology.