They found significantly less salivary gland damage in a group treated with green tea extract, suggesting a reduction of the Sjogren's symptom commonly referred to as dry mouth. Dry mouth can also be caused by certain drugs, radiation and other diseases.
Green Tea May help protect against autoimmune disease, Medical College of Georgia researchers.
Researchers studied an animal model of type I diabetes and primary Sjögren syndrome, which damages the glands that produce tears and saliva.
Approximately 30 percent of older Americans suffer from degrees of dry mouth, says Dr. Stephen Hsu, a researcher at the School of Dentistry and MCG to the principal investigator of the study. Only 5 percent of elderly in China, where green tea is widely consumed, suffer from this problem.
"As it is an autoimmune disease, Sjögren's Syndrome causes the body to attack itself and produce extra antibodies that mistakenly target the salivary and lacrimal glands," he says. It 'there is no cure or prevention for Sjogren's Syndrome.
Researchers studied the salivary glands of water consumption and a group of green tea extract group of consumers in search of inflammation and the number of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells that gather in the sites of inflammation to avoid cells.
The group treated with green tea had significantly fewer lymphocytes, Dr. Hsu said. Their blood also showed lower levels of self, protein weapons produced when the immune system attacks itself, he said.
Researchers already know that one component of green tea EGCG ¨ C ¨ C can remove the inflammation, according to Mr. Hsu. "So, we suspected that green tea would suppress the inflammatory response of the disease. Those treated with green tea extract beginning at three weeks, showed far less damage to those glands over time."
Researchers suspect that the EGCG in green tea can turn on the body ¡¯ s defense system against TNF-alpha ¨ C a group of proteins and molecules involved in systemic inflammation. TNF-alpha, which is produced by white blood cells can achieve the target and kill cells.
"The salivary gland cells treated with EGCG had much fewer signs of cell death caused by TNF-alpha," says Dr. Hsu. "We do not yet know exactly how EGCG makes that happen. This will require further study. In some ways, this study gives us more questions than answers."
These results, published in a recent issue of Autoimmunity, reinforced findings of a 2005 study showing a similar phenomenon in a Petrie dish, Dr. Hsu says. Further study could help determine green tea's protective role in other autoimmune diseases, including lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis, "he says.
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