The Powerful Benefits of EGCG
OCTOBER 2023 | Dr. Ashley Southern
The Powerful Benefits of EGCG
Eastern medicine has applauded green tea for centuries for its countless health benefits, so much so that Western medicine has decided to take notice and invest a lot of research into uncovering just how beneficial it is.
As it turns out, it is a very powerful nutrient. The question shouldn’t be is green tea healthy for you, but rather, just how healthy is it, and why? What makes it so beneficial?
At the heart of green tea’s health-promoting properties is a powerful polyphenol known as epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. EGCG is an immensely potent antioxidant and plays a significant role in cellular function within the body. It’s what pumps green tea full of vitality-boosting properties, including anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-cancer properties, and makes it a powerful anti-aging agent!
What Is EGCG?
Green tea is full of powerful antioxidants. Of all the antioxidant compounds found in green tea, the biggest players are polyphenols. Polyphenols are naturally occurring plant compounds that are well-known for their antioxidant properties. They help fight against harmful free radicals that build up within the body overtime and cause damage to our cells. This cellular damage is highly associated with increased risks of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
EGCG is the major bioactive polyphenol found in green tea. It works within the body by altering the various cell receptors that encompass both cellular membranes and intracellular proteins. In this way it impacts cellular signalling, miRNA gene transcribing, and other vital functions at the cellular level. This ability to symbiotically modulate crucial cellular functions is what gives EGCG its significant beneficial properties.
Breaking Down the Benefits
Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to injury, infection, or stress. Chronic inflammation can be an issue, and has been foundationally linked to several health dysfunctions, including gut health, heart disease, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. Studies have shown EGCG has potent anti-inflammatory properties. EGCG can influence inflammatory pathways by downregulating inflammatory responses and reducing the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, which can significantly mitigate chronic inflammation. EGCG has also been shown to decrease production of interleukin 6 (IL-6), a cytokine known to have pro-inflammatory properties.
Oxidative stress caused by free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a significant underlying factor of cellular damage, chronic diseases, mitochondrial dysfunction, and can expedite symptoms related to aging. EGCG has proven itself to be a powerful antioxidant. It scavenges the body for free radicals, and also works to protect and strengthen cells against oxidative damage. EGCG has also been seen to trigger mitochondrial biogenesis and restore mitochondrial function, which helps to promote proper cell functionality and can boost mood and energy levels.
Inflammation and oxidative stress are two key players when it comes to aging. Increased levels of both have been foundationally linked to many aging-related issues, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease. The two often create a negative feedback loop; oxidative stress commonly causes inflammation, and the release of inflammatory responses can further aggravate the degree of oxidative stress. This often leads to cellular and tissue damage that can impede vital bodily functions, which then effects our health and overall quality of life as we age.
Research shows that longer lifespans are linked to a reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation. One study that looked into the effects of EGCG on oxidative stress and inflammation found that EGCG significantly decreased both ROS and inflammation. “EGCG inhibited ROS, inflammation factors and enhanced the proliferation capacity of WI-38 cells. This prevented or delayed potential cellular and tissue dysfunction caused by oxidative stress, inflammation signalling and cell proliferation” (Qiao, 2019). By encouraging cell proliferation, EGCG has been seen to effectively boost cellular growth and regeneration, two crucial factors when it comes to slowing down the rate of aging.
Several studies have found that EGCG has significant cancer-fighting properties. Tea polyphenols have been seen to have effective chemo-preventative properties, especially with breast, prostrate, lung and colorectal cancers. One study looking into the antiproliferative effects of ten major polyphenols found in green tea discovered that EGCG was the most effective at inhibiting cell growth, making it the “most abundant and powerful antioxidant in green tea for cancer chemoprevention” (Guang-Jian, 2012). Among the ten chosen for their known cancer chemo-preventative potentials, EGCG showed the most potent antiproliferative effects, significantly induced cell cycle arrest in the GI phase, and encouraged cell apoptosis (cellular death). Apoptosis is considered an important pathway in the inhibition of tumor growth, and EGCG was seen to significantly induce cell apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells. Further, the same study found that the antiproliferative effects of EGCG were even more potent than 5-fluorouracil, a chemotherapy drug commonly used for colorectal cancer.
Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is commonly associated with diabetes and occurs when too much glucose builds up within the bloodstream. Left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to serious health concerns. Studies have identified that EGCG shows potential in improving glucose metabolism by encouraging insulin uptake and regulating insulin resistance. One study found that EGCG effectively decreased the production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), an adipokine that is highly associated with obesity-induced type 2 diabetes and promotes insulin resistance. Another study that looked at the pro-insulin metabolic properties of EGCG in rats found that EGCG improved glucose metabolism and whole body insulin resistance by 21% (Ng, 2014).
How to Get More EGCG into Your Life
There are many ways to incorporate more EGCG into your diet and lifestyle.
The biggest source of EGCG is green tea. Look for higher quality loose leaf teas over green tea-flavoured drinks to ensure you are getting the highest possible amounts. Regular green tea has approximately 180-200mg of EGCG, while instant or bottled green tea-flavoured drinks tend to only have 9mg per serving. Foods known to have significant levels EGCG are apples, blackberries, and carob flour. Other foods that have trace amounts of EGCG include strawberries, nuts, peaches, avocados, and plums.
- Brewing Makes a Difference
To optimize the release of EGCG, brew your tea at 175°F (80°C) for 2-3 minutes. Higher temperatures can impact the integrity and benefits of EGCG, and over brewing can lead to bitter-tasting tea.
- Choose Matcha
Matcha is rich in EGCG and other health benefits. Enjoy it as a tasty cup of tea, or add it to smoothies, desserts, and lattes.
- Enjoy it Daily
Research shows that consistency is the key to maximizing EGCG’s bountiful benefits. Aim to drink 2-3 cups of green tea daily to get the most out of what this powerful polyphenol has to offer.
Other forms of EGCG
Nascent Health is proud to now be offering EGCG IV Therapy! As discussed in our other blogs, 5 Health Benefits of IV Therapy and IV Treatment Types, Benefits and Comparison: NAD vs Glutathione vs Nutrient IV Therapy, getting nutrients into your body via IV bypasses the digestive system and gets delivered to your cells more rapidly and efficiently. EGCG IV therapy is often used for naturopathic cancer support and many other conditions – contact us today to book your IV and discover how EGCG can help you!
Guang-Jian Du, Z. Z. (2012). Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) Is the Most Effective Cancer Chemopreventive Polyphenol in Green Tea. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509513/
Ng, H. L. (2014). Effect of the Green Tea Polyphenol, EGCG, on Insulin Sensitivity. Retrieved from Menzies Research Institute of Tasmania: https://figshare.utas.edu.au/articles/thesis/Effect_of_green_tea_polyphenol_EGCG_on_insulin_sensitivity/23236970
Zhang Qiao, W. Y. (2019). Epigallocatechin gallate prevents senescence by alleviating oxidative stress and inflammation in WI-38 human embryonic fibroblasts. Retrieved from Royal Society of Chemistry: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2019/ra/c9ra03313k