Second to water, tea is the most frequently consumed beverage on the planet.1 But beyond its array of palatable aromas and flavors, tea—particularly green tea—offers an abundance of antioxidants that may play a role in disease prevention.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Women’s Health,2 one such antioxidant called epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) found in green tea and its extracts has been shown to significantly shrink uterine fibroids and improve symptoms.
Principal Investigator of the study, Dr. Ayman Al-Hendy, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACOG, formerly of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., and a team of researchers investigated the effects of EGCG on 39 women 18 to 50 years of age with symptomatic uterine fibroids. All the women in the study had at least one fibroid of two centimeters or larger, as was confirmed by ultrasound.
The women were randomly divided into two groups and over the course of four months were treated with either 800 mg of caffeine-free green tea extract that contained 45 percent EGCG or a placebo treatment of 800 mg of brown rice. Throughout the study, symptom severity and quality of life scores were collected and at the end of the study, fibroid size was again measured.
Overall, 33 of the 39 women completed the study. In comparison to the placebo group, the authors found that among women who were treated with green tea extract, fibroids shrunk by 32.6 percent.
What’s more, in the green tea extract treatment group symptom severity decreased by 32.4 percent and quality of life scores improved by more than 18 percent. Anemia significantly improved and an average reduction of 26 mL per month of menstrual blood loss was reported.
In contrast, fibroid size in the placebo group grew by nearly 25 percent, symptoms worsened, and quality of life scores increased by only 2 percent—possibly due to the placebo-effect, the authors noted. Additionally, there was no statistical change in monthly menstrual blood loss throughout the study.
Unlike other medications used to treat fibroids, Al-Hendy and his team found that women tolerated the green tea extract well and no adverse side effects accompanied the treatment. Specifically, no diseases of the uterine lining were found; liver and renal function and hormone levels were normal; and inflammatory markers remained within healthy limits.
Why might green tea extract produce such results?
The exact mechanism is unclear, but the authors noted the benefits seen could possibly be attributed to the anti-tumor effects of EGCG.
At this time, green tea extract for the treatment of uterine fibroids isn’t FDA approved and larger longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results. Taking supplements should always be discussed with your doctor first.
That being said, this data may be the first step to opening many natural therapeutic doors for women who suffer with fibroids or for those who are predisposed to the condition and want a preventative option that doesn’t include medication or surgery.
“EGCG shows promise as a safe and effective therapeutic agent for women with symptomatic uterine fibroids,” Al-Hendy and his team concluded. “Such a simple, inexpensive, and orally administered therapy can improve women’s health globally.”
Dr. Ayman Al-Hendy, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACOG, is currently the Director of Interdisciplinary Translational Research, Assistant Dean for Global Translational Research, and Professor and Director of the Division of Translational Research at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alicia Armeli is a Health Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad and volunteering in her community.
- Tea Association of the USA Inc. (2015). Tea Fact Sheet—2015. Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://www.teausa.com/14655/tea-fact-sheet
- Roshdy, E., Rajaratnam, V., Maitra, S., Sabry, M., Ait Allah, A. S., & Al-Hendy, A. (2013). Treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids with green tea extract: a pilot randomized controlled clinical study. International Journal of Women’s Health, 5: 477-486. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S41021