Camellia sinensis OR Tea tree is a evergreen shrub or small tree grows up to two meters. It has yellow-white flowers 2.5-4 cm wide, having 7-8 petals. The leaves are 4-15 cm long and 2-5 cm broad. Leaves are light green with white hair on the underside.
When they age, the leaves turn dark green. The first two or three leaves are plucked for making tea. It takes one or two weeks for the new leaves to grow.
Common name of the plant
The common name of this plant is tea plant. We may also call it a tea shrub.
Botanical name and family of tea plant
The botanical name of this plant is Camellia sinensis. It belongs to the Theaceae family.
Geological places where Camellia sinensis grows
Camellia sinensis is native to East Asia, India, and Southeast Asia. Today, it is grown all over the world in tropical and subtropical regions.
Camellia sinensis benefits and medicinal uses
Drinking tea for its curative properties has been a tradition since the olden times. This culture spread from China where it originated to all places around the world. Here is a look at some of the benefits of drinking tea.
1. Anti-aging activity
Aging, as per antioxidant activity theory, is the neuro-degeneration and functional deterioration caused by oxidative stress and free radical generation. Many of the age-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer have direct links to change in oxidant – antioxidant balances and free radical damage.
Green tea as the sole source of liquid did not increase the life span in mice. It is also seen that green tea protects aged mice from oxidative stress. It prevented protein and serum lipids from oxidative damage induced by ethanol.
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2. Anti-Alzheimer activity
It is yet to be proven through epidemiological studies that Camellia sinensis has benefits for Alzheimer’s disease. Animal and cell culture models suggest that EGCG from green tea may affect potential targets linked to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurotoxicity induced by beta-amyloid in cultured hippocampal neurons was prevented by EGCG. This effect is due to the antioxidant properties.
3. Prevention of Cardiovascular diseases
The protective effect of green tea is significant for cardiovascular diseases. This is attributed to its antioxidant activity. It is observed that the resistance to plasma LDL to oxidation increased when the person drank green tea extract.
The dysfunction of the cells lining the lymphatic vessels, cavities in the body, blood vessels, and heart called endothelium along with increase of oxidative stress is one of the reasons for coronary artery disease.
A few antioxidants can help reverse endothelial dysfunction. The antioxidant polyphenols present in tea were studied to see whether they would perform the same function. Some of the results were found to be favorable.
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4. Anticancer activity
Tea plant has chemo-preventive agents such as EGCG, EGC, ECG, and proanthocyanidins. The structure similarity of green tea catechins with chaperones helps them have improved interaction with the target molecules. These things indicate green tea have anticancer properties due to their chaperone like activity.
5. Anti-diabetic activity
We see anti-diabetic effect with green tea. It lowers glucose levels in mice without affecting insulin levels. When the normal rats were given green tea extract for a long period, the insulin sensitivity increased. When rats fed with fructose were given green tea extract, it led to several metabolic defects such as increased resistance to insulin and hyperglycaemia.
6. Anti-caries activity
Dental caries is effectively prevented by the consumption of green tea extract. This is due to the effect of both its flavor compounds being antibacterial and its polyphenols having an anti-plaque activity. Tea leaves have plenty of fluoride that is helpful for dental health.
But, the dental health is not limited due to the presence of fluorides alone. Oral micro-flora induces dental caries. Many of the green tea polyphenols stop the growth of oral micro-flora especially GC and EGC. ECG, GCG, and EGCG prevent the adherence of bacteria to the dental surfaces.
7. Skin disorders Prevention
Studies using animals show that when we apply green tea extract or give it orally to the animals, it prevents the formation of skin tumor caused by UV radiation or chemical carcinogens. The polyphenolic constituents present in the extract show anti-inflammatory activity that resembles anticancer forming activity.
The prevention of the cancer formation is by one polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Suppression of the immune system and presence of oxidative stress due to the action of UV rays is prevented. Following the studies on mouse, there were more studies on humans to see if there is a similar action.
8. Obesity and weight loss
Long term ingestion of green tea catechins stopped the accumulation of body fat in mice. Catechins and caffeine stimulate brown adipose tissue. However, this is not found to work with humans. Some other studies show that consumption of green tea might be useful to protect against obesity-related disorders like hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
9. Activity against HIV
Camellia sinensis can be used as an adjuvant therapy to AIDS but it is still in the hypothetical stage. Quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol are the major flavonols in tea. These are in glycoside form and so they are water soluble. The antioxidant property of tea is thought to contribute to its action against HIV.
10. Antibacterial activity
We see antibacterial activity from tea polyphenols. Studies are underway to determine which groups are inhibited by the antioxidant activity. To date, it is known that the polyphenols inhibit Helicobacter pylori and clostridia but they do not have any effect on intestinal lactic bacteria.
We can minimize food borne microorganisms by using preservatives made of natural antioxidants. Gram positive bacteria are more sensitive than Gram negative ones to antioxidant activity. This is effective against a number of bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, campylobacter jejuni, vibrio cholerae, and Vibrio mimicus.
Tea plant has a small amount of caffeine but not as much as coffee. It is also used for treating flatulence and for regulating body temperature. It also leads to other physiological benefits like increase in bone mineral density, anti-hypertensive effect, and anti-virasic property. I hope you all have got Camellia sinensis benefits. If you like it, please share this post on social sites.