Colitis is a chronic disease that affects the lining of the bowels, colon and rectum.  Inflammation creates symptoms that include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, fatigue and occasional fever.  Because colitis affects the body’s absorption of water and minerals, it frequently creates nutritional deficiencies.  This can result in a general feeling of malaise, dehydration, loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia and fatigue.

Attacks of colitis happen in cycles with inflammation flaring up and then diminishing.  Ulcerative colitis occurs when inflammation creates sores called ulcers.  These sores form in areas where inflammation has destroyed cells in the colon lining.  This condition can also cause inflammation in the eyes, joints and skin.  Often mistaken for other inflammatory conditions of the bowels like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis is thought to be an autoimmune disorder.  However, it is strongly associated with poor nutrition, and use of antibiotics and high stress levels can aggravate the condition.

Because colitis is caused by inflammation, products that are anti-inflammatory would appear to be a logical remedy.  Green tea is one such product.  Research shows that the EGCG in green tea can stop interleukin-8, an inflammatory compound sometimes secreted by cells of the immune system.  Also, because green tea has been found to prevent colon cancer, it is all the more attractive as a possible treatment for colitis.


The Research:
Research in 2001 at the University of Kentucky that was published in the Journal of Nutrition concluded that polyphenols in green tea may be useful in the treatment of inflammatory diseases of the bowels.  Rats deficient in interleukin-2 were randomly placed into two groups:  one that received water laced with green tea polyphenols and one that received plain water.  At the end of the six-week study period, rats receiving the polyphenols experienced an increase in body weight, and inflammation was significantly lessened.

A 2005 Italian study published in Free Radical Research Journal, also found that green tea may be helpful for colitis.  Researchers experimentally induced colitis into a group of rats with intra-colonic injections of DNBS acid. The rats were given green tea extract for a period of four days.  Diarrhea and resulting weight loss in the rats were significantly reduced, and colon health was improved.

Another recent study conducted at the University of Kentucky evaluated safety and effectiveness of an oral dose of green tea polyphenols in patients with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis.  Twenty patients were randomly assigned to receive daily doses of polyphenols or a placebo in a double-blind study.  Results were determined with use of the UC disease activity index and the inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire given after 56 days of treatment.  Eight of fifteen patients in the polyphenol group experienced remission as opposed to no patients in the placebo group.  Researchers concluded that this treatment might be beneficial for patients with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis.

Whether or not one is afflicted with colitis, it may be wise to stock up on green tea.  In addition to possibly reducing colitis symptoms, green tea offers a host of other health benefits.

Studies on people and animals show that green tea raises levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and reduces total cholesterol.

Clinical studies have shown that green and black teas may help prevent certain cancers.

According to animal studies, green tea may prevent type 1 diabetes and slow its progression once individuals are afflicted.

Green tea appears to offer protection to the liver from toxic substances like alcohol.

Research suggests that green tea extract may stimulate the metabolism and burn fat.