Tea is over 4000 years old, making it one of the world’s first beverages. Green tea first gained popularity in China (according to legend, it was first brewed in 2737 BC during the reign of Emperor Shennong) and was used medicinally, treating a range of ailments from headaches to depression. Its widespread continued use today is primarily due to its astonishing range of health benefits—it contains vast amounts of antioxidants, along with amino acids, B vitamins, folate, potassium and magnesium. It’s no exaggeration to call green tea a health food—few beverages can compete.
Perhaps the most pleasant benefit green tea offers is its enhancement of beauty through various means—hair growth and shine, skin complexion, delaying signs of aging and bad breath, to name a few.
Hair Growth, Green Tea Style
DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is one of the key causes of hair loss. Green tea, with its high quantities of a kind of antioxidant called polyphenols (and particularly a certain class of polyphenols called catechins—agents that combat the enemies of our DNA, free radicals) has the ability to block DHT and its balding effects. Catechins contain an enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, which prevents testosterone molecules from turning into DHT. Moreover, it can promote new hair growth and help prevent dandruff and other hair problems. According to the Journal of the National Medical Association, a 2005 study found that the polyphenols in green tea helped prevent hair loss among rodents.
For those with plenty of hair, green tea offers yet another benefit—shine. After shampooing and conditioning, a rinse with green tea (left on the hair for ten minutes or so while showering) will strengthen the hair and protect against pollutants.
Green Tea for Beautiful Skin
Green tea is a natural acne reducer. Once again, it’s polyphenols that are acting on the skin—a certain antibacterial catechin known as EGCG can treat acne (known scientifically as acne vulgaris) by suppressing certain pathways in the disorder, thereby reducing inflammation and modulating the effects of a pathogen called sebum. Equally important is catechins’ ability to regulate hormonal imbalance in the body, which is the chief cause of acne.
Going beyond blemishes, green tea and its polyphenols provide a wonderful skin toner and moisturizer for dry skin. It acts as a exfoliating agent, drawing out toxins and impurities from the skin, hydrating it and shrinking overlarge pores. It can be either spritzed onto the face as a freshening rinse, or made into a paste and applied topically to the face—the slightly abrasive texture of dry green tea leaves will scrub away dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores. For the latter, try mixing 1 tablespoon of dry ground green tea leaves with enough honey (a natural antibacterial product) to make a thick paste. Apply to the face and allow to remain for 10-15 minutes, then use circular motions with your fingertips to rub it off, rinsing away any excess with warm water.
Banishing Owl Eyes
Among the many nutrients contained in a cup of green tea is Vitamin K, which is a proven ally in the fight against the dark undereye circles. The tannins in tea also help. The best strategy is to brew and chill a couple of teabags and place them over your eyes for 15 minutes or so each morning. A useful side benefit of using green tea bags instead of black is, one avoids the potential staining that can occur from black tea.
Still not convinced of the magic of green tea? Believe it or not, green tea is actually effective against sunburn, can be made into a toothpaste to curb mouth odor, and increases skin elasticity, keeping you looking young longer.