PhotoAnyone who has it will tell you that arthritic pain can be debilitating. Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, affects smaller joints, such as those located in the hands and feet. It causes swelling, cartilage damage, bone erosion, and joint deformity -- and can put those suffering from it through almost constant pain.

Now, one study says that a common compound found in one favorite hot beverage could go a long way towards reducing that pain. Salah-uddin Ahmed and teams of researchers from Washington State University in Spokane and Hajipur, India have found that a certain molecule found in green tea can effectively counter some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

The molecule in question is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). It possesses many anti-inflammatory properties that make it perfectly suited for fighting the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. The added benefit is that it doesn’t block other kinds of cellular function. This is definitely an improvement over other treatment options that don’t quite do the job.

“Existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis are expensive, immunosuppressive and sometimes unsuitable for long-term use,” said Ahmed. “This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1 – an important signaling protein – through which proinflammatory cytokines transmit their signals to cause inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis.”

Ahmed and his fellow researchers are continuing to test EGCG in animal models. Results look hopeful thus far; one animal model showed reduced ankle swelling after taking EGCG over a 10-day treatment plan. The full study has been published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology.  

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