Black and Green Teas
What are black and green teas?
Tea is second only to water as the most consumed beverage in the world. Both black and green tea are made from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The highest quality teas are derived from young shoots, which are the uppermost 2 or 3 leaves plus the growing bud; poorer quality teas are made from leaves located further down the stems. Green tea is preferred as it is less processed, resulting in higher levels of therapeutic antioxidants.
Catechins or polyphenols, found in tea, especially green tea, have been shown to possess strong antioxidant properties (see our sheet on antioxidants). Antioxidants are thought to prevent damage to tissue and DNA, so reducing risk of cancer cell formation.
Through their antioxidant activity, the catechins in green tea also may profoundly reduce inflammation of the liver and gastrointestinal tract, providing a potential benefit in enteritis and hepatitis in small animals of almost any cause.
Why recommend the administration of tea to my pet?
Green tea might be beneficial in any condition needing antioxidants. In humans, green tea is indicated as an antioxidant in recuperation, an anti-cancer agent, and to lower blood cholesterol.
Several tumour types are inhibited by green tea, including cancers of the stomach, gall bladder, prostate, uterus, lung, intestine, colon, rectum and pancreas. Green tea also inhibits breast cancer.
"Several tumour types are inhibited by green tea, including cancers of the stomach, gall bladder, prostate, uterus, lung, intestine, colon, rectum and pancreas."
Its comprehensive action against a variety of tumours in humans suggests green tea may provide the same benefits in animals, especially in the digestive tract and liver. It may be a useful addition to the diet of any animal with cancer.
How much experience is there with the use of tea in pets?
Research suggests that regular consumption of green tea reduces the incidence of colon, pancreatic, and stomach cancers in humans. No specific trials have been done with pet animals, but laboratory animal tests are encouraging. Tea supplements are rarely used alone, but are usually combined with other supplements as part of an integrated approach to cancer management.
How safe is tea?
Black and green teas are foods and are therefore generally regarded as safe. Green tea does contain some caffeine, although at a lower level than black tea or coffee, and can therefore cause insomnia, nervousness, and the other well-known symptoms of excess caffeine intake.
Care should be taken if the patient has kidney inflammation, gastrointestinal ulcers, cardiovascular disease, insomnia or increased intraocular (inner eye) pressure because of the caffeine. Green tea may mildly increase blood pressure immediately following consumption. In animals this is not a concern if teas are given in moderation.
In general, supplements containing green or black tea are very safe, and side effects are more likely to be seen in people (or pets) consuming large quantities of tea than if taking supplements.
Where do I get tea supplements and do I need a prescription?
A prescription is not required for Black and Green Tea. However, although tea supplementation seems absurdly easy, please do just check with one of the vets. We like to keep an eye on all the supplements our patients are taking – just to be sure!
If you want to give your animal (usually a dog) tea, for example for breakfast, black tea is best without any sugar. If you want to give milk, then soya or rice milk is best. Cows milk is acceptable, but can cause digestive upset in some animals (loose stools) and skin irritation in sensitive animals. Make sure tea has come to room temperature and add it to food.
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