Uterine fibroids also known as leiomyoma’s are common benign smooth muscle uterine tumors that occur in 20-25% of women (Hudson, 2008). African-American women have a higher incidence of this condition than females from other ethnic backgrounds. Although the full pathophysiology behind uterine fibroids remains unclear, there are several theories that link the growth of these tumors to unopposed estrogen or maybe triggered in part by an inflammatory immune response (Islam et al, 2014). Studies have shown that fibroids tend to grown more during a females reproductive years and then decrease in menopause (Hudson, 2008), which may leave some women waiting until menopause to achieve relief. A female can have multiple fibroids and the size of her fibroid(s) will determine the symptoms she may experience. Some common symptoms include: pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, pressure on the bladder, and infertility (Islam et al, 2014). Conventional treatments range from oral contraceptives, uterine artery embolization, hysterectomy or myomectomies (Boosz et al, 2014). Given that the latter are quite invasive, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that green tea has been used to study this condition. Green tea, (Camellia sinensis) has several beneficial properties thanks to the main catechin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Some of these beneficial properties are that it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-oxidant. These actions showed effective in reducing fibroid size and improving symptoms experienced by women with fibroids.
In a study by Roshdy, they divided 39 women with fibroids into 2 test groups. Participants needed to have at least one fibroid greater or equal to 2cm and weren’t currently breastfeeding or intending on becoming pregnant. One group received 800mg of green tea extract, containing 45% EGCG daily for four months, while the other group received the placebo (800mg of brown rice) also for four months. Although all participants did not complete the study, 22 of the women taking the green tea capsules saw a reduction in uterine fibroid size at the end of the trial. These women also reported a decrease in vaginal bleeding and overall improvement in quality of life. Participants reported monthly and completed various questionnaires related to symptoms as well as receiving trans-vaginal ultrasounds to track fibroid size. Month to month, the EGCG treatment group continued to see improvements whereas the females in the placebo group had results that were varying without any consistent trends observed.
A second study performed by Zhang et al showed that green tea extract injected in uterine cells from in vitro mice had inhibitory effects on the proliferation of the uterus. They used various concentrations of EGCG over different time periods and noticed that cell lines treated with 100mm of EGCG over 3 days had irregular proliferation, ultimately led to apoptosis of the uterine cells. Despite the fact this research was done with mouse cells, it still is a good starting point to show that natural treatments such as nutrient supplementation can be effective in treating women with uterine fibroids.
Overall, these studies were both insightful and gave another potential approach for the treatment and management of uterine fibroids one of the most common solid pelvic tumors in women (Hudson, 2008). Many of the conventional treatments for fibroids are invasive and may present a challenge for some women, especially if they wish to start a family. Green tea is inexpensive and can be taken in capsular form or as a tea without many of the adverse affects as some conventional options have.
Best in Health,
1. Boosz, Alexander Stephan et al. “The Conservative and Interventional Treatment of Fibroids”
2. Hudson, Tori. “Uterine Fibroids”
3. Islam, Md Soriful et al. “Use of Dietary Phytochemicals to Target Inflammation”
4. Roshdy, Eman et al. “Treatment of Symptomatic Uterine Fibroids with Green Tea”
5. Zhang, Dong et al. “Green Tea Extract Inhibits Proliferation of Uterine Leimyoma”