Green tea which is already recommended for its cancer-fighting properties, also appears to be a promising new treatment for skin disorders such as psoriasis, lupus-induced lesions and dandruff.
According to researchers in the U.S., green tea may be a non-toxic way to regulate such conditions.
In skin diseases like psoriasis, skin cells multiply out of control, causing the skin to be thicker and to flake off.
The condition causes skin cell growth to become unregulated and inflammation sets in.
The researchers at the Medical College of Georgia conducted a study with mice with a genetic predisposition for psoriasis.
They divided the mice into two groups, one group was bathed routinely in warm water and one in a green tea extract mixed with water.
The researchers found that the mice bathed in the green tea extract developed skin lesions much later than the mice washed with warm water and their lesions were also smaller and less inflamed.
The green tea appeared to slow down the production of skin cells by regulating the activity of caspase 14 that is involved in regulating a skin cell's life cycle.
Dr. Stephen Hsu, an oral biologist in the MCG School of Dentistry and lead investigator on the study, says the research is important because certain treatments for psoriasis and dandruff can have dangerous side effects.
Dr. Hsu says, there are no cures for autoimmune diseases and it is possible that this is a non-toxic way to regulate them but further studies need to be carried out on humans in order to determine the full effects.
The traditional treatment of ultraviolet light and medication for psoriasis controls the lesions but used long term, may cause squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer.
Also some of the most effective anti-dandruff shampoos also contain carcinogens of which the long-term effects of using such products continuously are unknown.
Dr. Hsu says green tea is plant-derived, containing chemicals which are so active that they are oxidized too quickly when mixed with other ingredients; they also dissolve in water, which cannot penetrate the skin's barrier.
Hsu says they are looking for a balanced formula that can dissolve in fats and can permeate the skin.
The research is published in the August 18th edition of Experimental Dermatology.