The Green Tea Pee Connection: Bladder Control and Cancer

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There is always some kind of tea in my house, including green tea which millions of people drink every day. Known botanically as Camellia sinensis, green tea contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which provides powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fibrosis and cell protective benefits. It is well-known for it’s anti-cancer effects.
Practitioners frequently use green tea as a diuretic to rid your body of excess fluid.  The EGCG and other compounds are super strong antioxidants. Today, I want to focus on the relationship between green tea and your bladder. This is particularly important if you  find yourself ‘toilet mapping’ whenever you go out or need frequent treks to the restroom all day long.

Most people take their bladder for granted, until nighttime trips to the potty begin to ruin your sleep. In come the incontinence drugs such as the anticholinergics which can cause terrific dry mouth and blurred vision. Topical estrogen may help tone the bladder, but synthetic non-bioidentical estrogen carries terrible risk to your reproductive organs.

As a pharmacist, there are many drugs, but the most effective cure I believe is through pelvic floor training. You’ll need a certified biofeedback therapist for that. How about something simple like green tea?

In a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 46 men with bladder and urinary tract symptoms participated in a 3 month trial (Therapeutic Advances in Urology). These men had difficulties with urinary flow, inability to fully empty their bladder and erectile dysfunction.  A simple lab test evaluated levels of  the inflammatory compound C-reactive protein or CRP.  Men drank a green tea blend that significantly helped them with their various discomforts by up to 35 percent. Urinary flow improved and CRP was lowered.  Symptoms of erectile dysfunction improved as well.

What about UTIs?
If you’re prone to these, there are many studies including one in Frontiers in Biology, that discuss how green tea acts like an antibiotic killing E. Coli in the bladder and urinary tract and how the growth of deadly MRSA can even be inhibited. These antimicrobial effects come in handy if you’re susceptible to UTIs.

Green tea extract isn’t for everyone. It can cause unwanted diuresis in some people! This happened to a friend of mine right before we entered the mall. She literally urinated in her pants from taking a supplement (an over-the-counter diet pill) that contained green tea extract. So it’s not right for everyone, however I stand firm when I tell you that it could help some women with post-menopausal bladder problems. It’s something to discuss with your practitioner.

What about bladder cancer?
Researchers have shown that women who drink black tea and powdered green tea are less likely to develop bladder cancer. Research has also revealed that people with bladder cancer (particularly men) who drink green tea have a better 5-year survival rate than those who did not drink green tea. Does this translate to prostate cancer? I suspect so, but of course ask your oncologist what is right for you. In the meantime, drinking a little cup of green tea is a simple, and possibly effective way to improve bladder function and general health. If you oversteep green tea it will be bitter to your tastebuds. Steep it about 3 to 5 minutes max, and add organic honey, stevia or coconut sugar to it. When I make it at home, I actually add a teaspoon of rose hips to the water so that it is more tart because that’s how I like it. The rose hips adds even more antioxidants and vitamin C.