Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Nasty antioxidants in green tea

with 10 comments

There are a group of synthetic antioxidants that range from E310-E312 called the gallates, including propyl gallate, octyl gallate and dodecyl gallate. They’re on the “nasty antioxidants” list. They’re based around gallic acid, also known as 3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid – that’s right, they’re closely related to benzoates.

If you paint your skin with benzoates, you will get an instant rash. They’re thought to cause angioedema and urticaria by triggering not histamine but serotonin release.

Gallates reportedly cause the same effects as benzoates. These chemicals are notorious; they cause the full range of health problems like asthma, eczema, and the ADHD behaviour we’re familiar with in food chemical intolerant kids. Failsafe parents describe their children as having screaming fits when they are exposed to unlabelled antioxidants.

I had a small epiphany last night after reading something about green tea that had been posted on FailsafeNT. The chemical name of green tea extract had never struck me before.

Green tea extract is basically catechins, which make up as much as 25% of the dry weight of the tea. I once tried to lose weight on green tea extract, and I felt really run down, irritable and awful the whole time, and I kept recycling the same 2lbs on the scale.

The names of the catechins are: epicatechin, epigallocatechin, and EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), the most abundant polyphenol of all. That’s right. Green tea is made of gallates. Green tea extract has been portrayed as a source of “wonderful” antioxidants. In actual fact green tea appears to be made up of the richest natural source of nasty antioxidants. Go look at the drawings of EGCG and gallic acid on wikipedia if you don’t believe me. EGCG is just a couple of gallic acid molecules tied together via another molecule, all arms protruding.

EGCG is even marketed as a “fountain of youth” for skin cells because it smoothes out wrinkles. Is this because, like other dodgy anti-wrinkle cosmetics, it’s causing angioedema? It’s marketed as an anti-inflammatory. Is this because it is acting like aspirin to block the all-important arachidonic acid pathway? Obviously if this is the case, it will cause asthmatic and pseudo-allergic reactions.

It’s really no wonder I had such horrible reactions to green tea extract, and in more recent trials, awful arthritis pains when I drink green tea.

Now I don’t care how many times EGCG helps me to recycle the antioxidant value of vitamin E, if it makes run around like a mental case until I fall over and burst into tears, I don’t want it in my body.


Written by alienrobotgirl

8 January, 2007 at 11:50 am

10 Responses

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  1. I appreciate your contrarian viewpoint of nutrition. Please keep up the thought-provoking posts.NC


    27 April, 2007 at 11:40 pm

  2. I don’t mean to be rude but you simply don’t have a clue what you are talking about!Catechins in green tea do include Epigallocatechin and gallocatechin. They are similar to the other catechins without “gallo” in their name (epicatechin and catechin) but for an additional phenolic hydroxyl group added. There is no reason to suggest this changes their health giving or damaging effects in of the ways you mention.Just because there is a similar organic group or related group in a substance does not mean the resultant compound has the same properties!For isntance blueberries are rich in anthoCYANincs. CYANide is a lethal poison. Notice anyone being poisoned by blueberries recently? No because they are not the same chemical dispite sharing some letters and part of a chemical group. The addition of just one atom onto a molecule can radically change its chemistry.Your anecdote of feeling a bit dodgy whilst on an ineffective diet doesn’t present much in the way of useful evidence. However the use of green tea as a diet aid is probably ineffective.The health potential of catechins in tea have been studied on numerous occasions and are very promising. I’d suggest looking at those, real studies, rather than making guesses about some words sharing some letters.


    19 November, 2007 at 3:26 pm

  3. NeilC,I don’t mean to be rude either but “you simply don’t have a clue what you are talking about!”I don’t know why you have made a hair-splitting difference between gallo and non-gallo catechins and declare I am making a distinction between the two. There is nothing in what I have written that makes that distinction. Perhaps you didn’t read my post properly. Failsafers are adversely affected by a wide range of polyphenols, I have no need to make the distinction.”Just because there is a similar organic group or related group in a substance does not mean the resultant compound has the same properties!”Please do not patronise me on the basics of chemistry.Obviously, I must be making it up when I observed that I react to a wide range of isolated polyphenols in herbal extracts, and particularly badly to green tea and olive leaf extracts. Never mind that I’ve replicated it since several times over. Duh, silly me! I certainly didn’t feel “a bit dodgy” either. I felt like death warmed up, pretty much like I had the flu.Obviously my experience is “just an anecdote” to you. Guess what? Anecdotes are where science begins! Try opening your mind and observing some real life facts for yourself instead of relying on other people’s papers on what green tea does or does not do in the test tube and you might turn into a real scientist! You’ve heard of the phrase “human beings are not lab rats”? Neither are they test tubes!On the subject of the so called “health giving” properties of green tea polyphenols, if your research was up to date you would know that whilst they act as antioxidants in vitro, in vivo the body gets rid of them too fast for them to have a significant effect on oxidative status! In the process of getting rid of them it causes the side effects I describe above – the ones I have personally experienced and replicated.This observation is not a “guess about some words sharing some letters”, it is based on the fact that I understand the detoxification processes in the body that these chemicals pass through, and I know how those detoxification processes are compromised in some people.Regarding anthocyanins, had you done your research you would know that anthocyanins can in fact cause cyanide toxicity when ingested in large enough quantities. The reason people don’t get poisoned is that they do not eat the vast quantities of anthocyanins required. The cyanide in anthocyanins is just bound up in a way that reduces toxicity within the body.You clearly know nothing about me, you haven’t read this blog in enough detail, and you know nothing about the failsafe diet or the biochemistry of these chemicals in the body. Had you actually educated yourself properly on this subject before playing the “expert” and spouting off about it, you wouldn’t have attempted to patronise me about it in such a snotty way. Try learning some manners before you comment again!

    Alien Robot Girl

    19 November, 2007 at 8:31 pm

  4. Having read this, I just checked the Internet, and found very little evidence of the toxicity of EGCG.Performing a Google search with the following words: EGCG toxic OR neurotoxinthis yielded nothing about EGCG being dangerous substance. Furthermore, if you search with words: EGCG cytotoxicyou find that EGCG does kill certain cells: cancerous ones. That is the kind of toxicity I tend to think is rather good.If you have any refs to studies confirming the toxicity of EGCG, please post them. I will be interested in seeing them.I don’t think EGCG is dangerous. IT may just effect your metabolism in a bad way.


    22 February, 2008 at 3:15 am

  5. You typed EGCG and neurotoxin into the great and mighty google and now you’re an expert on biochemistry?Why were you looking for the word ‘neurotoxin’?? If you type in aspirin and neurotoxin you don’t get any sensible results out either.That doesn’t mean aspirin doesn’t cause hyperactivity. It means you should be searching for the effects of EGCG on arachidonic acid metabolism. If you do that, you’ll discover it’s a complete no-brainer.If anyone else arrives here via a google search for green tea antioxidants and then makes ill-educated remarks like this without first reading about the biochemistry of food chemical intolerance then I’ll ban comments on this post.

    Alien Robot Girl

    22 February, 2008 at 2:25 pm

  6. I found your blog as I was searching for information on what about green tea that causes me irritation of the urinary tract.
    Prior to this year, I have been an avid and regular drinker of green tea with no noticeable adverse affects.
    However, in the past year it has caused me irritation of the urinary tract as well as acting as a strong and irritating diuretic.
    Joining green tea as an irritant are other teas including some herbal varieties, apple sauce (even unflavored organic apple sauce), possibly bananas and figs, and some types of wine.
    However, I drink cranberry and blueberry juice among many other fruits and nuts that I eat with no problem.
    I find blueberry and cranberry juice extract to be an excellent tonic and urinary tract cleanser.
    So I am not sure if I have an intolerance to salicylates, amines, phenols or other substances.
    I have been able to heal myself of these symptoms for the most part by avoiding these foods, even though until last year I have never had a problem with any of them.
    Perhaps my years of drinking green tea irritated my bladder over time. When I look at my coffee mug after drinking several cups of green tea, there is a green layer or ring of tea stains that begs to be cleaned.
    Perhaps these tea stains or tannins are doing the same think to my bladder or urinary tract.


    7 July, 2008 at 8:53 pm

  7. Hi Henry

    I’m not surprised. Those are classic very high chemical foods with strong reputations, and that kind of UT irritation is quite a common reaction. People with FCIS very commonly get UTIs which are aggravated by both salicylates and amines. Cranberry juice, though it contains salicylates, is very high in mannose, a sugar which helps to heal/prevent UTIs. I know someone with FCIS who healed a UTI with mannose.

    It’s possible you are a little bit sensitive to food chemicals – most people in the general population are and do experience adverse effects to high amounts of food chemicals.


    7 July, 2008 at 10:38 pm

  8. Thanks for your response and for your very informative blog which has a wealth of first-hand information on (FCIS) Food chemical intolerance syndrome as well as many other nutrition and health related topics!


    9 July, 2008 at 5:02 pm

  9. I am going to need to read your blog in more detail. I came upon this particular post, because I noticed that Green Tea does strange things to my digestive tract. Unpleasant bloating and such. I don’t know if cocoa is another item on your list, but I get a very similar reaction from cocoa. I’ve had a whole range of issues for years now, and maybe your blog can help. thanks for the information.


    4 April, 2009 at 5:37 am

  10. Thank you very much for explaining why I can not drink green tea. It has always made me feel edgy and ill, with quite a few symptoms. I found out through tests, some years ago, that I must avoid sodium benzoate. Your putting all the puzzle pieces together is a wonderful help.

    Thank you very, very much.

    J. S.

    22 September, 2010 at 5:02 pm

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