Have you noticed the green matcha craze that’s surfaced in recent years? I’ve seen everything from matcha lattes and matcha smoothies to Italian matcha macaroons, matcha fortune cookies, and even matcha doughnuts with a chocolate glaze.
Besides contributing a vibrant, jewel-green hue to a wide range of recipes, matcha green tea appears to offer much more. You probably know the benefits of green tea, but this type is a step beyond.
Keep reading to discover how this traditional ingredient in Japanese tea ceremonies can help you stay healthy, especially if you’re aiming to treat or prevent cancer.
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Better than regular green tea?
Matcha is a specific form of green tea that hails from Japan, unique because the tea leaves are stoneground into powder. Because of the grinding process, drinking matcha gives you much the same health benefits you’d enjoy if you actually ate a whole green tea leaf. The powder dissolves and you consume it, while with conventional tea you consume the chemical compounds released by the leaf when it’s exposed to hot water – and throw the rest of the leaf away.
When you drink matcha you get 100% of the nutrients from that leaf. For comparison, one cup of matcha tea is said to equal 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea.
In an antioxidant analysis of matcha green tea conducted by Brunswick Laboratories, an independent bioanalytical testing & research center in Massachusetts, matcha tea ORAC levels (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) registered at an impressive 1,573 units per gram. ORAC is the accepted measure of antioxidant power.
In contrast, goji berries provide only 253 units per gram. Blueberries, acai berries, broccoli, and spinach all come in at less than 100 units per gram.
As you know, antioxidants are your body’s key defense agents that help prevent chronic disease and even slow down aging. The USDA recommends you consume 5,000 ORAC units per day. A single serving of matcha (two grams) contains 2,400 ORAC units (which are also fiber-filled and sugar free).
The chlorophyll content is another reason matcha green tea is superior to traditional brewed green teas. Chlorophyll is the key ingredient that lends color to matcha tea. In fact, matcha is typically grown in the shade, and because of that it tends to be richer in chlorophyll than other green teas (this sounds odd, but that’s what my sources say). Chlorophyll has the added benefit of being a detoxifier.
To get the deep, rich green of chlorophyll, matcha growers cover the plants with heavy shade cloths for three weeks prior to harvest in May. This causes the new shoots to develop larger, thinner leaves. The result is a better flavor and texture.
The tea is harvested by hand, and the youngest, smallest leaves are selected for the highest quality matcha. Leaves are briefly steamed to stop fermentation, then dried and packed in bales for cold storage. Six months of aging deepens the flavor to peak levels.
An antioxidant powerhouse
of cancer-fighting catechins
Consuming matcha in any form gives you a greater antioxidant boost than you’d get from consuming other types of green tea.
Aside from ORAC and chlorophyll levels, much of the matcha fanfare began when researchers from the University of Colorado published a study in the Journal of Chromatography A. They found that the concentration of EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) was 137 times stronger than the amount of EGCG found in other forms of green tea.
In fact, EGCG levels were also at least three times higher than the highest published value for other green teas. Remarkably, more than 60% of the catechins in matcha are EGCG.
EGCG is a catechin shown to have great potential to improve human health and fight disease. Catechins are a potent class of antioxidants found only in tea, various vegetables, nuts, and carob powder.
EGCG has demonstrated potent cancer-fighting properties, including the ability to suppress tumors. It helps neutralize the effects of free radicals that attack the body through pollution, chemicals, radiation, and even UV rays – all of which can lead to cell damage associated with cancer.
EGCG has also been shown to suppress inflammation and aggressive estrogen mediators in breast tissue and can cause breast cancer cells to die. And it appears to suppress new blood flow that feeds breast cancer tumors, prevents DNA damage, and suppresses the production of breast cancer stem cells.
According to Dr. Kristi Pado Funk of the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills, California, “Three cups of green tea a day decreases breast cancer risk by half.” You can achieve the same result by drinking a single cup of matcha — and not only do you get your three cups in, you also get seven bonus cups.
The power of matcha doesn’t stop there…
Matcha offers even more benefits than those I’ve just described. It’s considered an excellent energy booster, yet doesn’t leave you with a case of the jitters. Many matcha tea drinkers report a steady boost in energy throughout their day, as opposed to the rollercoaster effect of most caffeine drinks.
Researchers initially believed this was due to matcha’s caffeine content, but they have since changed their minds and believe it’s the combination of matcha’s natural properties. The caffeine molecules in matcha bind to larger and more stable molecules (particularly those catechins).
This means the caffeine is released over time instead of all at once, which is the typical reaction with coffee or espresso. The timed-release factor inhibits any sudden insulin increases, so you don’t get the crash associated with quick drops in blood sugar that commonly affect coffee drinkers. One study even found that matcha improved physical endurance by 24%.
Evidence suggests the antioxidants in matcha can protect against many kinds of cancer, including breast, skin, lung, stomach, prostate, ovarian, and colon cancers. But it offers still more health benefits:
• Matcha is high in fiber and reduces harmful cholesterol in the blood.
• It contains five times more L-theanine than standard green teas. L-theanine is an amino acid that creates alpha waves in the brain and helps with relaxation.
• Matcha also provides trace minerals and vitamins including A, B-complex, C, E, and K.
• It can slow the aging process thanks to the high level of antioxidants.
• Matcha stabilizes blood sugar levels and helps boost metabolism.
• Matcha supports joint health and reduces inflammation, preventing cartilage breakdown.
• The flavonoids in matcha tea help prevent arterial blockage, thus helping prevent cardiovascular disease.
And, matcha has practically zero calories.
An easy way to clean up your free radical load
If you decide to add matcha to your diet, you may find it smells a lot like freshly mown grass. The scent may not be for everybody, but it’s not hard to add flavor if it doesn’t appeal to you.
You can get matcha green tea from your local nutrition shop or even order it on Amazon. You won’t find it in tea bags, only in powder form. Tea bags would defeat the idea of dissolving the whole leaf and consuming it.
Matcha is strong, so you really only need about one-half teaspoon per serving. Most people mix the powder with two ounces of hot water and whisk vigorously. You can then add more water, milk, or almond milk. You’re best off drinking it right away or the matcha will settle to the bottom in a paste. Some people drink it straight; others prefer to add honey, agave, or a sprinkle of cocoa powder.
Some say a daily regimen of matcha tea will help restore your body’s well-being and clean up your free radical load. It sounds to me like it’s worth a try.
Meanwhile, one of the most famous and talked-about alternative cancer treatments may not be such a good idea. If you missed this important news in our last issue, you can read it now, below.
The Famous Dr. Burzynski —
Should You Ask Him to be
Your Cancer Doctor?
If you’ve been around the world of alternative cancer treatments for a while, you’ve doubtless heard the name Burzynski.
Polish-born Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski is famous for his antineoplaston therapy – and for the controversy that surrounds it. He was one of the first people I heard proclaimed as having found an answer to cancer. Dr. Julian Whitaker did the honors, in a newsletter which then dominated the alternative health field. That was about 20 years ago.
Does Dr. Burzynski really deserve his place at or near the top of the alternative cancer pantheon? Here’s what I think. . .
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If you search Google for Burzynski, you’ll likely read little about the science behind his treatments … and more about the 15-year controversy and endless court cases between him, the FDA, and the Texas Medical Board.
Most of it is highly biased, written either by a group called “the Skeptics” who believe he’s a scamming quack … or by his grateful yet emotional patients and their families who defend him … or by starry-eyed proponents of alternative medicine who fervently believe in EVERY alternative cancer treatment, especially if the practitioner has been persecuted by the Feds.
Frankly, I don’t care about the drama — much of it is childish and poorly informed. What’s clear is that very few people truly understand what is going on and aren’t sharing the whole story. Everyone else is basing very strong opinions on little information.
If you’re interested in the drama, you can easily lose yourself for hours on the Internet or by watching the highly sensational (and biased) “documentaries” Burzynski and Burzynski Part II: Cancer is Serious Business.
What I care about is the science. If it turns out that Dr. Burzynski is a greedy quack, then we need to know. Ditto if he’s a saint who’s found a cancer cure. So let’s find out. . .
What are antineoplastons and are they safe?
Dr. Burzynski first discovered new peptides (short amino acid chains) in human blood in the late 1960s during his doctoral work in biochemistry at the Medical Academy in Lublin, Poland.
He found that these peptides, while present in healthy humans, were almost non-existent in the blood of patients with advanced cancer. He theorized that returning them to the bloodstream of cancer patients might fight the disease.
Initial studies in the U.S. in the 1970s showed the peptides exhibit anti-cancer activity in vitro (i.e. lab cultures) with little to no toxic side effects on healthy cells.
He was also able to reproduce the peptides synthetically while creating several different versions based on the varying types. The most common and widely studied are intravenous A10 and AS2-1, which can be delivered orally or through an IV.
He named the peptides antineoplastons (ANP), drawn from the word neoplast, meaning cancer cell. (The term is misleading; it implies the therapy works to cure all cancer in all cases, which, as you’ll soon see, it doesn’t.)
So, how do they work?
Dr. Burzynski’s research is based on the notion that cancer is caused biochemically, by “increased activity of oncogenes and decreased expression of tumor suppressor genes.” 1
“Antineoplastons work as molecular switches,” Dr. Burzynski wrote in a 2006 paper. They regulate two different genes, p53 and p21.
P53 is a tumor suppressor protein and p21 is an anti-proliferator, which essentially reminds cells to die. Antineoplastons also inhibit the uptake of l-glutamine and l-leucine, the amino acids cancer cells need to grow. 1
Phase I clinical trials to determine safety of the synthetic antineoplastons occurred in 1977. The participants suffered from difficult cancers like colon and bladder cancers.
Safety was also confirmed (at least once) by Japanese researchers in 1995. They also concluded that A-10 and AS2-1 are “less toxic than conventional chemotherapeutics.” In addition, they reported “disappearance or measureable shrinkage of the tumor” with significantly longer survival rates.2
But safety studies aren’t meant to prove efficacy.
Where’s the proof?
For many years, Dr. Burzynski’s major critics complained he hadn’t sufficiently proved that ANP therapy works — in other words, he had only published “anecdotal” case studies and preliminary reports of the 74 clinical trials the FDA has approved since 1994.
For example, there was the case study of a young boy who survived a rare childhood brainstem tumor, called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), thanks to antineoplaston treatment.
Because of the way they grow, these cancers are impossible to completely remove with surgery. They grow in and among the glial cells, the supporting brain cells that keep neurons in place, deliver food and oxygen, and help protect them from disease.
Without treatment, life expectancy shortens to just months. DIPG patients have a 0% survival rate after 5 years.
This boy was treated with ANP therapy for nearly 7 years. His tumor stabilized, decreased, and then showed no further metabolic activity. He’s been in remission over 13 years, and only complains of residual neurological deficit resulting from his multiple surgeries.3
Despite this success, the medical and scientific communities at large don’t accept anecdotal case studies like this to be proof. They’re often written off as miracles or coincidence.
As I’ve often said, I respect case-study evidence, although I understand it’s not definitive. If even one or two people responded to a treatment and lived, it’s a valuable piece of information and one to consider.
Which still begs the question, are antineoplastons effective?
Phase II studies on humans are hopeful
In 2014, Dr. Burzynski published the results of 14 clinical trials begun in the 1990s. Many of them spanned over ten years. Why it took so long to publish isn’t explained … but the duration of effective ANP treatment plus 15 years of court cases could be an explanation. And if he was aiming for five-year (or better) survival rates, he had to wait at least that long, for each patient.
At first glance, the results don’t seem that impressive, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
The people Dr. Burzynski works with all have rare forms of brain cancer. They’re usually incurable or at the very least difficult to treat. These are “last chance” patients. Barring any miraculous remissions, these patients would have had a 0% survival rate.
Plus, patients are legally required to have “failed” chemo, surgery, or radiation before being allowed into the trial. They’d been living with their disease for some time while going through other — often toxic — side effects. Readers of this newsletter are well aware of the disastrous damage conventional treatments inflict, and how chemotherapy reduces a patient’s chance of survival.
So, in the cases of incurable, inoperable, advanced stage cancer, anything is better than 0%.
One study followed children with recurrent high-grade glioma. Out of the 15, two had a complete response, two had a partial response (50% decrease or higher), and three achieved stable disease. One patient survived 10 years after treatment.4
According to the authors, “4 out of 15 patients is a sufficient number of successful cases to show adequate antitumor activity for initiating phase III testing.”
Another study of 17 children with DIPG showed one complete response, four partial responses, two with stabilized disease, and eight who developed progressive disease. (Two cases were deemed impossible to evaluate.)5
A phase II study published in Cancer and Clinical Oncology in March 2015 was performed on recently diagnosed adults with anaplastic astrocytoma, a rare and nasty cancer with ten-year survival rates between 4% and 17% and low quality of life for patients who elect conventional treatment.
Of the patients in the trial, four were cured, five achieved stable disease, and nine experienced progressive disease. Those who survived had a high quality of life, and no chronic toxicity.6
What about side effects?
The studies always report “no chronic toxicity.” However, there are side effects such as serious sodium and potassium imbalances and drowsiness. These are reversible … and compared with the side effects of chemo and radiation, they seem minor.
But ANP isn’t the only thing that Dr. Burzynski offers his patients. As of publication, likely because of the phase II status, only 10% of patients who request it were allowed to receive antineoplaston therapy.
(Now that phase II is complete and phase III has been approved, I expect the number to increase.)
The other 90% of patients receive a different Burzynski treatment, targeted gene therapy.
Targeted gene therapy
Thanks to the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, we now have a 20,000-gene map of a healthy person, within 99.99% accuracy. Dr. Burzynski was one of the first to use the genome map of an individual’s tumor to identify and treat abnormal genes.
“Most oncologists … treat the name of the cancer,” he said. “They still don’t understand that cancer is caused by genes. With the available resources, they can already save the lives of numerous patients.”7
“These abnormal genes, they ‘hijack’ normal genes until they form a malignant network, typically composed of close to 3000 genes,” he said. “Unless you destroy this malignant network you are not going to win with cancer. That’s what we are trying to do.”8
And there’s some good news: Targeted gene therapy is surprisingly inexpensive. It costs only $6000 (covered by insurance) for a lab to analyze a tumor biopsy and map the genome. Dr. Burzynski then uses this map—and a cocktail of FDA approved drugs—to turn genes off and on.
As far as I can tell, Dr. Burzynski has not published papers about this method, though he’s written about gene silencing in general.
The approach seems to make sense, but as far as how effective it is or the extent of any side effects, I can’t say.
To ANP or not to ANP?
At this point, based on the data provided from small phase II trials, antineoplastons work for a significant number of people – not everybody – suffering from very specific types of cancer.
This is a fact Dr. Burzynski himself states in several interviews. It’s nothing new and certainly doesn’t suggest he tried to deceive people or inflate his claims.
In my experience, it’s his fans and admirers who exaggerate what his treatments can do. He has enjoyed the backing of some influential people in alternative medicine, and for this reason his name always seems to make the short list of alternative and integrative cancer doctors. I’m not sure that place is deserved.
Personally, I’m underwhelmed by antineoplaston therapy, and when it comes to his version of targeted gene therapy, I simply don’t know enough to say.
Cancer Defeated has NOT been a cheerleader for ANP therapy for the simple reason that it’s useful in only a limited way AND you have to get permission from the government to take part in the trials.
We’ve interviewed many alternative doctors – and their patients – and found many who are achieving results at least as good as Dr. Burzynski’s, with much less fuss — and the treatments are available to anyone who walks in the door.
Dr. Burzynski’s low-to-middling batting average is not a problem as such. No cancer treatment works for everyone, and the trials have mostly been conducted with “hopeless” patients. But if you’re trying to pick a practitioner and a treatment, I think you can do better.
I’m happy for those who have been treated successfully, and I look forward to the results of larger, phase III trials with varying types of cancer … possibly with patients who are less difficult to treat and who have not been first “cut, poisoned, or burned.”
I’ll keep an eye out for further developments. Now that it looks like the controversy and harassment from the Texas Medical Board has ended, hopefully phase III won’t take as long as phase II trials.