If your mornings begin with a cup o’ black, green, or oolong tea, you already know the joys of Camellia sinensis leaves. The plant is responsible for your a.m. caffeine’s delicate, slightly bitter taste.
And even the extract of tea leaves deserves some praise too! Here’s everything you need to know about Camellia sinensis leaf extract.
Camellia sinensis is the plant responsible for two-thirds of the world’s tea. If you squeeze the oil from the plant’s leaves, you get Camellia sinensis leaf extract.
Here are just some of the helpful compounds that this extract can provide.
- Catechins. This is a type of antioxidant. That means it’s something your body uses to fight off oxidative stress (a type of stress that can trigger DNA damage, aging, and sickness).
- Caffeine. Oh yes, caffeine can be good for you! Aside from waking you up in a jiffy, caffeine may offer some protection from heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and more.
- L-theanine. This lovely little amino acid is known to increase mental alertness while simmering down your stress levels. #Ahhh
- B vitamins. Camellia sinensis leaf extract offers a micro-dose of B vitamins, which are essential for keeping everything from your cells to your cholesterol in tip-top shape.
- Essential minerals. Why hello, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and selenium! Now, it’s a party.
All those ingredients we listed above? Your body loves ‘em because they help your bod stay in tip-top shape. Keep scrolling for the deets on Camellia sinensis leaf extract’s science-backed health benefits.
1. Offers an all natural glow-up
Complexion looking a little dull? Meet your new pal. Camellia sinensis extract has been used to improve skin’s hydration and elasticity, plus it can increase blood flow to protect your skin’s outer layer.
Some research suggests that using tea leaf extract on your skin can help remedy:
Basically, the extract’s brimming with skin-loving ingredients that can help you maintain a healthy glow. It may even soothe rough, puckered, or even scraped skin.
2. Helps you lose weight
There’s evidence that tea extract reduces your body’s ability to absorb carbs and fat while also increasing your ability to break down fat. A 2013 review suggests that tea leaf extract can boost fat metabolism both during workouts and at rest.
3. Supports a healthy immune system
A sub-par immune system = incessant sniffles, frequent illness, and a generally stressed out body. Fortunately, the L-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in Camellia sinensis leaf extract may be able to help.
In one study of 20 athletes, supplementing with 150 grams of L-theanine for 6 weeks seemed to have some benefit of keeping their immune systems in better shape than those who did not take the supplement. This was true even after strenuous exercise.
EGCG is also known to help balance immune responses even in folks with autoimmune diseases. This and other micronutrients in tea leaves can support your body’s natural immune response in the face of viruses and infections.
4. May contain cancer-fighting ingredients
The antioxidants in Camellia sinensis leaf extract are hella helpful at reducing your risk of disease. That includes cancer.
Research has also linked the EGCG in tea to protective qualities against hormone-related cancers like:
Of course, popping supplements with anticancer properties doesn’t mean you can prevent or treat the disease altogether. And more research is needed to determine the exact link and effectiveness of different types of cancerous growths. But for now, research is promising.
5. Protects your heart ❤️
Here’s a heartwarming tidbit about tea: There’s evidence that Camellia sinensis leaf extract could reduce your risk of blood clots. Different types of green tea have varying degrees of heart-healthy activity, but the antioxidants in the tea extract are packed with perks for your ticker.
A meta-analysis of 31 studies found that tea leaf extract can lower bad cholesterol by changing how your body absorbs it (kinda cool, right?). Studies suggests that the extract may also lower blood pressure. That’s a great way to keep your heart healthy and strong because high cholesterol and blood pressure boost your chances of a heart attack or stroke.
PSA: Remember, this isn’t a substitute for any prescription medicine you’re taking for a heart condition. It’s also important to talk with your doctor before adding a supplement like tea leaf extract to your regimen to decide if it’s right for you.
6. Squashes stress
The L-theanine in tea leaf extract is associated with soothing stress and anxiety. That’s because the compound boosts your serotonin and dopamine levels — the dynamic duo of peace, love, and happiness.
Plus, one 2017 study found that L-theanine’s soothing presence was enhanced by caffeine (which is also found in Camellia sinensis leaf extract). #PowerCouple
7. Keeps your bones strong and healthy
Calcium gets all the bone-boosting hype, but it’s not the only ingredient that can have its perks! If you’re focused on improving your bone health, sipping green tea or dosing on this extract could help.
In one review, researchers concluded that green tea extract could support bone health by strengthening your skeleton to prevent fractures and breaks later in life. Of course, we need more studies to nail down definitive links and dosing protocols, but preliminary research is promising.
Camellia sinensis leaf extract is considered safe for *most* people, but it can trigger a few side effects.
- Jitteriness. The caffeine in tea leaf extract could lead to caffeine jitters or headaches. Know your limits, and definitely watch your caffeine intake if you’re pregnant!
- Digestive woes. Some studies have noted bloating, diarrhea, and other GI symptoms after high doses of tea leaf extract.
- Headaches. Again with the caffeine! Some peeps experience headaches accompanied by dizziness or trouble sleeping after ingesting a potent dose of tea extract.
Those symptoms are typically just temporary inconveniences. But Camellia sinensis leaf extract has also been linked to a serious side effect: liver toxicity.
A major review by giant science nonprofit United States Pharmacopeia (USP) dug into the research to find out who is at risk. Their take? Folks with liver issues should not take tea leaf extract. They also recommend that healthy people run this supp by their doctor first and only take it on a full stomach.
If you notice these signs of liver toxicity after taking Camellia sinensis leaf extract, call your doctor ASAP:
- dark pee
- stomach pains
- yellowing on your skin or the whites of your eyes
TBH, most folks can cash in on tea’s health perks just by sipping it regularly. Tea leaf extract = a mega-dose of Camellia sinensis’s beneficial compounds.
If you want to give this extract a whirl, you can find it in several forms:
If you buy a premade extract, look for a product with great reviews from a reputable brand. Since the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way as drugs, it’s up to you to:
- read the ingredients
- run it past your doctor
- start with a tiny dose before working your way up to the recommendations on the label
Or you can go all “Master Chef” and whip up the extract at home! Here’s how.
DIY time: Camellia sinensis leaf extract
If you’re feeling creative in the kitchen, here’s a recipe for glycerin-based tea leaf extract.
Note: You’ll need a super-fine filter (food-grade oil filters work best) and an opaque airtight container for the extract.
- 10 grams of ground green tea leaves
- 80 milliliters of glycerin (about 5 1/2 tablespoons)
How to do it
- On the stovetop, place your ground tea leaves in a saucepan.
- Add just enough water to cover the leaves.
- Heat the concoction to a gentle boil, then cover.
- Boil for a minimum of 30 minutes (but no longer than 2 hours!).
- Strain out the extract using a food-grade oil filter or fine strainer.
- Toss the leaves and dilute your extract by adding 4 teaspoons of water and the glycerin.
- Stir it up and pour it into an airtight container! Store for up to 3 years.
Remember: It’s always to consult your doctor before purchasing or consuming Camellia sinensis leaf extract.
- Camellia sinensis leaf extract is made from oil pressed from the leaves of tea plants.
- The extract is brimming with healthy compounds like catechins, L-theanine, and some trace minerals.
- Research has linked the extract with a healthy immune system, stress reduction, weight loss, and more benefits.
- Taking too much Camellia sinensis leaf extract *can* trigger headaches, GI issues, jitters, and even liver issues (in some populations).
- Always talk with your doc before adding a new supplement to your routine.