Tea, the beverage made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, is consumed by 158 million Americans every day.2 Green tea is made by taking freshly picked C. sinensis leaves and rapidly heating them to avoid wilting and oxidation. Some combination of wilting, oxidizing and fermenting can lead to white, oolong, black and post-fermented tea variations.3 In all preparations, the exact method of growing (terroir plays a role) is what leads to the great abundance of tea varieties we all love, hot or cold.
But what about its effects on the skin? This a fascinating story, with an amazing dichotomy. Let us begin on the drug side. Drug, you say? Caffeine is what you might be thinking, and that’s certainly a component of tea. However, caffeine is not the compound that brought a FDA-approved green tea sludge product to market. That drug, Sinecatechins Ointment, (Veregen, Fougera), is novel. Unlike virtually every other drug FDA approves that is a single molecule or an enantiomer, this product is an ointment containing 15% sinecatechins, a brown-green aqueous extract of C. sinensis that is used to treat genital warts.
What is sinecatechins extract?
Sinecatechins extract is not a single active chemical; rather, it is a soup with many potential beneficial ingredients. Sinecatechins extract is composed mostly of catechins, a great part of which is epigallocatechin gallate.4 There has been some serious research on epigallocatechin gallate and its utility in treating HPV-related disease.5,6 The manufacturer of Sinecatechins Ointment shows data from their trials claiming complete clearance of external genital and perianal warts in most patients (53.6% vs. 35.3% for vehicle), with a high rate (93.2%) of sustained clearance at 12 weeks for patients who achieve complete clearance (vs. 94.2% for vehicle).7 Sinecatechins ointment is another tool in our armamentarium. Unfortunately, a 30g tube8 sells more than $1,000, which could lead the creative physician to wonder if you could do as well, for a lot less money, with a tea concentrate made for drinking!9
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