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The Green Tea Book - China's Fountain of Youth
By Lester A. Mitscher, Ph.D., and Victoria Dolby
Reviewed by Consuelo Reyes

Just like death and taxes, you can count on the flood of books by so-called independent experts that follow breathlessly the market debut of every "hot," "new," age-old remedy for all our modem ills. The Green Tea Book - China's Fountain of Youth by Lester A. Mitscher, Ph.D., with health writer Victoria Dolby, is typical of the genre. According to chemist Mitscher, there is hardly a condition that green tea cannot help prevent, alleviate or boost (as in immunity). And, of course, it's natural!

But what exactly is green tea, which has only been around for some 4,000 years? Green tea is just the raw form of regular old everyday black and oolong teas. All come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. Because green tea is the least processed, it does have somewhat more nutrient value than its cooked siblings. Big deal! It also comes with all the baggage of "regular" tea, such as caffeine, albeit, less than a cup of coffee - though if one imbibes the casually recommended 4-9 cups of tea per day, that's a pretty hefty caffeine fix. Caffeine is a stimulant implicated in insomnia, anxiety, heartburn, and specifically not recommended for people with cardiovascular disease, PMS, pregnant women or women with fibrocystic breast disease (which afflicts about half of all women). The author does acknowledge these problems, but since the purpose of his book is to exalt a product, not nitpick over a few "minor" flaws, he assures us that research is controversial, and, incidentally, you can always buy caffeine-free supplements at your local health food store. However, green tea, even decaf, also contains theobromine and theophylline, compounds with effects similar to caffeine.

Green tea can be a rich source of selenium depending on the soil. But selenium, another of those over-hyperventilated "hot," "new" substances, is needed by the body only in trace amounts. It is a cumulative poison and more is not better! Green tea also has relatively high levels of aluminum, though Dr. Lester quotes one unnamed researcher who concluded that concerns about negative effects of aluminum in green tea are "unfounded." Were any other researchers consulted?

The author is particularly ebullient about green tea as a source of fluoride, a chemical more toxic than lead and slightly less toxic than arsenic which has been linked to cancer, increased hip fractures in the elderly, learning disorders, particularly in children, etc. Evidently, on this supposed magic bullet for tooth decay, the author has swallowed the corporate line to the very last drop. And again, he seems to think more is better, quoting studies which found that one cup of green tea can contain 0.3 to1.9 mg of fluoride - more if made with fluoridated water. Even the bogus "optimal" dose recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) is only 1 ppm or 1 mg per quart. So if a person drinks the suggested 4-9 cups, we're talking about an extreme toxic daily dose of fluoride! Moreover, Dr. Lester does not seem to grasp a basic concept of natural healing that good diet, dental hygiene and dental care are the keys to healthy teeth - not a toxic magic bullet!

Indeed, most of the book is padded by Dr. Lester's very myopic, conventional germ/symptom-oriented understanding of various disease conditions, followed by a few words about how some study or other showed green tea coming to the rescue. Clearly, Dr. Lester needs enlightenment on the basics of biological healing, though as a product spokesperson, he shines.

The simple act of drinking tea is relaxing and good for digestion, but this is do-able with a vast array of salubrious and savory herbal brews that don't carry all the negative stuff of green tea. As for getting to that Fountain of Youth, how about providing the body with the full range of materials and conditions it needs - balanced diet, moderate exercise, regular elimination, sufficient rest, etc.? But, hey, that's nothing new. Hence, why write a book about it?

The Green Tea Book - China's Fountain of Youth by Lester A. Mitscher, Ph.D., and Victoria Dolby (Avery Publishing Group, Garden City Park, New York, 1997, 192 pp.).

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