Ceylon green tea prevents strokes
By Dr. Ranil de Silva and
Prof. Y.Z. Zhu
On average, one heart attack occurs every four seconds and a
stroke occurs every five seconds worldwide (WHO) and also, 20
million people suffer from stroke each year, of which five
million die. Of those 15 million who survive, five million are
disabled. In succession to diseases of the heart and cancer,
stroke is the next big killer.
Stroke occurs as a result of reduced blood supply to the brain,
which results in inadequate delivery of oxygen to it, causing
ischemia. It has been reported that high oxidative stress is
involved in ischemic diseases, which include ischemic stroke and
neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Despite several drugs being developed for the treatment of
stroke, an effective natural remedy for the treatment of stroke
is yet to be found. In a joint collaborative study between
Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS) and
Genetic Diagnostic and Research Laboratory, Department of
Anatomy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri
Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka, purified flavonoids extracted from
Ceylon green tea were analysed to test for the ability in
preventing damage to cells caused by reduced supply of oxygen to
human brain epithelial cells (HBEC).
In this study we tested the ability of flavonoids extracted from
Ceylon green tea to act as agents, which could reduce the stress
in cells experiencing a reduction in oxygen supply (hypoxia) and
their ability of reducing the death and damage of HBEC.
We extracted and purified flavonoids as active ingredients from
Ceylon green tea and studied an in vitro hypoxic model using
HBEC. HBEC were cultured under two separate conditions: One
group with normal oxygen delivery, another with inadequate
oxygen delivery – achieving a hypoxia induced model. Into the
second group flavonoids of Ceylon tea extract were added before
inducing hypoxia. A group of HBEC without the tea extract was
used as control.
The results were very promising. Free radicals damage cellular
DNA and other macromolecules due to oxidative stress (when the
production of oxygen derived species (ODS) or reactive oxygen
species (ROS) is not balanced by the antioxidant defence system
level in the body). It was found in this study that hypoxia +
flavonoids extract treated HBEC appears to be more resistant to
oxidative stress causing DNA damage. Pre-treatment with
flavonoids extract significantly increased the cell viability of
hypoxic HBEC. The results show that the activity levels for
antioxidant enzymes were significantly increased after hypoxia
in the flavonoid extract treated group. This observation is
consistent with the important antioxidative enzymes found in the
body as natural defence against oxygen free radicals. This
suggests that flavonoids extract could have a twofold effect on
oxygen free radicals in the body when consumed actively.
Therefore, cerebral protection could be helped by the
consumption of Ceylon green tea as supplements in a form of
antioxidant therapy. This may be complimentary to the western
therapeutic regime. It has been a long established fact that tea
is a wonderfully refreshing beverage. The findings of modern
science in reference to its therapeutic value, makes tea the
ideal drink for our times.
To conclude, this study demonstrates the ability of Ceylon green
tea to display cerebral protective effects on HBEC. Future
studies can be done to isolate the individual active compounds
in Ceylon tea that contribute to its antioxidant properties.
This study further facilitates the acceptance of the fact that
frequent drinking of Ceylon tea helps to treat ischemic disease.
The study is published: Therapeutic effects of flavonoids from
Ceylon green tea on hypoxic human brain epithelial cells,
Journal of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences 17 (2008) 324–331.
We wish to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to Dr. Tissa
Amarakoon from Biochemistry Division, Tea Research Institute,
Talawakelle, Sri Lanka for being so supportive in this project.
(Dr. Ranil de Silva is the Principal Investigator, Genetic
Diagnostic and Research Laboratory, Department of Anatomy at the
Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura
and Prof. Y.Z. Zhu is a professor at the Faculty of Medicine,
National University of Singapore)
We have extracted and purified flavonoids as active
ingredients from Ceylon green tea. In this project, an in vitro
hypoxic model using human brain epithelial cells (HBEC) was
studied with treatment of the tea extract before inducing
hypoxia. We have tested the hypothesis that flavonoids extracted
from Ceylon green tea act as potential therapeutic ingredient
(s) to reduce oxidative stress in hypoxic cells through its
antioxidant properties and its ability to reduce cerebral
cellular death. The biochemical antioxidant tests show that the
Ceylon green tea has 68% ± 2.8% inhibition property of
scavenging of ABTS. The inhibition of pyrogallol red bleaching
by HOCl from Ceylon tea was 79% ± 4.5%. After exposing to
hypoxia, the cell viability was 29% ± 2.3% in the hypoxia
control group but 41% ± 4.7% for flavonoids extract treated
group. In LDH assay, flavonoids extract treated group had 75% ±
3.7% reducing of LDH release. The flavonoids extract treated
groups significantly increased in antioxidant enzyme activity
assays: the activity level of SOD [(1.5 ± 0.6) μmol/min/mg
protein], CAT [(0.61 ± 0.06) μmol/min/mg protein], GPx [(2.6 ±
0.41) μmol/min/mg protein] and GST [(6.0 ± 2.4) μmol/min/mg
protein] are significantly increased as compared with hypoxic
control [(0.5 ± 0.52, 0.51 ± 0.04, 1.2 ± 0.35 and 3.1 ± 1.6)
μmol/min/mg protein, respectively]. The study demonstrated a
great clinical potential and opened a new avenue to prevent
stroke by drinking Ceylon tea.
Dawn of a new era
V.R.K. De Silva
President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be congratulated for leading
the country to victory in the battle against the psychotic LTTE
which boasted in blood cries ever so often. He has orchestrated
this victory by appointing dedicated, fearless and brilliant
leaders within the security forces and other personnel in almost
every field, for this onerous task. He has given leadership and
brought forth the patriotic fervor and moulded them into a
dedicated service with fearlessness and willingness to face
insurmountable obstacles. They have braved the elements and won
these battles which some described as unwinable. Not less than
80% of the forces are village lads, who joined voluntarily and
not under conscription.
The victory at Killinochchi is the beginning of a new era, where
we can say proudly that the vista of our past glories have come
again to guide, nurture and inspire our nation on this new road.
As a starting point, the valiant armed forces have to be
“Worshiped To A Man” for heralding this victory. It is nothing
but right to confer the highest honours on them and enact
special legislation to ensure that they are looked after for
It is these His Excellency is heir to, and his proclaimed word
that he will build a new Sri Lanka, inspired by the unsurpassed
achievements of our ancestors. In this journey, he will face
many obstacles, but, by his determination and the will of our
people, these will be swept aside. In doing this, anti-national
and anti-social forces against the body politic should be
relentlessly pursued and destroyed without compunction. Our laws
have been fashioned by the imperialists, to serve their
aspirations for exploiting this country. We should refashion our
laws to reflect and represent the culture and values of our
A pointed reference has to be made against those who have
opposed openly and insidiously in our struggle. The vested
interests, the media, both local and international have vented
their wrath on Sri Lanka saying that we have violated human
rights and media freedom. It is more than pertinent to refer to
how they came to build up their economies and empires. Slavery
in a word is the answer. This was the commercial economic and
financial institution of slavery that funded their economies.
Over 14 million human beings were transported from Africa across
the Atlantic in veritable coffins to work in plantations and
mines. Millions of indigenous people were exterminated in this
exercise. Every European and American nation was involved in the
slave trade. Royalty were active participants and, apart from
the forced extraction of Gold and Silver, the Sugar, Cotton
Tobacco, Pepper, plantations were worked by slaves under inhuman
conditions. The entire banking system in Europe and the
Americas, Chase Manhattan, Lehman Brothers, Barclays, Baring to
name a few, were built on the slave trade. Lloyds, the
forerunners of the Insurance industry, were shamelessly giving
cover to the slave merchants in Africa and Americas and England
with a vast and wide network. It is accepted that every brick in
Liverpool was cemented by the blood of slaves. With this passing
reference, it has to be mentioned that Ports were developed in
Europe and the Americas on slavery. The naval academy at
Dartmouth had its origins in the slave trade. The institution of
slavery was all pervading, touching every segment of society and
every European country and the US were involved. The hypocrisy
of these European and American nations have to be seen in their
true light, when they talk about media freedom and civilised
governance openly and insidiously. They have been our enemies
and should be dealt with the contempt they deserve and exposed.
The slavish mentality of our people and, for that matter, in the
Asian region, where we can give the lead, this historic victory
has evaporated this slavish mentality in one breath.
The national flag has special significance and strength to our
country today. The four Bo leaves portray the great and
tenacious role of the Maha Sangha for over 2200 years and the
splendour of peace and serenity of the Dhamma of the Sacred
Thatagatha, which has been the well protected and practiced
legacy of the nation. The Lion in the flag signifies, apart from
courage and fearlessness, the resurgence of our island nation
through self-reliance in every field. This brings to our mind
the unsurpassed hydraulic civilisation and culture for which Sri
Lanka has been known throughout the world with wonder.
development depends on strategy, money and people
Middle management is leaving Sri Lanka in droves. I was at the
graduation ceremony of the prestigious Post Graduate Institute
of Management a few months ago.
The new batch of MBAs was graduating. This is an important and
exciting day. Photographs were taken that will forever adorn the
wall of the sitting room. Kids will look admiringly at their
dads’ or mums’ achievement, and of course the proud grandparents
will have a group picture that will be shown to all visitors.
But lo and behold!, a large number of graduates were not there
to receive the graduation scroll and to take those photographs.
Before the graduation ceremony they had all run away to
Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and god knows wherever else.
This is the trend of brain drain that nobody seems to be
worrying about. The future of a country depends on its
intellectual capital. This is the collective experience, which
is the catalyst, the engine room of a nation and the magic
ingredient (or call it what you like), that makes things happen.
A long-term development plan must have three components: A
strategy, the money to finance it, and the people to execute it.
Without all three, there is no viable development plan. The most
important of the three are the people. A country is wholly
dependant on its pool of intellectual capital to develop its
resources and generate growth. Even if a country has vast
resources, but does not have the people skills, it will not be
able to develop them and that is what happened, for example, in
Ghana. Even with no mineral resources, with great intellectual
capital, you can create the miracle of the loaves and create
something substantial out of nothing, and a good example of this
We have our own examples. The southern highway and some other
donor funded projects have a plan and the money, as it is donor
funded. But the progress is slow like a tortoise with a sprained
ankle. The problem has to be the lack of people skills.
Therefore, to evaluate any long-term strategy for growth and to
answer the question of how we are doing as a country, we need
another set of new measurements. We need an index of
intellectual capital. The total at the starting point will be
the number of people with professional qualifications or
tertiary education. The moving total will be to add new
professionals and to subtract those who leave. If the index goes
up, it is good news like the stock market index going up, and if
it goes down it is bad news. The task of a government is to
create an environment where the index will go up. If the index
goes down it is bad news for the government as it proves that
they failed to create the environment to increase our
intellectual capital. It is certainly bad news now in Sri Lanka.
So, we must create an index of intellectual capital and publish
the stats every month. This will at least focus some minds on
the issue. Focusing the mind is not a solution, but it is better
than mindlessly ignoring the problem.
That is not the only index we require to monitor how we are
doing. In addition to professionals we need artisans of every
description. They are another tier of intellectual capital. We
need electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters, and builders
with a variety of skills etc... We are losing our professionals
and we are losing our artisans. So, we need an artisan index and
we need to publish this data as well. What is worrying is that
the country has no perceptible plan to keep our artisans.
Instead they are committing. in my view, a crime by doing their
best to export our artisans.
We have created an institution called the Foreign Employment
Bureau to export our people. It is a dreadful admission to say
we cannot see a future for our country where we can use all the
human skills available to us. Therefore, please go away to some
other country that has a strategy for growth that needs more
than the pool of human resources available to them, and go and
supplement their resources, and help them to achieve their
plans. That is the nub of it. There are countries that have used
up their intellectual capital and are looking to pinch them from
countries that have a surplus as they have no plans or
strategies to use up their pool of human capital.
As we are so low in the optimism basket about the future, we are
almost happy to export people. We even send our young mothers to
do domestic service in foreign countries. They have to leave
their children and perhaps elderly parents and go away and not
return for one or two years. Do we suffer with them; the pain,
the anxiety of leaving home and children, and other loved ones?
No signs of it. On the contrary, some crow about the inward
remittances that these poor souls send. They forget that this
money comes drenched in tears, and enveloped in a curse. So, we
need another index ‘the unhappiness index.’ The numbers that go
away to do menial functions abroad leaving their families behind
constitute the unhappiness index. It is bad news when it goes up
and good news when it comes down.
The hypothesis is that to measure the economic wellbeing of the
country, we need three new indices, namely an Intellectual
Capital Index, an Artisans Index, and an Unhappiness Index.
The only ones used now are GDP and Per Capita Income and they
are both useless as they conceal more than they reveal. The IMF
and the World Bank use them as perhaps all the bright economists
they recruit probably find after a few years that their brains
are in standstill mode. All creative thinking is probably
drowned in booze and distractions fuelled by their fat dollar
There may be another explanation, but what is it? A closer look
at GDP growth for a country shows that it is a single number. So
if its 10% the champagne is opened. In Sri Lanka this growth is
fuelled by what happens in the Western Province. It does not
tell you what happens in the rest of the provinces. We have an
oasis of prosperity surrounded by a vast desert of poverty.
GDP is meaningful if you give it by region, then you see a
better picture. But we never see that as all we get is a single
number and that is a meaningless number as an indicator of the
wellbeing of a country. In the oil rich Emirates, a few years
ago, the per capita income was very high. The oil created a high
GDP number and when you divided this by the small population you
got a high number. What it did not tell you is that all the GDP
belonged to the Sheik and the actual average income of the
people was only a tiny fraction of the per capita number.
We have a similar conjuring trick in Sri Lanka with our per
capita income number. To get the true picture we need to know
the number of people with a per capita income higher than the
national per capita income number and the number of people with
a per capita income lower than the national number. This will
tell a different story about our prosperity. I have not seen
these numbers, but I will bet that the number with an income
lower than the national number is far, far greater than the
number of those with an income that is higher.
So, let us hope for a long term plan that will also focus on
improving five indices: The Intellectual Capital Index, Artisans
Index, Unhappiness Index, GDP by Region Index and Per Capita
Income by Segments Index. This will tell us whether as a country
we are moving forwards, standing still, or going backward.
(Center for Creating Better Society)