Oolong Tea for Weight Loss: Why does it work?

The health benefits of tea is well known these days. In particular, there appears to be a burgeoning body of evidence substantiating previously unverified claims of tea leading to weight loss. The type of tea that is currently most endorsed for this effect is none other than oolong tea. However, this does not answer the question of why it works the way people say it does. In science, as well in the public sphere, it is not enough to have anecdotal evidence of something, it is often necessary to have hard proof and empirical models that make sense before people can be persuaded of the efficacy of a certain type of phenomenon, and or in this case, treatment.

Obesity is the result of genetic factors working in conjunction with environmental factors leading to nutrient metabolism deficiency, it is a leading cause of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, type II diabetes and certain tumors (ovarian cancer, colon cancer) etc. Some advocates have suggested the view that obesity is one of the primary enemies of human health in the 21st century. The current general view is that obesity occurs because energy intake exceeds energy expenditure in a given organism, and that the absorption of excessive amounts of high fat and high carbohydrate foods causes an accumulation of fat in the body. Therefore most treatments for obesity is focused on limiting food intake and inhibiting the absorption and synthesis of lipids in the human body.

On the other hand, tea drinking, which although originating from China, is now being practiced worldwide, and several experiments have been set up to test the role that green tea, oolong tea, and other teas and also tea extract (such as tea polyphenols) plays in weight reduction. According to pharmacology findings, oolong tea reduces nutritional obesity, makes the fat cells smaller, and has the effect of preventing and treating obesity. Long periods of drinking oolong tea, green tea, red tea and Puer tea can significantly reduce rat weight and the weight of adipose tissue surrounding the epididymis and kidney, and also reduce the adipose tissue weight versus body weight ratio surrounding the kidneys and also the amount of triglycerides, cholesterol and low density lipoproteins in the blood plasma. An experiment by Han and others proved that when fed oolong tea for 10 weeks, rats on a high fat diet showed reduced levels of obesity, and further research discovered that Saponins, as opposed to ECG or EGCG, through the mechanism of inhibiting pancrelipase activity levels, stimulating catecholamines induced adipokinetic action and norepinephrine induced lipolysis, creates the effect of oolong tea on weight loss. They also discovered that Saponins from different sources have differing effects on enzymatic activity level. Saponins from oolong tea, green tea, and red tea under 2 mg / ml concentrations, can suppress 100 percent, 75 percent, and 55 percent pancrelipase activity levels. Han and others discovered that after adding 0.5 percent teasaponin extracted from oolong tea to the high fat content diet guided obese rats for 11 weeks, the saponin, without affecting food and energy intake, can suppress weight gain, reduce the weight of fat in tissue surrounding the uterus, and reducing the diameter of the fat cells. Investigators believe that the weight loss effects of Saponin is the result of inhibiting pancrelipase activity and thereby delaying and reducing the absorption of food fat in the intestinal tracts. Han and others believe that Oolong tea’s facilitative effects upon lipocatabolism is related to its caffeine content, and the fact that it increases hormone receptive lipo – enzymatic biological activity levels. Researcher Chen Mei Zhen and others have proved that Oolong tea can increase hormone sensitive tryglyceride lipase activity levels, and accelerate adipose tissue oxidative decomposition within the human body, thereby making the fat cells smaller, and effectively suppress rat weight gain, and also markedly reduce nutritionally obese type rat blood plasma cholesterol and triglyceride content. Researchers Dulloo and others believe the tea leaves stimulates the brown adipose tissue to generate heat and causing a reduction in body weight and fat accumulation in the internal organs and the liver. Researchers Murase and others found, through 11 months of animal experiments, that the absorption of foods containing 0.1 – 0.5 percent of Catechins such as ECG and EGCG can dramatically boost the β – oxidation of mitochondrion in the liver, significantly reduce food intake induced obesity, and decrease fat accumulation in the internal organs and the liver. Thus arriving at the conclusion that Catechin like substances in tea activates the Lipocatabolism in the liver, increasing the breakdown of fat in the liver, leading to the reduction of fat deposits in the internal organs, the liver, and also a general reduction in body weight.

There are other studies on humans that support the view of oolong tea being an effective weight loss agent, however, one would be wise not to go overboard with any one type of weight loss method, remember, one should keep their mind open, but not so open that their brains fall out. Oolong tea is not a quick fix, despite the claims of marketing professionals, and it is most effective as a weight loss agent when paired with at least a modicum of exercise, sleep, and eating a balanced diet. So the next time you want to go on a run or walk, and you feel tempted to pick up that bottle of 5 hour energy, yes crash later, and Gatorade, which uses food additives that contain compounds and elements found in plant fertilizers and flame retardants, catch yourself in the act, and choose oolong tea instead.