Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An unrecognized pot of gold

Dr Ranil de Silva

What is the significance of your study to Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka has a hidden pot of gold and it is green tea. It is similar to the Middle East countries having oil. I tested Sri Lankan green tea obtained from supermarkets. But higher health effects can be achieved if we can use different modern technology to produce our green tea.

What should be done is to dig this gold mine of green tea with the support of the Government and make it one of the main income generating avenue for the country.

At the moment one person gets a stroke in every five second and 20 million suffer from strokes annually while five million die from strokes every year. There are 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer disease and their health budget is 148 billion US dollars.

Another 500,000 Americans suffer from Parkinson disease and US spend 10 billion US dollars on their health budget. The elderly population is growing in the world and most of them suffer from brain diseases and neurological ailments. At present Lanka has the potential to prevent damages to cells caused by reduced supply of oxygen to Human Brain Epithelial Cells (HBEC).

In an interesting interview with the

Daily News Dr Ranil de Silva, Department of Anatomy, University of Sri Jayawardenepura illuminates on a rare study undertaken by him on green tea which demonstrated that it has the power to prevent damages to cells caused by reduced

supply of oxygen Epithellal Cells (HBEC) in the human brain. Excerpts from the


What are the challenges you faced in carrying out your study?

The main challenge was the funds. It cost me US$ 80,000 and no one came forward to assist me apart from Prof Y Z Zhe, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Singapore. Without his financial assistance this study would have been only a dream. Therefore I want to thank him once again for funding this project.

Unfortunately tea exporters and others in the tea industry do not iota understand that there is a big difference between tea grown in different countries. it is very pathetic to see how ignorant and uneducated some tea exporters are because they do not know there is a difference between tea grown in Sri Lanka and other countries. They do not know that no one in the world has carried out an in depth research on Sri Lankan green tea so far.

They think one research on tea grown in a foreign country can tell everything about any type of tea grown in any country in the world including Sri Lanka!

How should we promote our green tea in the world market?

It is very funny the way some people promote Sri Lankan tea abroad. They try to promote Sri Lankan tea abroad using pretty girls and showing off their bodies. But green tea grown in Sri Lanka has the ability to fight against the damages caused by many diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson and also against strokes.

But they have no idea what to promote and how to promote. What should be done is to dig this gold mine of green tea with the support of the Government and make it one of the main income generating avenues for the country. Already there is a demand for Sri Lankan green from some Middle East countries.

Processing tea Pictures by Saman Sri Wedage

What prospects are there for further study of green tea?

This study is only a beginning. We have to go a long way There is a huge potential. The Government, the people in the tea industry, state universities and researchers should get together and work according to a plan.

We still do not know the real potential of different types of tea in Sri Lanka. There is a lot of varieties. Different types of processes are used to produce tea and we have to find out the best way and technology to get the maximum effect. I have discovered only a small part of it and tested Sri Lankan green tea obtained from supermarkets.

What is the scientific discovery of your study?

This five year long study has tested and proved 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 to reduce the death and damage of the HBEC.

This simply means that Sri Lankan green tea has the power of preventing strokes and some other diseases.

Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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