- A tonsillectomy (removing your tonsils located on each side of the back of your throat) is one of the more common childhood surgeries; once thought to be redundant tissue, research demonstrates tonsils are integral to the development of the immune system
- Risks associated with tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies in childhood include an increased risk of asthma, influenza, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as an adult
- The surgery is recommended for treatment of recurring, chronic or severe tonsillitis or complications resulting from enlarged tonsils, such as difficulty breathing at night; removal as an adult carries an increased risk of bleeding and secondary surgery
- Partial removal — tonsillotomy — reduces postoperative bleeding, pain and complications in children and adults; the procedure leaves a portion of the tonsils, which may help prevent chronic respiratory conditions when performed in childhood
By Dr. Joseph Mercola
A tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of your tonsils, two oval shaped pads of tissue located on each side of the back of your throat.1Although the number of tonsillectomies has declined drastically in the last 30 years, the surgery continues to be one of the most commonly performed on children,2 with more than 530,000 done each year on children under 15 in the U.S.3
Administration of the guidelines for the surgery differ between countries. For instance, England’s National Health Service (NHS) has classified the surgery as “of limited benefit,”4 with some commissioners unwilling to pay for surgery unless a child has had eight cases of tonsillitis documented by a physician visit in one year, strongly adhering to the letter of the Paradise Criteria for Tonsillectomy.5
This has resulted in a significant drop of routine tonsillectomies, with an increase in emergency admissions to the hospital for tonsillitis. While it may appear as if children are suffering more bad sore throats and infections in their tonsils, recent research finds the tonsillectomy childhood rite of passage may come with an associated long-term risk.6,7
Risks Associated With Tonsillectomy Years After Surgery
Not all scientists agree with the guidelines for tonsillectomies, believing reducing the criteria could result in a reduction in hospital admissions and overall associated health costs.8,9 Now, a recent first-of-a-kind published study demonstrates early removal of tonsillar and adenoid tissue, which often shrinks in adulthood, may have long-term respiratory system effects.10 The study was a collaborative effort between Copenhagen Evolutionary Medicine, University of Melbourne and Yale University.
The team analyzed data from just under 1.2 million children born between 1979 and 1999 in Denmark.11 They looked at the first 10 years of the children’s lives to determine if they underwent a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy and then followed their health up to age 30.12 Of the participants, 17,400 had adenoidectomies, 11,830 had tonsillectomies and 31,377 had a combined adenotonsillectomy, where both the tonsils and adenoids were removed.
The researchers found the risk of preventing a sore throat from tonsillitis nearly vanished by age 40, but the surgery increases the lifetime risk of developing other serious respiratory conditions.13 Sean Byars, Ph.D., who led the research from the University of Melbourne, explained, “We calculated disease risks depending on whether adenoids, tonsils or both were removed in the first nine years of life because this is when these tissues are most active in the developing immune system.”
Although these tissues shrink by adulthood and were historically presumed redundant, it is now recognized they are strategically positioned in an arrangement known as Waldeyer’s ring. Waldeyer’s tonsillar ring tissue includes lymphoid tissue from the nasopharynx, tonsils and base of the tongue.14 The tissue acts as the first line of defense in recognizing bacteria and viruses and begins the immune response to clear the body of foreign invaders.
The analysis of the data revealed tonsillectomies were associated with an increased absolute and relative risk for diseases of the upper respiratory tract, including asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and influenza. Removal of the adenoids was linked with more than a double relative risk of COPD and nearly double the relative risk of upper respiratory tract diseases. The researchers concluded it is important to consider long term risk associated with these surgeries,15 and wrote:16
“Our observed results show increased risks for long-term diseases after surgery support delaying tonsil and adenoid removal if possible, which could aid normal immune system development in childhood and reduce these possible later-life disease risks.
Given the tonsils and adenoids are part of the lymphatic system and play a key role both in normal development of the immune system and in pathogen screening during childhood in early life, it is not surprising that their removal may impair pathogen detection and increase risk of later respiratory and infectious diseases.”
Why Do Doctors Recommend Having Your Tonsils or Adenoids Removed?
Tonsillectomies are recommended for treatment of recurring, chronic or severe tonsillitis or complications resulting from enlarged tonsils, such as difficulty breathing at night.17 Rare diseases of the tonsils or bleeding tonsils may also result in a recommendation for tonsillectomy. According to the Paradise Criteria for Tonsillectomy, the minimum frequency must be seven episodes in the previous year or at least five in the previous two years.18
Tonsillitis often presents with a sore throat and includes a temperature greater than 100.9 degrees Fahrenheit with cervical adenopathy. These are tender lymph nodes along the neck greater than 2 centimeters in size. Children often present with tonsillar exudate, or a white film covering the tonsils, culturing positive for group a beta hemolytic streptococcus.
The initial treatment is antibiotics administered for the streptococcal infection.19 However, with recurring tonsillitis a tonsillectomy and potentially adenoidectomy would be recommended. Complications from enlarged tonsils can include difficulty swallowing, disrupted breathing during sleep and difficulty breathing.
As with other surgeries, a tonsillectomy comes with risks, including reactions to anesthetics, swelling, bleeding during surgery or bleeding during healing and infection.20 Since surgery leaves an open wound in the throat, it is often difficult for children to swallow fluids, sometimes leading to dehydration. Recovery usually takes 10 days and often includes pain in the throat and sometimes the ears, jaw or neck. Complications requiring emergency care include bleeding, fever, dehydration or breathing problems.
In one study, 8 percent of nearly 140,000 children ages 1 to 18 revisited the hospital within 30 days of having a tonsillectomy.21 The revisit rate varied between hospitals. It was as high as 12.6 percent in some and as low as 3 percent in others. Bleeding was the most common reason, followed by vomiting and dehydration, pain and infection. Children older than 10 were at a higher risk of returning to the hospital with bleeding, while having a lower risk of vomiting and dehydration.
Adult Tonsillectomy Surgery Holds Greater Risk
Researchers demonstrated the increased risk for chronic respiratory conditions likely formed from tonsillectomies performed prior to full development of the immune system. However, the adult procedure carries different risks. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Otolaryngology looked at the mortality, complications and reoperation rate in adult tonsillectomy.22
The researchers looked at health records of nearly 6,000 adult patients who underwent a tonsillectomy, evaluating mortality, complications and reoperation in a 30-day postoperative period. In most cases patients had a primary diagnosis of chronic tonsillitis and or adenoiditis. The most common complication following the surgery was pneumonia, urinary tract infections and superficial site infections. Patients who required a second operation were more likely to be male and to have postoperative complications.
However, results of a second study we’re nearly as positive.23 Researchers from Penn State University found 20 percent of adults who had a tonsillectomy experienced complications, finding a rate significantly higher than previously published. The team also discovered the complications substantially increase health care expenditures for the patients.
This team analyzed data from over 36,000 adult tonsillectomy patients, finding complications included bleeding, pain, dehydration, blood transfusion, dislocation of cervical vertebra and fever.24 After one week, 15 percent suffered at least one possible complication. This rose to 20 percent by week two and four. The researchers found 10 percent visited an emergency room after discharge and nearly 1.5 percent were readmitted to the hospital within two weeks after the procedure.
On average, an adult tonsillectomy without complications costs $3,830, as compared to a surgery with hemorrhage, costing $6,388. Dennis Scanlon, Ph.D., professor of health policy and administration at Penn State University, commented on the results of the study, saying:25
“Our results highlight the challenges patients face when making informed decisions about medical and surgical treatments, as well as the excess costs and harm incurred due to complications. Patients expect to compare the risks and benefits of treatment options, but as our study shows, credible patient-centered information is often lacking, even for a common procedure that has been in practice for many, many years.
The availability of important risk and benefit information should be expedited, and providers need to be trained to engage patients in how to use this information to make informed choices.”
Tonsillotomy Is an Alternative Surgical Option
A tonsillotomy, or partial removal of the tonsils, may be an alternative surgical option for both children and adults. Tonsillotomy has provided favorable outcomes in children presenting with obstructive sleep apnea as it is associated with a lower incidence of postoperative bleeding, higher parent satisfaction and faster recovery time than a total tonsillectomy.26 Research has also demonstrated comparable results to a total tonsillectomy in the improvement of obstructive sleep apnea symptoms in children.
In a second study27 with 43 participating children between the ages of 2 and 9, a randomized trial compared the clinical effects of a standard tonsillectomy against a tonsillotomy using a CO2 laser. During follow-up, both patient groups found comparable relief from sleep apnea and tonsillar hypertrophy at three months and two years.
Tonsillotomy caused no measurable bleeding during the surgical procedure, and postoperative pain and distress were less pronounced than in the tonsillectomy procedure group. These results were replicated in another study group of children ages four to five.28
In a recent study evaluating the differences between tonsillotomy and tonsillectomy in adults suffering from tonsil-related health conditions,29 researchers concluded the evidence suggested equal efficacy between both procedures. Adult patients had a preference for the tonsillotomy as there was reduced pain, a reduction in analgesic use, higher patient satisfaction, lower operation time and a reduction in postoperative complications.
[ Add some fresh ginger and a little raw honey to the green tea and you have a powerful, tasty, anti-inflammatory cocktail – TMR ]
- Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant found in green tea, has been shown to positively impact a number of illnesses and conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer
- Long-term tea intake may improve your blood pressure. Those who regularly drank either green or black tea for 12 weeks had an average of 2.6 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure and 2.2 mm Hg lower diastolic pressure compared to those who did not drink tea
- Drinking three to four cups of green tea daily has been shown to promote heart and cardiovascular health, and aid in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, cerebral thrombus, heart attack and stroke
- Recent research suggests EGCG in green tea can help prevent heart disease by dissolving arterial plaque
- Other recent research has found EGCG also has the ability to inhibit amyloid beta plaque formation in the brain, associated with Alzheimer’s disease
By Dr. Mercola
High quality teas — green tea in particular — contain polyphenol antioxidants recognized for their disease prevention and antiaging properties. Polyphenols can account for up to 30 percent of the dry leaf weight of green tea. Within the group of polyphenols are flavonoids, which contain catechins.
One of the most powerful catechins is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), found in green tea. EGCG has been shown to positively impact a number of illnesses and conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Tea Helps Lower Blood Pressure and Protects Your Heart
Previous research1,2 has shown long-term tea intake can improve your blood pressure readings. One systematic review of 25 randomized controlled trials found those who regularly drank either green or black tea for 12 weeks had an average of 2.6 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure and 2.2 mm Hg lower diastolic pressure compared to those who did not drink tea.
Green tea provided the best results, followed by black tea. According to the authors, this reduction “would be expected to reduce stroke risk by 8 percent, coronary artery disease mortality by 5 percent and all-cause mortality by 4 percent at a population level … These are profound effects and must be considered seriously in terms of the potential for dietary modification to modulate the risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease].”
While unable to determine exactly how much tea you need to drink to receive these benefits, a number of previous studies have suggested the ideal amount lies around three to four cups of tea per day.3 For example, one 2007 study4 found “clear evidence” showing that three or more cups of tea — in this case black tea — reduced the risk of heart disease.
Similarly, drinking three to four cups of green tea daily has been shown to promote heart and cardiovascular health,5 and to aid in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, cerebral thrombus, heart attack and stroke, courtesy of its ability to relax blood vessels, improve blood flow and protect against blood clots.6
EGCG Helps Prevent Plaque in Both Arteries and Brain
More recent research supports these earlier findings. Researchers at the University of Leeds and Lancaster University say the EGCG in green tea can help prevent heart disease by dissolving arterial plaque.7,8 (Other recent research9 has found this compound also has the ability to inhibit amyloid beta plaque formation in the brain, associated with Alzheimer’s disease.)
According to these findings, EGCG actually alters the structure of amyloid fibrils formed by apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-I) — the main protein component of high-density lipoprotein shown to accumulate in atherosclerotic plaques — when heparin (a naturally occurring anticoagulant produced by certain cells) is present. As reported by New Atlas:10
“[ApoA-I] is fundamental to the development of amyloid deposits seen in both Alzheimer’s and atherosclerosis. The hypothesis in this new study is that EGCG can effectively alter the form of these amyloid fibrils, making them less toxic.
‘The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease,’ says one of the researchers on the project, David Middleton. ‘Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.’”
Unfortunately, the EGCG concentrations required to achieve the results found in this study are so high, you couldn’t possibly get that amount from drinking green tea alone. However, the researchers believe the compound could eventually be used to make new drugs treatments. In light of such plans, it’s worth remembering that too much of a good thing can be problematic. As noted in a scientific review published in 2010:11
“… [T]here is emerging evidence that high doses of tea polyphenols may have adverse side effects. Given that the results of scientific studies on dietary components, including tea polyphenols, are often translated into dietary supplements, understanding the potential toxicities of the tea polyphenols is critical to understanding their potential usefulness …”
Other Health Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea has also been found to have a number of other health benefits, courtesy of EGCG and other beneficial plant compounds. For example, studies have linked green tea consumption to:
Lower risk of cancer
Green tea polyphenols act on molecular pathways to shut down the production and spread of tumor cells, and discourage the growth of blood vessels that feed the tumors.12 In addition to acting as an antiangiogenic and antitumor agent, EGCG has also been shown to modulate tumor cell response to chemotherapy.13
Improved weight loss
One 2010 study14 evaluating EGCG’s potential in weight loss found a 300 milligram (mg) dose per day increased fat oxidation by 33 percent during the first two hours directly after eating. A cup of green tea will give you anywhere from 20 to 35 mg of EGCG, so to reach 300 mg by drinking green tea, you’d have to consume about six cups.
Importantly, in those given twice that dose (600 mg/day), this fat oxidation effect was only 20 percent, so more is not necessarily better. EGCG may also aid weight loss by inhibiting fat cell development and increasing fat excretion.
Lower risk of Type 2 diabetes
One animal study15 found that EGCG was as effective as the diabetic drug Avandia in moderately diabetic mice, suggesting green tea, or a high quality green tea extract, could be helpful for the prevention and/or treatment of diabetes.
Enhanced brain function and prevention of age-associated brain degeneration
As mentioned earlier, EGCG appears to decrease the production of beta-amyloid, which can overaccumulate in your brain, resulting in nerve damage and memory loss over time.16 In one 2005 study,17 researchers injected pure EGCG into mice genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer’s; the results showed a decrease of as much as 54 percent in the plaque associated with Alzheimer’s.
Reduced pain and inflammation related to rheumatoid arthritis18
Protection against glaucoma and other eye diseases
In one study,19 scientists analyzed eye tissue from rats that drank green tea and found that eye tissues such as the lens and retina had in fact absorbed green tea catechins. The retina absorbed the highest levels of gallocatechin, while the aqueous humor (the fluid in the chambers of your eye) soaked up the highest amounts of EGCG.
According to the authors, oxidative stress causes biological disturbances such as DNA damage and activation of proteolytic enzymes that can lead to tissue cell damage or dysfunction and, eventually, ophthalmic diseases.
Treatment of genital and anal warts
A botanical ointment containing green tea extract was found to be an effective treatment for external genital and anal warts, according to the results of one 2008 study.20 Genital and anal warts are caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus, and there has been a lack of effective, well tolerated treatments.
The researchers assigned over 500 adults with up to 30 warts to receive either an ointment containing sinecatechins, or a placebo. In the sinecatechins groups, warts cleared completely in roughly 57 percent of patients, compared to just 34 percent of subjects in the control group.
Reduced risk of autoimmune diseases21
One caveat: Those with Th2-dominant autoimmune disorders (such as asthma and allergies, many cancers, ulcerative colitis, lupus and many viral infections) may be wise to avoid concentrated green tea products as it may upregulate Th2.
Those with Th1-dominant conditions (such as multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis), on the other hand, may benefit, as green tea inhibits Th1. To learn more about this, see this “Green Tea Health Risks” article by Precision Nutrition.22
Improved exercise performance
In one study,23 mice given green tea extract for 10 weeks improved their endurance exercise performance by as much as 24 percent.
Green Tea Is Part of a Healthy Diet
While some of the studies used far higher amounts of EGCG than you’d be able to comfortably get from drinking tea, if you enjoy it, a few cups a day could certainly be a healthy addition to your diet. Just be sure to drink your green tea “straight.” Adding milk and/or sugar will counter many of the benefits of the tea. One exception is lemon juice.
Research26 suggests you can actually increase the benefits of green tea by adding vitamin C — such as a squirt of lemon juice — as the ascorbic acid boosts the amount of catechins available for your body to absorb. In fact, citrus juice increased available catechin levels more than fivefold, causing 80 percent of tea’s catechins to remain bioavailable.
Green tea is the least processed kind of tea, so it also contains the highest amounts of EGCG of all tea varieties — provided the tea has not been oxidized, which is a common problem. The easiest sign to look for when evaluating a green tea’s quality is its color.
If your green tea is brown rather than green, it’s likely been oxidized, which can damage or destroy many of its most valuable compounds. Besides being an excellent source of antioxidants, green tea is also packed with vitamins A, D, E, C, B, B5, H and K, manganese and other beneficial minerals such as zinc, chromium and selenium.
Matcha Tea and Tulsi — Two Superior Tea Choices
My personal favorite is Matcha green tea. It has a wonderful flavor and superior nutrient content, as it has not been damaged through processing. It contains the entire ground tea leaf, and can contain over 100 times the EGCG provided from regular brewed green tea.
The best Matcha green tea comes from Japan and is steamed rather than roasted or pan-fried. As a result, Matcha green tea retains all the nutrient-rich value possible from the tea leaf. The tea leaves are ground into powder, which you stir directly into hot water, resulting in a bright green beverage.
A cold version option that is perfect for summer is to make Matcha lemonade. Simply dissolve the powder in hot water; chill, then add lemon or lime juice. A small amount of stevia can be added for sweetness. Serve with ice. Matcha powder can also be added to juices, yogurt and smoothies. For a number of different recipes, see “How to Make Matcha Tea Smoothies” by Natural Holistic Health.27 As an added boon, the chlorophyll in Matcha acts as a natural detoxifier.
Another delicious, healthy option is Indian Tulsi tea, which contains hundreds of beneficial phytochemicals. Working together, these compounds possess potential antioxidant, adaptogenic and immune-enhancing properties that can fight stress and help promote your general health in multiple ways, including:
- Bolstering your immune system
- Providing you with a calming effect and relief from occasional stress
- Promoting healthy metabolism
- Helping maintain optimal blood sugar levels
- Supporting normal cholesterol levels
[ Quantum Physics is finally catching up to what Metaphysics and Occult Knowledge has known for eons. David Icke explains, in vibrational terms, how the dimensions interact. Have the courage to listen with an open mind and follow the science before dismissing this. – TMR ]
[ I urge anyone who comes across this video, either here on my blog, or anywhere else to take the time to watch it in it’s entirety. It is highly researched and documented by experts in the various fields and could change or save your life. -TMR ]