New research shows that green tea can fight the flu. Drinking green tea, gargling with it, or even using it as a hand disinfectant can help prevent flu infection. Black tea and green tea have potential to prevent SARS.
Green tea solution has potential as an effective hand disinfectant
A new lab study shows that a green tea solution made with just one tea bag destroyed the influenza virus. The study was lead by Woo-Jin Shin of the Department of Biotechnology at the College of Life Science and Biotechnology, Yonsei University, in Seoul, South Korea.
Using an artificial skin, researchers incubated the skin for 45 minutes with influenza virus. Then they added green tea solutions of different concentrations and tested if there were any virus particles left. No viruses were detected on the skin that was treated with green tea solutions. All concentrations were effective against the flu virus, including the one with the lowest concentration. The skin that was treated with a control (PBS) still had viruses on it. Researchers made the green tea solutions using 1 green tea bag per 120 mL of hot water, and 2 and 3 bags per 120 mL for the higher concentrations. The researchers conclude that using green tea solution as a hand disinfectant could be a useful way to prevent transmission of the flu virus. The study was published in the journal Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry.
Drinking or gargling with green tea helps prevent flu infection
The effects of drinking different amounts of green tea by over 2000 schoolchildren in Japan were examined in a recent study. The results showed that drinking one to five cups of green tea per day can help reduce the risk of being infected by the influenza virus. The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition. Although adults can benefit from green tea, children shouldn’t drink green or black tea, because tea has caffeine, and it contains other compounds which may affect hormone levels. Another study on the elderly showed that gargling with a solution that contained green tea extracts three times per day reduces the incidence of influenza, when compared to a placebo.
Green and black tea compounds show potential to fight SARSNew lab research shows that green tea has compounds that could potentially prevent SARS Coronavirus replication. Researchers examined the effects of gallocatechin gallate, a green tea catechin, on 3C-like protease, an enzyme that is required for the SARS virus to replicate. They found that it produced good inhibition of the enzyme.
Research has also shown that compounds in black tea can also inhibit the enzyme, and thus potentially fight SARS. These were identified as theaflavins and tannic acid. The article cites research that showed that theaflavins from black tea can neutralize bovine (cow) coronavirus. Don’t assume drinking green or black tea or using theaflavin supplements will absolutely protect you against SARS. Although promising, more research is required on these compounds’ effects on the disease.
Pregnant women, or those trying to conceive shouldn’t drink green or black tea because it lowers levels of folic acid.
I previously wrote that probiotics also prevent the flu. But don’t drink tea at the same time as you eat probiotics, because the milk in the yogurt or dairy drink will negate the beneficial effects of the tea compounds. Just use them at different times during the day.
Thus, drinking about one to five cups of green tea per day could be a useful preventive measure against the flu. Some green tea and black tea compounds might also be useful against SARS, and water extracts of black tea did show beneficial effects in lab tests. More research is urgently needed on the effects of tea compounds as a new SARS-like virus seems to be emerging.