Winter is notorious as the season for colds and flu to strike the hardest, so we think it’s the perfect time to look into the role that green tea can play in their prevention.
As nurses, we understand that colds and flu can impact every day life significantly, and if you need to turn up to work, take care of your kids, run the household, travel, or even make simple phone calls, the flu in particular can throw your plans into chaos.
Influenza (flu) is a viral infection. People often use the term “flu” to describe any kind of mild illness, such as a cold or a stomach virus, that has symptoms like the flu. But the real flu is different. Flu symptoms are usually worse than a cold and last longer.
How Does Green Tea Help To Prevent Flu?
Many people are unaware that green tea suppresses bacterial, fungal and viral species (including the influenza virus).
This suppression is mainly due to the effect of the EGCG antioxidant (polyphenol catechin) that naturally occurs in high doses in green tea. (1.)
Specifically, ECGC binds to the hemagglutinin of the influenza virus, which blocks it from attaching to (and infecting) target receptor cells.
EGCG also alters the virus cell membrane, which further inhibits its ability to infect other cells. (1.)
What Kind Of Clinical Evidence Exists?
New evidence shows that certain compounds found in tea, and especially in green tea, are able to inhibit an enzyme that is crucial for influenza replication, survival, and spread. (1)
“Researchers have found that EGCG can inhibit the
influenza A virus endonuclease, a bound enzyme that viruses use to
digest the host mRNA, thereby infecting the organism”. (2.)
In 2011 a randomised controlled trial of health care workers was conducted to determine whether the daily ingestion of green tea catechins and thiamine was effective in preventing influenza infection.
The incidence of clinically defined influenza infection was significantly lower in the catechin/theanine group compared with the placebo group and it was concluded that taking green tea catechins and theanine may be effective prophylaxis for influenza infection. (3.)
1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick with cold or flu.
2. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. The best way is to cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm (inner elbow area) as coughing onto our hands means that the germs then travel to everything you touch.
3. Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs and prevent you picking up germs from the things you have touched.
4. Stay well hydrated and get plenty of rest so that your body is able to function well, and you’re able to fight off the virus naturally. Add some Green Tea in 3 to your water to boost your EGCG.
5. You also have the option of a flu vaccination if that is your preference.
If you’d like to read more about how green tea can improve your health, please click on any of the following links:
2. Kuzuhara T, Iwai Y, Takahashi H, Hatakeyama D, Echigo N. Green tea catechins inhibit the endonuclease activity of influenza A virus RNA polymerasePLoS Currents Influenza 2009 Oct 13:RRN1052.
3. Matsumoto et al. Effects of green tea catechins and thiamine on preventing influenza infection among healthcare workers: a randomised controlled trial.BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 21;11:15. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-15.