What do colds, flu and allergies have in common? They make you feel lousy, of course, but more important is the convincing evidence that suggests that tea might help keep all of these maladies at bay.

English Breakfast Tea

English Breakfast Tea

If a cold is laying you low, tea might be of some assistance, or so say a group of researchers at Harvard University. They discovered that drinking five cups of black tea daily for two weeks transformed immune system T cells into what they called “Hulk” cells. These had as much as 10 times the cold and flu virus-fighting interferon as those found in non-tea drinkers.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that in a group of 118 subjects given decaffeinated green tea extract containing standardized amounts of L-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) or a placebo, 32.1% fewer of the first group experienced cold or flu symptoms. They reported 22.9% fewer illnesses lasting two or more days. The extract contained as much L-theanine and EGCG as about ten cups of tea.

In a study on green tea’s effects on influenza, which was conducted in South Korea, researchers found that the EGCG and ECG contained in the tea was a potent inhibitor of influenza virus replication in MDCK cell culture. The same effect was observed in other influenza virus subtypes tested. A study by Japanese researchers examined the effects of tea extract on the growth of influenza A and B viruses in MDCK cells.

Many people turn to tea when they’ve got a cold or the flu but it has also been shown to be of some help with allergies. According to a Japanese research study, laboratory tests found that a methylated form of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a green tea compound, blocks production of substances that trigger and sustain allergic reactions. Previous studies found that EGCG fought allergic reactions in rodents.

Rooibos is not technically tea, but it has been praised for its allergy fighting properties since 1970, when South African Annique Theron published Allergies: An Amazing Discovery, a book that claims to have documented these and other alleged health-giving properties.

Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

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