It’s spring again and, to paraphrase Tennyson a bit, it’s a time when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of…allergies. Well, maybe that’s not quite what old Lord Alfred was getting at. But for many young men or women or for that matter, for people of any age, the approach of spring means one thing – the onslaught of sneezing, itchy eyes and other manner of discomfort that comes with seasonal allergies.
There are all kinds of allergies, of course, but for the purposes of this article we’ll confine ourselves to the potentially beneficial effects of tea on the seasonal allergies to pollen and assorted other substances that make spring such a mixed blessing for so many. It’s a considerable problem, according to Web MD, where they estimate that “each year, 35 million Americans fall prey to seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever.”
So what kind of role does tea play in all of this? Web MD also notes that food such as onions, apples, and black tea contain a flavonoid known as quercetin, which “has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown in research to block histamines,” a substance that triggers allergy symptoms.
A study by researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan found that green tea, in particular, might be useful in relieving the discomfort of allergies. The study, results of which appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is especially abundant in green tea, in laboratory tests, blocked “a key cell receptor involved in producing an allergic response.” As the head of the study concluded, “If you have allergies, you should consider drinking it (green tea).” For more on this study, look here.
According to one tea merchant, a type of Japanese tea known Benifuki, contains “a special catechin (Methyl Catechin) which has become renowned for its ability to fight the symptoms of hay fever.” It was developed in the 1990s by Japan’s National Institute of Vegetable and Tea Science (NIVTS), who determined that “if Benifuki was processed into green tea it was rich in Methylated Catechins and this ingredient was effective suppressing histamine, the cause of itchy eyes and a runny nose.” More about this potentially beneficial type of tea here.
Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your physician for your particular needs.
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