Numerous reports have been published in the last ten years on the anti-viral effects of green tea, and in particular, of EGCg, a powerful antioxidant which is the most prevalent compound found in green tea.
A study performed in 2005, by researchers in South Korea, found that three different compounds found in high concentrations in green tea can prevent the replication of most strains of the the flu virus, including the infamous A/H1N1 virus or “swine flu.” Out of the three compounds studied in the report, one called EGCg was determined to be the most effective. This is the most concentrated compound found in green tea. The researchers found that green tea, and EGCg in particular, inhibited the virus’s ability to produce RNA, and therefore its ability to reproduce itself. The researchers noted that similar results had been found in two previous reports published in 1993 and in 2002 .
Another report published in 2002 found that EGCg—the same green tea compound mentioned above—can inhibit the spreading of HIV. Just as with any virus, inhibition is not a “cure,” meaning that as far as this report found, green tea does not destroy the HIV virus. However, EGCg does seem to slow down the virus’s ability to reproduce itself, possibly signaling that green tea could have a role to play in future HIV treatments.
Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a number of illnesses ranging from gastroeneritus (more commonly known as the “stomach flu,” although unrelated to the regular flu), tonsilitus, ear infection, and pneumonia. In a study conducted in 2002, four researchers examined the effects of EGCg on adenoviruses. Having noted previous studies linking green tea to the inhibition of viruses like HIV and influenza, the researchers wanted to see if the same effects could be seen on adenoviruses. The report found that EGCg fights against adenoviruses by inhibiting the reproduction of the virus. EGCg accomplishes this feat by directly inactivating the virus, and through a number of other mechanisms. However, the researchers concluded that EGCg must be present in concentrations that are higher than in which it is normally found in brewed green tea to be effective.
This is great news for people who consume green tea whole, as EGCg is present in much higher quantities in whole green tea leaves than in brewed green tea. A data table published by the USDA shows that EGCg is present in a concentration that is 100 times greater in whole green tea leaves than in the liquid produced by brewing.
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