Green Tea Helps to Prevent Flu

While many people run to the doctor or pharmacy for an annual flu shot, a recent medical study shows one cup of green tea each day may actually help to prevent influenza infection, especially in school-age children, according to an article in the, by Patrick B. Massey M.D., a medical director for complementary and alternative medicine for the Alexian Brothers Hospital Network in Illinois.

The medical approach for the influenza encourages washing hands, using disinfectant and flud vaccinations, as well as anti-viral medications, such as Tamiflu and Relenza. However, in recent years, research has shown the influenza vaccine is not very effective, said Massey.

A recent medical study, published in the “Journal of Nutrition,” looked at the relationship between green tea consumption and a reduction in the flu virus, particularly in children who drank it compared to those who did not.

“They chose children for two reasons: there is little research with children and influenza prevention; the children lived on or near tea plantations in Japan,” Massey explained in the article.

More than 2,600 children participated in the study, drinking an average of five cups of green tea per week. Researchers discovered those who drank the green tea had significantly fewer cases of influenza when compared to those who drank almost no green tea. Additionally, those who drank the most green tea (about one cup per day) also had significantly fewer sick days from school.

“The results were so conclusive that the researchers concluded that the regular consumption of green tea is protective against influenza infections during the influenza season,” said Massey.

Green tea contains a number of compounds, and one of the most researched is called catechins and the amino acid theanine. “Catechins inhibit the attachment of the influenza virus to cells and may interfere with viral replication, Massey explained. “The combination of tea catechins and theanine enhance systemic immunity, especially those cells that are directly involved in fighting viruses, T cells. In healthy adults, catechins and theanine actually have been demonstrated to prevent the symptoms of influenza.”

With all of the benefits found in green tea – outside of preventing the flu – drinking it every day can do nothing but help!