Drinking green tea may reduce the risk of HIV infection and slow the spread of the virus in people who are already infected, a UK and US joint study suggests. A green tea flavonoid called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) could protect the body’s immune system from the HIV virus, the researchers found.
The study, which examined the ability of EGCG to block HIV from binding to immune cells in test tubes, appears in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Study findings indicated EGCG stopped the HIV virus from binding to the body’s immune cells by getting there first. There is no room for the HIV to latch onto the T-cells thereby giving the immune system a chance to destroy the virus.
“Our research shows that drinking green tea could reduce the risk of becoming infected by HIV, and could also slow down the spread of HIV,” said co-researcher Professor Mike Williamson, from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield in the UK. “It is not a cure, and nor is it a safe way to avoid infection, however, we suggest that it should be used in combination with conventional medicines to improve quality of life for those infected.”
Two to three cups per day might reduce infection risk by a factor of 10. “We tried to use the same concentrations of EGCG in experiments as you would get from drinking green tea. We are confident in the results we are seeing, but it is still not the same as putting it into humans,” said Williamson. Future research is underway to determine how much effect can be expected from different amounts of tea.
Previous studies have linked green tea to lower risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. A study from Japan published last September in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported high consumption of green tea was linked to reduced overall risk of death due to all causes and cardiovascular disease. Green tea flavonoids have been shown to contain anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-tumor effects. For more information about Chinese food therapy for health and well being contact Dr. Richard Browne at (305) 595-9500.