Tea Emerges as Potential Antiviral Ally Against COVID-19: New Study  

Tea Emerges as Potential Antiviral Ally Against COVID-19. Credit | Shutterstock
Tea Emerges as Potential Antiviral Ally Against COVID-19. Credit | Shutterstock

United States: A common beverage can assist to inactive COVID-19 – which has been considered to be a great threat for the globe. Recently, a study published in Food and Environmental Virology has outlined that tea has the ability to inactive the virus in the mouth of the infected person.  

Health experts have also outlined that the major route for COVID-19 infection to enter the body is through the respiratory tract; however, in certain cases, it can also enter through the mouth. They have further explained that once it enters the body through mouth, it can replicate in the oral glands and mucosa and then it enters other parts of the gastrointestinal system and additional body systems.  

Stopping COVID in its Tracks: The Antiviral Potency of Tea 

Recent research indicates that tea might halt the progression of COVID by diminishing the viral load upon initial contact, potentially curbing the virus’s dissemination within the body and to others. 

The Antiviral Potential of Tea 

Genuine teas, deriving from the Camellia sinensis plant, encompass green, black, oolong, and white varieties. The polyphenols present in tea possess anti-inflammatory properties, offering a prospect for alleviating viral symptoms. 

Tea Emerges as Potential Antiviral Ally Against COVID-19. Credit | Getty Images
Tea Emerges as Potential Antiviral Ally Against COVID-19. Credit | Getty Images

Despite previous studies hinting at a correlation between tea consumption and COVID-19 prevention, the methodologies employed in these investigations present challenges in extrapolating the findings to human contexts. 

To bridge this gap, scholars at the University of Georgia endeavored to ascertain if select commercially available teas could swiftly neutralize infectious SARS-CoV-2— the causative agent of COVID-19—in saliva. 

Procuring 24 teas from various brands, researchers subjected them to hot water steeping for 15 minutes, preparing two concentrations: a standard infusion and a highly concentrated solution not typically ingested by individuals. 

Following incubation with SARS-CoV-2, teas were evaluated after five minutes. 

When steeped at customary concentrations, black tea exhibited the most pronounced reduction in viral activity within a mere 10 seconds of contact with COVID. Green, Mint Medley, eucalyptus-mint, and Raspberry Zinger teas displayed marginal inactivation of the virus. 

At higher concentrations, all tea varieties exhibited diminished virus activity within the same brief timeframe. 

Novel Insights into Tea: Bolstering Heart, Mind, and Immunity 

Researchers attribute these effects to the presence of polyphenols. 

Given that tea’s maximum inhibitory impact coincided with the moment of infection, any potential utilization of tea for COVID inactivation would likely necessitate immediate consumption post-exposure. 

“Our findings shed light on a rapid, home-based intervention (such as tea consumption or gargling) to reduce the viral load of infectious SARS-CoV-2 in the oral cavity, potentially mitigating oral mucosal infections,” stated the study’s authors. 

“To deactivate a virus entails rendering it non-infectious, thereby preventing cellular infection. The tea infusions we identified achieved this within a mere 10 seconds,” explained study author Malak Esseili, PhD, Assistant Professor of Food Virology at the University of Georgia. 

Malak underscored that viral deactivation in saliva does not supplant the necessity for vaccination. 

“A vaccine operates behind the scenes to prime the immune system for encountering the virus when it breaches the body’s defenses—whether through the nose, mouth, or eyes,” she elucidated. “Our study identifies specific tea infusions capable of neutralizing the virus upon direct contact at these entry points, particularly the oral cavity.” 

Should Tea Consumption Be Encouraged for COVID Patients? 

The advisability of tea consumption for infected individuals remains uncertain. 

“Our study was conducted in a laboratory setting, involving viruses in test tubes,” Malak clarified. “The virus proliferates continually, multiplying at entry points like the nose or mouth, and can swiftly disseminate to the lungs, precipitating severe illness. Thus, solely imbibing or gargling with tea will not safeguard the lungs.” 

While emphasizing that tea alone does not constitute a robust COVID intervention and should not supplant medical intervention, Malak suggested that adopting habits like tea consumption or gargling with it could serve as supplementary layers of intervention within the existing toolkit of mitigation strategies.