Can Drinking Green Tea Help Prevent COVID-19 Infection?

Although it seems COVID-19 hasn't been in the headlines as much as it was, it still exists. While you know to keep your distance and not breathe in COVID droplets, is there a simple drink out there that can prevent infection?

COVID is an infection caused by the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 (per World Health Organization). It can be spread through air particles expelled by someone infected and breathed in through your nose or mouth. According to the Mayo Clinic, vaccines can reduce the chances of getting COVID-19 or reduce the severity of its symptoms. There may be a new promising development as well in the use of green tea against COVID.

Tea is the second most drunk beverage in the world after water, reports the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Aside from herbal teas, all tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush (via Medical News Today). Green tea is made from the unoxidized leaves of the bush and therefore has one of the highest levels of antioxidants and polyphenols like Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. EGCG is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and protect cells from stress and damage from free radicals, reports Healthline. Green tea is widely regarded for its health benefits, from enhancing cognitive function to protecting heart health, thanks to these antioxidant properties. Its major component of EGCG has also shown promise in fending off viruses similar to COVID-19, says a study in The Journal of General Virology.

Green tea has antiviral properties

EGCG has previously shown the ability to inhibit cell entry for viruses like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C, and influenza, as well as the transcription of adenoviruses (per Journal of General Virology). This effectiveness against the flu and adenoviruses is the key to the possibility of green tea helping prevent COVID-19 infections. According to the study, for a COVID-19 infection to begin to take place, the virus needs to successfully enter the cells and bind to receptors. In tests, ECGC shows effectiveness in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 virus replication and interfering with its binding to receptors. This is good news as it seems this significant component of green tea can cause major problems for COVID-19.

Unfortunately, to be effective, high concentrated levels of EGCG are required to inhibit COVID-19, according to a study in Phytomedicine. When consumed orally, EGCG is oxidized before it reaches its target and therefore doesn't provide these high levels. Thus, despite all its health benefits, drinking green tea is currently an ineffective and impractical way to prevent COVID. There is good news, though, as another study shows EGCG can help reduce inflammatory symptoms and be a natural therapeutic for those infected with COVID-19.