The Respiratory Antiviral Effects of Green Tea


Part 1

Green tea is one of the most popular drinks consumed worldwide and has been shown to have multiple and widespread health effects beyond that of the vast majority of pharmaceutical drugs which address only one condition.

Green tea has been shown to have anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is beneficial in cardiovascular disease (CVD) including lowering blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, neurologic, oral and gut health. Inflammation and oxidation is a component of many conditions and diseases including ageing, arthritis, cancer, CVD, diabetes, and obesity and are critical processes in increasing the severity and mortality related to viral infections.

More recently, green tea has been shown to have antimicrobial and more specifically potent antiviral activity. The green tea catechins, in particular are known to exert potent antiviral activity. The four main catechins that occur in green tea are (-)-epicatechin (EC), (-)-epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG), (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC), and (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Of these catechins, EGCG and EGC are found in the highest amounts in green tea and have been the subject of most of the studies. These catechins have been shown to demonstrate a variety of antimicrobial properties, both directly on the virus and in mechanisms used to reproduce and replicate. Drinking green tea has been shown to distribute these compounds and/or their metabolites throughout the body, which allows for not only the possibility of treatment of infections but also the prevention of infections.

Green tea catechins have also been shown to be effective against a number of viruses and their main antiviral effects include…

  • inhibiting the virus from binding to and entering our cells

  • reducing the viral load in the respiratory system;

  • inhibiting viral replication; inhibiting viral RNA and DNA synthesis and viral gene transcription; and

  • destroying and functionally altering various viral molecules.

Viruses also stimulate the production of mucous in the respiratory system which helps protect and eliminate the virus from the lungs however, with high viral loads the mucous production exceeds the rate of clearance and clogs the system which stops the respiratory cilia (little lung hairs) clearing out the system even further. As a result, the virus has a greater opportunity to take over. This may also be why gargling with tea catechins has been shown to be effective against respiratory viral infections.

Since the late 1990s, several epidemiological studies have suggested that the regular consumption of green tea decreases influenza infection rates and some cold symptoms and protects against the development of influenza infection by as much as a 40% reduction. In one study with adult healthcare workers showed that green tea supplements showed significantly fewer instances of influenza symptoms and a reduced incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases versus the control group. (more on the is in the next blog)

Various studies in humans have found that the peak concentrations of catechins and their metabolites occur in blood plasma between 1.5 and 2 hours after ingestion and in urine between 4 and 6 hours after ingestion. However, in order to be effective in the body these catechins need to be bioavailable after consumption which is carried out by our gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome convert the large complex green tea catechins to simpler and much more absorbable products that can get through into the blood and around the body including the respiratory system. At the same time they help build a healthier gut microbiome which in turn helps to improve the overall functioning of the immune system and the gut lung microbiome link.

Studies have also suggested that green tea catechins are effective as for personal hygiene and as a hand and surface santiser. They are active for a much longer period of time than alcohol products.

My message is clear drink more green tea, sip on it gargle it and maybe even wash with it and while people were out panic buying toilet paper I bought lots of green tea and I have 4 or 5 cups each day.

Courtesy Dr Peter Dingle: posted on April 04, 2020



Image by dungthuyvunguyen from Pixabay


Antiviral Mechanism of Action of Epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate and Its Fatty Acid Esters. Kaihatsu K, Yamabe M, Ebara Y. Molecules. 2018 Sep 27;23(10). pii: E2475. doi: 10.3390/molecules23102475. Review.

J Food Sci. 2018 Mar;83(3):864-873. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.14058. Epub 2018 Feb 10. Green Tea Polyphenols Modulate Colonic Microbiota Diversity and Lipid Metabolism in High-Fat Diet Treated HFA Mice. Wang L1,2Zeng B3Liu Z1Liao Z1Zhong Q1Gu L1Wei H3Fang X1.

J Sci Food Agric. 2020 Feb;100(3):897-903. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.10049. Epub 2019 Nov 12. Interactions of tea polyphenols with intestinal microbiota and their implication for anti-obesity. Zhao Y1Zhang X1.

J Biol Eng. 2018; 12: 1.  Published online 2018 Jan 8. doi: 10.1186/s13036-017-0092-1 Evaluation of green tea extract as a safe personal hygiene against viral infections

Yun Ha Lee,#1 Yo Han Jang,#1 Young-Seok Kim,1 Jinku Kim,2,3 and Baik Lin Seong1,4

Fink R. C., Roschek B., Jr., Alberte R. S. HIV type-1 entry inhibitors with a new mode of action. Antiviral Chemistry & Chemotherapy. 2009;19(6):243–255. doi: 10.1177/095632020901900604

Hauber I., Hohenberg H., Holstermann B., Hunstein W., Hauber J. The main green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate counteracts semen-mediated enhancement of HIV infection. Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2009;106(22):9033–9038. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811827106.

Lin Y., Wu Y., Tseng C., et al. Green Tea Phenolic Epicatechins Inhibit Hepatitis C Virus Replication via Cycloxygenase-2 and Attenuate Virus-Induced Inflammation. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(1):p. e54466. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054466.

Liu S., Li H., Chen L., et al. (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate inhibition of epstein-barr virus spontaneous lytic infection involves ERK1/2 and PI3-K/Akt signaling in EBV-positive cells. Carcinogenesis. 2013;34(3):627–637. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgs364.

Pang J.-Y., Zhao K.-J., Wang J.-B., Ma Z.-J., Xiao X.-H. Green tea polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, possesses the antiviral activity necessary to fight against the hepatitis B virus replication in vitro. Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B. 2014;15(6):533–539. doi: 10.1631/jzus.b1300307.

Yang J., Li L., Tan S., et al. A natural theaflavins preparation inhibits HIV-1 infection by targeting the entry step: Potential applications for preventing HIV-1 infection. Fitoterapia. 2012;83(2):348–355. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2011.11.016

Xu J., Xu Z., Zheng W., et al. A review of the antiviral role of green tea catechins. Molecules. 2017;22(8) doi: 10.3390/molecules22081337

Matsumoto K., Yamada H., Takuma N., Niino H., Sagesaka Y. M. Effects of green tea catechins and theanine on preventing influenza infection among healthcare workers: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;11(15) doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-15.

Subscribe to Conscious Living to help you thrive in body mind and soul!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.