Green tea (Camellia sinensis) is one of the most popular health beverages around the world.
Originating from China, green tea is lauded for many health benefits due to its potential antioxidant, antiviral and immune-boosting properties (
It’s recently been investigated for a possible role in managing the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes illness from COVID-19. You may have heard that drinking green tea prevents or cures the disease.
In this article, we explain whether green tea affects COVID-19 and offer some immune-boosting tips.
Green tea is rich in health-promoting polyphenols, such as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has anti-viral effects against single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viruses like Zika, hepatitis C, influenza (flu), dengue fever, and others (
Like these, the SARS-CoV-2 is an ssRNA virus. Thus, green tea extracts continue to be investigated for their potential role in treating the virus and managing the COVID-19 pandemic (
Test-tube research shows that green tea extracts may combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus by damaging the spike protein, preventing its entry into human cells and reducing the overall volume of the virus (
Treatment of the test tube cells with EGCG was most effective during early stages of infection (
However, it’s important to understand that drinking green tea itself can’t prevent or cure COVID-19. Most studies showing an effect used single green tea extracts like EGCG in concentrated amounts much higher than what’s found in the natural tea.
Furthermore, EGCG is poorly absorbed when consumed orally from teas (
Nevertheless, green tea extracts may have potential to be used for natural treatment of COVID-19 after further human research and testing.
Remember, the best way to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated, maintaining physical distancing, and washing your hands often. You can learn more about COVID-19 vaccines here.
Drinking green tea cannot prevent, treat, or cure the COVID-19 virus, but concentrated extracts like EGCG may have potential to be used for natural treatment after further human research and testing.
A COVID-19 infection can cause inflammation, which is linked to symptoms like fatigue, muscle pain, and achy joints (
Green tea may have anti-inflammatory properties. It’s shown to reduce damaging inflammation associated with the COVID-19 virus, potentially easing these symptoms (
The EGCG found in green tea may also shorten infection periods by suppressing viral activity, although this effect has only been observed in test-tube studies. We need human research before we can draw conclusions (
Green tea is also a source of other immune-supportive nutrients like zinc, iron, and selenium — albeit in small amounts (
Regardless, you may find that sipping on a warm cup of green tea during your COVID-19 infection is simply soothing.
Green tea may reduce damaging inflammation associated with COVID-19, potentially improving negative symptoms induced by the virus, such as muscle pains. It’s also a source of immune-supportive nutrients, though they’re present only in small amounts.
Green tea contains small amounts of the following immune-boosting micronutrients (
- Zinc: may reduce harmful reactive oxygen species caused by infections
- Selenium: stimulates the immune system to fight infections
- Copper: enhances activity of the body’s natural killer cells
- Vitamin B2: enhances antibody function against viral infections
- Vitamin B12: increases the production of immune cells
Nutrient deficiencies odd immune health. For instance, research suggests that selenium deficiency may contribute to more severe illness from COVID-19 (
contain varying levels of these micronutrients, depending on the quality of soil it was grown in (
Overall, concentrations of micronutrients in green tea appear low.
Green tea contains small amounts of the micronutrients zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamins B2 and B12, all of which are shown to boost immune health.
Green tea contains only small amounts of immune-boosting micronutrients. Enjoy infused green tea along with these tips to better support your overall immune health:
- Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, especially fruits and vegetables (
- Exercise regularly (unless you’re currently sick) (
- Avoid smoking, since it compromises immune health (
- Practice hand-washing and hand hygiene with sanitizers to limit viral spread (
- Aim for 7–9 hours of quality sleep each night, as poor sleep may impair immune health (
Increase fruit and vegetable intake, exercise regularly, avoid smoking, practice handwashing and hand hygiene, and aim for 7-9 hours per night to boost your immune health.
Green tea is a popular drink often touted as a health beverage. Some claims may hold true: it has proven antiviral effects against single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viruses like Zika, hepatitis C, influenza, and dengue.
Its potential role in combating SARS-CoV-2 continues to be investigated, but drinking green tea is not proven to prevent or cure COVID-19.
Increase fruit and vegetable intake, exercise regularly, avoid smoking, practice hand-washing and hand hygiene, and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to boost your immune health.
Vaccination against COVID-19, in conjunction with physical distancing and masking when appropriate, remains the best way to protect yourself and others from severe illness.