5 Different Types of Tea That Can Help Boost Your Immune System
by George Andon on Jun 13, 2022
Most of us have sought for a mug of hot tea in the hopes of soothing a sore throat or preventing a cold.
The idea of using tea as a treatment isn't new. "The Chinese have been using this method for centuries to reduce ailments and improve the immune system," says Paulina Lee, RD, a registered dietitian in Houston who helps clients address the root causes of their health concerns by combining Western medical practices with alternative and integrative therapies.
Despite the fact that tea is widely used for immunity, there is little strong scientific evidence to support this claim. Continue reading to find out what we've uncovered about how tea might help — or hurt — your immune system.
1. Green Tea
Catechins are abundant in mild, bittersweet green tea. "Catechins are polyphenols that offer a wide range of health benefits and are powerful antioxidants," Lee explains. One of the most prevalent and well-known catechins in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). It's also good for your immune system.
Treatment of mice with EGCG, for example, raised the amount of regulatory T cells in their spleens and lymph nodes, according to a previous research. Regulatory T cells assist your immune system stay balanced and prevent it from attacking healthy cells by modulating immune response.
Human immunological function may be affected by EGCG, according to research. T cells from 20 healthy adult males were treated with EGCG extracted from green tea dissolved in water in a study published in April 2021 in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. They observed that EGCG stopped T cells from producing pro-inflammatory proteins known as cytokines, indicating that green tea's plant ingredients may aid in immune system regulation.
While these findings hint at a relationship between green tea and immunity, further study in individuals, persons with compromised immune systems, and bigger sample sizes are needed to be certain.
2. Black Tea
A collection of polyphenols known as theaflavins gives this black, robust tea varietal its dark hue. "Research backs up theaflavins' antioxidant capacity, especially when compared to ECGC," Lee explains, citing a previous study that found both polyphenol types to be equally efficient antioxidants.
Black tea's antioxidants, on the other hand, may have a special influence on the immune system. For example, a previous scientific experiment demonstrated that healthy persons who drank three cups of black tea each day for six months had higher immunological activity (defined as having no significant diseases and normal to moderately raised systolic blood pressure).
Researchers looked at three markers: neopterin, kynurenine, and tryptophan, all of which suggest that your immune system has thrown into high gear. While black tea had no effect on neopterin or tryptophan levels, it did raise kynurenine, suggesting that the polyphenols in black tea aid immune response activation in healthy persons.
It's a bonus that human volunteers were given black tea to consume in this research. However, the sample size was small: 45 people drank the tea and 49 people served as controls. More research with a range of individuals and, ideally, bigger sample sizes are needed to better understand the effect of drinking tea on various health problems and the immune system.
3. Ginger Tea
When consumed in a cup of tea, ginger, a close sibling of turmeric, may provide immune-boosting effects.
The major active ingredient in ginger is gingerol, which gives it its fiery, peppery taste and therapeutic benefits. According to a previous study, gingerol not only has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but it may also be used to cure infections.
According to a previous study report, ginger includes additional antiviral components that are useful in combating the common cold in addition to gingerol. The chemicals have been connected to pain relief, fever, and coughing fits associated with the common cold.
However, few research have looked at the benefits of ginger on the immune system, particularly the effects of ginger tea.
4. White Tea
White tea is one of the lightest, most delicately flavored types available, thanks to minimum processing. According to a previous study, white tea has significant quantities of catechins, much like its green relative. Indeed, past study reveals that white tea offers antioxidant effects comparable to green tea, while Lee points out that green tea's antioxidant potential is significantly stronger.
The limited information we have so far suggests it may be worth investigating further in future research. In a previous test-tube study, for example, white tea extract helped protect rat brain cells from harm when they were exposed to the free radical hydrogen peroxide. Another test-tube investigation discovered that white tea extract reduced inflammation produced by free radicals in human skin cells.
5. Turmeric Tea
Turmeric, the golden orange spice that gives curry its vibrant color, turns out to be beneficial to your immune system when consumed as tea. "Turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation and contain high amounts of antioxidants, both of which improve general immune function," Lee explains.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin efficiently scavenges several types of free radicals, regulates enzymes that neutralize free radicals, and helps prevent the production of free radicals, according to a review published in Foods in October 2017. The antioxidants in turmeric may make this spice a useful addition to your immune-health diet, given the role that free radical damage may play in many illnesses.
Curcumin may potentially have a role in the immunological response, according to researchers. Curcumin, for example, was shown to regulate T cells and B cells, two lymphocytes that identify and respond to foreign substances within the body, in a previous study utilizing cultured spleen cells from mice. Curcumin was shown to help modulate the immune response and prevent immune cells from attacking healthy organs in the aforementioned study. Curcumin may be a viable therapeutic for keeping the immune system in balance, according to the researchers.