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Tea boosts immunity to fight against Covid-19?

Om Prakash Basnet (basnetprakash677@gmail.com)

Boosting immunity in our body has once again been proved very essential when there is no medicine invented yet to cure an ailment. The best method to keep ourselves fit and healthy in any circumstances whatsoever, especially when there is no medicine to cure covid-19 infection, is to boost up our immunity level. In this respect habit of drinking tea frequently may help us to a great extent to keep ourselves fit to defeat corona virus by means of immunity boosting procedures.

Although there is difference of opinions regarding tea's medicinal use against corona virus, the fact is that when tea was discovered it was used as medicine. Tea has had a reputation for its health benefits and medicinal properties since its discovery by the Chinese 5000 years ago. Similarly doctors and scientists are reiterating the fact that until any vaccine is invented, the best way is to undertake precautionary measures by boosting our immune system to fight against corona virus. So straight way we cannot deny the fact that drinking tea protects us from corona virus infection by boosting up our immunity system.

During recent times the importance of a cup of tea was realised immensely when a what's App massage from China got viral amid Coronavirus crisis. Making the massage a breaking news the CNN story reads 'Dr. Like Wearing, China's hero doctor who was punished for telling the truth about Corona Virus and later died due to the same disease, had documented casefiles for research purposes and had in the casefiles proposed a cure that would significantly decrease the impact of the Covid-19 Virus on the human body. The chemical 'Methylxanthine', 'Theobromine', and Theophylline’ stimulate compounds that can ward off these virus in a human with at least an average immune system. What more shocking is that these complex words that were so difficult for people in China to understand is actually called 'Tea' in India. Yes  our regular Tea has all these chemicals already in it. The main 'Methylxanthine' in tea is the stimulate caffeine. Other 'Methylxanthine' found in tea are tow chemically similar compounds, 'Theobromine' and 'Theophylline'.The tea plant creates these chemicals as a way to ward off insects and other animals. Who would have known that all the solution to these virus would be a simple cup of tea, and that is the reason so many patients in China are being cured. The hospital staff in China have started serving tea to the patients 3 times a day. And the effect is finally in Wuhan. The center of this Pandemic has been contained and community readmission has almost stopped'. A similar claim was also reported by Sri Lanka’s TNL television network during its evening news bulletin on March 24, 2020. Although some media have claimed this news as fake one, but the fact is that tea contains some medicinal ingredients that boost up human immune system. As for the compounds that are supposed to give tea its curative powers against COVID-19 — methylxanthines are organic compounds found in tea, similarly theophylline is a type of methylxanthine; theobromine works as a bronchodilator (dilates the bronchi in the lungs) to soothe some respiratory symptoms — is present only in black tea.

Recently there was an article published in daily pioneer which explained tea as a health adhering agent and said that the beverage not only had a high sustenance value, but had also been proven to endow several positive effects on health. Tea is considered a beneficial agent for relieving fatigue and aiding clarity of thought, besides being favourable for digestion. Although its stimulating effects are derived from its caffeine content, unlike coffee, drinking tea in large quantities does not cause hyperactivity, insomnia, or stomach irritation, as this compound is present in a ratio that is half the level of caffeine in coffee. A 190 ml cup of tea contains approximately 40-50 mg of caffeine, while full flavour coffees average 110-120 mg per cup. It is also said that green, oolong, white and pu-erh tea infusions contain even less caffeine than black teas. Not only do they undergo lesser oxidation, but it is so because such teas are made with multiple infusions: since water is added more than once, and as the liquor gets poured off, it reduces the content of caffeine. Caffeine is considered safe when it is consumed at a dose of 400 mg or less per day which would include the intake of soft drinks such as colas. Hence, be it black or green tea, whichever it may be, it is safer to enjoy several cups of tea rather than multiple cups of coffee. So the CTC made black tea would certainly get importance henceforth. Health studies do show some positive insights into the antioxidant benefits of this beverage too.

The leaves of the Camellia Sinensis, especially the buds and tender shoots of tea contain catechins and polyphenols. Different types of catechins and polyphenols have great value as they serve as antioxidants that neutralise the damage caused by an excess of free radicals in the body. A study at the Antioxidant Research Centre in London published in Free Radical Research in February 1999, put forth the following formula: 2 cups of black tea = 1 glass of red wine = 7 glasses of orange juice = 20 glasses of apple juice. The catechins in tea offer the advantage of being an aid for killing infection as they block viruses and bacteria from hooking on to cell walls. Therefore they can help protect against diseases like influenza, food poisoning, dysentery and cholera. By the same measure, we can say that they can kill Coronavirus too, though we don't have any scientific proof yet.

Research suggests that drinking tea can enhance our immune system, due to the polyphenols and theanine present in tea. Most of the health benefits of tea, including strengthening our immune system and immune response, is due to the polyphenols and theanine present in the tea plant Camellia sinensis. The fresh, tender shoots of tea, which are used for processing into Black Tea, Green Tea and Oolong Tea, contain significantly high amounts of polyphenols in comparison to other plants. Therefore, regular consumption of these teas, over a long period of time, will enhance immunity. Experts recommend drinking 4 – 5 cups of fresh tea per day, to help boost immunity.

Research is on and evidence of the immunity-enhancing benefits of tea and its constituents is growing. One study cited on this topic is a 2007 paper by Harvard Medical School professor and rheumatologist Jack F. Bukowski and team published in The Journal of the American College Of Nutrition. They researched a combination of L-theanine and catechins, two constituents of tea, for their immunity benefits and found that tea could reduce the incidence of colds and flu. Their recommendation from the study was to consume five cups of tea a day.

So far Assam tea is concerned now we are getting some good news that frequent drinking of black tea may boost immunity in human body to fight against corona virus. The medicinal value of Assam tea has been able to draw attention of the world despite the fact that tea industry in Assam has already suffered a huge loss due to lock down. Due to the prolonged lockdown, about 35% of plantations have to be skiffed (removal of overgrown tea leaves). Skiffing operation adds to extra costs and requires two to three weeks for recovery to bring the tea bushes into a pluckable condition. Due to this skiffing operation, there is crop loss in April and May.

A recent broadcast on Assam tea, made by some media houses have brought in to light some positive aspects of Assam tea that people and tea growers can be complacent. It is said that Assam tea has the ability to protect human body from Covid-19. Dr Pradeep Baruah, the chief advisor at Tocklai Tea Research Institute, Jorhat, has stated that Assam tea is the best means to boost immunity in human body. He said, Assam tea contains more polyphenols property than any other tea in the world. The Theaflavins ingredient which is excessive in Assam tea helps to boost up our immune system. Bidyananda Borkatoky, the Chief Advisor of 'The North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) said that by drinking black tea frequently, we can boost up our immune system to fight against the pandemic covid-19. It is very essential to strengthen our immune system in the midst of current corona crisis. He said that they have ample scientific evidence that Assam tea can be regarded as a prime source of immune booster. He also stated that they have submitted all relevant scientific proof to the chief minister of Assam that Assam tea contains all those ingredients that are required to boost up human immune system. He has also disclosed that appeal has been made to the AYUSH Ministry to recognise Assam tea as immune booster in ‘AYUSH Immune Booster’ list. The main slogan of NETA is 'Drink tea, boost immunity'.

If Assam tea is recognized as a source of immunity booster by the AYUSH ministry, more than one lac small tea growers in Assam will be benefitted. The proposal of NETA therefore  deserves sympathetic consideration of the Government..