Don't Believe This Myth About Green Tea And COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists across the globe, people continue to look for cures wherever they can. This search has included the latest trendy "miracle cure," green tea.

COVID-19 has caused an unimaginable 5.7 million deaths worldwide, including around 900,000 in the United States (via Worldometers). So, as exciting as an easy-to-find, inexpensive, and "natural" cure for the unrelenting pandemic would be, the science just isn't there.

The idea of green tea as a cure for COVID came about in 2021 after a lab study found that an ingredient in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), blocked the SARS-CoV-2 virus from binding to receptors in human lung cells (via Medical News). But there's a long distance between lab studies on lung cells and determining whether green tea works in humans to prevent or cure COVID-19. Because the study didn't include a human trial, the researchers concluded that clinical evaluations would be needed to evaluate the real-world effectiveness of green tea as an antiviral.

Separately, a group of researchers from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania took a look at the scientific literature surrounding green tea and its medicinal uses. Those hoping green tea might be the answer to the pandemic will, unfortunately, be disappointed.

Green tea has health benefits, but doesn't seem to cure viral infection

The researchers at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology specifically wondered: Is there any evidence in the wide body of existing medical literature to show that supplementation with green tea extract could have any therapeutic value in curing bacterial or viral infections of any kind? The answer, unfortunately, was "no" (via Bentham Science).

Newswise summed up a study from Harrisburg University stating: "...currently, there is no conclusive evidence that green tea extract is appropriate to treat any infectious disease (including COVID-19)." Moreover, the researchers point out that in large doses, some of the ingredients in green tea have been shown to interfere with certain prescription medications. 

That doesn't mean you should stop enjoying green tea in reasonable amounts. Many love green tea because it's a soothing and enjoyable drink. Moreover, green tea has been shown to provide health benefits. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are well documented (via Healthline), even if green tea does not cure infections, including SARS-CoV-2.

A January 2022 study published in Clinical Nutrition Open Science found that people who drank four cups of green tea daily were less likely to test positive for COVID-19, but the reduction was not statistically significant.

On the other hand, what have been proven to help prevent COVID infection, hospitalization, and death are vaccines, masking, and distancing (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). So enjoy your green tea and its health benefits. Just don't count on it to cure COVID.