After the cold winter, people are ready to enjoy spring. However, this season also comes with pollen, which is bad news if you happen to be allergic to it.
I’m also one of those people, so I take antihistamines in order to feel better. But what if the solution could be as simple as drinking a specific type of tea?
How Allergies Work
Basically, an allergy is an autoimmune response. Although the substance itself may be harmless, such as pollen or animal dander, it’s considered an invader by the allergic person’s body.
When encountering an allergen (substance that generates the allergic response), antibodies specially engineered to fight that allergen are produced. There are different types of antibodies, but the one responsible for allergic reactions is IgE.
IgE antibodies become attached to mast cells, and when there is a second exposure to the allergen, the antibodies identify it and trigger the mast cells into releasing a number of chemicals, one of them being histamine.
Ultimately, high quantities of histamine result in allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose.
Methylated catechins in tea
O-methylated catechins, epigallocatechin-3-O-(3-O-methyl) gallate ( shortened to EGCG”Me) and epicatechin-3-O-(3-O-methyl) gallate ( shortened to ECG3″Me), commonly known as methylated catechins, have been shown to relieve allergy symptoms.
They do so by inhibiting the mast cell response. The recommended dose is 34 mg of methylated catehins in tea per day, and about a month and a half before the pollen season.
However, only specific cultivars have a significant content of this type of catechins: Benihomare, Benifuji, and Benifuuki (which has the highest). Yabukita, the most popular tea cultivar in Japan, doesn’t have any.
Although these cultivars where developed for black tea production, the methylated catechin content is destroyed in the black tea process. Thus, for the anti-allergic effect you need to drink it in green tea form.
The highest concentration is found in mature leaves under the fourth shoot of the first crop, and under the third shoot of the second crop. The stems have a very low amount of methylated catechins, so they should be filtered. The resulting tea is also naturally low in caffeine.