Methylated Catechins: A Way to Relieve Allergy Symptoms

Methylated catechins against allergy

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

benifuuki powder for allergyIt’s usual in Japan to drink this tea in powdered form. For the recommended dose, dissolve 1.5 grams of the powdered tea with 200 ml (6.6 oz) of hot water.

Sources:

In vitro and in vivo anti-allergic effects of ‘benifuuki’ green tea containing O-methylated catechin and ginger extract enhancement

O-Methylated Catechins from Tea Leaves Inhibit Multiple Protein Kinases in Mast Cells

Changes in Epigallocatechin-3-O (3-O-methyl) Gallate and Strictinin Contents of Tea Cultivar Benifuuki in Various Degrees of Maturity and Leaf Order

The Efficacy of Early Treatment of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis with Benifuuki Green Tea Containing O-methylated Catechin before Pollen Exposure: An Open Randomized Study

Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Methylated Catechins: A Way to Relieve Allergy Symptoms

  1. lochan says:

    Since Benifuuki has elements of Assamica in it, I wonder if the Assam varieties in South Asia also have high (higher) concentrations of O-methylated catechins if they are made into green teas instead of red teas. That should be an interesting study.

  2. Noli Ergas says:

    Good subject to cover this time of year. There’s a great review article that covers a study showing that drinking teas rich in O-methylated catechin from 6 weeks before allergy season AND through allergy season has the best effects. I’m not sure how easy the article would be to find, but here is the reference: Maeda-Yamamoto, Mari. 2013. Human clinical studies of tea polyphenols in allergy or life style-related diseases. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 19, 6148-6155. You can read the abstract here: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cpd/2013/00000019/00000034/art00009

  3. Noli Ergas says:

    Ricardo,

    I recommend reading that article because it has so much great information on not just allergies, but all different types of health benefits of green tea, and it also compares green tea to oolong and black tea in some cases. Since it is a review article, you may want to hunt down some of the original articles for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>