Adding to the list of its already known health benefits, modern science is coming to find chemicals found in Green Tea may also show promise for slowing the degradation of immune cells caused by HIV. The immune cells that HIV attacks are the T-cells produced by the thyroid gland. These cells are often referred to as “Generals” because they lead other immune cells to the areas of the body that require resistance or repair from pathogens.
When left untreated, HIV can virtually wipe out the bodies supply and ability to produce T-cells thereby leaving it susceptible to other disease causing viruses and bacteria. Eventually this leads to Advanced Immune Deficiency Syndrome, otherwise known as AIDS. A person with advanced AIDS can die of the virus that causes the common cold because without immune protection there is a quick proliferation of the virus cells throughout the lungs which can cause pneumonia. Virtually any disease is a potential killer for a person with advanced HIV or AIDS without the proper medications.
Dr. Kuzushige Kawai at the University of Tokyo is one of a handful of scientists who have taken an interest in the implications of Green Tea for treatment of HIV. Most specifically it is the Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) scientists are interested in. This is the same chemical compound that has been linked with lower rates of heart disease, stroke, lowered cholesterol, managing diabetes, and better liver health.
What Dr. Kawai found in lab tests was that the EGCG found in Green Tea prevented the virus from bonding to CD4 molecules in healthy T-cells, by bonding with them before the virus.
Another study conducted at the Laboratory of Viral Oncology in Nagoya, Japan found EGCG inhibits HIV’s replication. These results insinuate Green Tea may be an eradicator of the virus already existing in cells or at the very least a “cooler” of sorts, keeping the virus latent. HIV is different than other viruses because even when it is latent in a host cell its genetic encoding transfers upon cell division which means all new cells are infected. The possibility that Green Tea can induce cell apoptosis (self-programmed cell death) in infected cells shows the most promise because infected cells will cease replicating thus ending the cycle of life for the virus. This along with the elimination of potential host T-Cells makes Green Tea a potent natural elixir to help fight against HIV.
The amount of EGCG used in the experiments regarding HIV is far higher than those found in typical store bought Green Tea, and it is not yet known if these levels in the blood serum could be toxic. However, Green Tea is plentiful and found all over the world whereas the engineered pharmaceuticals currently being utilized to treat HIV can be expensive and hard to obtain. Green Tea offers a ray of hope for the people suffering from HIV across the globe. More resources need to be put forward for Green Tea research to discover what the ultimate implications are for HIV patients.