Tea contains a substance that might be turned into a drug to protect against diseases.
"We worked out the molecular aspects of this tea component in the test tube and then tested it on a small number of people to see if it actually worked in human beings," said Dr. Jack F. Bukowski, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School. According to the results, it proved that five cups of tea a day sharpened the body's disease defenses.
In the study, Bukowski and his co-authors isolated from ordinary black tea a substance called L-theanine. L-theanine is broken down in the liver to ethylamine, a molecule that mainly contributes to the response of an immune system element - gamma-delta T cell.
Bukowski added that these gamma-delta T cells in the blood are the first line of defense against many types of bacteria, viral, fungal and parasitic infections. They also have some anti-tumor activity. The T-cells prompt the secretion of interferon, a key part of the body's chemical defense against infection. Therefore it may be possible to refine L-theanine from tea and use that as a drug to boost the infection defense of the body.
The health effects of tea have been extensively studied since then. It has been linked to lower heart disease and cancer risk through the action of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Tea can also help to combat osteoporosis, the brittle bone disease, and to relieve some allergy symptoms.
by Agnes Chin
Loose Leaf TEA Writer
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