Kangra tea can boost immunity against COVID-19, claims HP lab scientist

'Polyphenols in the tea more effective against the virus than anti-HIV drugs'

Kangra tea can boost immunity against COVID-19, claims HP lab scientist

Photo for representational purpose only.

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23

Chemicals in Kangra tea could be effective in boosting immunity as they can block coronavirus activity better than anti-HIV drugs, claimed scientists at the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh.

The claim comes even as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – in the revised protocol – is likely to replace hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) with anti-HIV drugs to improve immunity and possibly reduce viral replication.

Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director, IHBT, discussed the benefits of Kangra tea for society and industry, medicinal properties of the tea for human health and the technologies developed and transferred by the IHBT for combating COVID-19 during a webinar organised at the institute on the occasion of International Tea Day.

“Using computer-based models, scientists screened 65 bio-active chemicals, called polyphenols, which could bind to a specific viral protein more efficiently than commercially available anti-HIV drugs approved for treating COVID-19 patients. These chemicals might block the activity of the viral protein that helps the virus to thrive inside human cells,” said Dr Kumar.

He added that tea catechins production process has been transferred to a private pharmaceuticals firm and ready to serve teas and tea wines, which could be game changer for Kangra tea.

Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.

Technology for production of ‘tea vinegar’, which has anti-obesity properties, was also transferred on Saturday by the IHBT to a company based in Dharmsala.

In addition, herbal green and black teas blended with AYUSH-recommended herbs were also launched, which the IHBT scientists claim can be useful for boosting immunity against COVID-19.

The IHBT, a constituent laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has also produced and supplied the alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing tea extract and natural aromatic oils through its technology partners.

The institute has also developed herbal soap with tea extract and natural saponins but without sodium compounds. This soap provides anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, cleansing and moisturising benefits. The soap is being produced and marketed by two companies based in Himachal Pradesh.

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