Combating Second Wave of Covid 19 via Boosting immunity by drinking black tea and adopting ICT strategies

Combating Second Wave of Covid 19 via Boosting immunity by drinking black tea and adopting ICT strategies

Last updated on November 30th, 2020 at 05:42 pm

Since the Spanish flu infected close to a third of then the global population a century ago, not even the First and Second World War could bring about an enormous tragedy on the human race until the COVID 19 pandemic hit all corners of the Planet Earth. The New Corona Virus cases are already racing towards the 50 Million mark and the death toll exceeding 1.2 Million people with just the Second Wave of the pandemic beginning or if at all spreading all over the world like a wild fire aided by the natural wind. The pearl of the Indian ocean; tropical and mystic island of Sri Lanka is blessed with abundance of rich culture and fertile nature, rain forest, daily direct sunlight of at least 6-7 hours throughout the year, resulting in a conducive climate, soil and weather ideal for growing tea.

Sri Lanka in entirety and the tea industry in particular overcame the First Wave of the COVID 19 during the 2nd Quarter of 2020 with admirable success. The immediate transformation from an “outcry system” to an online electronic Colombo Tea Auction after more than 125 years and the continuation of the total value chain mechanism from the growing, plucking, manufacturing, selling at the weekly auctions, blending and packaging, and finally marketing and exporting branded, packeted or bulk form during the lockdown by re-positioning the tea industry and its export process as an essential service paved away the day for “Ceylon Tea”. Though the tea crop has declined over 10% owing to a number of reasons, the tea prices fetched at the Colombo Tea Auction has in fact appreciated by about 15% up to end of September 2020 vis-a-vis same period of last year from Rs 542 per kilo to Rs 624 per kilo.

Today, the World has reached a crucial milestone where every nation is searching for human immunity boosting methods to counter the Corona Virus infection until an effective vaccination is introduced to the global masses. In that context, drinking warm beverages and inhaling hot vapour is generally believed to be helpful in curbing viral infection. This is where the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka (TRI) knowingly reviewed the available literature on “Theaflavins in Black Tea” together with the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) and concluded Black Tea may be helpful in controlling and flushing out the viruses. The TRI has released a scientific publication under the topic “Antiviral properties of Tea” where it is noted that drinking Black Tea helps to fight viruses. In a recent study in Taiwan, Theaflavin was selected as the prime candidate for developing an inhibitor for virus, SARS-CoV-2 which is structurally similar to COVID 19. Though it is not proven clinically, many ethno-pharmacological studies have revealed that regular consumption of Black Tea boost immunity leading to prevention of COVID 19. Moreover, an alkaloid found in tea Theophylline, is a proven drug in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases. It contributes to relaxation and opening of bronchial tree or air passages in the lungs, making it easier to breathe. Besides, the preventive and curative effects of black tea, and/or tea polyphenol, Catechins blended with Theaflavins of tea on influenza virus disease has received an international patent, several studies have demonstrated the potential benefits of tea in controlling influenza and common cold generally caused by influenza viral infections and also tea Catechins have the ability to bind to spikes on the surface of the influenza virus and inhibit viral adsorption onto the host cell surface. In addition, Tea Catechins, ECG and EGCG have been reported to be powerful antagonists of human immune-deficiency virus. It is also revealed that antioxidants and L-Theanine in tea enhance immune system of humans, the antibacterial properties of tea, as well as the vitamins and mineral products therein, synergize the immune system.

The Sri Lanka Tea Board opined that frequent consumption of hot Black Tea (without sugar and milk) and inhaling the tea fumes is supportive of flushing viruses trapped in the throat and nasal area. This reaction helps in improving the immune capacity and inhibiting inflammation due to Catechins and Polyphenols contained in Black Tea.
From the foregoing, it is clear daily tea consumption is well linked to continual boosting or priming one’s innate ability in fighting diseases by assisting and strengthening one’s own immune system. It could be hypothesized through the above literature review on therapeutic effects of tea and its known mechanisms of action on influenza viruses, that RNA viruses including corona family viruses could be relieved by Theophylline in tea while multiplication would be curtailed by Theaflavin, assisting body to boost its own immune system. The fact that Theaflavin has emerged as a promising candidate to inhibit RdRp activity in the SARS-CoV-2 augers well in the search for a therapeutic agent against COVID-19 pandemic though information on antiviral and pharmacological activity of Back Tea against SARS-CoV-2 is yet to establish. In conclusion, it is evidently advisable to have a few cup of tea during the day to boost your own immune system.
In this connection, the Sri Lanka Tea industry stakeholders have moved rapidly towards online meetings, lively discussions and working group sessions with the international clientele through Virtual Platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom conferences. All promotional campaigns for Ceylon Tea for the future are being focused through digital and social media against the backdrop of a pandemic lockdown in many global destinations. Utilizing the power of social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, We chat etc. through an identified panel of Influences, Bloggers, Authentic Opinion Makers and a few Celebrities Ceylon Tea clips, videos, messages, electronic banners etc. are to be aired within the Global Campaign. It will be reinforced through Search Engines Marketing availing Google, Yandex, Baidu and other effective digital media as per the respective countries in operation. This strategy is to be combined with other necessary upgrades on the supply chain mechanism.
A joint publication from TRISL and SLTB

Hon. State Minister for Plantations Mr Kanaka Herath visited the Tea Research Institute at Talawakelle on 17th October 2020

Hon. State Minister for Plantations Mr Kanaka Herath visited the Tea Research Institute at Talawakelle on 17th October 2020

Hon. State Minister for Plantations Mr Kanaka Herath visited the Tea Research Institute at Talawakelle, on 17th October 2020. During his visit, he explored the potential for imparting the technologies on tea cultivation and processing to tea stakeholders, with the aim of enhancing their productivity and the profitability. He also visited the St. Coombs Tea Factory and the research laboratories of TRI, to familiarize with the innovations and new technological developments in tea research sector. Participating in the discussion, the State Minister mentioned that he was pleased to visit the world’s second oldest tea research institute and to be able to share the knowledge with veterans and scholars of the tea industry.

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Guideline on Prevention & Control of Spread of COVID-19 in Tea Plantation

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Last updated on August 18th, 2020 at 10:29 am

Free Distribution of Wheat flour among Estate Labourer Families

Free Distribution of Wheat flour among Estate Labourer Families

Last updated on August 12th, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka of the Ministry of Plantations Industries and Export Agriculture obtained three metric tonnes of wheat flour free of charge thru kind courtesy of Lanka Sathosa of the Ministry of Internal Trade, Food Security and Consumer Welfare for distribution free of charge, as a relief dry ration package, to labourer families residing in the two estates at Talawakelle & Karapincha, Ratnapura.

This has been initiated by the Ministry of Internal Trade, Food Security and Consumer Welfare & Lanka Sathosa thru kind courtesy of Wheat Flour suppliers, as a relief measure to tide over food shortages that may occur among low income estate workers who have lost their daily earnings, due to stoppage of routine work in the estate sector due to Covid 19 outbreak.

This timely kind gesture by Lanka Sathosa, immediately after Sinhala & Tamil new year was a great relief to the low-income families of St. Coombs estate, Talawakelle and St. Joachim estate, Ratnapura as both the areas were also affected by the recent drought which also curtailed their daily earnings.

The 3 kg packs of wheat flour for each family were given, among 632 families at St. Coombs estate, Talawakelle and 264 families at St. Joachim estate, Ratnapura and the balance quantity is to be distributed among low income families in the tea gardens at TRI regional centres at Kandy, Passara, Kottawa and Deniyaya. The smiling faces of the families who received the relief packages were in gratitude to all those who extended this courtesy to them in the hour of their need for as the old saying goes friend in need is friend indeed!.

St. Joachim Estate, Ratnapura

St. Coombs Estate, Talawakelle

The Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka too joins them in expressing its gratitude to CEO Lanka Sathosa Mr. Dushmantha Totawatta, who initiated and coordinated this kind gesture to a successful completion, which benefitted low income families of Estate sector in their hour of need whilst being neck deep in his busy schedule of supplying essential foods to all, during the new year season.

Guideline on Measures to be Adopted following in Tea Lands following a Drought

Guideline on Measures to be Adopted following in Tea Lands following a Drought

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Helpdesk Contact Details

Helpdesk Contact Details

Last updated on August 18th, 2020 at 10:31 am

Antiviral properties of tea: Black Tea may become the unique brew of choice with no side effects to fight against Corona virus?

Antiviral properties of tea: Black Tea may become the unique brew of choice with no side effects to fight against Corona virus?

Last updated on July 22nd, 2020 at 09:25 am

An outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)) (1) has been reported in more than 195 countries across 6 continents as of today.

Various attempts have been made across the globe, in search of therapeutic options exploring antiviral agents, to treat patients affected by COVID-19. In a recent study in Taiwan, antiviral activity of traditional Chinese medicinal compounds were screened for SARS-CoV-2 (2) where they screened chemical structures of 64 compounds through a molecular docking study focusing on an important therapeutic target, namely the RNA- dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), an important protease that catalyzes the replication of RNA from RNA template. If that can be blocked, by another molecule, SARS-CoV-2 would not multiply in the epithelial cells of the humans was the logic behind the experiment. Preliminary results suggest that out of the 64 compounds studied, Theaflavin was selected as the prime candidate for developing a SARS-CoV-2 inhibitor targeting RdRp. However, results are yet to be confirmed, in vivo studies before they could be translated into clinical benefits. Theaflavins are antioxidant polyphenols that are formed during enzymatic oxidation process in the manufacture of black tea. In the black tea manufacturing process this is commonly referred to as the "fermentation". It is the black tea which is rich in Theaflavin in contrast to green tea due to the difference in manufacturing process.

Figure 1- Black tea; A source of compounds known as Catechins, Caffeine, Flavonoids etc.

In addition, the other chemicals available in tea viz. catechins, methylxanthines (caffeine, theophylline and theobromine) have shown antiviral activity in previous studies. Here, we wish to highlight on the potential of black tea as a rich source of antiviral compounds, as seen from literature already published elsewhere in this context. The broad-spectrum of antiviral activity of compounds found in Tea against several influenza viruses has been demonstrated in those studies which suggest that tea might be a promising source of antiviral compounds in the prevention and therapeutic aspects against influenza and that group of viruses; however, information on antiviral activity of back tea against SARS-CoV-2 is not clear yet but the fact that Theaflavin has emerged as a promising candidate to inhibit RdRp activity in the SARS-CoV-2 augers well in the search for a therapeutic agent against COVID-19 pandemic. Tea is the cheapest most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. While it has little nutritional value per se, good tea is refreshing, mildly stimulating, gives a feeling of well-being including proven health benefits. Health benefits attributed to tea consumption have been known dating back almost 5000 years since the beginning of this practice in historic times. The major chemical compounds which play a pivotal role in determining the health benefits of tea include catechins, alkaloids (caffeine, theobromine and theophylline), amino acids, volatile compounds, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, inorganic elements and organic acids. Black Tea is particularly rich in polyphenols including six primary catechins compounds namely Catechin(C), Gallocatechin(GC), Epicatechin(EC), Epigallocatechin(EGC), Epicatechin gallate(ECG) and Epigallocatechin gallate(EGCG) and di- and poly-meric catechins viz. Theaflavins (TF) and Thearubigins (TR) respectively. Observational and clinical studies have shown that the chemical constituents in tea play an important role in contributing to overall human health (3,4,5). Many epidemiological studies have shown that regular consumption of tea is associated with lowering, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, incidence of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The major chemical constituent found in black tea is polyphenols, particularly the flavonoids that have been reported to possess antioxidant, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-tumour and antiviral activities (3). Alkaloid found in tea is Theophylline, a proven drug in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases. It relaxes and opens bronchial tree or air passages in the lungs, making it easier to breathe. Tea catechins, ECG and EGCG have been reported to be powerful antagonists of human immune-deficiency virus (5). The preventive and curative effects of black tea, and/or tea polyphenol, catechins blended with Theaflavins of tea on influenza virus disease has received an international patent (6). The above- mentioned active component compounds can deactivate the activities of hem-agglutinin and neuraminidase and can prevent infection of influenza virus to cells. By treating virus or cells with the above-mentioned compounds, the infection-preventive effect is shown. In addition, the effect is not limited as in vaccines because antigenicity is not utilized (6). Several studies have demonstrated the potential benefits of tea in controlling influenza and common cold generally caused by influenza viral infections. Tea catechins have the ability to bind to spikes on the surface of the influenza virus and inhibit viral adsorption onto the host cell surface. Studies show Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) of both black and green tea extracts inhibit infectivity of influenza virus (7, 8). Epidemiological studies conducted in Japan prove that daily intake of green tea reduces the incidence of influenza in adults and elementary school children (9,10). Interestingly, gargling with green tea extracts has been recommended as a preventive measure for influenza in some districts in Japan. The traditional knowledge has been confirmed by scientific studies demonstrating similar effects with black tea (11). Research has shown that antioxidants and L-Theanine in tea enhance immune system of humans, the former binds free radicals negating their effect while the latter primes the response of an immune system element called the gamma-delta T cell. In addition, the antibacterial properties of tea, as well as the vitamins and mineral products therein, synergize the immune system (4). When the immune system is strengthen by such mechanisms, tissue and cell repair are enhanced in such a way that the body regains its innate ability to resist invading microorganisms without succumbing to diseases caused by them From the foregoing it is clear, that daily tea consumption is very well linked to continual boosting or priming one`s innate ability in fighting diseases by assisting and strengthening one`s own immune system. It may be hypothesized through a literature review on therapeutic effects of tea and its known mechanisms of action on influenza viruses, that RNA viruses would be no exception including corona family of viruses which cause respiratory distress which could be relieved by Theophylline in tea while the multiplication would be curtailed by Theaflavin assisting the body to boost its own immune system which will keep microbes at bay. Information on antiviral, pharmacological activity, of back tea against SARS-CoV-2 is not clear yet but the fact that Theaflavin has emerged as a promising candidate to inhibit RdRp activity in the SARS-CoV-2 augers well in the search for a therapeutic agent against COVID-19 pandemic.

References

  1. Lung J, et al. (2020) The potential chemical structure of anti-SARS-CoV-2 RNA- dependent RNA polymerase. J Med Virol. ;1-5. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25761
  2.  Guangdi Li and Erik De Clercq (2020) Therapeutic options for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Nature Rev. Drug Discovery Vol 19 :149 -150
  3. McKay, D L et al. (2011) Teas, tisanes and health. Teas, cocoa and coffee: plant secondary metabolites and health: 99-142.
  4. Sharangi, A B (2009) Medicinal and therapeutic potentialities of tea (Camellia sinensis L.) -A review. Food Res Int. 42.5-6: 529-535.
  5. Hamilton-Miller, J M (1995) Antimicrobial properties of tea (Camellia sinensis L.). Antimicrobial agents and Chemotherapy 39.11: 2375.
  6. Shimamura, T. and Y. Hara. (1991). Preventive and curative medicament against infection with influenza virus, containing tea or tea polyphenols. European patent EP 417385 A2.
  7. Nakayama et al. (1994) Inhibition of the infectivity of influenza virus by black tea extract. J Jpn Assoc Infect Dis 21: 824-829
  8. Nakayama et al. (1993) Inhibition of the infectivity of influenza virus by tea polyphenoles. Antiviral Res 21: 589-299
  9. Matsumoto K et al. (2011) Effects of green tea catechins and thaeanine on preventing influenza among healthcare workers; A Randomized control trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 11:15
  10. Park M et al. (2011) Green tea consumption is inversely associated with the incidences of influenza among schoolchildren in tea plantation area of Japan. J Nutr 141: 1862-1870
  11. Iwata M et al. (1997) prophylactic effect of black tea extract as gargle against influenza. J Jpn Assoc Infect Dis 71: 487-494
 

Acknowledgment

Authors wish to acknowledge the contributions made by Dr M W N Dharmawardene, Chairman, Tea Research Board for editing the manuscript critically, incorporating technical points where necessary and improving the flow of reading.

Authors

  Dr. Nelum Piyasena, Senior Research Officer, Biochemistry Division   Dr. Mahasen A B Ranatunga, Principal Research Officer, Plant Breeding Division   Dr. L S K Hettiarachchi, Director, Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka  

Report on climate change vulnerability and adaptation strategies for tea plantations released

A comprehensive report on the impacts of climate change, vulnerability and adaptation strategies for the tea sector in Sri Lanka was officially released at the FAO-IGG on tea meeting held during May 25-27 at Naivasha, Kenya.� This book was written jointly by the scientists of the working group on climate change representing India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and China as a report of the FAO-IGG on tea. Dr.M.A.Wijeratne, Senior Research Officer and Officer in Charge of the Tea Research Institute, Low country Regional Center contributed to the chapter from Sri Lanka and other authors were Dr. RM Bhagat, India, Dr. John K Bore, Kenya and Dr. Wenyan Han, China. The first copy of the report was handed over to Mr. Kaison Chang, the Secretary, Intergovernmental Group on Tea. This report highlights the present status of the tea industry, tea growing regions and their climatic conditions, climate trends, impacts of climate change and vulnerable regions and most appropriate adaptation strategies to minimize adverse impacts. Additionally, some implications and barriers for adopting to climate change and policy interventions required have also been listed in the report. The report reveals that warmer regions with poor soil conditions are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Tea lands at high elevations are projected to be benefited by rising ambient CO2 levels and temperatures. As a result tea cultivations in many countries are projected to be shifted to higher altitudes. When tea growing regions of Sri Lanka are considered, low country region where the largest number of smallholdings are scatted are projected to be highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Of the proposed adaptation strategies, selecting most suitable agro-ecological regions with good soil conditions for tea cultivation (replanting and expansion), crop diversification to reduce risk of mono-cropping, use of a basket of cultivars incorporating drought, pest and disease tolerant tea cultivars in addition to those of high yield potential, soil and soil moisture conservation and improvement, proper establishment and management of shade trees, rainwater harvesting and irrigation, judicious use of chemical fertilizers and afforestation are given high priority. Additionally, the report emphasize the need for policy interventions in the areas of strengthening R&D institutes and their extension arms to conduct further assessments on climate change impacts, develop technologies applicable to different regions and farm sizes and conduct awareness programmes, providing guidance and financial assistance for climate change adaptation and mitigation (reduce Green House Gas emissions and increase Carbon sequestration) strategies, nature conservation and eco-tourism, establishment of national and international network on climate change to share knowledge and technologies, investments on field infrastructure development such as drainage system, irrigation system, road network and ecosystem diversity to improve level of adaptability of tea growers to climate change and introducing crop insurance schemes to minimize the impacts on tea growers and other stakeholders.

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