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Japanese Matcha and Loose-leaf Tea for Seasonal and Dietary Allergies

Nicholas Noble | November 07, 2020

When making the decision whether to try a new product, a lot of possible objections come to mind.

For example, someone interested in picking up a new diet strategy might question whether it will conflict with any known allergies, personal preferences, or more.

And when it comes to natural products like herbs, adaptogenic supplements and otherwise, the question of how things may impact any existing sensitivities (or potentially cause one) grows at the forefront of that decision process as well.

Getting Started

Here we’ll review a handful of assuring details for those questioning how Japanese matcha and loose-leaf teas may interact with their body, particularly in light of any existing allergies, questions, and dietary sensitivities.

We’ll also discuss a few surprising findings which speak to whether it’s even reasonable to worry if green tea itself could be an allergen, allowing us to focus on how green tea may actually help allergies!

On that note, below we bring this topic full circle in exploring how the natural compounds in Japanese green teas (e.g. matcha, tencha, sencha, hojicha) may in fact control against common dietary allergies/sensitivities, particularly by aiding the immune-system in how it perceives allergens.

Can you be Allergic to Green Tea?

First let’s cover what allergen concerns green teas may pose on its own – if any – prefacing first with a little known (yet common) cause of dietary allergies which may help put some worries to rest.

Recent research marks the paradigm of how remnant levels of environmental chemicals (e.g. pesticides, more on this below) can be directly involved in the development of allergic responses [1-2].

What causes food allergies?

Of course, it’s recommended to be cautious following any sensitive reaction, but it’s interesting to think, if someone ingests a food product with some unintended residuals, how they may opt to avoid it in the future, even if it wasn’t the raw food or drink to ultimately cause a reaction.

As for green tea, due to its extremely well-tolerated nature (esp. traditional Japanese teas), if you find yourself debating whether to try green tea again in light of some previous reaction, here’s two things to ask yourself:

  • Was your previous experience one with a trustworthy and pure source?
  • Did you rule-out that it may have been a sensitivity (e.g. upset stomach, see below) rather than a true allergy (e.g. hives, swelling, etc)? 

If you answered “No” to either of those questions or if you simply don’t know, then here’s some helpful facts to note:

Is it possible to have a Green Tea allergy?

First, most of the immediate research reporting on “green tea and allergies” actually has to do with beneficial properties (see below) against other common allergies; apparently of those few reported instances of allergic reactions specifically from green tea, they may include individuals who handle green tea occupationally [3-4].

  • An example cited in the research is individuals who may be exposed to chronic green tea dust inhalation at processing facilities, an unlikely scenario for virtually anyone reading this.
  • Another common concern while we’re here is caffeine sensitivity –  Japanese green teas do contain caffeine, but are widely reported as more tolerable than that of other caffeine-sources – likely due to L-theanine content which has anti-caffeine side-effect properties [5].

Allergen Pure Japanese Green Tea?

And secondly, our selection of Japanese Farm-direct teas (matcha and loose-leaf) are always grown pure and without pesticides whether USDA Organic or traditionally-grown (more on that here).

It’s thought by alleviating those common concerns where residual chemicals may pose some reaction (a possibility from less trusted sources), those with a past sensitivity may yet give a second chance via a reliable, high-quality and authentic source

Why Japanese matcha may be best if you’re sensitive to green tea

Furthermore, to wrap-up whether to worry if you have a green tea sensitivity, it’s suggested that sensitivities from green tea (perhaps most commonly upset stomach) may be avoidable in their own right by selecting from more balanced offerings.

  • An example is unlike a low-quality green tea bag which may cause digestive upset, higher quality Japanese green teas (like matcha) are thought to not have that problem
  • Low-quality teas may cause upset stomach most often because of disproportionate levels of tannins and harder-to-stomach compounds
  • Whereas premium, authentic options have instead a more comforting balance of proteins, chlorophyll, amino acids, and vitamins and minerals 

Pro Tip: If you’re still getting any upset stomach from a trusted source of Japanese green tea, try adding a dash of a non-dairy milk of your preference.

How does Green Tea Help Immunity and Dietary Allergens?

Maybe most surprising in this so-far broad discussion, a number of recent research publications have identified natural compounds in premium Japanese teas like matcha and sencha which may actually combat certain root causes behind dietary/environmental allergens.

The research explained below also covers key mechanisms how the unique antioxidants in Japanese green teas may aid against overactive dietary immune responses, including those such as: peanut, milk, wheat, and soy [6].

Keep reading as we include in this analysis how green tea may help against non-dietary allergens, such as environmental particulates triggering asthma and seasonal congestion [7].

What does it mean to have a dietary allergen and how can green tea help

Considering that immune-response is the basic principle behind how we react to allergens of any kind, we’ll learn that it’s feasible that polyphenols like EGCG (found in green tea) may be a safe option to calm immune-sensitivities – whether dietary or environmental [6-7].

Dietary Allergens and Japanese Green Teas

The recent research is pointed first towards dietary allergens, finding that the catechin polyphenols (antioxidants in green tea) may enhance microbial conditions in the gut [6].

The results speak to the possibility that those probiotic changes may reduce likelihoods of allergenic immune flare-ups in the gut [6].

  • This is promising, especially considering that digestion is where immune-responses to food allergens often begin (for the whole-body).

Can Green Tea help Allergic Reactions through the Gut Microbiome?

While it’s not new information per se that green tea polyphenols have potential probiotic properties, the association of this effect with a potential reduction of allergic-response is definitely on the research frontier. 

The mechanism is thought to work like this: daily doses of catechin polyphenols from green tea are reported to increase the probiotic bacteria known as Flavonifractore plautii (FP)

  • Healthier levels of FP were observed to regulate levels of Th1 and Th2 (i.e. immune helper cells) [6].
  • These helper cells work together in somewhat of a ‘ratio’ to keep each other in check.
  • However, certain allergens can trigger their imbalance – giving way to a possible allergic cascade.

How Allergic Reactions occur and how Green Tea May Ease Them

When it comes to common dietary allergies like peanuts, soy, dairy, or wheat – even though the foods may not pose any objective risks – some immune-cells simply may not know better.

On that note, researchers concluded that the boost from green tea helped produce more probiotics, which in-turn raised levels of Th1 to balance out elevated Th2 levels – thus reducing the net immune overactivity [6].

  • In simpler words, the probiotic bacteria worked with the immune cells to help communicate that everything was “ok”, with a hat-tip to green tea. 

Green tea and Environmental Allergens, Asthma, Seasonal Allergies

The study above focused on only one common dietary allergy, but the basics of this finding is most likely to translate to most other dietary allergens.

As we move on, you may find it even more encouraging to note that a daily habit of Japanese green tea may carry similar immune-balancing benefits to non-dietary allergens [7-8].

These include seasonal allergens, environmental irritants, and other manifestations (e.g. eczema, some instances of asthma) [7].

Environmental Allergens and Japanese Green Tea Matcha

Other research expands these details to include potential immune-protections against infection, where certain pathogens/viruses are known to use imbalances in those Th1 and Th2 helper cells to gain foot-hold [8]. 

  • In this case, it’s reported that the two best-known constituents of Japanese green tea (EGCG and L-theanine) both possess balancing properties to those immune helper cells [8-9]
  • Meaning, high-quality green tea may offer broad protections against allergens, certain infections, and overall immune-health.

The Bottom Line – Choosing Traditional Japanese Green Tea to Fight Allergies

If you’re someone who has dietary allergies and/or sensitivities, at the end of the day we hope this research helps you feel confident in the tolerability of trustworthy Japanese Farm-direct Tea.

Maybe that means giving it another try, or feeling more assured in an existing daily-routine of Japanese tea drinking.

Perhaps more importantly, for those considering potential allergy-relief or immune-benefits of green tea, to feel motivated in the wide-spectrum of reported efficacy and safety.

Whether dietary or environmental, it’s notable that high-quality green tea possesses not one, but many health-active compounds reported for possible relief amid a slew of common dietary/seasonal allergies – and even – potentially as immune-boosters against certain infections [3-9]. 

 

-Team Matcha.com 

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References
[1] Shahali, Y., & Dadar, M. (2018). Plant food allergy: Influence of chemicals on plant allergens. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 115, 365-374.
[2] Mallapaty, A., & Miller, R. L. (2018). It's not just the food you eat: Environmental factors in the development of food allergies. Environmental research, 165, 118-124.
[3] Shirai, T., Hayakawa, H., Akiyama, J., Iwata, M., Chida, K., Nakamura, H., ... & Reshad, K. (2003). Food allergy to green tea. Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 112(4), 805.
[4] Otera, H., Tada, K., Sakurai, T., Hashimoto, K., & Ikeda, A. (2011). Hypersensitivity pneumonitis associated with inhalation of catechin-rich green tea extracts. Respiration, 82(4), 388-392.
[5] Unno, K., Furushima, D., Hamamoto, S., Iguchi, K., Yamada, H., Morita, A., ... & Nakamura, Y. (2018). Stress-reducing function of matcha green tea in animal experiments and clinical trials. Nutrients, 10(10), 1468.
[6] Tasuku Ogita et al, “Oral Administration of Flavonifractor plautii Strongly Suppresses Th2 Immune Responses in Mice,” frontiers in Immunology, February 28, 2020
[7] Singh, A., Holvoet, S., & Mercenier, A. (2011). Dietary polyphenols in the prevention and treatment of allergic diseases. Clinical & experimental allergy, 41(10), 1346-1359.
[8] Li, C., Tong, H., Yan, Q., Tang, S., Han, X., Xiao, W., & Tan, Z. (2016). L-Theanine improves immunity by altering TH2/TH1 cytokine balance, brain neurotransmitters, and expression of phospholipase C in rat hearts. Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research
[9] Wu, D., Wang, J., Pae, M., & Meydani, S. N. (2012). Green tea EGCG, T cells, and T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. Molecular aspects of medicine, 33(1), 107-118.

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