Can Oolong Tea Cure Eczema?

Tie Guan Yin

Now a worldwide epidemic, Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis causes individuals to have inflamed, itchy, painful and often unsightly rashes – significantly reducing the quality of life. The causes are numerous and vary by individual and the treatments are likewise as imprecise.  The prescription drugs prescribed for eczema have insanely detrimental side effects like bone brittleness, necrotizing angiitis, pulmonary edema, and depression.

The experiment: Can oolong Tea manage the symptoms of eczema?

In 2001, the Department of Dermatology at the Shiga University of Medical Science in Tsukinowa, Japan tested the effectiveness of oolong tea in the treatment of eczema. They tested 118 patients with a stubborn form of atopic dermatitis in an open study. The patients were asked to maintain their dermatological treatment. However, they were also instructed to drink oolong tea made from a 10-g teabag placed in 1000 mL of boiling water and steeped for 5 minutes. This amount was then divided into 3 equal servings and 1 serving was drunk daily after 3 regular meals.

The results

After 1 month of treatment, 63% of the patients showed marked to moderate improvement of their condition. The beneficial effect was first noticed after 1 or 2 weeks of treatment. A good response to treatment was still observed in 54% at 6 months.

The dermatologists concluded the therapeutic effectiveness of oolong tea in treating eczema was due to the anti-allergic properties of tea polyphenols. Polyphenols are micronutrient antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect cells and body chemicals against damage caused by free radicals.

The chemistry of tea

Tea contains high amounts of polyphenol and makes up for 20% of its weight. Extraction of polyphenols can be performed using a solvent like hot water.  The extraction conditions (temperature, extraction time, ratio of solvent to raw material, solvent, and concentrations) have to be optimized to extract the maximum concentration of polyphenols.

The best tea for eczema

Oolong tea comes in many varieties and grades and from several regions.  Oolongs that are closer to a green tea have a very high amount of polyphenols due to less processing – which help the tea maintain more of its polyphenols. Oolongs from the Southern Fujian Province are low to medium oxidized teas, i.e. closer to green tea. One of the most popular styles of this oolong variety is Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy).

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