Drunk commonly in many different parts of Asia, green tea has many health benefits. Green tea is said to improve memory, reduce stress, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. However, green tea may cause a green tea allergy in some people.
A Brief Background
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology examined 11 workers at a Japanese green tea factory who had symptoms of asthma and nasal allergies. These allergies were caused due to green tea and mainly because of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), a potent polyphenol component of it. Such candidates only inhaled green tea dust. In order to experiment, 5 of these candidates drank green tea on top of inhaling it, and since they developed a food allergy, the results suggested that green tea was the culprit.
Consumption of food substances such as noodles or cakes that had some amounts of green tea or powder also worsened the condition of these candidates.
Green Tea Allergy Symptoms
Some of the green tea allergy symptoms include the following:
- Itchy or runny nose
- Teary eyes
- Itchy mouth
- Hives on the skin
- Itchy skin
- Swollen face
- A feeling of discomfort
Some other side-effects of green tea include:
- Headaches/dizziness: some people may experience a headache after drinking green tea and that may be a result of the caffeine content in green tea
- Sleeplessness: Drinking too much green tea may disrupt your sleeping pattern.
- It can cause iron deficiency. The tannin content in green tea does not allow the blood to absorb iron efficiently, so even if your diet contains iron-rich foods, green tea may cause you to become iron-deficient.
Green Tea Components
Green tea is a non-herbal tea and it is made from the cooked camellia Sinensis plant. It contains different components that may cause an allergic reaction. Some of these allergy-causing symptoms include theanine, caffeine, and tannins. The content of these components depends upon many factors, such as how old the tea tree was, what part of the world it was grown in and the conditions provided for its growth, and its processing and brewing.
The average amount of caffeine per 230 ml or 8 oz. serving varies from 30 and 50 mg. As compared to other drinks such as black tea, espresso, or instant coffee, green tea contains comparatively fewer amounts of caffeine. Caffeine is widely consumed and does not harm your health if consumed in small amounts. However, high quantities of caffeine in the blood may lead to dizziness, restlessness, anxiety, or experiencing insomnia.
It is best to not have high amounts of caffeine in one go and instead leave some time until your next cup. Since green tea contains only a limited amount of caffeine, caffeine usually does not show its side effects due to green tea consumption.
Another component in the green tea composition is the amino acid theanine. Theanine is good for health if consumed in moderate amounts and has many health benefits. It acts as an anxiety and stress reliever, helps lower blood pressure, strengthens the body’s immune system, and is also used to treat tumors or cancers. However, some manufacturers may alter the theanine content, and since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not handle the supplement, the component may adversely affect health.
For example, even though theanine has proved to treat tumors, nonherbal teas like green tea may have some other amino acids that hinder the treatment of cancers. The most potent polyphenol in green tea, EGCG (also a type of tannin), can potentially decrease the effect of bortezomib, a chemotherapy drug.
Tannins are commonly known as tannic acid and are a group of polyphenols in teas like green tea. They have some benefits, such as increasing the rate of blood clotting and reducing blood pressure levels. However, foods having tannins do not have a high nutritional value as they reduce growth in the body and decrease energy mobilization and protein digestion.
Since tannins irritate the digestive tract, they lead to issues related to digestion, such as diarrhea and stomach aches. Some reports suggest that tannins or the processes and components associated with tannins may also lead to carcinogenic activity in the body.
Diagnosing a Green Tea Allergy
If you experience any of the green tea allergy symptoms, visit your healthcare provider or allergist immediately so he may diagnose you and treat you accordingly. Your healthcare provider will ask you about your past medical and family history.
Green tea affects the way iron gets absorbed into the body, so if you are on iron supplements, tell your provider about it. Your provider may also examine you physically and perform a few tests to check for allergies. Most doctors use an oral food test to diagnose a green tea allergy. Others may also carry out a blood test to check for allergies, such as a radioallergosorbent test (RAST).
Allergies in the body activate the immune system to produce antibodies to fight off the allergens. In a RAST test, technicians check the number of antibodies in your blood to determine what type of allergy you have. However, testing for green tea allergy using a RAST test needs some work on it.
Treating a Green Tea Allergy
The best and most direct solution to treat a green tea allergy is to remove it from your diet completely. You should also avoid matcha, black, or oolong tea since these teas are also made from the same plant, and have tannin, caffeine, and theanine contents. Some people find it hard to let go of habits and cannot easily stop themselves from its consumption. Such people should look for other alternatives such as herbal teas or pomegranate and beet juice.
To combat green tea allergy symptoms such as skin reactions like hives, swelling, and nausea, a physician may assign you antihistamines. An EpiPen is assigned to those who have anaphylaxis due to an intense allergy and helps with epinephrine treatment.
Risks and Complications
- If you are pregnant, it is best to avoid green tea since the caffeine content will not allow your baby to sleep properly. It may also reduce your baby’s
- People with ulcers in their stomach lining should avoid green tea since it will only make it worse.
- If you are on chemotherapy, consult your doctor about green tea consumption.
- Since green tea contains caffeine which is a stimulant and may increase anxiety or increase the risk of issues related to the heart, children under 12 years of age should not consume it.
- Some people are sensitive to caffeine and may experience irritability, uneasiness, or restlessness after green tea consumption due to the caffeine content. These people are recommended to avoid green tea.
See Also: Alpha-Gal Allergy
Green tea comes with many benefits, and its consumption all around the world is proof of its advantages. However, the components in green tea, such as caffeine and tannins may have adverse effects, which is why green tea consumption should be limited. Even though a green tea allergy is rare, if you experience any of the green tea allergy symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately. We at Family Medicine Austin, have the facilities to diagnose allergies and help you with a follow-up treatment to ensure the quality of your life.