In recent decades, research has surfaced showing that there could be a link between the consumption of oolong tea and the alleviation of certain skin conditions including eczema. The extent to which this hypothesis holds water, is still the topic of ongoing investigation and debate.
Eczema, or dermatitis, is inflammation of the skin. It is frequently characterized by itchy, erythematous , vesicular, weeping, and crusting patches. It usually shows up as a red rash on the surface of the body. The precise cause of eczema remains unknown, though it has been theorized that the condition is caused by a dysfunctional interplay between the immune system and skin.
It has been observed that oolong tea contains high levels of antioxidants. Compounds such as Catechins, Thearubigin and Theaflavin are all present. It has been suggested in a Japanese study that the anti – allergy activity of the polyphenol compounds found in oolong tea may have played a role in the improvements observed in test subject’s symptoms after drinking the tea.
In the aforementioned Japanese study, attempts were made to find the effects of oolong tea on recalcitrant atopic Eczema. The study had 121 participants , and 118 of those participants completed the study. 74 patients out of the total 118 showed marked to moderate improvement after 1 month of treatment, with 64 patients still showing improvements after 6 months. The methodology itself was rather simple, while staying on their standard treatments for AD (Atopic Dermatitis), the subjects were instructed to make oolong tea from 10g tea bags and steep them in 1,000 ml of water for 5 minutes. This amount was then divided into 3 servings, one of which was drunk after 3 regular meals daily. Photographs of the lesion sites were then taken at baseline and at the 1 month period and the 6 month period. The results were then assessed on a Lickert – like scale consisting of 6 points total. The conclusion implicated the polyphenol compounds that were mentioned earlier.
Tea polyphenols can suppress inflammations from all types of causes. When the skin has been exposed to excessive UV light this can cause eczema. Use of Tea polyphenols 30 minutes before or after UV light exposure can reduce back eczema by 70 – 80 percent. It is thought that increased NO synthetase activity is related to inflammatory responses. Tea ployphenols suppress Tissue Plasminogen activator induced NO synthetase increase in Sencar mice skin, thus preventing the occurrence of inflammations. Ingestion of oolong tea extracts can also suppress carrageenan induced hind paw inflammations, which is due to the suppression of carrageenan induced synthesis of Prostaglandin in rat tissue.
Tea polyphenols also have an suppressive effect on skin allergic reactions due to various causes. An allergic reaction is an immune system reaction, after an allergen enters the body, it stimulates the organism to produce a mainly immunoglobulin based immune response. Causing histamine, Prostaglandin, Leukotriene, and several peptide type inflammation mediators to be released. The allergic reaction consist of four types. Histamine is an important mediator of the commonly seen I type allergic reaction. First of all, Tea polyphenols suppress chemical substance induced allergic reactions. Green tea, Oolong tea, red tea, ECG (epicatechin-3-gallate), EGC (epigallocatechin), EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) can suppress passive cutaneous anaphylaxis reaction. The IC50s are, respectively, 149, 185, 153, 162, 80, 87 mg/kg. The suppressive effects of EGC, EGCG, when compared with commonly used anti – allergic drug, Tranilast (IC50 119 mg/kg) is stronger, indicating that tea polyphenols have a significant protective effect on type I allergic reactions. Tea polyphenols also has an excellent suppressive effect against picryl – chloride induced contact dermatitis. EGCG in 200 mg/kg doses is already an effective suppressant of PC – CD allergic reactions, intravenous injections using EGCG is 10 times more effective than mouth ingestion. Sugiyama utilized EC, EGC, EGCG against chemical compound 48/80 induction of rat mast cell histamine release, the results showed that 0.15 – 15 mg/ml EGC and EGCG can strongly suppress histamine release, ECG, EGC, EGCG at 60 percent inhibiting concentration has a suppressive effect that is respectively 2, 8, and 10 times stronger than currently commonly used anti – allergic medication Tranilast. Tea polyphenols suppression of Histamine release can prevent allergic reactions from taking place. Therefore, it can be seen that tea and its active ingredients should be effective in the treatment of Type I and Type IV allergic disorders.
Tea in general contains high phenolic content, which includes phenols and polyphenols, such as catechins, theaflavins, tannins, and flavonoids. Catechins, in particular, constitute about 25 percent of the dry weight of fresh tea leaf, and oolong tea is no exception.
Although there is currently a paucity of scientific studies demonstrating the evidence of oolong tea’s ability to heal eczema, there have been many individual reviews that are favorable, some even claim that drinking oolong tea made their eczema go away, for good. After reviewing many such accounts, it appears that this kind of solution is best suited for those with mild, but recalcitrant forms of eczema. With little to no side effects, low cost, and a chance at a cure or at least alleviation of symptoms, I don’t see why one shouldn’t try oolong tea as a potential treatment for eczema.