Background: Methylated catechin, one of the active ingredients in green tea, has been reported to ameliorate allergic reactions. We evaluated the efficacy of 'Benifuuki' green tea, which contains O-methylated epigallocatechin-3-O-[3-O-methyl] gallate (O-methylated EGCG), in alleviating Japanese cedar pollinosis (JCP).
Methods: The study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The subjects with JCP were randomly assigned to drink 700ml of 'Benifuuki' green tea containing O-methylated EGCG or 'Yabukita' green tea (not containing O-methylated EGCG) as a placebo every day from December 2007 through March 2008, which includes the pollen season. The primary outcome was the area under the curve (AUC) of symptom scores during the peak pollen season.
Results: Fifty-one adults with JCP participated in the study. Twenty-six subjects were assigned to 'Benifuuki' and 25 to 'Yabukita'. The AUC of symptom score during the peak pollen season in the 'Benifuuki' group was significantly smaller than in the 'Yabukita' group for each of runny nose, itchy eyes, tearing, total nasal symptom score, total ocular symptom score, nasal symptom-medication score and ocular symptom-medication score. The total QOL-related questionnaire score for one week in the peak pollen season was significantly better in the 'Benifuuki' group. Increase in the peripheral eosinophil count in response to pollen exposure was suppressed in the 'Benifuuki' group. No adverse events were reported in either group.
Conclusions: 'Benifuuki' green tea containing a large amount of O-methylated EGCG reduced the symptoms of JCP and has potential as a complementary/alternative medicine for treating seasonal allergic rhinitis.