Catechins, phytochemicals contained mainly in green tea, exhibit antiviral activity against various acute infectious diseases experimentally. Clinical evidence supporting these effects, however, is not conclusive. We performed a placebo-controlled, single-blind, randomized control trial to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of consumption of catechins-containing beverage for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). Two hundred and seventy healthcare workers were randomly allocated to high-catechin (three daily doses of 57 mg catechins and 100 mg xanthan gum), low-catechin (one daily dose of 57 mg catechins and 100 mg xanthan gum), or placebo (0 mg catechins and 100 mg xanthan gum) group. Subjects consumed a beverage with or without catechins for 12 weeks from December 2017 through February 2018. The primary endpoint was incidence of URTIs compared among groups using a time-to-event analysis. A total of 255 subjects were analyzed (placebo group n = 86, low-catechin group n = 85, high catechin group n = 84). The URTI incidence rate was 26.7% in the placebo group, 28.2% in the low-catechin group, and 13.1% in the high-catechin group (log rank test, p = 0.042). The hazard ratio (95% confidence interval (CI)) with reference to the placebo group was 1.09 (0.61-1.92) in the low-catechin group and 0.46 (0.23-0.95) in the high-catechin group. These findings suggest that catechins combined with xanthan gum protect against URTIs.
Keywords: acute upper respiratory infection; catechins; epigallocatechin gallate; influenza like illness; randomized controlled trial.