Green tea as a natural antibiotic alternative to resistant germs?

Green tea as a natural antibiotic alternative to resistant germs?

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Green tea could be the key to reducing antibiotic resistance

Researchers from Germany and the UK have found that a natural antioxidant commonly found in green tea can help eliminate antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Green tea has long been said to have a health-promoting effect. The fact that it can also help in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a new discovery by scientists from the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) and the University of Surrey (Great Britain). The researchers discovered a natural antioxidant in tea, which made multi-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria more vulnerable in a study. The study results were published in the "Journal of Medical Microbiology".

Substance can restore bacterial sensitivity to the antibiotic

Epigallocatechin (EGCG) is the name of the substance in green tea that was able to restore the activity of an antibiotic - aztreonam - against the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is feared in hospitals, and thus inhibited its growth, the DZIF said in a statement. P. Aeruginosa has been reported to cause severe lung infections and blood poisoning and is often treated with aztreonam when other antibiotics stop working. However, increasing resistance to aztreonam can make it difficult to treat the bacterium.

In in vitro experiments, the scientists analyzed whether EGCG affects the effect of the antibiotic on the growth of P. aeruginosa. "We were able to show that aztreonam inhibited bacterial growth more if EGCG was also present in the culture medium," said Prof. Harald Seifert, DZIF scientist at the University Hospital Cologne.

The substance from green tea was able to restore the sensitivity of the bacteria to the antibiotic. This synergistic effect was also confirmed in vivo by treating wax moth larvae with the antibiotic - sometimes with and sometimes without the EGCG. The toxic effects of EGCG have been shown to be low both in tests with skin cells and in the larvae, which can be crucial for possible clinical use in the future. The mechanism of action has not yet been fully clarified.

Use of natural products in combination with antibiotics

“Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to global public health. Without effective antibiotics, the success of medical treatments is impaired. We urgently need to develop new types of antibiotics in the fight against antibiotic resistance, ”explains first author Dr. Jonathan Betts of University of Surrey in a communication. "Natural products such as EGCG that are combined with already licensed antibiotics could be an important means of extending the clinically meaningful life of an antibiotic."

Professor Roberto La Ragione, head of the Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Surrey University of Veterinary Medicine, said: “The World Health Organization has classified Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a critical threat to human health. We have shown that we can successfully eliminate such threats by using natural products in combination with antibiotics that have already been used. By further developing these alternatives to antibiotics, they may be able to be used in the clinical setting in the future. ”According to the information, further development of this alternative active substance up to clinical studies is planned. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • German Center for Infection Research (DZIF): Is there an active ingredient in antibiotic resistance in green tea ?, (accessed: 24.09.2019), German Center for Infection Research (DZIF)
  • Journal of Medical Microbiology: Restoring the activity of the antibiotic aztreonam using the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) against multidrug-resistant clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, (accessed: September 24, 2019), Journal of Medical Microbiology
  • University of Surrey: Green tea could hold the key to reducing antibiotic resistance, (accessed: April 24, 2019), University of Surrey

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