The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is likely to replace hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) with anti-HIV drugs to improve immunity and possibly reduce viral replication, in the revised protocol. However, the chemicals in Kangra tea could also be effective in boosting immunity as they can block coronavirus activity better than anti-HIV drugs, said Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director, Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), based in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. Dr Kumar has revealed this fact during a webinar organized at IHBT on the occasion of the International Tea Day.
In his lecture, Dr Kumar discussed the benefits of Kangra tea for society and industry, medicinal properties of tea for human health and the technologies developed and transferred by IHBT for combating COVID-19 disease. “Using computer-based models, the scientists screened 65 bioactive chemicals or polyphenols that could bind to a specific viral protein more efficiently than commercially available anti-HIV drugs approved for treating COVID-19 patients. These chemicals might block the activity of the viral protein that helps the virus to thrive inside human cells”, said Dr Kumar.
IHBT, a constituent of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has also produced and supplied the alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing tea extract and natural aromatic oils through its technology partners. The Institute has developed herbal soap with tea extract, natural saponins and without SLES (sodium laureth sulphate), SDS (sodium dodecyl sulphate) and mineral oil. This soap provides anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, cleansing and moisturizing benefits. The soap is being produced and marketed by two companies based in Himachal Pradesh.
“Tea catechins production process which has been transferred to M/s Baijnath Pharmaceuticals, and Ready to Serve Teas and Tea wines which could be game changer for Kangra tea”, added Dr Kumar. Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.
On this occasion, Tea vinegar technology has been transferred to a company based in Dharmshala. Tea vinegar has anti-obesity properties. Also Herbal Green and Black Teas blended with AYUSH-recommended herbs were launched. These products could be very useful for boosting immunity against COVID-19, say IHBT scientists.