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11 Health Benefits of Ceylon Tea + Side Effects

Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:
Evguenia Alechine
Jonathan Ritter
Medically reviewed by
Evguenia Alechine, PhD (Biochemistry), Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:

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Ceylon Tez

What separates Ceylon tea from other teas is its location of origin, its manufacturing process, and its high levels of antioxidants. Ceylon tea could have a variety of health benefits for the heart, gut, and kidneys. Keep reading to learn more about its health benefits and possible side effects.

What Is Ceylon Tea?

Ceylon tea refers to the geographical region, Sri Lanka (previously known as Ceylon), in which the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is grown. Green tea, black tea, and white tea (known as Silver Tips) are grown in 11 tea regions in Sri Lanka [1].

The amount of antioxidants in the tea depends on the process before tea drying, the geographical location, soil, and climate the tea is grown in. The type of plant, growth, season, and degree of maturity also influences its antioxidant components. Because of that, some people claim that Ceylon tea is the best tea in the world [2].

Ceylon black tea leaves are processed (fermented), and it is the most famous tea type. The black tea has more caffeine than other types. Ceylon green tea is made from unfermented tea leaves and has high antioxidant content [2, 3].

White Ceylon tea leaves are dried in the sun and are the least processed. Because of this, white tea has more antioxidants than green and black. Ceylon white tea also contains high levels of GABA, which influences many processes in humans [3].

Components

Plant polyphenols are the main active compounds in the tea; they act as antioxidants. The major polyphenols in tea are [4]:

  • Epigallocatechin – gallate (EGCG) – the most abundant polyphenol, which helps reduce inflammation
  • Gallic acid
  • Theogallin, which helps with brain function
  • Cinnamic acid, which is anti-diabetic
  • Chlorogenic acid

Other active compounds include [2, 4]:

Health Benefits of Ceylon Tea

Ceylon tea has not been approved by the FDA for medical use and generally lacks solid clinical research backing up any particular health claim. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.

1) Antioxidant

Oxidative stress is considered to be harmful because reactive oxygen species can damage biological molecules such as fat, proteins, and DNA. Ceylon tea’s components are powerful antioxidants that can help protect against oxidative stress [2].

EGCG’s antioxidant properties also help treat nerve pain [5].

2) Heart Health

The flavonoids from Ceylon tea can help prevent heart disease [2].

Two meta-analyses showed that black and green tea consumption lowered blood levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol, especially in people with higher heart disease risk. However, it did not have a significant effect on total and good (HDL) cholesterol [6, 7].

In a study of 263 subjects, consuming 9 g (around 3 cups) of black tea for 12 weeks, heart disease risk markers were decreased (blood uric acid and C-reactive protein levels). Black tea can benefit humans who have a high risk of heart disease [8].

Consumption of green or black tea also reduced blood pressure in individuals in a meta-analysis (10 trials and 834 participants) [9].

Green tea catechins also reduced hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) in animal models and clinical studies [10].

Tea flavonoids also had protective effects against heart disease in a study of 3,454 subjects [11].

3) Cancer Prevention Research

Ceylon tea and its compounds are not strong enough to prevent or treat cancer. However, many researchers have investigated whether regular tea drinking has an effect on the incidence of cancer [2, 12].

A review of 9 cohort studies (of 465,000 people) showed that green tea consumption was associated with fewer cases of liver cancer in Asian women, but not in Asian men [13].

Also, an increase in the consumption of green tea was tentatively linked with reduced lung cancer risk, according to a meta-analysis of 22 studies [14].

Additionally, daily supplementation with 600 mg of green tea catechins (EGCG) for 1 year significantly reduced prostate cancer progression in 60 volunteers [15].

Green tea also had protective effects on esophageal cancer in a meta-analysis of 24 studies with 7,376 subjects [16].

In mice, drinking green or black tea inhibited:

  • Skin tumors [4, 17]
  • Bladder cancer [18]
  • Breast tumors (both hormone-dependent and independent) [19]
  • Intestinal and colon cancers [20]

Tea polyphenols are also being investigated for their potential effect on ovarian cancer and leukemia cells [21, 22].

The available data indicates a potential role for tea in cancer prevention. However, additional research is required to determine the role of tea polyphenols against cancer.

4) Brain Function

Flavonoids from Ceylon tea can also help protect the brain and improve its function [2].

In 2 studies, drinking black tea improved the subjects attention and alertness [23].

In a study of 10 seniors, the daily ingestion of low-caffeine green tea helped reduce their stress and improved their quality of sleep [24].

A review also showed that green tea reduced anxiety, boosted cognitive function, and helped with memory and attention. The effect of green tea cannot be attributed to a single compound, but caffeine and L-theanine are the top 2 contributors [25].

EGCG increases iron-export protein ferroportin production, which helps reduce the stress in the brain. It helped prevent nerve cell degeneration in a mouse model of Parkinson’s [26].

Larger and more robust human trials will be required to determine whether Ceylon consistently benefits cognitive function.

Other Potential Benefits

Ceylon tea is currently being investigated for other potential health benefits, but these have either produced contradictory results or only been studied in animals so far. They may yet be proven effective or ineffective with further research; for the time being, talk to your doctor about using Ceylon tea or other, better-studied alternatives to meet your health goals.

5) Diabetes

Green tea extract ingestion before moderate to intense exercise improved insulin sensitivity and tolerance in a study of 23 men [27].

In a 5-year study of 17,413 middle-aged Japanese subjects, consumption of green tea was associated with a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes [28].

Another 11-year cohort study of 5,823 British participants reported a decrease in diabetes incidence in people who drank both tea and coffee [29].

However, there were no relationships between drinking tea and diabetes in a cohort study of 46,906 African-American women [30].

In rats, consumption of Ceylon black tea helped lower blood sugar. Its anti-diabetic activity also improved insulin sensitivity [31].

Because of the mixed or contradictory results in some large studies of Ceylon tea and diabetes, the evidence is still considered insufficient to support any benefit.

6) Weight Management

Green tea extract ingestion before moderate to intense exercise increased fat breakdown in a study of 23 men [27].

Green tea polyphenols activate AMP-activated protein kinase, which helped to reduce the fat formation and stimulate fat breakdown in chickens [32].

Additionally, green tea extract induced genes to change white fat tissue into a less harmful form and limited weight-gain in high energy diet-fed rats[33].

Green tea also reduced obesity in mice [34].

There are only a few weight loss studies that included black tea. Black tea theaflavins inhibited pancreatic lipase, which helps weight loss [35].

Larger and more robust human trials will be required to determine whether tea has a plausible role in weight loss and weight management.

7) Antibacterial and Antiviral Activity

Green tea and black tea had antibacterial effects (against Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus) in cell studies [36].

EGCG and theaflavin digallate (from green and black tea) inhibited the influenza A and influenza B virus in cells [37].

Additionally, tea catechins had protective activity against bacteria (Vibrio cholerae 01) in mice and rabbits [38].

These results are limited to cell studies. It is unclear whether drinking tea has any effect on existing bacterial and viral infections in the body.

8) Skin Health

UV radiation plays an important role in aging and skin cancer. Green tea has anti-wrinkle, antioxidant, and immunosuppressive actions. Tea’s polyphenols protect against UV-irradiation, delaying skin aging [39, 40].

Topical application of tea extract helped heal wounds faster in mice. The wounds had less scarring, and the skin contained fewer inflammatory cells and more collagen [41, 42, 43].

Additional human trials will be required to determine the role of tea in protecting or improving skin health.

9) Bone Health

A meta-analysis of 17 studies showed that tea consumption may reduce the incidence of osteoporosis [44].

In a survey of 1,937 adults, drinking tea for more than 10 years had a beneficial effect on bone strength and bone mineral density [45].

EGCG is a potent natural compound for protecting against inflammatory bone loss. In mice, EGCG acted on bone cells and suppressed prostaglandin E production, preventing inflammatory bone loss [46].

Larger and more robust human trials will be required to determine the potential role of tea in bone health.

10) Gut Function

Thearubigin, a black tea polyphenol, accelerates gut flow, which helps with gut function [47].

Theasaponin E1 from Ceylon tea seeds has protective effects on stomach wounds in rats [48].

These effects have yet to be investigated in human trials.

11) Kidney Health

Green tea polyphenols have a protective role in rats fed a high-fat diet. The polyphenols increased the production of mitochondrial sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) (which improves ketogenesis). This contributes to the antioxidative protection in the kidneys [49].

Green tea also helps get rid of toxins, thus exerting a protective effect on the kidneys [50].

EGCG also improved kidney function in rats by decreasing TGF-β. This also helped ameliorate diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) [51].

However, in a cohort study of 12,428 subjects, there was not a clear relationship between kidney function and tea consumption [52].

Because these results have been mixed or contradictory, additional research is required to determine whether tea can benefit kidney health.

Limitations and Caveats

Most of the studies are based on the tea plant Camellia sinensis, but they do not mention the origin of the plant. Thus, many of the following health benefits are from tea in general, and not from a specific location. Only in the sections where Ceylon tea is specifically mentioned did the studies use tea from Sri Lanka.

Additionally, many of the studies are animal studies. More human trials are needed before extensive use of Ceylon tea for its health benefits.

Side Effects & Precautions

Drinking moderate amounts of black tea is safe for most adults, but drinking more than 5 cups per day is unsafe. This is because of the high amounts of caffeine, which can cause mild to severe side effects. Caffeine can cause seizures, delirium, and heart rate problems [53].

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding drinking a small amount is safe, but drinking more than 2 cups a day may cause health problems. It is linked to an increase in miscarriages, sudden infant death syndrome, and lower birth weight [54, 55, 56].

In one case study, drinking black tea delayed recovery from iron-deficiency anemia by preventing iron absorption [57].

Green tea catechins decreased thyroid hormone levels in rats. High amounts of tea consumption might cause thyroid dysfunction [58].

Ceylon tea is rich in fluoride. Although fluoride is good for your teeth in small quantities, high amounts can cause harm. Dental fluorosis is a concern [59].

Drug Interactions

Flavonoid Interactions

Flavonoids from tea go through the same pathways as drugs. They can potentially interfere with absorption, tissue distribution, metabolism, and excretion of drugs. They inhibit both cytochrome P450 and drug transporters [60].

Flavonoids are involved in the activity and production of CYP1A2, which is important for the metabolism of important drugs such as caffeine, theophylline, warfarin, and propranolol [61].

Quercetin (a flavonoid) from black tea inhibits detoxification of several drugs: Salbutamol, minoxidil, Tylenol, and apomorphine [62].

Caffeine Interactions

In a study of 237 subjects, caffeine and theophylline from tea interfered with benzodiazepine absorption in men [63].

Caffeine interactions with drugs through P450 cytochrome might change the metabolism of [53]:

  • Fluvoxamine
  • Antiarrhythmics (mexiletine)
  • Antipsychotics (clozapine)
  • Psoralens
  • Idrocilamide
  • Bronchodilators (furafylline, theophylline)
  • Enoxacin

Drinking Ceylon Tea

Dosage

There is no officially recognized dosage of tea for any particular medical purpose because no sufficiently powerful studies have been conducted to determine one. However, several studies and reviews have found significant relationships between tea and certain health benefits, including:

  • For decreasing heart disease risk markers: 9 g of black tea daily [8]
  • For increasing fat breakdown and insulin sensitivity during exercise: 3 capsules of green tea extract (9 g polyphenols and 3 g EGCG) [27]
  • To reduce prostate cancer: 600 mg of EGCG [12]
  • For diabetes mellitus type 2: Green tea and coffee combined (2 or more cups per day) [29]
  • To reduce the risk of developing lung cancer: 2 cups of green tea daily [14]
  • To reduce the risk of Parkinson disease: More than 2 cups per day [64]

About the Author

Puya Yazdi

Puya Yazdi

MD
Dr. Puya Yazdi is a physician-scientist with 14+ years of experience in clinical medicine, life sciences, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals.
As a physician-scientist with expertise in genomics, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals, he has made it his mission to bring precision medicine to the bedside and help transform healthcare in the 21st century.He received his undergraduate education at the University of California at Irvine, a Medical Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and was a Resident Physician at Stanford University. He then proceeded to serve as a Clinical Fellow of The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine at The University of California at Irvine, where he conducted research of stem cells, epigenetics, and genomics. He was also a Medical Director for Cyvex Nutrition before serving as president of Systomic Health, a biotechnology consulting agency, where he served as an expert on genomics and other high-throughput technologies. His previous clients include Allergan, Caladrius Biosciences, and Omega Protein. He has a history of peer-reviewed publications, intellectual property discoveries (patents, etc.), clinical trial design, and a thorough knowledge of the regulatory landscape in biotechnology.He is leading our entire scientific and medical team in order to ensure accuracy and scientific validity of our content and products.

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