Ethnopharmacological relevance Diabetea tea™ (DT) is an anti-diabetic alternative medicine in some Asian countries. The main constituent of DT is black tea originating from Camellia sinensis that is supplemented by 12 other medicinal plants. Black tea contains a large amount of the flavonoids catechins especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative capacity. This study was undertaken to evaluate the possible effects of DT intake on inflammatory cytokines, regulatory T cells (Tregs) and metabolic biomarkers in T2DM. Materials and methods The study included 50 patients with T2DM. The patients had received 3 cups (600 ml) of DT extract or placebo (PL) extract per day during a period of 12 weeks. Intracellular cytokine expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) as well as the glycemic and lipid profiles were measured at baseline and after the treatment period. The active constituents of the medicinal plants included in DT were investigated by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Results Ingestion of DT suppressed CD4+ T cell expression of IL-1β and Il-8 (p<0.05) and up-regulated the expression of IL-10 and the Treg/IL-17 ratio (p<0.05) which was not shown in PL. A significant decrease in HbA1c and LDL was observed at the end of the study period (p<0.05) in DT. The GC/MS analyses of DT indicated the presence of lupeol, β-Amyrin and β-sitosterol. Also analyses of individual herbs showed the presence of higher levels of lupeol and β-Amyrin in Nuga Ficus bengalensis and β-sitosterol in the Attikka Ficus racemosa, indicating that the active ingredients of DT are concentrated in these two herbs. Conclusion The present study provides evidence that DT has hypoglycemic and antihyperlipidemic properties. Interestingly, DT has anti-inflammatory effects. These properties are attributed to the flavonoids, triterpenes and phytosterol contents of the tea. We suggest that DT protects against diabetes complications in the long term.
- Regulatory T cells