What is Guayusa Tea?
You are quite likely to be a tea lover since it is one of the most popular beverages worldwide, maybe for the wide variety of plants with which it can be done. For example, Camellia sinensis, a Filipino plant that belongs to the evergreen shrubs’ specie, family Theaceae, which have been widely used through the years in Asia for its medicinal properties.
There is a tea obtained from plants of the genus Ilex, called Ilex guayusa Loes, a tree that can reach approximately 10m height, commonly known as gayusa or runa tea. It has components that are very similar to the components of Camellia sinensis (1,2). Ilex guayusa Loes is a plant from the Aquifoliaceae family, found in both tropical and subtropical regions like the Amazonia, from which it originates. It is commonly found in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil, and it has been used for many years for treating the cold, as well as respiratory and digestive illnesses (2).
One component that these plants have in common is the caffeine, a substance that is well known for being a central nervous system stimulant in humans. Nevertheless, they also are known for they medicinal or bioactive properties such as antioxidant, anti-inﬂammatory, anti-obesity, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, modulation of gut microbiota and antiproliferative effects, as well as cardiovascular protective eﬀects (1,3).
Both Camellia sinensis and Gayusa contain polyphenols (like hydroxycinnamic acid, caffeoylquinic acids, dicffeoylquinic acids and chlorogenic acid), alkaloids (like caffeine and theobromine), proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates cardiotonics, carotenoids, ﬂavonoids, tannins, monomeric catechins (theaflavins) and inorganics (1,2). Ilex guayusa also contains carotenoids (α-carotene and β-carotene), lutein, violaxanthin, neoxanthin, coumarin and gallic acid (2).
1. Prevents oxidative stress:
Consumption of C. sinensis and Guayusa tea significantly reduces the DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) power scavenging and lipid peroxidation inhibition activities, which in turn relieves the oxidative cell damage and prevents DNA oxidative damage induced by ultraviolet radiation (1).
In fact, some essays demonstrated that I. guayusa teas were statistically comparable with the C. sinensis black tea in gaining access to the cell membrane and scavenging the lipid peroxyl radicals that form (3).
2. Anti-inflammatory effect:
Gayusa tea has the capability to inhibit the nitric oxide (NO), an important marker and mediator of inflammation (1). Experts say that the caffeoylquinic acid and the dicffeoylquinic acids are the major determinants of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, which have the capability to scavenge NO as well as the ability to suppress its cellular production. (3).
3. Good Spectrum Antimicrobial Effect:
The alkaloids present in both Camellia sinensis and Gayusa were studied with various tests that proved their antimicrobial activity affecting both the bacterial cell wall and bacterial DNA (2). Likewise, the flavonoids are able to act on nucleic acid synthesis and prompt bacterial membrane cytoplasmic degradation. Tanins are also able to act on bacterial adhesins and proteins of the cell wall (1,3).
The Coumarin contained in Ilex guayusa Loes has the capacity to interact with bacterial DNA, so it increases even more its antimicrobial properties. Those antimicrobial properties were effective against S. aureus, S. epidermidis, Bacillus subtilis, E. coli and even P. aeruginosa. Antifungal activity against Candida albicans and Microsporum canis was also observed (2).
In another study, the antimicrobial properties of Ilex guayusa demonstrated its effectiveness in the periodontal disease. It also demonstrated that guayusa also have good antimicrobial activity against P. gingivalis ATCC 33277, P. intermedia ATCC 25611 and F. nucleatum ATCC 25586 (3).
4. Potential Anti-cancer:
Several studies demonstrated that caffeoylquinic acids contained in guayusa are able to activate the pro-apoptotic factors caspase-3 and caspase-9 in TCA8113 cancer cells, and caspase-8 and caspase-3 in HT-29 human colon cancer cells. Likewise, caffeoylquinic acids induce a decreased expression of the inﬂammatory mediator NF-κB, which regulates cell proliferation, anti-apoptosis and cell metastasis (1).
5. Potential Anti-diabetic Properties:
Some studies performed in mice showed that guayusa tea helped to reduce the streptozocin-induced diabetes. It seems to be due to the chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance and inhibit gluconeogenesis in diabetic mice.
On the other hand, inflammation and oxidative stress have both been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes and its associated complications, and guayusa helps to reduce both of them in the human body. However, more studies in humans are needed to demonstrate this benefit (3).
Guayusa Tea Side effects:
Some studies have evaluated the toxicity of guayusa with a series of in vitro and in vivo tests, and they have found no significant adverse eﬀects related to its use (3).
- Gan, Zhang, Wang and Corke. Health Beneﬁts of Bioactive Compounds from the Genus Ilex, a Source of Traditional Caffeinated Beverages. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1682; doi:10.3390/nu10111682
- Gamboa, Muñoz, Numpaque, Sequeda-Castañeda, Gutierrez, Tellez. Antimicrobial Activity of Piper marginatum Jacq and Ilex guayusa Loes on Microorganisms Associated with Periodontal Disease. Hindawi, International Journal of Microbiology. Volume 2018, Article ID 4147383, 9 pages https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/4147383
- Pardau, Pereira, Apostolides, Serem, Bester. Antioxidant and anti-inﬂammatory properties of Ilex guayusa tea preparations: a comparison to Camellia sinensis teas. The Royal Society of Chemistry 2017. DOI: 10.1039/c7fo01067b