Studies find that palo azul is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal
Palo azul tea has been used traditionally to support a healthy immune system against ailments such as diarrhea, dental diseases, and digestive issues. Recent studies have found evidence to support palo azul's efficacy for these traditional uses, as they showed that palo azul tea exhibited anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.
For example, a 2018 study concluded the following: “The results here presented corroborate the folk medicinal use of Eysenhardtia polystachya (palo azul) in the treatment of infections, diarrhea, inflammation, and pain."
How can palo azul tea support the immune system?
The answer is simple...flavonoids! Numerous studies have shown that palo azul is rich in flavonoids, and many of its health benefits have actually been attributed to these magical phytonutrients!
Flavonoids are phytonutrients that are produced by plants in order to fight bacteria, oxidative stress and inflammation. Thousands of studies have found that they're antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-aging, anti-hypertensive, anti-bacterial and anti-mutagenic.
Fortunately for us palo azul tea lovers, a 2021 study found several phytochemicals in palo azul such as “flavones, isoflavones, flavanones, phenolic compounds, chalcones and dihydrochalcones” which have been linked to its health benefits, highlighting “diuretic, antidiabetic, antiglycation, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial potential.”
Antibacterial, Antimicrobial, Antifungal, Antiviral
A medical review that analyzed the results of 161 studies mentioned that "flavonoids proved to be potent antimicrobial and viral inhibitors." Therefore, they are found to be effective against many infectious diseases such as E. coli.
* Here's an interesting finding: “Flavonoids are known to be synthesized by plants in response to microbial infection; thus it should not be surprising that they have been found in vitro to be effective antimicrobial substances against a wide array of microorganisms.” It’s due to their potent antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral activity that flavonoids “show inhibitory activity against E. coli."
The researchers mention that "studies have suggested the protective effects of flavonoids against many infectious and degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and other age-related diseases."
The researchers concluded the following: “Many researchers have isolated and identified the structures of flavonoids having properties of antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial activity. Because of this property, many flavonoids are now being used extensively in the fields of nutrition, food safety and health.”
A 2012 study tested 47 different plants for the treatment of dental diseases such as toothache, dental caries, periodontal disease, gingivitis and even bad breath. The researchers found that palo azul was among the plants that showed the "highest inhibitory effect against Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis."
Another study found that "the extract of E. polystachya (palo azul) presented activity against E. aerogenes, P. vulgaris, Staphylococcus. aureus and S. epidermidis."
Lastly, a 2018 study found that palo azul "showed moderate antibacterial effects against Streptococcus and "good antimicrobial effects in E. coli."
Below, we briefly cover the diseases that each one of these bacteria are associated with. Let's start with that pesky Escherichia coli.
1. Escherichia Coli
According to the CDC, some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other illnesses.
Moreover, the Minnesota Department of Health mentions that E. coli can cause serious illness in humans by producing toxins that can severely damage the lining of your intestines and kidneys.
2. Dental diseases
Streptococcus mutans is commonly found in the human oral cavity and is a significant contributor to tooth decay.
Porphyromonas gingivalis is involved in the pathogenesis of periodontitis, an inflammatory disease that destroys the tissues supporting the tooth, eventually leading to tooth loss.
3. Urinary tract and Respiratory infections
Enterobacter aerogenes can cause gastrointestinal infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), skin and soft tissue infections, respiratory infections, and adult meningitis.
P. vulgaris has been reported to cause UTIs, wound infections, burn infections, bloodstream infections, and respiratory tract infections.
4. Pneumonia, fever, sore throat, others
Staphylococcus. aureus has long been recognized as one of the most important bacteria that cause disease in humans. It is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses (boils), furuncles, cellulitis, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, or bone and joint infections.
Staphylococcus epidermidis can cause wound infections, boils, sinus infections, endocarditis and other inflammations.
Streptococcus can cause diseases ranging from streptococcal sore throat (strep throat) to necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease). They can also cause scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, puerperal (postpartum) fever, and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
A medical review which analyzed 166 studies mentions that "naturally occurring flavonoids with antiviral activity have been recognized since the 1940s and many reports on the antiviral activity of various flavonoids are available.”
This same medical review also found that “many flavonoids show activity against several types of virus including HSV, respiratory syncytial virus, polio virus and Sindbis virus.” The authors also mentioned that flavonoids “are an important source for the discovery and the development of novel antiviral drugs.”
A 2020 study found that flavonoids have inhibitory effects against Ebola, herpes, HIV, Influenza and coronaviruses.
A 2020 study explains the biological mechanisms by which flavonoids can block entry of viruses into cells:
“Flavonoids block attachment and entry of viruses into cells, interfere with various stages of viral replication processes or translation and polyprotein processing to prevent the release of the viruses to infect other cells. These biomolecules (flavonoids) can act at different stages of viral infection, particularly at the molecular level to inhibit viral growth.”
This medical review elaborates further on the specific mechanisms for flavonoids anti-viral activity:
“Inhibition of viral polymerase and binding of viral nucleic acid or viral capsid proteins have been proposed as antiviral mechanisms of action.”
Viral polymerases play a central role in viral genome replication and transcription.
Binding of viral nucleic acid is an anti-viral effect which interferes with viral polymerases.
Capsid proteins are protein shells that surround and protect the viral genome.
In other words...flavonoids could potentially inhibit the replication of virus by binding onto them and interfering their protective shells.
The researchers found that "a flavonoid derivative, luteolin, was found to interfere with the entry of influenza A virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) by interacting with the hemagglutinins of influenza A virus and the S2 protein of SARS-CoV viruses."
In addition, the scientists reported "that another flavonoid derivative, kaempferol, also inhibited coronavirus channel 3a and blocked the release of the virus' progeny."
The way that coronaviruses attack our bodies is that they use the DNA in our cells to send out RNA signals that replicate the virus. The researchers explain how it works:
"Plant flavonoids serve as a vast reservoir of therapeutically active compounds that have been explored as potential antiviral candidates against RNA and DNA viruses. RNA and DNA viruses attach to our own cells and send RNA signals across our cell membranes to replicate."
In other words, RNA and DNA viruses use our own cells to multiply and attack our bodies.
The 2020 study found that “sulfated rutin (flavonoid derivative) was shown to block the entry of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1.” The researchers concluded that “sulfated rutin could drastically inhibit HIV-1 infection.”
Moreover, they found that “flavonoids were reported to inhibit assembly and release of HIV and influenza A virus, respectively.”
The researchers from this study found that “tea catechins (flavonoids) were also reported to inhibit the influenza A virus by binding to the hemagglutinins and restricted virus adsorption, preventing the penetration of the virus into the cells.”
Moreover, another flavonoid derivitave, quercetins, were “found to inhibit the initial stage of viral replication of the influenza A virus, evident by a decrease in mRNA synthesis of the virus.”
A group of flavonoids was also reported to "inhibit early replication of influenza A virus by reduction of sialidase activity, inhibition of lysosomal fusion and RNA polymerase activity."
4. Herpes and Ebola
The 2020 study found that quercetin “blocked viral binding and entry of herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1.”
Moreover, they found that “another flavonoid derivative, 3-β-O-d-glucoside, was able to protect mice from Ebola virus infection when given prior to virus challenge.”
In conclusion, palo azul tea may help to support a healthy immune system because it showed anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal activity, and it's rich in flavonoids. Studies showed that these properties may have the potential to inhibit bacteria which is associated with several types of infections that cause fever, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, pneumonia, sore throat, cavities, tooth decay, periodontitis, and others.
P.S. Don't forget to help your loved ones by sharing palo azul tea with them!
* Palo azul is commonly referred to by its scientific name: Eysenhardtia polystachya / E. polystachya / E.P - Cyclolepis genistoides / C. genistoides - kidney wood - palo dulce