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Black tea contains theaflavins, a powerful antioxidant that has many uses – from treating headaches to protecting the heart, to reducing cancer risk. Learn more about its potent qualities below.


Theaflavins is a class of natural flavonoids derived from the dried leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis (tea) and related plants with potent antioxidant properties. Flavonoids such as theaflavins neutralize free-radical species and increase the activity of detoxifying enzymes in the liver. Black tea contains the highest concentrations of theaflavins (R).

Black tea is used for treating headaches, low blood pressure, preventing heart disease, including atherosclerosis and heart attack, preventing Parkinson’s disease, reducing the risk of stomach and colon cancer, lung, ovarian and breast cancers (R).

Theaflavins Snapshot


  • Good Antioxidant
  • Prevents cancer
  • Reduces insulin resistance
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Protects the brain
  • Anti-HIV effects
  • Protects against obesity


  • Not enough is known about the use of theaflavins during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Health Benefits of Theaflavins

1) Theaflavins Are Anti-Oxidants

Polyphenols such as theaflavins and other major constituents of black tea are mainly responsible for antioxidant actions. Antioxidative properties of black tea are manifested by its ability to inhibit free radical generation, scavenge free radicals, and bind transition metals (R).

Theaflavins inhibit the activity of enzymes that cause oxidative stress. Black tea consumed throughout the world is believed to be not only a popular beverage but also an anti-oxidative agent available in everyday life (R).

2) Theaflavins Protects Against Cancer

The exposure of human stomach cancer cells to black tea theaflavin extract led to both inhibition and the start of programmed cell death. Drinking black tea in large amounts is recommended to protect humans from stomach cancer (R).

Catechins and theaflavins both inhibit human prostate cancer cell proliferation in vitro. Catechins inhibit prostate cancer in a mouse animal model of the disease (R).

Tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in studies.

3) Theaflavins Helps Prevent Obesity

Theaflavins  have been found to significantly reduce lipid accumulation, suppress fatty acid synthesis, and stimulate fatty acid oxidation. It may be active in the prevention of fatty liver and obesity (R).

4) Theaflavins Helps With Diabetes-Related Problems

Various dietary polyphenols may influence carbohydrate metabolism at many levels. In both animals and humans, polyphenols in tea improve acute insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity (R).

Four cups of black tea a day also had anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects on diabetes patients (R).

5) Theaflavins Have Anti-HIV Effects

Theaflavins have potent anti-HIV-1 activity by targeting the viral entry step. Researchers can develop it to be a safe and affordable topical microbe killer for preventing sexual transmission of HIV (R).

Several tea polyphenols can inhibit HIV-1 replication with multiple mechanisms of action. These tea polyphenols could inhibit HIV-1 entry into target cells by blocking HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein-mediated membrane fusion (R).

6) Theaflavins May Reduce Cholesterol Levels

Drinking multiple cups of tea a day lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in adults with high cholesterol (R).

7) Theaflavins Might Prevent Parkinson’s Disease

Tea contains specific polyphenols which can play an important role in delaying the onset or halting the progression of Parkinson’s (R).

Not only do tea polyphenols possess antioxidant properties, they may directly modulate cellular pathways. Theaflavins may provide a precious therapeutic strategy for the treatment of progressive neurodegenerative diseases in future (R).

8) Theaflavins Stops Gingivitis 

Theaflavins can affect the virulent properties of P. gingivalis and lessen the inflammatory response induced by this gingivitis. Theaflavins may be a valuable supplementary therapeutic agent by preventing and treating P. gingivalis-associated dental diseases (R).

9) Theaflavins Are Anti-Allergic

The anti-allergic mechanisms of action of theaflavins involve inhibition of the fluctuations of cytokines and maintenance of antioxidant status in allergic mice. These results suggest that the theaflavins, as well as catechins, contribute to the anti-allergic effects of black tea (R).

Technical Section

  • Can influence activation of transcription factors such as NFkB or AP-1 (R).
  • Can also inhibit HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) activity (R).
  • It also inhibited acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase activities by stimulating AMPK through the LKB1 and reactive oxygen species pathways (R).
  • A variety of polyphenols inhibits α-amylase and α-glucosidase activities in vitro. Also, maltose, sucrose or p-nitrophenyl-α-d-glucopyranoside are substrates for α-glucosidase activity (R).
  • A tea polyphenol, theaflavin 3-O-gallate, however, is effective in suppressing the postprandial glucose response to maltose (R).
  • Additionally, it inhibited the proteinase activities of P. gingivalis collagenase and gingipains in a dose-dependent manner. They also significantly inhibited the secretion and mRNA expression of MMP-1 and MMP-2 by HGFs stimulated with P. gingivalis (R).
  • Percutaneous administration of both 3-TF (theaflavin-3-gallate) and TFDG (theaflavin-3,3′-digallate), however, showed significant preventive effects against mouse type IV allergy (R).


There is not enough information available to determine what a safe dosage for everyone is (R).

Side Effects

There are currently no known side effects (R).

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FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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