Researchers in northeastern Japan have found that extracts from hydrangea leaves used to make “amacha” sweet tea might stop certain proteins from the coronavirus from sticking together. They plan to do more experiments to see if it can also prevent the virus from infecting people.
Viruses like the coronavirus have a kind of protein on their surface called a “spike protein.” When this protein connects with another protein on the surface of a cell called ACE2, the virus can enter and infect the cell. Scientists at the Iwate Biotechnology Research Center in Japan collected extracts from around 500 different plants, including vegetables and wild herbs. They mixed these extracts with the two proteins involved in coronavirus infection to see if they could find something that stops them from binding together.
They discovered that extracts from the leaves of “amacha” hydrangea tea, specifically the compounds phyllodulcin and hydrangenol, were effective in preventing the spike protein from binding to ACE2. This was true for both the omicron strain and the original Wuhan strain of the virus, even if it mutates. Akira Yano, a manager at the research center, explained that while some components attack the spike protein of the virus, there have been very few reports of substances in agricultural products that protect ACE2 like a shield. They published their findings in an English-language journal.
The village of Kunohe, where amacha is produced, is excited about this discovery. They started growing amacha in 1983 to boost their community. This finding is seen as a hopeful development that could help people working in amacha production.
Image Source: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/disease-and-pests/anthracnose-hydrangea/