Tea could counteract bioterror toxin

Researchers from Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Wales announced this week that a component in tea could deactivate the properties of ricin.

The scientists found that Epigallocatechin gallate, an ingredient in tea, inactivated the highly-toxic substance, which has been used in multiple terrorist attacks. Ricin was also the substance used to kill Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident writer, when he was injected with ricin using an umbrella by a KGB agent, Wales Online reports.

"We already knew that tea had the ability to inhibit anthrax - as long as it is black tea with no milk," Les Baillie, a professor from the school, said, according to Wales Online. "Our new findings suggest that if the security services want to counter the threat of ricin, they may find the answer in their morning cup of tea."

The researchers found multiple uses for tea outside of using it for normal consumption. Chemicals within the tea may have the ability to inactivate other toxins and kill microorganisms. The chemicals in tea may also be able to inactivate anthrax, botox and the superbug clostridium difficile.

"These toxins, such as ricin, have been shown to have been used by nasty people, and nasty countries, to do nasty things," Baillie said, according to Wales Online. "And with a number of overseas guests arriving in the UK for the Olympics, we think this research could encourage them to drink tea - our national drink - but also naturally encourage their resistance to potentially damaging toxins."