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Topical Green Tea for Acne and Fungal Infections

Which plant should we use for which skin disease? That’s the topic of my video Natural Treatment for Acne and Fungal Infections. Thousands of studies have been published to date about the health effects of green tea, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that researchers began to look at the possibility of using green tea for the prevention and treatment of infections. Patents have been taken out on the antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties of tea. Let’s review some of the evidence.

In terms of fungal infections, green tea compounds have demonstrated “potent antifungal activity” against the primary cause of athlete’s foot, fungal nail infections, jock itch, and ringworm—comparable, in some cases, to powerful antifungal drugs like fluconazole. This was shown in a petri dish, though. How about a green tea footbath for athlete’s foot fungus between the toes? Evidently, tea leaves were once used as a folk remedy for the fungus, so why not put it to the test? Indeed, a once-a-day, 15-minute dilute green tea footbath led to a significant improvement in symptoms compared to controls.

Green tea baths also appeared to help with fungus-associated atopic dermatitis, though there was no control group in that study, and a full-strength green tea may help clear candida yeast from poorly cleaned dentures. What about the bacteria that cause plaque and gingivitis? Even a 2% green tea mouthwash was found to be effective. Yes, you should be able to control plaque just with proper brushing and flossing—with an emphasis on “proper.” Most people don’t brush for the recommended four minutes a day, so a dilute green tea mouthwash may help.

In terms of plaque bacteria-killing ability, green tea was beaten out by a “garlic with lime mouth rinse,” but I think I’ll just stick to green tea, especially when green tea appears to not only kill plaque bugs directly but also boost the antibacterial capacity of saliva after you drink it.

What about green tea for acne? Six weeks of a 2% green tea lotion cut the number of pimples by more than half and significantly reduced the severity, as you can see at 2:48 in my video, making it a cheap, effective treatment for acne.

Impetigo is another bacterial skin infection that can affect the face, but a tea ointment can affect an 80 percent cure rate, on par with antibiotics given topically or orally.

What about bladder infections? We know a certain concentration of green tea compounds can kill the type of E. coli that causes urinary tract infections. The question then becomes how much tea do you have to drink to achieve those concentrations in your bladder? Not much, it turns out. Just one cup of tea might have an effect, but you may need to space out multiple cups over the day because it gets cleared out of your system within about eight hours, as you can see at 3:45 in my video.

So, where do we stand now? The test tube data look promising, but there has yet to be a single study to put it to the test. At this point, green tea should just be used as an adjunct therapy for bladder infections. But, with emerging multidrug-resistant organisms, green tea certainly holds potential.

Wait a moment. If green tea is so good at killing bacteria, might we be killing the good bacteria in our gut when we drink it? No. That’s what’s so amazing. “It has also been shown that green tea has no effect over intestinal flora, which is a great advantage against other bactericidal [bacteria-killing] agents.” But that may not actually be true. Drinking green tea may actually boost the levels of our good bacteria by acting as a prebiotic, thereby improving the colon environment, so it may actually have some effect on our gut flora after all, but it appears to be all good.

Drinking tea with meals may impair iron absorption, so it’s better to drink it between meals. For more on green tea, one of my favorite beverages, along with water and hibiscus tea, see:

For more on acne, check out:

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

25 responses to “Topical Green Tea for Acne and Fungal Infections

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  1. Skin diseases are often caused by internal inflammatory responses and autoimmunity. So topical agents don’t work in many cases and nutrition might be a good way of altering the biological conditions leading to the skin disorder.

    But even Dr Greger’s daily dozen doesn’t work in many cases. More “restrictive” approaches like Dr Goldner’s hypernourishment protocol for autoimmune diseases may be more efficient.

  2. Wow, that was interesting.

    I remember the green tea mouthwash part but I have a friend who gets bladder infections often. She has a job where she is outside working at places where there often aren’t bathrooms and she is 65 so holding it all day long has more health effects.

    I have used D-mannose the one time I had a UTI and that worked amazingly well and that was also about getting rid of e-coli.

    Healthline gave a list of foods containing D-Mannose and I am wondering if any of those help?

    Foods containing D-Mannose:
    cranberries (and cranberry juice)
    green beans

  3. When you say there is a recommended four minutes of brushing per day, you should be specific so people know that is two minutes in the morning and two minutes in the evening, NOT four minutes straight. In fact, four minutes straight is probably too much and might result in erosion of the gums.

    1. Brian,

      Yes, two and two. Soft brush. Not close to acidic foods.

      The fact that 50% of people don’t brush their teeth twice per day makes that 4 minutes a good question though.

      But if people are broken down enough or lacking toothpaste enough to only brush once per day, maybe that makes the green tea more important.

      I am wondering if it matters about the quality of the green tea. For instance, some green teas are much, much, much more vibrant than other green teas.

      I am wondering if it is 2% of the good stuff and you might need 20% more of the less colorful green tea?

    1. As I understand it, the study was conducted using a lotion made with a 2% unnamed green tea extract Whether it was 2% by weight or 2% by volume is also unclear to me. The lotion doesn’t appear to be commercially available.

      In the circumstances, the simplest thing to do might be to make a good strong cup of green tea, apply what you need and drink the rest At best, it will help clear up the acne and at worst you will enjoy a nice cup of green tea.


  4. I’m over sixty and have a lifetime of UTI’s behind me. I am physically prone to them. Things that helped: removing added sugar from my diet, going WFPB. Neutral: probiotics, hoping to alter my microbiome so there were fewer bad e-coli in there to cause issues. Things that really helped when I started symptoms: D-Mannose plus a small amount of baking soda. The foods that contain D-Mannose weren’t anywhere near enough. Trust me on this, I was drinking cranberry smoothies (pucker!). Also, all that crap about acidifying your urine is…crap. Taking some baking soda will lower the acidity and relieve the pain AND stop the irritation of the bladder wall that allows the infection to worsen. I haven’t needed antibiotics in all the years since I discovered D-mannose powder. I haven’t needed that often in the past couple of years. Which are the years when I started drinking green tea daily. Honestly, green tea is the plant food that just keeps giving!

    1. AnneS,

      Yes, the D-Mannose powder is amazing stuff.

      I haven’t needed that though and I am wondering if it is because I eat so much food with D-Mannose in and like green tea?

      Not sure.

      I was never really prone to UTI’s but I did have one and it didn’t go away with the antibiotics they gave but D-Mannose brought relief within 24 hours. D-Mannose only works if it is e-coli but they say that the vast majority of UTI’s are from e-coli.

      I don’t have incontinence though and some of my friends who do have it would be the ones who probably would be able to tell me how good it is and whether the foods with D-Mannose help.

      I am hoping to never have incontinence issues.

      But I do know that once people wear the pads they get very prone to UTI’s and bladder infections.

    2. I had chronic UTI, a combination of d mannose and not handling raw chicken did the trick. Now whenever I do very rarely handle raw chicken, I get a mild uti and treat it with dmannose. It was Dr Greger that made the link clear to raw chicken.

  5. I’ve had a strange reaction to any tea, black, green or white, where I will get some joint pain. Usually it’s in my fingers or ankles. I wonder if that’s a thing, possible side effect?

    1. There are a lot of green tea lotion recipes online.

      There is a product….. I think it is called Noogen. Google green tea lotion acne.

      The ingrediwnts section said: Green tea

      Versus Proactive had a green tea one with a long list.

      1. I’ve tried looking for this lotion online, I only use organic products so I am a bit limited, I then decided to try maybe diluting organic green essential oil, and try pads of cotton wool with that.

  6. I have been working hard at not over-posting and i ended up getting on youtube sites where they solve cold cases and one of them has found a few bodies already. For free. They let people chpose which case to work on and they raise monwy for the families. Another one got solved tonight.

    They search all of the waterways with sonar and dive teams.

    The second one does ground searches and a third found a missing teenager. Not sure that was live but they like analytical people and my brain likes puzzles and i care abpit things like that.

    Most of tge people found have been dead so far but one live teenager.

    I keep trying to find ways of saving livrs and a few of the sites are retired poluce and more than one said that they get good concepts from tge comments so I am going to see how many cold cases get solved this way.

    1. Dr. Gerger, it stand to reason green tea is good for topical ache use because of green tea has extremely high levels of fluoride.
      Hence your comparison to Diflucan (and other anti yeast medicines) who all have fluoride as their main ingredient. As one of your favorite beverages green tea, along with black, red and others according to statistics from FAN Fouride Action Network) has up to 400 times!!! more fluoride then fluoride in flouridated tap water.

      Since fluoride is a cell bioaccumlative toxin, drinking green (and other non herbals teas with any regularity) is contraindicated for optimum cell wellness.

      Could you please give the statics of fluoride levels in these teas. Besises caffeine, they also deliver a big dose of theophylline. Do you have any research on that stimulant.

      Also is there research for you to review on people who drink quantities of green (et all colors) teas showing a correlation of hypothyroidism amongst these tea drinkers? If so they may have found the highly electronegativity of the bromide fluoride has pirated the weaker negative charged bromide, iodine, to then not be available for thyroxin production if iodine receptor site has fluoride blocking it.

      I should also research reviews and findings of these issues Inhave shared please.

  7. One poor woman had her car get stuck in a sandy remote area and she called tge police and two tow trucks but nobody would help her and it was a long walk to the nearest town and she died a mile away.

    That group would drive across the country for free to help someone and said the police do that all the rime.

  8. One of the groups said that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the USA who go missing every single year and most of them will never be looked for.

    Unless they are attractive enough to interest the press.

  9. Since I don’t care much for the taste of green tea, I usually use a green tea bag and a black one together in my teapot. Do I still get the benefit of the green tea, or does the black tea reduce it or cancel it out?

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