We often hear about research that suggests health benefits surrounding green tea in the fight against cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and inflammatory skin diseases. More recently researchers have centered on the idea that green tea can help with memory and even Alzheimer’s Disease.
Research into Alzheimer’s Disease
In research published in the medical journal Experimental Gerontology, (1) investigators in China gave laboratory worms tea to test their theory that tea would provide the worms with anti-aging, anti-oxidation and anti-Alzheimer’s protective effects.
The Chinese investigators examined puer tea, a traditional Chinese fermented tea, black tea and green tea. They found that puer tea, black tea and green tea all increased the lifespan of worms, postponed Aβ-induced progressive paralysis in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic worms and improved the tolerance of worms to the oxidative stress induced by the heavy metal chromium. In other words the tea is acting as chelator on the worms.
The conclusion of this study; tea water extract provides benefits of anti-aging, anti-Alzheimer’s disease and anti-oxidation.
Now, we know what some of you are thinking, this works great for worms, but how about me? Let’s continue the research…
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and Cognitive Disorders
In a recent study from researchers at the Laboratory of Functional Chemistry and Nutrition of Food, College of Food Science and Engineering, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China, investigators made a connection between tea consumption and cognitive disorders.(2)
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the major polyphenol in green tea, possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardioprotective activities; however, few reports have focused on its potential effect on cognitive disorders. The researchers speculated that EGCG would provide the answer.
Polyphenols are a plant-based micronutrients that are routinely studied by researchers for their potential health benefits. They are rich in anti-oxidants and are thought to be helpful in neurodegenerative, cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory disorders. It is well documented that obesity increases the risk of insulin resistance and age-related cognitive decline. One factors is chronic inflammation.
In this study, the researcher’s goal was to investigate the protective effects of EGCG treatment on insulin resistance and memory impairment induced by a high-fat and high-fructose diet.
To do so, they randomly assigned 3 month old mice to three groups with different diets: control group diet, high-fat and high-fructose diet and high-fat and high-fructose diet plus EGCG group.
What they found was the EGCG in green tea reduced and weakened high-fat and high-fructose diet-induced neuronal damage.
A Study of Healthy Males
In a 2014 study, Professor Christoph Beglinger from the University Hospital of Basel and Professor Stefan Borgwardt from the Psychiatric University Clinics found that green tea extract increases the brain’s effective connectivity, meaning the causal influence that one brain area exerts over another. This effect on connectivity also led to improvement in actual cognitive performance: Subjects tested did significantly better for working memory tasks after the admission of green tea extract.
Published in the journal Psychopharmacology (3) the research team demonstrated that healthy male volunteers who received a soft drink containing several grams of green tea extract before they solved working memory tasks, performed tasks better. The scientists then analyzed how this happened and how the tea extract affected the brain activity of the men using magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI showed increased connectivity between the parietal and the frontal cortex of the brain. These neuronal findings correlated positively with improvement in task performance of the participants. “Our findings suggest that green tea might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain”, says Borgwardt.
Green Tea and Early Alzheimer’s Disease
In the research above, green tea’s impact on the neuro network of the brain demonstrated that green tea could make the brain function better by strengthening the areas of neuroconnectivity or plasticity, the brain’s ability to change, adapt, and repair. In a 2017 (4) study, doctors wrote (Plasticity) is not only shaped by learning and memory but is also a mediator of responses to neuron attrition and injury (compensatory plasticity or response to age related damage). As an ongoing process it reacts to neuronal cell activity and injury, death and genesis, which encompasses the modulation of structural and functional processes of axons, dendrites, and synapses. (The intersections of brain communication networks). We now appreciate that mild cognitive impairment in early Alzheimer’s Disease may be due to synaptic dysfunction occurring well in advance of evident widespread synaptic loss and neurodegeneration. In other words, the brain is not repairing, green tea may help repair damage.
Drinking Tea Makes Your Brain Work Better
Sometimes science has to take a path. When research suggests that green tea may be of benefit with worms and mice, it will eventually end up in humans. Let’s take a June 2019 study for example.
In the medical journal Aging,(5) researchers suggested that their study offers the first evidence of the positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure and suggests a protective effect on age-related decline in brain organization. What the researchers did was divide healthy older participants into two groups according to their history of tea drinking frequency and investigated both functional and structural networks to reveal the role of tea drinking on brain organization. The results showed that tea drinking gave rise to the more efficient structural organization.
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, we treat Alzheimer’s Disease with an individualized, patient-centered treatment plan.
Every person has a unique biochemistry which reacts to pollutants and toxins differently. In order to determine the factors that underlie each case, we utilize extremely thorough blood and urine tests, as well as a complete examination of every aspect of the body, from mitochondrial function to nutrient imbalances to heavy metal toxicity. We recommend dietary modifications to reduce foods that may cause inflammation while increasing intake of those that are anti-inflammatory. Brain inflammation is a hallmark of dementia and memory decline.
Treatment plans based on these findings may include chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, antioxidant nutritional supplements, intravenous vitamins, regenerative therapies, diet and nutrition.
1 Fei T, Fei J, Huang F, Xie T, Xu J, Zhou Y, Yang P. The anti-aging and anti-oxidation effects of tea water extract in Caenorhabditis elegans. Experimental Gerontology. 2017 Jul 25.
2 Mi, Y., Qi, G., Fan, R., Qiao, Q., Sun, Y., Gao, Y., Liu, X. EGCG ameliorates high-fat– and high-fructose–induced cognitive defects by regulating the IRS/AKT and ERK/CREB/BDNF signaling pathways in the CNS.
3 Schmidt A, Hammann F, Wölnerhanssen B, Meyer-Gerspach AC, Drewe J, Beglinger C, Borgwardt S. Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Oct;231(19):3879-88. doi: 10.1007/s00213-014-3526-1. Epub 2014 Mar 19. PMID: 24643507; PMCID: PMC4159594.
4. D Skaper S, Facci L, Zusso M, Giusti P. Synaptic plasticity, dementia and Alzheimer disease. CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders). 2017 Apr 1;16(3):220-33.
5 Li J, Romero-Garcia R, Suckling J, Feng L. Habitual tea drinking modulates brain efficiency: evidence from brain connectivity evaluation. Aging (Albany NY). 2019 Jun 14;11(11):3876-3890. doi: 10.18632/aging.102023. PMID: 31209186; PMCID: PMC6594801.