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 problems and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Research into Alzheimer’s Disease
In research published in the medical journal Experimental Gerontology, (1) investigators 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 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 (amyloid plaque build up in brain and muscle cells) in worms with altered genes that mimic Alzheimer’s disease, 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 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.
We know what you may be thinking, worms and mice, that’s great. What about people?
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, or more simply, the areas of the brain have an open and effective communication network and neural messages get through. 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.
In June 2019, this research was built upon by a multinational group of doctors who examined how much effect tea had on system-level brain (communication) networks. The finding published in the medical journal Aging (4) were based on outcomes in healthy older participants who were divided into two groups according to their history of tea drinking frequency. The researchers then investigated both functional and structural networks in the brain to reveal the role of tea drinking on brain organization.What they found and published was “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.”
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 (5) 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.
Green Tea and Memory
A May 2019 study in the journal Nutrients (6) offered this summary of how green tea may benefit the problems of cognitive function and memory:
“Dementia has become a major issue that requires urgent measures. The prevention of dementia may be influenced by dietary factors. We focused on green tea and performed a systematic review of observational studies that examined the association between green tea intake and dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, or cognitive impairment.”
In reviewing 23 research studies published up to August 2018, the researchers offered this conclusion: “These results seem to support the hypothesis that green tea intake might reduce the risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, or cognitive impairment. Further results from well-designed and well-conducted cohort studies are required to derive robust evidence.”
Is one tea better than another? How about brewing times?
Let’s look at an experiment in the March 2020 journal Nutrients (7). In this paper researchers suggest: “There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that tea shows numerous beneficial properties, including improving cognitive abilities. This is particularly important in the case of Alzheimer’s Disease patients. The study assessed the impact of brewing conditions on the inhibition of AChE activity (in simpliest terms an enzyme that helps breakdown neurotransmitters) observed in tea extracts (black, white, or fruit). Our study revealed that neither temperature nor time of brewing influenced the respective infusions’ ability to inhibit the activity of AChE. . . . The results of (this) research show that tea may be used as a rich source of cholinesterase inhibitors which play a significant role in Alzheimer’s Disease treatment.”
What does science say?
A July 2020 study in the journal Frontiers in aging neuroscience (8) offered this assessment: “EGCG is the main bioactive polyphenol in green tea extract that has neuroprotective effects partly owing to its antioxidant activities. Green tea consumption seems to improve cognitive performance in the healthy as well as cognitively challenged elderly However, the results of a long-term clinical trial of EGCG in the early stages of AD are yet to be published The EGCG dose and frequency needed for AD prevention and/or reversal must be explored further.”
This reaffirms the common consensus about nutrients and supplements that they can help, optimizing their benefits is always the challenge.
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. The FASEB Journal. 2017 Nov;31(11):4998-5011.
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 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.
5 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.
6 Kakutani S, Watanabe H, Murayama N. Green Tea Intake and Risks for Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Cognitive Impairment: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019 May 24;11(5):1165. doi: 10.3390/nu11051165. PMID: 31137655; PMCID: PMC6567241.
7 Baranowska-Wójcik E, Szwajgier D, Winiarska-Mieczan A. Regardless of the Brewing Conditions, Various Types of Tea are a Source of Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors. Nutrients. 2020 Mar;12(3):709.
8 Arslan J, Jamshed H, Qureshi H. Early Detection and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease: Role of Oxidative Markers and Natural Antioxidants. Front Aging Neurosci. 2020 Jul 27;12:231. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2020.00231. PMID: 32848710; PMCID: PMC7397955.