Every Chinese student tasked at memorization as the key component to education knows how helpful tea is to memory, but this is really important for all of the families struggling to take care of a family member with dementia.
This is great news to me personally because I take care of my dad and he suffers from dementia. There is not nearly as much dementia in countries that consume a lot of tea, especially green tea, as there is in the West. I am happy to see that there is research being done in this area, but even with all of the research being done with tea currently, it will still take a long time for the knowledge to trickle down to the general population.
For my dad, though, his recover has been surprising. He had a heart attack last year which significantly escalated his dementia. He has improved a lot over the last year, and there has been a lot of things that have helped him. He has a good geriatric doctor that has simplified the medication he takes, he goes to a senior center four days a week, he lives with his family, he gets acupuncture, and of course he drinks tea daily. I’m sure all of these things help. My dad drinks puer, not green tea, because of stomach issues. There is almost no research outside of France and China about puer, but most people are familiar with green and black tea. My dad came to his tea drinking later in life. He’s eighty now, and doing well. Perhaps some of his symptoms would have been minimized by earlier tea drinking.
I get calls and emails everyday asking about the health benefits of drinking tea. Even though tea is so good for your health, I find myself being hesitant even reluctant to market tea from that frame of reference. I guess I would be drinking it even if it was bad for you, just for the pure enjoyment. I am thrilled though that Western Science is stepping up to underwrite what the Chinese have known for a very long time.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Drinking regular cups of tea could help improve your memory, research suggests.
A team from Newcastle University found green and black tea inhibited the activity of key enzymes in the brain associated with memory.
The researchers hope their findings, published in Phytotherapy Research, may lead to the development of a new treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.
They say tea appears to have the same effect as drugs specifically designed to combat the condition.
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a reduced level of a chemical called acetylcholine in the brain.
In lab tests, the Newcastle team found that both green and black tea inhibited the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which breaks down this key chemical.
They also found both teas inhibited the activity of a second enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), which has been discovered in protein deposits found in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s.
Green tea went one step further in that it obstructed the activity of beta-secretase, which plays a role in the production of protein deposits in the brain which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The scientists also found that it continued to have its inhibitive effect for a week, whereas black tea’s enzyme-inhibiting properties lasted for only one day.
Drugs work same way
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s but it is possible to slow the development of the disease.
Drugs currently on the market hinder the activity of AChE, and others are being developed which scientists hope will inhibit the activity of BuChE and beta-secretase.
However, many of the drugs currently available, such as donepezil, have unpleasant side effects and the medical profession is keen to find alternatives.
The Newcastle University researchers are now seeking funding to carry out further tests on green tea, which they hope will include clinical trials.
Their aim is to work towards the development of a medicinal tea which is specifically aimed at Alzheimer’s sufferers.
The next step is to find out exactly which components of green tea inhibit the activity of the enzymes AChE, BuChE and beta-secretase.
Lead researcher Dr Ed Okello said: “Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, tea could potentially be another weapon in the armoury which is used to treat this disease and slow down its development.
“It would be wonderful if our work could help improve the quality of life for millions of sufferers and their carers.
“Our findings are particularly exciting as tea is already a very popular drink, it is inexpensive, and there do not seem to be any adverse side effects when it is consumed.
“Still, we expect it will be several years until we are able to produce anything marketable.”
Professor Clive Ballard, director of research, Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This interesting research builds on previous evidence that suggests that green tea may be beneficial due to anti-oxidant properties.
“Certainly the effect on the cholinesterase enzyme (the target of current anti-dementia drugs such as Aricept) and beta-secretase (an enzyme which is important in the build up of plaques) is very exciting and requires further investigation.”
Black tea – traditional English breakfast tea – is derived from the same plant as green tea, Camellia sinensis, but has a different taste and appearance because it is fermented.