Green tea is a fountain of youth with seemingly infinite health potential, especially in Asia. Because the Japanese national drink is not only suitable for cancer prevention, detoxification, and cardiovascular strengthening, it also stimulates the production of new cells in the brain, which can improve your memory, make it easier to learn new things, and prevent or slow down the development of dementia. If you don’t like green tea, you can also take green tea extract in capsule form.
Green tea stimulates the formation of new nerve cells in the brain
Do you know that? After a cup of green tea, the head becomes completely clear. You can concentrate better and mentally demanding tasks are much easier to complete. It’s no wonder since one of the main active ingredients in green tea — epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG for short — can stimulate the formation of new nerve cells in the brain (neurogenesis), a study found back in 2012.
Until well into the 1990s, it was believed that the formation of new nerve cells in the brain was impossible in adults. In the meantime, however, we know that nerve cells can also form again and again in adults – even in old age. It is therefore a lifelong ability of the brain. It is also referred to as neural plasticity, which means that the brain and its structures can change, evolve, and adapt as needed, such as when you learn something new, be it mental (e.g. a language, game, or the theory of the sailing license) or of a physical nature (e.g. a new sport, a new exercise).
Green tea for the prevention and treatment of dementia
In the case of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or declining memory performance, neuronal plasticity and thus the formation of new nerve cells decreases. If EGCG from green tea stimulates the formation of new nerve cells, then the substance can be used to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases – this is the conclusion of various scientists, whose studies we present below.
EGCG from green tea for a good memory
In the study mentioned above, Professor Yun Bai from the Chinese Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, for example, showed that EGCG from green tea can actually promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. This is where information is transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory so that you don’t forget what you’ve learned after a few days, and you can remember it instead.
Mice that received green tea-derived EGCG learned much faster and also had better spatial memory than a comparison group that did not receive EGCG.
Green tea renders Alzheimer’s deposits harmless
EGCG from green tea not only promotes the formation of new nerve cells. The substance can also render the toxic protein deposits (plaques) typical of Alzheimer’s disease harmless – at least in laboratory tests with cells, as a study from 2010 already showed.
Researchers led by Jan Bieschke from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin discovered that the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s-typical protein deposits, which are so toxic to nerve cells and lead to their death, can be rendered harmless by the active ingredients in green tea.
If you gave EGCG to cells that were affected by the toxic deposits and then had a restricted metabolism, i.e. were significantly weakened, then thanks to EGCG the deposits were converted into non-toxic deposits that the cells could now easily break down.
Green tea extract increases brain performance
In 2014, Basel scientists working with Professors Christoph Beglinger and Stefan Borgwardt published interesting research results in the journal Psychopharmacology: They discovered that green tea extract can improve connectivity in the brain (the connections between nerve cells) and thus cognitive abilities.
The study participants were male volunteers who were given a soft drink with green tea extract before they were asked to solve tasks that required working memory in particular. The working memory absorbs information, stores it for a short time, and connects it – if necessary – with existing information in the long-term memory.
With the help of MRI scans, the researchers were able to show that the brains of those men who had received the green tea extract showed a significantly higher level of connectivity between individual brain regions. At the same time, the green tea men were able to solve the tasks better. So the green tea extract could support working memory. Precisely these properties could be helpful in the therapy of cognitive impairments in neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia – so the concluding sentence in the study summary.
Use all active ingredients from green tea!
In 2017, Beglinger and their team analyzed 21 studies on green tea and the brain, including 4 randomized controlled trials and 12 cross-over studies. In cross-over studies, the same participants receive both – the active substance and then, after a short break, the placebo preparation.
The analysis found that green tea reduced psychiatric symptoms, such as B. could alleviate anxiety, and cognitive abilities, such. B. the memory or the ability to concentrate improved and the brain functions, such. B. could activate the memory or the working memory. The researchers emphasized that these effects of green tea cannot be attributed to a specific active ingredient, but are the result of several substances from green tea that together have such a positive effect.
So it would not be recommended to take pure EGCG or pure L-Theanine capsules. It makes more sense to drink organic green tea or take high-quality green tea extract capsules.
Another analysis from 2018 also came to the conclusion that green tea or green tea powder can support and improve cognitive functions very well compared to the respective placebo group.
The more green tea, the lower the risk of Alzheimer’s
A 2019 review also showed that most available studies found a positive association between green tea consumption and the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases, i.e. that Alzheimer’s and similar diseases are less likely the more green tea is drunk.
Therefore, if you want to do something good for your brain, if you want to prevent neurodegenerative diseases, or even if you are already noticing the first memory lapses, then you could integrate green tea into your prevention or therapy program.