By William I. Lengeman III
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 5.2 million people in the United States who are currently suffering from this disease. By their estimate, one American develops this condition every 71 seconds and a total of 10 million baby boomers are expected to develop Alzheimer’s throughout their lifetime.
In 2006, Canadian researchers looked at the ability of extracts from green and black teas to help prevent neuron cell death or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in rats. The researchers found that higher concentrations of tea extracts corresponded to higher rates of neuron survival in rat brains. A previous research study carried out in Japan found that drinking at least two cups of tea daily could reduce the risk of dementia by fifty percent.
In an earlier study researchers discovered that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) from green tea reduced the formation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brains of mice that had been altered to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Abnormal buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain is suspected as a factor in the nerve damage and memory loss typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The results of the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida, appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience. For a period of several months the mice were treated with daily injections of pure EGCG, which resulted in a decrease of Alzheimer’s related plaques of as much as 54 percent.
A study conducted by researchers at England’s University of Newcastle upon Tyne, found that green and black tea helped inhibit brain enzymes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The brain chemicals that were affected by tea include acetylcholinesterase (AchE), butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) and beta-secretase. Both green and black teas were found to be effective in treating the first two, but only green tea worked to affect the third and the effects of green tea tended to last longer. Coffee was also tested, but with no significant effects.
The evidence so far shows some promise for tea and tea extracts in the fight against Alzheimer’s, but researchers in a number of the studies mentioned here cautioned that additional trials would be needed on humans.
See what William’s up to on his blog, Tea Guy Speaks!