The National Parkinson Foundation estimates that more than 60,000 new cases of this degenerative disorder of the central nervous system are diagnosed every year in the United States. More than 1.5 million Americans are currently affected, including such high-profile personalities as actor Michael J. Fox. With this in mind, the notion that tea might help fight against the disease is surely a piece of welcome news.
A study by Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and National Neuroscience Institute discovered that black tea might help prevent the onset of Parkinson’s. Researchers found that subjects who drank 23 cups of black tea monthly were 71 percent less likely to contract Parkinson’s. The study looked at more than 63,000 Chinese residents of Singapore between the ages of 45 and 74.
Green tea fans shouldn’t be deterred, however. A study published in Biological Psychiatry, in 2007, revealed that green tea might also be useful in the battle against Parkinson’s. Results indicated that green tea polyphenols protect dopamine neurons. Parkinson’s is thought to result, at least partially, from loss of the brain’s dopamine-producing cells. The study was carried out by researchers from the State Key Laboratory of Brain & Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Academia Sinica in Beijing, China.
Another study, results of which were released in 2002, also found that green tea might aid in the fight against Parkinson’s. The study also zeroed in on polyphenols, an antioxidant in green tea. Studies conducted by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, found that polyphenols block MPP+ – a substance that kills brain cells and causes Parkinson’s in mice.
Though not specifically of interest to tea drinkers, a study, results of which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000, found that Japanese/American men who consumed three or more cups of coffee daily were five times less likely to develop Parkinson’s. The 30-year study examined 8,000 subjects. Of some interest to tea drinkers is the fact that caffeine might be the element in coffee that helped fight Parkinson’s.