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Tea Fights Alzheimer's Disease

tea fights Alzheimer's Disease

In addition to the recommended dietary and other methods for preventing Alzheimer's disease described in the preceding article, here is yet another easy method which we can easily incorporate into our daily lives, and help fight Alzheimer's disease.


LONDON (AFP) A nice cup of tea could hold back Alzheimer's, scientists say. A steaming cup of tea, the relaxing drink of choice for millions in countries such as Britain and China, could help ward off the effects of Alzheimer's disease, scientists said.

Laboratory tests found that regular cups of green and black tea inhibit the activity of certain enzymes in the brain which bring on Alzheimer's, a form of generative dementia that affects an estimated 10 million people worldwide. The research by the Medicinal Plant Research Centre at Newcastle University, northeast England, is published in academic journal Phytotherapy Research.

Scientists tested coffee as well as green and black tea, the latter of which -- the variety enjoyed by most Britons -- is derived from the same plant as the green variety but has a different taste and appearance as it is fermented. The results found that while coffee had no significant effect, both green and black tea inhibited the activity of enzymes associated with the development of Alzheimer's.

According to the journal, tea inhibited the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which breaks down the chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Alzheimer's is characterised by a drop in acetylcholine. Green tea and black tea also hinder the activity of the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), seen in protein deposits found on the brains of patients with Alzheimer's.

However green tea alone had a further effect, obstructing the activity of beta-secretase, which has a role in the production of protein deposits in the brain associated with Alzheimer's. The effects of green tea also last for a week, scientists found, as against only a day for black tea.

"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," said head researcher Dr Ed Okello. "It would be wonderful if our work could help improve the quality of life for millions of sufferers and their care givers.

"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.[ Source: Medical News Today, October 26, 2004 ]


Tea is probably one of the most surprising sources of helpful plant nutrients. With the exception of water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Green tea is made from the fresh leaves of the tea plant that are steamed, rolled and dried at high temperatures. Black tea is made by first withering the leaves and then rolling and drying them.

The familiarity of a cup of tea makes it hard to imagine that hidden away inside every sip are substances capable of bolstering our bodies defences to help fight chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer.

The plant nutrients in tea that have fired the enthusiasm of researchers are called flavonoids. Thousands of flavonoids are distributed throughout the plant world and many have antioxidant functions. This means they are capable of mopping up and deactivating potentially harmful free radicals which, if left to roam the body, may spark chronic health problems such as cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, cataracts, inflammation, arthritis and even Alzheimer's disease. For example evidence from a study in Holland (1) has indicated that people with a measurably higher flavonoid intake have a reduced risk of heart disease compared with those who consume less.

Just one cup of tea supplies around 200mg of flavonoids, many of which are released into the drink within the first minute of brewing. However, shorter brewing time leads to lower flavonoid levels. Having three cups a day over 2 weeks increases the concentration of flavonoids in the blood by 25% and fortunately, its antioxidant effects are not affected by adding milk (2).

Drunk daily throughout the world for centuries, Chinese herbalists have long revered the healing properties of tea, recommending it for a wide variety of ailments ranging from clearing the voice to aiding digestion and relieving water retention. Today, the health benefits seem to be getting the seal of approval from scientists in the west.

What's in a Cup of Tea?

Catechins: - Over half of the total catechin content is epigallocatechin gallate which is also known as EGCG. It is 20 times more powerful than vitamin C as an antioxidant.

Thearubigins - A complex flavonoid that develops when leaves of tea are fermented and turn black.

Theaflavins - Also produced during fermentation of the leaves.

Caffeine - Mild stimulant found in tea, a 200ml cup contains an average of 40mg of caffeine compared to 64mg in instant coffee and up to 150mg in brewed coffee.

Tannin - A type of flavonoid that adds flavour, astringency and bitterness to tea, in addition to its antioxidant properties.

-- Hertog, M.G.L, Kromhout, D., Aravanis, C. et al. (1995) Flavonoid intake and long-term risk of coronary heart disease and cancer in Seven Countries Study. Arch Intern Med 155: 381 386
-- Van het Hof, H.H., Kivits, G.A.A., Westrate, J.A. and Tijburg, L.B.M. (1988) Bioavailability of catechins from tea: the effect of milk. Eur J Clin Nutr 52:356 - 359
[ Source: Medical News Today - September 27, 2004 ]

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