Debbie Nicholson

Chemical found in green tea could improve brain function and improve the brain’s general functions

Millions of people drink green tea especially for its health benefits. Green tea has been associated to lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugar levels and known for its ability to help with weight loss.

View slideshow: Green tea and health conditons

There have been numerous studies linking green tea with prevention of age related memory loss. Scientists note there is emerging evidence that the chemical properties in green tea may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain providing benefits for memory and spatial learning.

Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University, and colleagues focused their attention on the chemical EGCG. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a principle phenolic antioxidant found in a variety of plants, including green and black tea. Researchers believed it can have positive benefits against age-related degenerative diseases.

“We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis,” states Professor Bai. “We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory.”

Researchers discovered EGCG boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which like stem cells can adapt, or differentiate, into various types of cells.

Using laboratory mice the team set out to find if the increased cell production provided an advantage to memory and spatial learning.

Researchers ran tests on two groups of mice; one group consuming EGCG and the other group as the control group.

According to professor Bai the mice at first had been trained for three days to locate a visible platform contained in their maze. Then they received seven days of training to find a hidden platform in the maze.

The results showed the mice who consumed EGCG had spent less time in finding the hidden platform. Overall the results had shown that EGCG enhances memory and learning by improving recognition of objects and spatial learning.

Professor Bai concluded “We have shown that the organic chemical EGCG acts directly to increase the production of neural progenitor cells, both in glass tests and in mice.” “This helps us to understand the potential for EGCG, and green tea which contains it, to help combat degenerative diseases and memory loss.”

This research is published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

Revealed last year in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study from Korea,, had found a combination of green tea extract combined with the amino acid L-theanine was linked with improvements In immediate and delayed recall and general memory. This study appears in Journal of Medicinal Food. April 2011, 14(4): 334-343. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.1374.

More information on green tea can be found on Web MD.