The latest research on green tea is from a Chinese university called Third Military Medical University, Chongqing. Until now green tea has been known for its antioxidant property and also as something that prevents cardiovascular diseases. A new analysis of the chemical composition of green tea has revealed that some of the chemicals have an impact on the cellular mechanisms in our brain. Professor Yun Bai, the lead author of the study has published his findings on green tea in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
Chemical compounds in green tea
The study involved focus on a particular chemical in the tea namely epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG). The team has revealed that there are beneficial effects against degenerative diseases associated with aging. According to the scientists the EGCG chemical helps improve the cognitive functions of the brain and impacts neurogenesis – the generation of brain cells (neurons). Another focus was on the hippocampus part of the brain that is involved in the conversion of information from short term memory to long term. It also promotes the production of the progenitor brain cells that are similar to stem cells. In that, they can differentiate into different types of brain cells.
Effects of green tea on mice
Scientists used this information to find out if the EGCG in the green tea caused an increase in the neural cell production, and if yes then did it impact memory and spatial learning. For this, they set up experiments on 2 groups of mice. The first group received EGCG, while the other did not and was treated as a control group. They were subjected to seven days of training in a maze chase which had a hidden platform. During this training scientists found that the mice which had taken EGCG were able to find the hidden platform easily in less time as compared to the control group. This proved that the chemical EGCG in green tea was helpful in spatial learning and memory that aided in object recognition and the overall process of learning.
Treating degenerative brain diseases using green tea
The final outcome of the experiments revealed that the organic compound EGCG in green tea is responsible for increased production of progenitor neural cells in mice as well as glass tests. According to Dr. Bai, this property of green tea has the potential to become a treatment option for degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, where the patients suffer rapid memory loss due to rapid reduction in neural cells.