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A Little Background on Green Tea

Legend has it, that an Emperor in ancient China named Shennong discovered green tea when he accidentally dropped leaves into boiling water and was impressed by the aroma and fragrance that emanated from the brew. According to a recent article by Stephen Daniells for NutraIngredients, in the three year period between 2000 and 2003, the number of studies investigating the effects of green tea on the human body almost tripled.[1] One of these articles, published in The Journal of Nutrition, shares information about a study that demonstrates that consumption of green tea over a period of time by young rats ‚improved reference and working memory‚related learning ability.‚[2] In fact, it’s become almost common knowledge that drinking or even eating green tea leaves is extremely beneficial for the body. One only needs to do a simple Internet search to bring up many articles and studies such as the one above investigating the positive effects of green tea.[3] Some of these studies are focused solely on investigating the effects of green tea and its constituents on the brain itself. All of these effects are positive and have been shown that over time, green tea can effect cognition, short and long term memory and even motivation.

The first angle to investigate is the stimulatory and motivational effects of green tea on the brain. ‚In humans, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, having the effect of temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness.‚[4] Tea contains much more caffeine than coffee does, but typically this is not noticeable as it is brewed much weaker than coffee is.[5] Caffeine is absorbed by the body within 45 minutes of consumption, mainly through the stomach and intestines and then to every other tissue in the body.[6] Once caffeine makes its way into the brain, it binds with a naturally found chemical called adenosine,[7] which then causes increased blood flow to the brain, giving the effect of alertness and awakening. Caffeine effects from green tea leaves wear off after 3-4 hours in most people. Caffeine is thus considered an ergogenic (a substance that increases the capability of mental or physical labor). Therefore, the psychoactive effects of caffeine in green tea are best employed by consuming the green tea leaves either as is, or even baked or cooked into food. This way, all the caffeine in the tea will be released and become soluble in the body.

The second aspect of the effects of green tea on the brain to be looked at is the ability of green tea to improve cognitive function. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that green tea catechins, apart from having the ability to lock down free fat radicals and antioxidation, they are also capable of significantly improving the cognitive abilities of young rats when administered over a period of time in regular doses.[8] ‚EGCG, the major and most active component of green tea catechins, acts as an antioxidant in the biological system and is rapidly absorbed and distributed mainly into the mucous membranes of the small intestine and the liver.‚[9] Green tea catechins also have the ability to cross the blood brain barrier. This is significantly important because of what has already been mentioned in the context of caffeine previously, that green tea can serve as a stimulus for multiple brain functions. The basic assessment of the study on rats was that long-term administration of green tea catechins‚improved reference and working memory‚related learning ability of rats.‚[10]

Finally, people who drink green tea regularly are far less likely to have stress.[11] A study on over 40,000 Japanese individuals aged up to 40 from the general population indicated that green tea consumption was ‚inversely associated with psychological distress‚.[12] In other words, the more green tea was consumed, the less stress the individuals suffered.

Therefore, it can be said that the effects of green tea on the brain are overwhelmingly positive. Caffeine increases awareness and temporarily removes the effects of drowsiness, providing a mental boost, green tea catechins improve memory usage and cognitive abilities and finally, calm and soothe the brain, reducing stress and tension.

[1] More evidence of green tea‚ brain benefits‚, Stephen Daniells, http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/More-evidence-of-green-tea-s-brain-benefits
[2] ‚Long-Term Administration of Green Tea Catechins Improves Spatial Cognition Learning Ability in Rats
[3] ‚Molecular and Cellular Assessment of Ginkgo Biloba Extract as a Possible Ophthalmic Drug, Thiagarajan et. al., Experimental Eye Research, 75/4, October 2002, pp. 421-430; ‚Effect of tacrine on in vivo release of dopamine and its metabolites in the striatum of freely moving rats., Warpman et. al., The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 277/2, May 1996, pp. 917-922; and ‚Seasonal Variation of Total Phenolic, Antioxidant Activity, Plant Nutritional Elements, and Fatty Acids in Tea Leaves (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis clone Derepazari 7) Grown in Turkey, Ercisli et. al., Pharmaceutical Biology, 46/10-11, 2008, pp. 683-687
[4] Caffeine, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine, Accessed: April 2010
[5] Ibid.
[6] Liguori A, Hughes JR, Grass JA (1997). “Absorption and subjective effects of caffeine from coffee, cola and capsules”. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 58 (3): 721‚6.
[7] Fisone, G; Borgkvist, A; Usiello, A (2004). “Caffeine as a psychomotor stimulant: mechanism of action”. Cell Mol Life Sci 61 (7‚8): 857‚72.
[8] Haque et. al., ‚Long-term administration of green tea catechins improves spatial cognition learning ability in rats.‚, Journal of Nutrition, 136/4, April 2006, pp. 1043-47
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Hozawa, et. al., ‚Green tea consumption is associated with lower psychological distress in a general population: the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 90, September 2009, pp. 1390-96
[12] Ibid.

We invite you to re-post this recipe on your own web site with the following hyper-linked attribution
“Republished with permission from EatGreenTea.com, the original edible green tea.”