Brussels, 12 Nov 2004
Drinking regular cups of tea may help improve memory and could be used to treat Alzheimer's, according to researchers at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK.
The team of scientists have found that both green and black tea inhibit the activity of certain enzymes in the brain that are associated with memory. The team also tested coffee, but found that it had no significant effect.
Both teas inhibited the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AchE), which breaks down the chemical messenger (or neurotransmitter) acetylcholine. Alzheimer's disease is characterised by a drop in levels of acetylcholine. Researchers also found both teas to slow down the activity of the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), which as been found in protein deposits on the brain of Alzheimer's sufferers.
Green tea went one step further and demonstrated its ability to obstruct the activity of beta-secretase, which also plays a role in the production of protein deposits in the brain. Green tea also surpassed black tea in terms of the durability of its inhibitive effect. While the effects of drinking green tea were found to last for a week, the same effects for black tea lasted for only one day.
'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 lead researcher Dr Ed Okello. '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. Still, we expect it will be several years until we are able to produce anything marketable.'