In 2014, I read an article in Life Extension Magazine about the ability of green tea to disrupt Alzheimer’s disease progression in our brains (click here for more information). Alzheimer’s disease is continuing to grow at an unbelievable rate. Alzheimer’s is included in the generic term, dementia. The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. There is an exciting molecule in green tea that will surprise you.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported recently that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not report the real death rate from Alzheimer’s. 261,914 death was directly attributed to dementia of which Alzheimer’s contributed 46% (120,520 deaths) in 2017. There were 84,000 deaths reported in 2000 from dementia. In less than 20 years, dementia deaths increased from 30.5 deaths/100,000 people to 66.7 deaths/100,000 people in 2017.
Alzheimer’s deaths are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Many times a death certificate might list pneumonia as the cause of death and not account for the years of treatment for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Why? People are living older, of course. If they survived various cardiovascular diseases and cancer, then dementia becomes a significant health risk. The older you get, the higher your risk of getting dementia.
The CDC expects Alzheimer’s and related dementia cases will double by 2060. What options do you have? Doctors treat Alzheimer’s after you have been diagnosed. Various drugs are used to manage the symptoms. Ask a doctor how to prevent dementia and related diseases and the answer will be to avoid smoking, control blood pressure, monitor cholesterol, avoid risks that will lead to diabetes, eat right, and other generic advice.
Green tea might provide a solution to dementia. Life Extension magazine reported on various studies of green tea (Camellia sinensis) and Alzheimer’s disease. The concentration of their article was on the catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The August 2014 article concentrated on the accumulation of the protein, amyloid-beta, plaques in the brain. A blood-brain-barrier protects our brains. EGCG can pass through our blood-brain-barrier.
Previous studies have shown that EGCG is neuroprotective in that this catechin enhanced gene modulation, cell signaling, increased detoxifying and antioxidant enzymes, and provided DNA protection. In the brain, EGCG inhibits the formation of amyloid-beta fibrils (fine fibers), which kills neurons. EGCG interferes with the progression of the amyloid-beta fibrils and their chemical reaction with copper and zinc. This interference stopped larger plaques from forming.
The interaction of EGCG and the amyloid-beta molecule changed the protein’s structure just enough that it could not complete the envelopment of the neuron, thus saving a neuron from a quick death. Therefore, it inhibits the formation of new amyloid-beta plaques, and it causes existing plaques in the brain to dissipate. EGCG also triggers the production of new neurons in the brain.
That Life Extension article was published in 2014. In March of 2019, the University of Southern California conducted a study of mice that were programmed to develop Alzheimer’s. The focus of the study was to use dietary options to determine if Alzheimer’s could be regressed or eliminated. Prescription drugs take many years to develop and test. Dietary choices can be implemented immediately.
The USC study used a diet rich in EGCG (green tea) and ferulic acid (FA). FA is found in carrots, tomatoes, rice, wheat, and oats. The study concluded that the Alzheimer’s-like symptoms disappeared in three months. The conclusion was that the precursor proteins to amyloid-beta were inhibited from performing their intended functions – creating more plaque. The levels of neuroinflammation and oxidative stress were also observed during the test.
Interaction early prevents disease progression. If you wait until you have Alzheimer’s, it might be too late to make useful improvements. Other studies I reviewed indicated that green tea consumption reduced the risk of cognitive decline by 54%. This test was done on Japanese over the age of 70. Black tea and oolong tea reduced the risk by only 13%. Further testing indicated that EGCG is also protective in models of Parkinson’s disease.
I use five teas daily as part of my personal health regimen – green tea, pouchong tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and gynostemma tea.