Green Tea’s Brain Boosting Power

Green Tea mouse experiment shows benefits of antioxidant

(RxWiki News) Green tea has many health benefits, and some claim that it can boost memory. A recent study went looking to some furry friends for insight as to why green tea may improve memory.

Researchers found that one of the antioxidants found in green tea caused new brain cells to be created in mice. Mice given large amounts of the antioxidant also had better memory.

Memory benefits of green tea may be because the antioxidants help the brain to create new cells.

"Talk to your doctor before adding green tea to your diet."

Researchers, led by Yanyan Wang, with Professor Yun Bai, of the Department of Medical Genetics at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, wanted to find out how green tea could boost memory.

An antioxidant known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is thought to be the part of green tea that leads to memory effects.

They looked at the effect of EGCG on the brain in three ways.

First, they used cells from the hippocampus of mouse brains. The hippocampus is an area in the brain that controls learning and memory.

They exposed cells to EGCG and found that it caused new brain cells to be created.

Then, they gave mice injections of EGCG over four days. Four weeks later, they found that more new cells were created in their brains than mice that did not get EGCG.

Finally, they gave another set of mice injections of EGCG each day for 60 days.  Then, they tested the spatial memory of the mice.

The mice that got EGCG were better at learning how to escape a maze than mice that did not have 60 days of EGCG. 

The authors concluded that EGCG improves memory by increasing the amount of new neurons that are made by the brain.

This study did not give green tea to any mice, just the antioxidant EGCG.

Also, the mice were given doses of EGCG that were about nine times higher than a person would take in from drinking a cup of green tea each day.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about 150 mg of EGCG is in an 8 ounce cup of regular brewed green tea. Decaf green tea has about 60 mg in a cup, and flavored green tea has about 40 mg of EGCG.

Bottled green tea has the least amount of EGCG - about 9 mg per cup. The more processed tea is the more quickly EGCG degrades.

Green tea also contains a fair amount of caffeine, which should be moderated.

This study was published in June in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. Funding for the project came from National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Development and Regeneration Key Laboratory Foundation of Sichuan Province.

Authors report no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 6, 2012