Research conducted at the University of Newcastle shows that drinking tea could help improve memory and also slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The functioning of the brain cholinergic system, which is involved in attention and memory declines during normal aging and is further affected in Alzheimer’s disease. Current drugs for the symptomatic treatment of dementia are aimed at enhancing the associated cholinergic deficit by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that cleaves the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Butyrylcholinesterase increases in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and may play a role in the progression of the disease by its ability inter alia to hydrolyse the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine. Inhibition of both these enzymes is one of the objectives in treating cognitive dysfunction associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
During the study it was found both green and black tea inhibited the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, and also hinder the activity of the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase. It was further observed that Green tea obstructed the activity of beta-secretase, which plays a role in production of protein deposits in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. So this study reports that tea infusions in vitro have dual anti-cholinesterase and anti-β-secretase activities relevant to the treatment of dementia.
Previous studies have shown that both green tea and black tea possess pharmacologically protective, properties such as antioxidative, anticarcinogenic, neuroprotective and hyppocholesterolaemic effects. This study indicates that Tea, Camellia sinensis has the potential to enhance cholinergic function and therefore may have a role in ameliorating and cholinergic deficit in Alzheimer’s disease and other age related memory impairments. The effects of tea infusions on the cerebral cholinergic system and β-secretase in vivo will depend on the levels of the enzymes in the brain, the type and chemistry of the tea, infusion concentration (strength), dose (number of cups per day) and duration of consumption. It is also possible that regular consumption of tea by patients with dementia prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors may alter the effects of such drugs. Clinical and scientific investigation of the chemistry and activities of cholinomimetic and anti- β-secretase compounds in C. sinensis, and cognitive effects of tea consumption is warranted in order to establish the relevance of these novel findings to the maintenance of cognitive function in old age and in diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease.